River's Birth Story

I had a very difficult first five months with a lot of severe morning sickness, but I concentrated on eating really well and taking care of myself and the rest of the pregnancy went really well. I was about two weeks from my due date and I woke up at about 4 AM having some contractions that were definitely stronger than Braxton Hicks and I was feeling sort of odd. I waited until about 8 AM and called the midwife, and told her I thought this was it. She sent her assistant, who checked and said I was 5 centimeters dilated.

In the meantime the guy who was supposed to hook up the satelite dish came and hooked it up and my labor completely stopped for two hours while he was there. The midwife came back and checked me again and said my cervix had changed, but I had not dilated any more. She told me to take a shower and a nap. As soon as I lay down the contractions got really strong and I called the midwife and asked her to come soon, and then I got into the tub.

The warm water made the pain so much easier to handle and was so relaxing. I got up to use the bathroom and all I could think about was getting back into the tub. There were times that I didn't think I could do it, and the pain seemed unbearable, but my husband and midwife were so supportive. And the water, and being able to move around, helped so much.

Finally the midwife said that I could push and I felt relieved and afraid, not knowing what to expect. But at the next contraction I found it a lot easier to focus my energy on pushing rather than trying to just work through it. I never had the urge to push, but it seemed to make the contractions easier and it was not painful. I just had a little bit of a burning feeling at times.

After about 45 minutes his head came out and I put my hands on it. It was the most wonderful moment. I will never forget it. With one more push he was out and the midwife put him in my arms. He was so beautiful and peaceful. He just looked around and then at me, and it was like seeing the whole universe in those deep blue eyes.

There were no bright lights and no one taking him away from me. It was just the three of us in the tub, becoming a family. We let him swim around in the water, and then I nursed him for the first time. Then I started cramping a little. My husband cut the cord about 20 minutes after he was born and tied it off with a piece of sinue the midwife had brought that was her grandfather's, who was Native American.

I delivered the placenta and got out of the tub so Beth could check to see if I had torn. I didn't think that I had because the birth hurt a lot less than I had expected, but I did have three little tears that stitched up easily. Beth said that I tore because River came down crooked and had a big head, and that I would have torn a lot more if I had not been in the water.

I was so thankful for the water tub. River was 19 inches long. He weighed 8 pounds, 4 ounces and had Apgar scores of 10 and 10. We didn't give him any of the shots or creams that they give in hospitals and we did not circumcise him. Now he is a happy, healthy two year old.

We are expecting our second child and I plan to do it exactly the same way. River's birth was the most painful, difficult, rewarding, empowering and spiritual moment of my life. I am thankful that I was allowed to have the kind of experience that I wanted, and for all of the support that I had.

-- Maiya