This gorgeous young man turned 13 this past week. I can hardly believe it. His birth was my first natural birth. By natural, I mean unmedicated. The night of his birthday, I taught Class 4 in my Birth Boot Camp series. I feel like it was SO appropriate that I was teaching women to have confidence in their bodies and giving them the tools to have the birth experience that they want on this special day. (Don't worry - we celebrated all weekend!)
We have a special tradition in our home. On each child's birthday, all of the kids gather on our bed first thing in the morning and listen while I tell that child's birth story. I absolutely LOVE this! Now, we actually talk about their births much more often than just on their special day, but this tradition is so much fun. No matter how old they get, they enjoy being the center of attention.
Looking back, I am amazed at how I was able to have this wonderful birth. Way back then, it was much more difficult to find like-minded individuals. We had dial-up internet. Enough said, right?
I knew that I did not want to have an epidural. My first birth had been full of interventions and ended with a premature baby in the NICU who had a very difficult time breastfeeding. I did not want that experience again! I mentioned this to a few friends. Most thought I was crazy, but one friend didn't. She told me all about how she had a natural birth! She told me to read The Birth Book by Dr. Sears and learn to relax. That was it. She made it seem easy!
Well, I did what she said. I read that book only 3 weeks before going into labor (4 weeks early). My husband and I practiced with different relaxation techniques -- music, massage, visualization, etc. When the time came to put it into practice, I was amazed that it worked so well! I found that as long as I kept my body relaxed, I was able to stay on top of those contractions. I had to focus and really turn inward. There was such a distinct difference in the contractions that I didn't relax for! The pain was almost overwhelming. My husband was the one who really helped me to re-focus. You must prepare mentally and emotionally for natural birth.
I found that water was my friend. After a few hours of active labor, I needed something more. I was able to sit on a seat in the shower and let the warm water wash over me. Water is known as the "midwive's epidural!" What a true statement! It really helped to calm and relax me.
I reached transition while in the shower and the water helped through. My sweet boy arrived just a few minutes later on the bed. Being early, he ended up spending a few days in the NICU. But, unlike my first child, he nursed like a champ and didn't have any of the medication side-effects that my first child did.
It wasn't easy, but it was wonderful. I am so thankful for this friend. Sharing our stories of natural childbirth is so important. You never know how many lives you might change.