The Birth of Zain Tai Shan
Born June 24, 2013 at 8:05 am
8 lbs, 15 ounces, 21 inches long, 14 inch head circumference
This is long, bear with me! I’ve included every detail of this journey that I want to remember for my own record. If you want to just read about the birth, skip down!
Only God and I will ever know the sacrifice it took to give this child life. In hindsight, I think the pregnancy was even harder than the birth. This was my 4th pregnancy and birth. My first 3 had gotten progressively worse as far as how well my body handled being pregnant. I’d had high hopes for this pregnancy though after having spent 4 years on a detox diet and lifestyle healing my body. I was in the best shape I’d ever been in in my life. That’s not to say I didn’t still have a lot of work to do, but I’d made tremendous progress. I went into this pregnancy expecting to continue eating my clean diet, cleansing my colon and rebounding daily and with visions of my body strong and vibrant, glowing and slim, with one of those adorable round bellies. I’m a big believer in manifesting what we want and in the power of the mind to create our desired reality. Despite my efforts and intentions, it didn’t turn out at all as planned and I definitely went through a mourning process for months. I needed to accept the fact that I’m just not one of those women who can’t be pregnant and healthy. My body does not handle it well. This was very difficult for me because it meant accepting that this would be my last pregnancy, as I cannot take care of my children while I am pregnant. I hadn’t wanted to be pregnant again. We’ve always felt that 6 children is right for us but both of us fully expected to adopt the last 3. But the spiritual promptings came, undeniably, and at a time when our income was in the form of school loans, thus making adoption impossible. So we knew what we had to do.
It took 7 months to conceive. Two of our children were unintentionally conceived and the other took 3 months, but I knew exactly when he would be conceived so I didn’t really consider it “trying”. I was surprised this one took so long. I felt very connected to this child from the time we started getting the promptings, about one and a half years before his actual birth. When I finally did get pregnant the only symptom I had was sharp gas pains a lot of the time, which I didn’t relate to possible pregnancy. I believe we got the positive test at 5 weeks. I felt fantastic until week 7. During that time I really thought I was going to have my dream pregnancy. Then comes week 7 and the morning sickness arrives. I’ve never vomited while pregnant, I just can’t eat. I full-on gag constantly, especially at the thought or smell of food. The terrible gas pains continued. I normally would do an enema a day as part of my cleansing lifestyle and I had to up that to two a day just to keep the pain at a bearable level. I had to eat whatever I could stand to choke down in the moment which meant a whole lot of food that I would never touch normally. Food that literally would suck the life out of me, but I had to eat something. I did my best to stick to the highest quality version of whatever it was I was eating. I became very weak and faint. There were times I was so sick I was genuinely scared for my life, one time in particular when I was home alone while my family was at church. I was so low on energy I kept fading in and out of sleep on the couch. My breathing was shallow and I felt incredibly weak. I somehow managed to get to the kitchen and made a protein shake, which I’d forgotten I even had in the cabinet until then. It helped a lot, but was so difficult to get down. I choked them down daily for the next few weeks until I absolutely couldn’t do it anymore. I doubt I will ever be able to look at the package again without having flashbacks.
During this time we were readying our house for sale, and by “we” I mean mostly me. My husband worked and was at school too much to help a lot. So, sick as I was, I had to force my body to do a whole lot of painting and other projects. My children’s homeschooling went completely out the window, as did the regular upkeep of the house. The sickness slowly faded away as I got into my second trimester, but I never did regain any kind of appetite or tolerance for vegetables. I still had a lot of food aversions. I continued feeling weak and faint. Somewhere between 17 and 20 weeks the prodromal labor contractions started. They had started in the last tri of my first pregnancy, at 14 weeks with my second and at 11 weeks with my third, so I felt blessed to have made it so far without them.
