Before I decided to have my own waterbirths, I had preconceived and stereotypical notions about what ‘kind’ of mothers give birth in a tub full of water. Only ‘tree-hugging-hippie moms,’ or ‘crunchy/ granola mamas’ would ever give birth in a tub full of water. I am not either; I am the mother of three beautiful children that love dunking their GMO-filled Oreos in delicious organic milk. Ten years ago, I dreamed of someday having children of my own, but I never imagined myself giving birth in water, nonetheless at home.
The running joke I have with other moms-to-be is that my first born’s pregnancy and birth was completely trial and error. Many mistakes were made early on, long before I went into labor. I used an OB/GYN doctor, I had ultrasounds done EVERY single appointment (the machine was conveniently located in his office…cha-ching), and I listened to the voices around me, (family, friends and loved ones…all people that meant the most to me) that using a doctor was the best, and right thing to do. Ultimately, my labor and delivery ‘plan’ meant absolutely nothing to the doctor on call, while my actual doctor was unexpectedly vacationing. I labored hard and long in the hospital while the on-call doctor harassed me to take the drugs. My body, mind, and others around me (except my husband) weren’t working with me. I didn’t want the epidural or an episiotomy, but I was no longer in control of my birth and my wishes were not being honored.
Around dinnertime, I gave birth to a beautiful, healthy, baby boy in the hospital, and I was so relieved when my labor and delivery were over. I was grateful for a healthy baby, but I was disappointed in myself for not being able to achieve the natural, drug-free birth I so desperately wanted. My choices at the beginning of my pregnancy affected my overall birth experience and I was adamant that my subsequent births would be different.
When I became pregnant with my second baby, I immediately chose to use the Midwives of New Jersey. My first visit was such an eye opening experience; I could genuinely talk with each midwife and they actually listened to me. When Cindy mentioned waterbirth to me, I thought, “Sure, why not?” The medicinal birth I had the first time around wasn’t for me, so maybe a waterbirth would be the right fit. Much of my family, and a few friends, freely and openly felt it was their duty to pollute my head with their worries and concerns about having a waterbirth at home. My husband supported me. He knew how disappointed I was with my first birth and he trusted my choice with the midwives. This time around was different; I chose to be in control of my body, my labor, and my delivery.
Labor kicked in during the early morning hours and Cindy arrived at my house around 8 A.M. Around 10 A.M., Cindy coaxed me into the large, blue waterbirth tub comfortably located in my bedroom. I remembering thinking that I wasn’t ready for the tub yet because the labor pains weren’t ‘black-out’ painful, like they were in the hospital with my first born. Stepping into the warm tub was such a relief on my body. My contractions in the water were actually bearable because the weightlessness the water provided kept my body focused and limber. I labored in the tub for about two hours, laughing, making a few jokes, and actually enjoying myself. My husband fed me crackers and cold water during my labor. My body wasn’t obnoxiously checked every five minutes nor was it on full display for an audience. I wasn’t trapped on my back or forced to labor in a bed. My body could move freely in the tub and stretch in positions not typical of a ‘dry land birth.’ My body and mind were working together…what a marvelous thing!
My daughter was brought into the world just after noon, on a chilly March day quietly, peacefully, and without the harsh lights and commotion of a typical hospital room. I felt so accomplished and confident in myself and my midwives, Cindy and Lisa. The best word to describe my mental state was euphoric. Sure, my body was tired, sore, and exhausted, but my mind was at such peace. I felt such a great sense of pride in myself for accomplishing what I was unable to do during my first delivery, primarily because of such routined medical intervention.
Two years later, my third baby was born at home on another chilly March day just after noon again, in the tub strategically placed in the same spot in my bedroom. Throughout my third pregnancy, I knew I’d have another waterbirth at home. I won’t give birth any other way. My body labored almost identically and my delivery was almost exactly the same as my daughter’s birth was. Both Cindy and Lisa were in attendance again and everything felt so comfortably familiar.
My experiences throughout my first pregnancy were what ultimately led me to the midwives, waterbirths, and homebirths. I’ve learned that there’s no stereotypical type of woman who chooses to have a waterbirth or a homebirth, and I am regretful that I ever thought that way. The kind of woman that chooses a waterbirth over a typical, medicinal birth, is a woman who values and trusts the experiences of mothers that have already birthed in the water before. It’s a woman that trusts her body is able to do what it was designed to do. And it is a woman that values and appreciates the years of dedication, the wealth of knowledge, and the unsurpassed compassion that the midwives have to offer.
Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, Cindy, Lisa, Kaitlyn, Christina, and Ashley.