Here’s a beautiful slideshow made by contributing editor Tamara Reese of her second child’s birth. Read below for the full story.
I woke to my toddler calling for me over the monitor at 9 a.m. the morning of August 27th. I quickly glanced at the calendar and whispered a silent “thank you” for making it to 39 weeks.
As I waddled to the bathroom, I noticed the back pain was a little more intense than the day before and I had clearly lost my mucus plug. We had a park play date scheduled and as I brushed my teeth, I had a vivid flash of giving birth in a pile of mulch next to the curly slide. I decided to call my doula. We were on the phone for 20 minutes, and by the end of the conversation she said, “No park. You need to call your husband to come home, get someone to take your son, and head to the hospital.” I told her I didn’t want to assemble the troops for a false alarm and she said, “Since we’ve been talking you’ve had a contraction every two minutes. It’s better to be at the hospital at this point.”
It was 10 a.m.
A dear friend came over to feed my toddler while I showered and frantically realized he had no clean clothes. My friend grabbed his dirty laundry basket and handed me a banana, saying, “Eat this, he’ll be FINE. I know how to wash clothes.” I finished getting ready and ate a bowl of Cheerios and some soy yogurt. The intense cramping and back pain had me stopping to breathe. At that point it became clear–I’m a Mama destined for back labor.
My husband arrived home at 10:30 and we threw the rest of our stuff together. Once he saw my contractions were coming pretty frequently he kicked it into high gear and we jumped in the car. He drove like a felon as I squeezed his hand through each contraction.
We handed over our keys to the hospital valet at 11 a.m.
We checked in and met up with our doula. An older doctor met us in triage and asked what brought us in. I grimaced through a contraction and managed to mention I was in labor and after a quick exam, his bushy eyebrows raised as he declared I was seven centimeters dilated and needed to be brought to labor and delivery. The admitting nurse asked when I’d like my epidural, and after my husband told her that I didn’t want any kind of pain medication she asked, “Did you go natural with your first child?” I replied no and saw a slight smirk on her face as she walked away. “We’ve got a ‘natural’ in Room 10.”
Don’t cloud my vision lady; I’ve got work to do here.
So much of the next part is a blur. The back labor was intense and coming about every minute or so. My doula showed my husband how to put counter-pressure on my hips during contractions to ease the pain and move baby into the birth canal. They took turns doing that and rubbing my back as we listened to our birthing playlist and laughed between contractions. They helped me sip Gatorade and put cold rags on my neck. My arms were exhausted from being on all fours through intense pain so I tried to lean on a birthing ball or have my husband hold me up. The contractions were closer together and longer each time; it felt like someone was taking a sledge hammer to my tailbone. Once the antibiotic bag was empty my husband asked the nurse to lock off my IV and despite her protests, he said, “This is what she wants.” I was so proud of him in that moment, because even though I knew he thought I was crazy pants for wanting an unmedicated birth, he supported me.
Amid the madness I was checked, still seven centimeters and my water hadn’t broken. Shortly after, nine centimeters and the water bag was too tight around his head to be broken. My entire body shook with visceral pain and for a split second I told myself I was an idiot for birthing without drugs and then suddenly, “I HAVE to push!” People whirled about the room talking about possibly checking me again and I roared, “I’M PUSHING MY BABY OUT NOW!” and on all fours I pushed as hard as I could.
It was 2 p.m.
Moments later I was on my back, squeezing my husband’s hand and begging them to take down the GIGANTIC mirror that magically appeared over my head. I wanted a natural birth; I didn’t say I wanted to watch it. I shut my eyes as tight as I could, pushed again and then told myself, “You will meet your baby with this next push, it will hurt like hell, but you will meet your baby.”
Less than three hours after arriving at the hospital, I pushed a third time and my beautiful 8lb 3oz boy was born followed closely by a gush of amniotic fluid.
It was 2:10 p.m.
They placed him on my abdomen and I reached down to grab my son while nurses encouraged him to cry–and cry he did. He wailed in my arms and I felt my husband’s tears trickle onto my face as we marveled at the newest addition to our family. He was perfect in every way and even as my doctor stitched a second degree tear, I smiled. I felt more joy and pride than I have ever felt in my entire life. My body made this person and I bravely and confidently gave birth to him on my own terms. They say you don’t get a medal for birthing naturally, but you actually get more. I have never felt more powerful, confident, or feminine than I did on that day.
My firstborn made me a mother and my second child made me an even stronger one.
Happy birthday, my love. Three hours, three pushes, then you.