About a month later we moved from Missouri to Arizona and my husband went to Washington for a 2 month preceptorship, leaving me alone with the kids. He was able to come home for a visit during that time, which was a huge blessing, but that was a dark time in my life. I did the best that I could but moving around would bring on contractions and I still wasn’t feeling well. I started having ligament cramping in my abdomen, especially if I stood up for any length of time, so I spent most of the time laying on the couch.
I began having a lot of difficulty breathing. It started out happening for several hours each morning. I felt like I could take air in but that I couldn’t get enough oxygen from it, like I was suffocating. This would happen even if I was just sitting or lying down. So I spent hours a day deep breathing as best I could and trying not to panic. Eventually, it moved from just in the morning to coming on any time of the day for several hours duration.
The kids were super stir crazy. It was all I could do to even navigate a grocery store, so they didn’t get out much. The day that my husband was flying home for good our son, Behn, jumped over the back of a chair and broke his arm. My body had already been pushed to its limits that day and after the time spent in the hospital, that turned out to be the first of many nights I’d have cramping contractions. I was about 32 weeks at the time. I just kept praying and laying still and taking warm baths and loading up on a calcium and magnesium supplement to keep the contractions at a minimum. Sometimes I would have them every 3-5 minutes for several days at a time. It became exhausting, especially to be around people or in public. I withdrew from the world so that I could focus on dealing with what my body was doing.
During this time I was diagnosed by my midwife with anemia, which should have explained the breathlessness. My hemoglobin level was 9.6, and it needed to be over 10 to legally qualify for a homebirth, but my midwife preferred it to be closer to 11. I started taking Floradix with high hopes of alleviating the suffocation I was feeling. I read online that it typically took 7-12 days to feel better and I watched the calendar until that time… and that time passed… and 8 weeks passed… and I still suffocated. A blood test at 35 weeks showed that my hemoglobin was up above 10, so I was out of the danger zone, but I in no way felt better.
The Final Weeks
At last, I reached the 36th week, which meant I was eligible for a homebirth. I never expected to go beyond 38-weeks with this baby. For some reason I was sure he would be born in the 37th or 38th week, I was also sure that he would be smaller than my other babies and pretty certain he would have dark hair. So, being in the 36th week and realizing the time was at hand, my anxiety went wild.
I’ve had a tremendous amount of birth anxiety all my life. I’ve even wondered if it I might have a legitimate phobia. My second birth in particular had left me with a lot of trauma and fear. I had had so much anxiety that whole pregnancy and when labor began it ripped me from my sleep early in the morning. I began active labor immediately and Behn was born 2 hours and 20 minutes later. It felt MUCH faster. I didn’t realize it was progressing so quickly and thought I just wasn’t handling it well and that I had hours more to go and that it would get much worse. My midwives were just leaving another birth so I had no one there to tell me I was at the end and would soon hold my baby. I had no one there who was supportive and could bring me back down to earth and help me to stay calm. I had a full-blown panic attack the entire time. The midwives did not arrive until 9 minutes before he was born and I was already pushing out of control at that point. My doula did not arrive until an hour after the birth. I was just there with my husband, who didn’t know what to do to help me, and my sister who was caring for my 4 year old daughter. My worst fear was a repeat of that birth. My first birth was also very painful, but I was calm. Still, I never wanted to feel that pain again, which is what caused the anxiety toward the second birth. For my 3rd birth I used Hypnobabies, and it was TREMENDOUS. I woke up in labor first thing in the morning with that one as well, but for the first time I actually had a first stage and the hypnosis was wonderful during that time. I kept very calm and chose not to perceive what I was feeling as pain. I had a pain-free labor, but as I went into transition and birth, that all went out the window and I just did what had to be done to handle it and get the baby out. This time, I decided that if I could have a pain-free labor last time, I would have a pain-free labor AND birth this time. I’m a determined person and I usually get what I want. But now that I was near my birthing time and it was becoming very real to me I began to doubt myself. I took to reading about painless birth and collecting and reading affirmations every day in addition to my hypnosis practice. I used a lot of my prodromal labor contractions to practice my hypnosis and it worked magically almost all of the time.
