Two Visions of Birth
By Melanie T. Corbett
There are things in my life which I cannot change. Events have occurred which I cannot undo, and I don’t wish to undo, however; if I were to create my “perfect” birth, it only exists in my mind. Here are two visions: one an ideal birth, and one a realistic ideal birth.
In a perfect world, my mother would be alive, my grandmother would be alive, and I’d be giving birth in grandma’s house, which is where I feel most at home. My grandmother and mother would be very supportive of my choice to birth at home because they would have done the same. I would begin labor in the middle of the morning, and then take a walk with my husband around the farm and lake, enjoying the fall weather. Around lunch time we would arrive at grandma’s house and let her know I was in labor. Mom would call the doula and midwife, who would be lifelong friends of our family. After making that call, we would all sit down to a homemade lunch, after which we would all help with a quilt that mom and grandma were making for the baby. We would talk about birth and share our birth stories. The doula would arrive first and would encourage Sean to help me through each rush in the best way he and I knew how. I would move around the house as necessary and make noise as necessary.
The midwife would arrive midafternoon and would encourage me to take another walk. This time I would walk down Pecan Lane and visit with the goats. I would notice the changing colors of the leaves. I would swing on the swing under the big oak tree. I would visit the barn cats and feed them some bread and milk. Sean would help me back to the house because my rushes would have become strong and close together.
The living room would be lit with sunlight from the afternoon sun, as I worked through the last few contractions leading to transition. I am concerned about tearing again, since I tore with my first birth, but the midwife just calmly applies some pressure and olive oil to my perineum as Michael descends through the canal. I never push. I let my body do what it needs to do and my head gets out of the way. Michael is born easily with no complications. We let the cord finish pulsating before cutting it. Michael is placed on my chest and under a blanket. He will be examined later after an initial breastfeeding session is established. He will not have a hat on. It is now that I realize some music has been playing softly in the background. They are church songs, some from my childhood, some from my current life, that have meaning to me.
Daniel has been free to roam around with us this entire time and by now has settled down with my mom in bed for a nap. Sean and I have some time alone with Michael as the midwives, doula, and my grandmother prepare a snack for after birth. I let the midwife know the placenta is coming, and she comes back to catch it. We will have it encapsulated, so she arranges to have it frozen until that can be done.
Sean’s mom comes in after Sean and I have spent some time with Michael. My mom and grandma also come to greet the new baby. I am encouraged to stand up and move around a bit so as to avoid clotting. Sean, Michael and I go into our room (the quilt room) which has been made up for us. Sean holds Michael as Mom brings Daniel in to meet his big brother. Daniel sits in my lap while meeting Daniel, knowing that he is not being replaced in any way. Daniel goes out to play with my Mom and his cousins while Sean, Michael and I take a nap.
Since the majority of this story cannot physically take place today, here is the version of a realistic ideal birth I have in mind.
I wake up early in the morning to light contractions. I get out of bed so as not to disturb anyone and go sit on the deck drinking some raspberry leaf tea. I spend some quite time to myself asking my female ancestors to bless this birth and bring me their wisdom throughout it. Sean wakes up and comes to find me. He makes me an abstinent breakfast based on my food plan which is written on the fridge. I eat a balanced, but light meal and get dressed. I gather the items given to me at my blessingway and arrange them to my liking. I turn on KLOVE on the computer. Daniel wanders out of the bedroom and he and I sit in the “big, soft chair” together for a bit, until it becomes too uncomfortable. I spend some time on the birth ball with him doing my stretches together. Sean fixes Daniel breakfast and he eats while watching Blue’s Clues.
We all decide to take a walk around the walking paths in our complex. Labor still seems pretty light. We call Judith before we leave to let her know what’s going on. The walk is chilly, so I am glad I brought a coat with me. By the time we come back to the apt, contractions have picked up and Judith arrives. The Rebozo and the birth ball help, as do hip squeezes performed by Sean. I remember this time to ask him if he needs a break occasionally. I call my sponsor to let her know what’s going on and make a couple of calls to other 12 step friends to meet my obligations for my program. In between contractions, I read some daily meditations.
We eat lunch. We call Natalie to see if she has to work that evening or would be available to care for Daniel. She does not have to work and comes right over. She and Daniel play together while Sean, Judith and I work through contractions. She is able to get him to take a nap. J
After his nap, Daniel chooses to go with Natalie to visit his friend (and her son) Josiah. As soon as he was napping, we called Sarah, as we want her to get here before traffic gets bad. She arrives and things are progressing smoothly. No one checks for dilation or anything silly like that. I get in the birth tub and realize it’s not a scary thing, but actually very helpful. The buoyancy of the water helps me to relax. Sean is in there too. Contractions intensify and I feel Michael travel down the birth canal. I reach down to feel his head. Shortly he is born and Sarah catches him and brings him to my chest. She lays a blanket over us, but I am desperate to get out of the water. Everyone helps us move out of the tub and onto the couch. Sean gets my robe to keep me warm. There is a fire going in the fireplace as well. The placenta is born and the cord cut after finishing pulsating. Michael and I are dry and warm now and wrapped in blankets. We establish breastfeeding. He is examined on my chest. Sean holds him and then we weigh him. Sean calls my sponsor to let her know how everything went. He then also calls his parents, my dad and stepmom, my sister and his brother and sister. An evening meal is served according to my food needs. Daniel comes back as we are settling in for the night. Sean holds Michael while Daniel comes into the bedroom to meet him. He finally understands there’s a baby. The placenta is stored in anticipation of encapsulation. Sean goes out to visit with the midwives and doula briefly and thank them.
We enjoy our newfound foursome and get to know each other. Eventually we all drift off to sleep somehow.