When I was planning my HBAC (home birth after cesarean) with baby #2 I was looking at songs for my birth video. Lately, some of the words of Jewel’s “Life Uncommon” have moved me
Lend your voices only to sounds of freedom
No longer lend you strength to that which you wish to be free from
Fill your lives with love and bravery
And you shall lead a life uncommon
Let your words enslave no one and the heavens will hush themselves
To hear our voices ring out clear
With sounds of freedom
So, then, I’ve decided that instead of raging against my section I will revel in the excruciating beauty of my vaginal births. Please don’t take this to mean that I don’t love my cesarean-born daughter. The Bible says, “greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” John 15:13 and when a mother consents to a section she truly, literally lays down her life. Cesareans aren’t 100% safe and the number of women dying from cesarean complications is on the rise. I took a Bradley Method class in preparation for an un-medicated hospital birth so when I consented to the section I was fully aware of the risks. I only say all of this because I have been accused here a number of times of not loving my daughter.
When I think of Caleb’s birth I think of hands and rocks. That’s what my birth attendants and family were. They were rocks to support me and hands to hold me. Though you could call Caleb’s birth a “failed homebirth attempt”, I don’t view it as such. I gave him a beautiful 40 hours of stress-free, peaceful, and intervention-free labor at home. Caleb and I walked together, rocked on the swing outside, and I prayed over him in the warmth of my birth tub. My doula encouraged me, my midwife watched over me, my husband supported me and my mother and all my sisters were witnesses to my hard, loving work. I even had sex!
Then there was Anna’s birth. I got to the hospital not knowing I was in labor, having just gone up to be “checked” because it was 3a.m. and my insomniac sister and I were awake and bored. Not only was I in labor, but I was about to give birth! I don’t even know how to describe Anna’s birth. I arrived at the hospital at 7cm and didn’t feel anything in the way of pain or intensity until 9cm. I had a birth ball put onto the bed and leaned and rocked over it until it got uncomfortable. Then I climbed up onto the bed and got on my hands and knees. It felt good and right. I felt led by…something. It was as if there was an instruction guide in my head and my body was following it and leading me along. The way my senses came alive, it was overwhelming! I could hear the tick, tick, ticking of the second hand on the clock behind me. I was intensetly focused the vein in my right hand pulsing with the same rhythm as my uterus. I cold smell the acrid, metallic bitterness of John’s glasses as he stood by (don’t touch me, just watch. Watch what’s going to happen!). I could feel Anna moving, turning, pushing her way out. She was ready, and I was ready, and it was as if she was saying to me, “quiet your mind and I’ll show you the way,” and I responded, “I’ll follow you”. My body and my mind were laid bare that morning; open wide and accepting of forces beyond their control. I wasn’t hooked up to machines. No one told me what to do or instructed me. Everyone in the room was simply a witness, as in a wedding ceremony. Do you, Becky Taylor, accept the solemn duty to birth and mother this baby, leading and following in turn, as necessary? I do…and then she was born, behind me. She was quiet for a moment and then she called out to me and I turned to face her for the first time. Those are the only moments from her conception that we’ve been emotionally separated; those few seconds before she breathed life.
As much as I adore, admire, respect and love my Sarah, my cesarean-born child, I cannot describe her birth the way I can Caleb’s and Anna’s, and that’s why I choose vaginal birth.