As I was finishing an article I was writing, I noticed some contractions, and wondered whether this could be labor. It was around midnight. Because the contractions were not regular yet, I really wasn’t sure if this was labor. To pass the time, I watched some television and surfed the net. Contraction Master (a website that times your contractions) told me that my contractions were about seven minutes apart. It was safe to assume this was the start of labor.
My daughter was sleeping next to me on the bed, and I hugged her. This was her very last night as an only child, and my last night as a mother of one. I enjoyed looking at her, and hoped that she would enjoy being a big sister. From about 2 o’clock onward, contractions progressed rapidly. I got out all the birth supplies I needed, made sure that the apartment was clean, and then proceeded to battle the air conditioner.
We were in the middle of the coldest winter the country had seen in a while, and the heating system was inadequate. I never used the air conditioner any way, but now I wanted it to start blowing hot air so that the new baby would be born into a warm home. It took me about half an hour to get it working.
Then, I decided that it would be nice to get in the bath. Not a birthing pool, but a regular bathtub. The water was soothing, and made the contractions, which were mild already, even more bearable. When the water cooled down, I got out of the tub and returned to the bedroom, where my daughter was still asleep. The surges were increasing in strength, and labor was progressing nicely. It was the middle of the night, completely dark, and completely quiet. It was a very peaceful, spiritual experience.
It was wonderful to labor without any outside interference. Because I was alone, nothing stood in the way of me listening to my body and realizing exactly what was going on, every step of the way. I went back and forth between my bedroom and the bathroom, and eventually my daughter woke up. She asked me what was going on, and I told her the baby was coming. She was extremely sweet, and kept bringing me drinks.
At some point, I felt the overwhelming need to be in the bathroom. I sat on the toilet, and felt my bag of waters bulging out. Overcome by the need to see what was happening, I took a look at it with a mirror. It was very interesting – I saw the strong membranes, the clear amniotic fluid, and vernix flakes floating around with it. At the next contraction, my waters broke into the toilet.
My son was born soon after that. After I realized I was in transition (because of vomiting, thinking “Oh yeah, this thing hurts!”, and even wondering if I should call a midwife), I got down from the toilet, and squatted on the bathroom floor, which I had covered with towels. The need to push overcome me eventually. I remember thinking, “Ah, so this fetal expulsion reflex really does exist!” as I realized my body was pushing, all by itself.
My baby was born into my own two hands, after three pushes. I felt him crown very clearly, and consciously relaxed after I felt the “ring of fire”. It’s OK to take a break, and let your body do the work, I told myself. I felt completely lucid, and empowered, during that last push. I felt my son’s body rotate, and he was born face up. Two bright little blue eyes were staring at me. My baby sneezed, and looked at me.
“Hello, baby!”, I told him, and my daughter, now a big sister, was also saying “baby, baby!” I tried to nurse him, but he was not interested yet. Then, I decided to check what gender he was, and noticed that he was a boy. He looked around peacefully, and was very alert. My placenta was born five minutes after my son, and I cut the cord with a knife after it had stopped pulsing. After we all took a bath together, I dressed my son in the clothes my daughter had picked out for him, and we all went to bed together.
My UC was a deeply spiritual, amazing experience, which was very healing for me. Giving birth unassisted changed the way I look at life, birth, and mothering. Without a doubt, it is one of the most positive things I have ever done, and one of the achievements I feel most proud of.
Editor Note: You can read more by Olivia at her website found here.