At this point I was still struggling to breathe. It got to the point where I could not stand up for more than 5 minutes without having to sit down or I would get dizzy from lack of oxygen. Interestingly, I did a search online to figure out what it was and I came across posts I had put up during my last 2 pregnancies asking for help for the exact same problem… I guess this is just what happens to me when I’m pregnant and I block it out! In addition to that the contractions got stronger and longer all the time and the ligament cramping got worse. It was terrible if I stood for a minute or two and even if I sat upright for more than a few minutes at a time. The ligaments would spasm and I would have pain for hours afterward, which would make the contractions even worse. I moved upstairs to my bed and didn’t leave for over a month. I just laid there. I only got up if I had to, like to use the bathroom. I had to rely on my daughter and husband to bring me food. Of course this only made the anxiety worse. Here I was stuck in one room day after day, mostly alone, helpless, in and out of labor, dreading the upcoming event, constantly wondering when it would come upon me. My mind did nothing but spin with thoughts of giving birth. I couldn’t imagine how I could do it again. I never knew how I’d done it in the first place. I could only remember what was traumatizing about my previous births. I was so afraid of waking up in labor again. I was having contractions at least every 30 minutes, but usually every 15 minutes or closer, so I would wake up all night long to contractions, each time in a panic thinking I was in labor. I reached out to every resource I could think of during this time, but as I tried to talk through the fear and figure it out it only seemed to get worse. I would hear myself talking and I sounded like I did as a child when I was faced with anything medical related or physically uncomfortable. What it came down to was that I knew my body would birth this baby, but I had no belief whatsoever that I could handle it mentally or emotionally. I kept praying and praying for a healing, easy, comfortable, painless birth. I got several Priesthood blessings that said that my prayers had been heard and would be answered and that I would be able to stay in the moment during birth and not panic. This brought a small amount of comfort, but I still felt so trapped.
My due date was June 20th. On the night of June 8th, at 37-weeks, I had my first night of labor. I was up that entire night with consistent contractions, 3-5 minutes apart and stronger than usual. I could not sleep through them at all. I took a ton of Rescue Remedy and talked myself through the whole night, doing all I could to just stay calm. Calm was my main objective, as I knew all too well that any pain I would feel would be relative to the amount of fear I was experiencing. Kolby texted the birth team to put them on alert in case we might need them in the night. By the time the sun came up the contractions began to space out. I was so exhausted I was falling asleep sitting up and confused and frustrated. That felt like a lot of work for nothing! But still, the entire time, I was willing labor away. I didn’t want it to come. Ever. As bad as pregnancy was and as much as I wanted this baby, I could not bear the thought of going through what was necessary to get to the other side. In the wee hours of that morning I began to see that maybe my anxiety had some roots in other issues. I had randomly began to cry about my mom having recently been diagnosed with cancer. I had been so wrapped up in my pregnancy I hadn’t given myself much space to think about it or process it.
I continued having frequent contractions all week. I was so anxious I was having panic attacks and not eating or sleeping much. It was getting to be a desperate situation. There was talk between me and Kolby and me and my midwives (which they brought up) about possibly choosing an induction and epidural in a hospital because the anxiety was so severe I couldn’t function. It was also suggested I go on an anti-anxiety drug, but I was in such bad shape I couldn’t leave the house to see a doctor. I seriously considered the medical route. I had only ever had natural births at home and in water. After a lot of thought and discussion I made the decision based on my usual terms, the first being which is the path of least regret, and the second being what my instincts are telling me. I knew that I would regret making a selfish decision out of fear, and compromising all that was so important to me regarding this soul’s entrance into the world. I also felt that, even if the induction and epidural worked flawlessly, I would be more traumatized from the medical procedures and atmosphere than I would be from having another natural birth, even if it was fast and hard like Behn’s birth.
