I felt well prepared for the birth of my first child. I read all the books, took prenatal classes, stayed fit and ate healthy. I was lucky enough to find a midwife in Alberta. I wrote the perfect birth plan, detailing my intentions to use a variety of non-pharmaceutical comfort measures to endure the intensity of childbirth. I was determined to have a “natural” homebirth.
But then things went wrong. I felt like my body was failing me. My body was failing my baby.
I wondered fearfully if our baby would be OK. Would I be OK?
I gave birth by C-section upon arrival to the hospital. It’s a blur. Like something I saw in a movie, not my own life. Although my partner was there and my amazing midwife never left my side, I felt alone and completely inadequate.
What was wrong with me that I couldn’t give birth the way that thousands of others had done that very day?
Two years later, we were overjoyed to find ourselves pregnant again but as the weeks went on I began to experience anxiety about the impending birth. Should we attempt a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Caesarean)? Opt for a repeat C-section? I knew that with Alberta midwives I would be safe, but I needed the added assurance of a hospital birth with an Obstetrician this time. Still, I had so many options to consider and I wanted to feel in control this time. I wanted to feel like my birth experience belonged to me.
During one of my prenatal visits with my doulas, we discussed my fears. We talked about the risks and benefits of a VBAC and a repeat caesarean birth. My doulas helped me evaluate all of my options. We also talked about “Gentle Caesarean Birth”, something I had seen in videos on Facebook and YouTube. They suggested I talk to my obstetrician about how I could feel more like a participant in the birth of my baby.
In the end, I decided I would feel more in control if I was able to schedule a C-section. This time I was calling the shots. I felt safe and connected and I was never alone. This time there weren’t any surprises we couldn’t handle.
My husband and my doula were by my side. The lights weren’t so blindingly bright, my doctor softly explained everything she did as she was doing it. When my baby was born, my doula and one of my wonderful nurses helped me to get her latched on so that I could breastfeed while the surgery was completed.
It was a joyful birth. It was a gentle birth. This birth belongs to me.