In 2015 I felt powerful. I felt strong, brave, courageous and capable.
I had achieved a natural un-medicated homebirth with my second daughter, Millie. I had planned to do it and I did.
At 12 days post-date in my 450 square foot trailer, on my own bed, I pushed her out to the hum of the tractor next door. Hells yes, I was so ready to have that baby. Apple blossoms bloomed in a vase by my bedside and the Mayflowers I picked along the trail to cope with each day she was late, rested on every other square surface.
I felt all of it. I felt when I wanted to vomit on the toilet for three or four contractions right after I felt my legs give out holding me upright in the kitchen. I felt the need to get my husband the hell off of facebook, to call my doula RIGHT AWAY and I felt the panic when my body started pushing her out before the midwife had anything prepared.
I felt the way my body stretched and curled around my baby as I heaved her body out of mine, one contraction at a time. I felt how tightly Justin’s hands were squeezed into mine, and I felt the rush of relief the moment she was out, only three hours after it had begun. Then I watched and felt my uterus contract back down to size, writhing like an alien in my jiggling belly.
My neighbours and pals set off fireworks to welcome her into the world and my husband, my doula and I wrote and sounded out first and middle name combinations in a brown notepad.
It was amazingly perfect in every way, comparable only to the same feeling I felt in 2011, with the birth of my first daughter, Wren.
Except then, one could argue, I didn’t feel much of anything at all.
I had labored for 36 hours at my mother’s apartment with she and Justin, and was denied admittance to the IWK not one, but three separate times. Each time I was so sure I had progressed and felt near the end of my rope for pain tolerance. I cried in the fetal position to my mother in her bedroom on her bed and remember her distinctly telling me that this was never meant to be the fun part, as she and Justin tried to doze on the second night of my labour.
When I had Wren, I was 24 years old. I knew very little about my options, though I had it in my mind that the more natural I could do it, the better. My body was so prime, which I can now say with absolute certainty, and I ate better than I ever did, dedicating myself to the health of my baby.
With Wren I walked to and from work. I cut out caffeine. I did yoga. I worked full time until 39 weeks gestation and had enjoyed a plethora of benefits from my health plan- the massages, the chiropractor, the dentist, hell- the custom orthotics- I did it all. I felt fan-freakin-tastic, though I looked insane, strutting the streets of Fairview in the hot summer heat wearing Black Market sundresses and Birkenstock sandals.
When my labour began, I couldn’t have anticipated it would last two days. So when they did admit me on that fine September day in 2011, 11 days post-date, I totally had them page the anaesthesiologist for the epidural before they even bothered showing me my room. I slept for seven hours, under bright lights, and then it took three more, numb from the chest down, to push her out and into the world after 46 hours of labour.
But I did push that big baby out- numb from the chest down. And that, my friends, is pretty kickass indeed when you think about it. And I felt like a warrior, as every birthing woman should.
Looking back on each of my experiences, I wouldn’t change a single thing.
In 2011, I birthed a pouty, plump 9.3 pound baby after gaining 20pounds with the best pregnancy of life. In 2015 I birthed a lively 8.4 pound baby after gaining 30 pounds after the most urinary tract infection stricken, impounded tooth ridden, winter fuckshow pregnancy of life.
I had two very different experiences. And I have had two, thus far, very different babies. My blue eyed Wren came out so swollen we didn’t see her real face for seven whole days. Millie’s grey wide eyes greeted the world with curiousity from the first moment. One blonde, one brunette. One starting big and turning average sized, and one starting average size and turning big.
All from one body.
Which birth was preferred or better? Both. Each labour was so different, and they each taught me how to be a mother. How to roll with the punches, and how to trust myself. They each represented a specific timeframe in my life and had merit. They were each empowering, supported and perfect in their own right. I was in control, and I would live each of my births again one hundred times to feel that satisfaction.
In 2015 I became a mom to two daughters. 2015 reminded me I love being pregnant, despite anything, and I love birthing babies. Hell, I’ve either been building a baby or feeding one since 2010.
So as I brought in this New Year nursing and drifting my littlest back to sleep, I am reminded that my body is a gift. I am reminded of all the fellow mamas up at this same hour, doing this same thing. And I remember that being a woman is an insanely beautiful ride.
This 2016 I will respect that.