A week later, on the night of the 16th, I went into labor again. Contractions started out 5 minutes apart and were long and even stronger than they ever had been before. The midwives and doula came and everything was set up for birth. This was a beautiful night. It was intimate and romantic and everything felt perfect. I was calm for the most part, and even happy. I didn’t want labor to stop on me again. I didn’t want to have wasted everyone’s time and effort and I wanted to have my baby on this perfect night. I used my hypnosis through the contractions while lying in bed holding Kolby’s hand all night. He fell asleep, but I didn’t care, I was handling it well. I was so hungry and kept having my doula bring me bowls of melon to snack on between contractions. Slowly, the contractions got lighter and I began to doze in between them, and then they spaced out. The midwives left at 4 am and the doula at 5 am. I fully expected to get a few hours of sleep and then go into active labor. But that didn’t happen. My midwife came back later in the day to check on me and to take down the birth tub and get her things because she had several other women in line to give birth. My perfect night was gone. At this point I really didn’t want to go into labor ever again, the perfect moment had passed and I was exhausted and felt so defeated. I doubted I could recreate such a perfect scene and mental state again. I went back to fear and attempting to process fear and putting off labor any way that I could.
That week a letter came from my mom and I was hesitant to open it. When I did I cried as I read it and released so many pent up emotions that I wasn’t even aware I’d had. She said many things that I’d needed so much to hear since childhood. This was an extremely healing moment for me and afterwards I felt capable of birthing this baby. I felt that I could take on anything. As time passed fear creeped back in. This was such a tremendous time of mental processing and growth. I realized at some point that if I had handled this pregnancy, I was already so much stronger than I thought. I reached out to a friend of mine, who was my doula and Bradley teacher from my first birth. We had a conversation via Facebook one night that transformed so much of my fear into hope and strength and I will forever be thankful for her and for the prompting to reach out and ask her if she had any ideas to help me deal with this fear.
Being cooped up in my bedroom and being to engrossed in anxiety really began to wear on me. I became depressed. My husband was worried about me. Nothing could distract me from my mental state. Nothing interested me or made me smile. I wanted someone to connect with but I just couldn’t find that. I was in a new place with no friends nearby and was alone in a room most of the time. When Kolby is around he’s always playing games on his phone and tends to become angry when I talk about my feelings so he wasn’t able to be the friend that I needed, although he did support me to the best of his ability. I never though this pregnancy would go on this long, but I will be forever thankful, because it allotted me the time I needed to process so much of my fear.
Behn had wanted the baby to be born on his birthday, the 23rd. I told him I would try but that I really didn’t think I would be pregnant that long. Yet here I was on the 23rd, still pregnant. The 23rd also happened to be the day of the Supermoon, the largest (or closest to the earth) that the moon would be all year. I thought if I didn’t go into labor this day, I never would.
During the day I began having contractions that felt like a band of crampiness in a horseshoe shape around the sides and bottom of my belly. They were different from any contractions I had had up until this point and judging by the strength of the cramping, I really thought I was in labor for sure this time. I started timing them around 2 pm. They started 15 minutes apart and went to 5 minutes apart within an hour. My mother in law came and got the kids to spend the night at her house. I had wanted the kids to be part of the birth originally, but they didn’t seem as interested in the last few weeks and I was finding that they were distracting during contractions, especially the boys.
