It was Thursday July 31st, 2014 at 5:00am I woke up feeling a tightening in my abdomen. This wasn't an unusual feeling for me, in fact I had been experiencing such feelings increasingly for about two weeks, so I wasn't getting my hopes up. See, I was nearly 42 weeks pregnant waiting patiently (anxiously) to go into labor. Just a few months earlier I was graduating from college, but even then my mind was on the arrival of my son. A few hours later I went to the doctors office (for the third time that week) only to find out that I was scheduled to have my labor induced the following Monday. Frankly, I was feeling discouraged and depressed. I felt like my baby would never arrive on his own. I was 12 days overdue and had exhausted all the tricks and old wise tales of how to jump start your labor - I took walks every day, I ate plenty of spicy food, and I drank rose hips tea (to name a few). James even drove me around in my manual transmission car (and trust me, he made sure it was a bumpy ride). Nothing seemed to make our little Jamesie want to leave his safe home inside my womb. But on July 31st, 2014 at 5:00am I wasn't experiencing what I thought were Braxton Hicks contractions, I was feeling the beginnings of early labor.
When I was finally willing to admit that I was actually in labor (at about 3pm that afternoon), I was not nervous, but excited! And incredibly relieved. Twelve days can feel like an eternity for a pregnant woman in her 9th month. Mostly I was so relieved because I was (still am) immensely afraid of induced labor. I feared that if I was induced it would lead to an emergency c-section, which is something I REALLY did not want to happen (I mean really, I'm gonna do all that I can to avoid major surgery). I was also following a natural childbirth plan, which is something I just don't think I would have been able to achieve had I received pitocin to begin my contractions.
All these fears were for naught, because my little man decided to come on his own after all. James and I left for the hospital at about 2am, and Jamesie was born several hours later at 9:34am on August 1st. Even before I became pregnant, I knew that when I did have children, I wanted to at least try to do it without any medication - not to prove anything to myself or to anyone else - but because it was the best option for me and for my baby. I'm also kind of a thrill junky, and I thought what greater adventure is there than feeling the birth of your own child? Although there was of course intense pain, there was also this powerful euphoria that I can't describe in any other way than a "state of holiness." That feeling... now that was an experience.
However, I do not think that natural childbirth is for everyone, and there are certainly circumstances where the safest option for both mother and child is to receive pain medication or surgery. If you're young and fit and up for a challenge, I encourage you other mothers-to-be out there to at least try labor without medication and see how it goes. I'll give you a hint: when you feel like you just can't take the pain any longer and something needs to change because you just can't bear it for one moment longer - that is when the baby will be born, and you'll be so overwhelmed with happiness and relief that nothing else will matter.
I'm sure you other mamas out there would agree that when you are pregnant you should not put pressure on yourself to perform a certain way or be a certain way, because pregnancy (much like parenting) is a surrender of self. You quite literally give life to another; you hand over all control and let nature run its course. Childbirth is similar to pregnancy in that you have no control... you have to just listen to yourself and trust your body - this is what it was made for after all.
My favorite part of this newborn phase is the way your baby just curls up against you and falls asleep. I've said it before, and I'm sure I'll say it again - there is no better feeling in the world. This is worth the struggle.
If you think natural childbirth is the right option for you, I hope I have emboldened you on your journey. If it is not the right option, then I still wish you safety and success in bringing your child to this world. The truth is that we all have our birth stories, and they are wonderfully unique in their own way. The big day is a life changing experience no matter how you give birth, so enjoy it! Jamesie will turn six months on Sunday, and I already can't believe where the time has gone. He has changed and grown so much since those first days in the hospital and as much as I want to see the changes of his next six months, I can't help but long for the newborn phase. Good luck to all you pregnant mama's out there! I'd love to hear your birth stories too!