The midwives and doula came over and as soon as the midwife walked in the contractions almost completely diminished. We talked for a while about my anxiety and how I need to be willing to let go of control and let this baby be born. I don’t usually consent to cervical checks and my midwife doesn’t typically do them or find them helpful, but she wanted to check to see what all the contractions were accomplishing and also said she would like to strip my membranes. I had never had that done before, or any form of induction and it made me nervous. Kolby and I prayed about it and he gave me a blessing and we felt that it was okay to do the stripping. I had them fill the birth tub first because I was worried labor might kick in for real afterward. The cervical check and stripping hurt quite a bit. She said my cervix was tilted back so it wasn’t opening a whole lot and she pulled it forward and was happy that it didn’t slip back. She said that she probably couldn’t have broken my water if she wanted to because there was almost no water in front of his head, just the membrane. I didn’t want to know how dilated I was because I didn’t want to feel discouraged and I know that dilation tells you nothing about how much longer it will be anyway. (I asked several days later and found out I was 3 cm dilated that day.) Not too long after, the cramping contractions came back but the birth team left after some conversation and insisting that I get out of the house and go for a drive and see the full moon. I didn’t want to go far from home or have contractions in the car, but I did go out to the backyard with Kolby and sat and watched the moon for an hour. It was the first time I’d even been downstairs in weeks. It was nice to get outside, but the chair I was sitting on was uncomfortable. After that we came in to watch a movie in bed and the contractions went almost completely away again, but the movie helped me relax and get my mind off of birth, so that was nice. I sat up for a bit thinking about my reaction to and feelings about the birth. I thought about how I was reacting like my child-self and worked through some issues. I reminded myself of the woman that I am now. I thought about the women I was before this pregnancy. I had all but forgotten her. I remembered how beautiful and strong I was. I remembered how positive I was and how often I was told by friends that I was an inspiration to them in one way or another. I reminded myself that I was still that women, I had just forgotten. And then, I fell asleep.
A couple of contractions began to rouse me and half-heartedly made an attempt to time them but fell asleep in between. I believe there were 3, and they were 15 minutes apart. On about the 4th one I was woken up all the way to a feeling I’d yet to experience. These contractions were not a band across the top of my belly like my first labor, and they were now a band low in my belly like my last two labors an like the night before. The best I can describe them was that I could envision a cone shape with an open bottom, as though the bottom were where my cervix is and the cone was the bottom half of my uterus, or somewhere within my uterus. This is where I felt the contractions. And they were really uncomfortable! I had to work to breathe through these. I went to the bathroom and got caught by one on my way back to the bed and had to hang on to the door as it peaked. Kolby called the midwives and I laid down and went to work. He was timing them and they were very erratic, which made me wonder if I was really in labor. I didn’t trust myself to know by this point. One would be 12 minutes, then 5, then 9, then a double peak that would last for 3 full minutes. I had had several double peak contractions during my earlier bouts of labor, which was interesting. I’d never had double peaks outside of transition before. The birth team arrive and the water in the birth tub was rewarmed. I was breathing intensely and blowing out during contractions. Not only was the timing all over the place, but so was the intensity. I would have a few easier ones and then a really strong one, then an easy, then a double peak and so on. Before I knew it the contractions quickly changed and I was vocalizing through them. Kolby kept trying to offer me food and I was so irritated. The food ship had long since sailed! I was asking for more support and had Kolby lying in front of me holding my hand and my doula sitting behind me with her hand on me. I still felt alone. What I really wanted was someone to take some of the pain. These contractions were blowing my mind. I did NOT want to be having them or feeling this much pain, this was supposed to be my pain-free birth! The midwives came in and I instantly reached out to my midwife, Alison. For some reason the whole time I’d wanted her and her presence was so comforting to me. Everyone started encouraging me to get into the tub. I was still a little scared to do that because the tub reminded me of the worst parts of my previous births. That is where the greatest of the pain and intensity happened. I still wasn’t sure I wanted another water birth because of that, but I wanted the option. There were really insisting though. I didn’t want to get in too early and overheat and spend what seemed like forever in there like my last birth. But when they told me I needed to get my pants off immediately I got the clue! I was talking a lot during this time and I don’t really remember what I said, I was just sort of unloading emotional stuff. I had the brief thought that maybe I could be in transition because I was saying things like that I didn’t want to do this and I wanted it to be over, but I’d just started labor, surely I couldn’t be anywhere near transition! I really hadn’t thought for a second that I was at all close to ready to push this baby out. They helped me out of my pants and I remember my midwife asking me if I knew about the purple line. I said yes and she looked and informed me that I had one! A minute ago, I was still not sure I was actually in labor, and I was beginning to realize I was not only really in labor, but there was a baby about to come out of me! I made a dash for the tub. I got on my knees and held on to the side of the tub in front of me and immediately got scared because that was how I ended up pushing before and it triggered those memories. I said something about how I didn’t want to be in that position and they asked if I wanted to turn around but I couldn’t bear the thought of that either. Really, I just wanted out of the situation. I knew the only way was through. There was a small hole in the tub that the midwife had repaired with tape (she’d ordered a new one but it wasn’t in yet) and I could hear the air leaking out somewhere below me. I remember this being a huge concern to me. I knew how hard I was going to be squeezing the side of that tub and I didn’t want it deflating on me! I fussed over it for a few seconds and then quickly got over it, but I could hear it the whole time. This time was a bit of a blur and I’m not sure of the exact order of things. Kolby was sitting on a stool in front of me and the midwives and doula were behind me. One of the midwives was supporting my perineum with a warm washcloth and I believe they put castor oil on it to “slide” the baby out. Somehow in the mix of things Kolby had texted his mom and it was mentioned that she was on her way with the kids. This freaked me out. I was so overstimulated and so just barely hanging in there, the thought of the distraction of them walking in was too much. I knew I had to get this baby out before they got there. I didn’t want to have a single contraction more than was absolutely necessary or be in labor a second longer than I had to be, so I pushed like my life depended on it. At that point, I didn’t care if I tore wide open, I didn’t care if I had a long, painful recovery, I wanted my baby OUT. The contractions were still erratic. There were only 3 or 4 breaks in between where there was no pain and I was able to take a second to rest and recoup some energy to keep going. This period of time felt chaotic and terrible. The feeling of the baby’s head stretching me open was incredibly painful. I was pushing as best as I could and just hoping with every push for the feeling of his head releasing from my body but it seemed like it would never come. I was even pushing in between contractions when there was just cramping. During contractions I would push as best I could and scream at what felt like the top of my lungs. I tried to keep the sounds low, but it was so hard with all the pain. The midwives kept reassuring me that he was right there, he was just giving me a chance to stretch. I said a lot of things during this time that I don’t remember now. I know that I kept saying, “Come out Zainy, come out come out come out.” I remember the midwife asking if I wanted to touch his head, and I did, but I didn’t feel I could so I said no, I just want him out. I remember the midwife telling me to reach down and so I could catch my baby, because I had wanted to the whole pregnancy, but I couldn’t stand the thought of pushing without squeezing the wall of the tub with all my strength. Kolby had caught our other boys, but I didn’t want him to move from in front of me and he was okay with that. The midwife was worried I might regret later that I didn’t catch my baby, but I knew I wouldn’t. I was only concerned with doing what was necessary to get the baby out. It didn’t matter to me who caught him, as long as he was out and he was safe. I needed a lot of reassurance and support. I was later told that my water broke as I was pushing, like it did with my other boys, but I didn’t feel or hear it this time. My midwife had said sometime before it broke that he might be born in the caul and that even though I might not be thinking it at the time, that is the coolest kind of birth… but I was totally thinking it at the time, I always wanted a baby born in the caul! But after a few pushes I’d totally forgotten about any of that, I was too focused on getting that baby out and getting this all over with. Finally, I felt myself stretch to my max and the head released. I expected to have a rest here before pushing the body out but I kept pushing, I think the midwife told me to, but I’m not sure. It was SO intense, I felt my body pull up out of the water like I was trying to move away from the pain and out came my baby. They passed him through my legs and told me to grab him. I reached down and took hold of his tiny body and cracked my eyes open to see him all purple and curled up coming up to the surface. He looked like he was trying to take a breath under water and I wonder if he maybe caught his first breath when I rose up out of the water and inhaled some water as he was passed to me. I pulled him to my chest and turned over to sit down with him.
Such relief! He was trying to work some fluid out of his lungs and I was trying to get him face down so gravity could help but the cord was over his shoulder so the midwives had to help me move it so I could change his position. The apprentice midwife announced the time of birth: 8:05, the exact same time Behn was born 7 years and 1 day earlier! I was still feeling some cramping and my bottom hurt a lot, so I was kind of sitting on my left side a bit.
Just then my kids and mother in law appeared in the bathroom doorway (the birth tub was in the bathroom), perfect timing! The kids got to take in the wonderful scene of new birth without having to witness mommy screaming and in pain. I was especially thankful for this because Behn had been very nervous about hearing the sounds of birth and seeing it and tends to be very sensitive about things like that. It was a blessing that he wasn’t there, and also a blessing that they arrived in time to see the immediate celebration of new life.
They each came and gave Zain a kiss. My mother in law left. Everyone was so happy and there was such warmth and joy in the room. Zain was perfect. With my other children, it took me a day or two to bond with them on the outside, but with Zain the strong bond we’d had for so long never changed. I immediately felt overwhelming love for him. He was just as I pictured him, only with lighter hair. So, all of my predictions about his birth were wrong!
After a bit I started having contractions again and asked if I could push out the placenta. Coen cut the cord with his daddy’s help, he had requested this job after he’d watched the video of his own birth a few weeks before.
I passed the baby to Kolby who took him to the bedroom. I had been worried about pushing the placenta out as it had been difficult for me in the past and I felt unsupported, even abandoned during that time in previous births. With my last birth it took me a full hour to get the placenta out and was a very painful and stressful endeavor. My midwife had assured me I would not be left alone this time and she fulfilled that promise. I laid on my side in the tub with the apprentice midwife up near my head helping to support me while my midwife checked to make sure the placenta had detached, it had. I gave one push and it easily slipped out. I can’t believe how easy it was! Kolby helped me get washed off in the shower and then I climbed into bed with my sweet baby. I was nervous to nurse him until he was checked for lip and tongue tie because I endured so much pain with my other babies who had them, but only one of them was diagnosed at the time. He did have both and my midwife was able to clip them. I still hate that he had to go through that right after birth, but I also didn’t want him having to go through nursing with a mother who is in pain and dreading every time he gets hungry and being tense while he nurses. I especially didn’t want him to think he was the cause of my pain.
The apprentice midwife was giving me several herbal tinctures about every 15 minutes from right after the birth. One was Star of Bethlehem, which my midwife wanted me to take because it helps with trauma. She was concerned that even if this birth wasn’t traumatic, it might trigger memories of past birth trauma. I was also given arnica (for tissue healing) and Wish Garden Herbs After Ease. I can’t say enough about the After Ease! I was VERY nervous about after pains because they were so bad with my third baby and they get worse with each one. I only took a half dose of Ibuprofen 5 times (I believe) over the first 3 days, in addition to the After Ease and I never felt anything more painful than moderate menstrual cramps a few times while nursing.
Zain pooed more meconium than I ever thought possible. After a few hours and lots of poo when we finally got around to examining him he weighed 8 lbs 15 ounces, the exact same as Behn (after he had pooed meconium twice), and was 21 inches long, the same length as my other two boys. His head circumference was a quarter inch bigger than my other boys and a quarter inch smaller than my daughter. Labor was 2 hours and 35 minutes from the contraction that actually woke me up, 25 minutes of that was pushing. The whole thing felt like about 30 minutes.
What I Learned
Going into this birth I wanted more than anything to have a “successful” hypnobabies birth. I thought that that meant it should be painless and easy. I prayed and prayed and prayed for this and that this birth would be healing. I wanted to find out what it’s like to feel empowered by birth, to feel like I’d had a positive birth experience. I could not imagine that something that involved pain could possibly be any of those things. All of the anxiety I experienced was over fear of pain. I truly believed that if there was more than just minor pain I would not be able to have the experience I so badly wanted and would come out of this traumatized. My worst fear was that this birth would be like my second (Behn’s) birth. Lucky for me, God knows better than I do, and always hears and answers my prayers, in His way. This birth was identical to Behn’s birth in so many ways: I woke up in labor, it was fast and hard, it was very painful, it felt wild and unpredictable, I got into the water only to push because I didn’t realize how far along I was, pushing was intense and so raw and harsh and gritty feeling… BUT, I didn’t panic, and I had support. This time I wasn’t alone. I wanted so much for someone to take a little bit of the pain away from me and I did feel somewhat alone in that I knew no one could do this for me, all they could do is stand by my side. I knew that I was the only person in this world who could birth this child. I think what made the biggest difference was having someone there to bring me into the reality that things we’re moving quickly, that I wasn’t going to be in that state for a long time, that I wasn’t going to suffer. I had people watching me push and telling me about the progress I was making and cheering me on. My husband was right in front of me the entire time touching me and supporting me. We were a team for the first time. I felt so connected to my baby and never lost sight of the reason for all that I was feeling. I realize now that a painless, easy birth would not have been nearly as empowering. To have realized my own power, I needed to experience its greatness. It wasn’t some external force passing through me, it WAS me. It was me using the gift of creation that God has given me, and me and God and Zain, working flawlessly together, gave birth to new life. I gave a small sacrifice of temporary pain for this precious little being to have what he wanted most, a body like his Heavenly Father and an opportunity to experience a mortal life, to learn, to be tried and tested, and to return to live with his Father for eternity. I realize now that there is nothing wrong with feeling pain. It is through pain that we do our best growing. Pain and joy are only opposite ends of the same line, one cannot exist without the other, or we wouldn’t know either. I’ve learned that I can have positive experiences, even if they involve pain. I doubt that Christ would complain of being traumatized by what he did for me, and I did such a small thing for a fellow being in comparison.
Another thing I took away from this: gratitude. I always say there’s nothing gratitude can’t heal, but for some reason I never applied that to birth before. It wasn’t until this pregnancy that I learned that when babies come fast, it’s almost always a good sign. A fast baby is usually a safe, healthy baby. I’d always seen myself as a victim to precipitous labor. It wasn’t until this birth that it dawned on me that I would so much rather have these fast, hard, intense labors than to have complications. I just can’t believe I never saw the blessing in it before. I have had 4 natural births at home, in the water. All of them have been absolutely flawless with perfect outcomes. All healthy babies, and I recovered well from all of them. I am so blessed! I realize now, that whatever I endured during those few short hours of my life, no matter how much pain I felt, I am not traumatized. I am not a victim. I was given 4 of the most amazing gifts a person can receive. I am loved. I am supported. I am strong. I wanted to come through this with a positive message for all women and that is it. What is true for me is true for any women, regardless of her birth experience. You are loved. You are supported. And you are strong.
I have been lost in baby bliss for the past 9 days. Zain is wonderful. I couldn’t have dreamed up a better person. He has renewed my love for each of my children and my husband. He has taught me so much about love, and faith, and growth, and myself. He has given me a new perspective. The things I learned from this experience I will carry with me through life and they will be priceless tools that I can share with others.
Lastly, I just have to say that all of this sacrifice was more worth it than I can express. I am so in love! SO in love with this child. He is a gift to me, to our family, and to the world. I pray that I can be a fraction of the mother he deserves. I know that, as with all of my children, I will spend every day of my life working to be a better person than I was the day before because he deserves the very best and while I’ll never live up to the perfection he ought to have, I will always do my best. I am so honored that out of every women in the world, he chose me. My pain was not suffering, and despite the fact that this birth went exactly how I didn’t want it to go, it was a perfect, healing, empowering and positive birth. I got everything I wanted and more.