My baby girl – our third baby – is one today. ONE! Commence with all the weeping and all the cliches because I can’t. even. deal.
Beatrice is such a joy. Her full name – Beatrice Willow – reflects her beautiful little personality so wonderfully. She brings us great joy, and is a living reminder to stay rooted and connected to what matters.
This time a year ago, I was blessed with the unique opportunity to have my baby in the hospital, in a birthing tub. I’ve had all my babies naturally, without so much as a tylenol. Yes I’m proud of that fact. It is no small feat. I don’t think everyone should want to have their babies naturally, but it was something that was important to me and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to do so three times. But the additional experience of having Bea in the water exceeded my wildest hopes and dreams. I had hoped for a water birth with Theo, and then Oliver, but both their deliveries were full of unexpected twists and turns that, although ultimately yielded healthy babies, were difficult and full of complications.
As I entered the hospital, ready to have Bea, it never crossed my mind that I could have a water birth. It wasn’t until my midwife asked if I wanted them to fill the tub that I realized just how different this experience was going to be.
All my labors have been short, but with Bea, it was also incredibly peaceful. I labored about two hours on the birthing ball and in the shower while they made sure everything was continue to progress safely . The lights were off in the room, except for the sunlight coming through the two hospital windows. My husband, Mike, stayed by my side the entire time, along with our wonderful Doula, Katie, and my sister-in-law, Rhiannon.
Our midwife and two nurses sat quietly along the edges of the room, and waited.
I wish every woman could have someone like Mike in their life when they are ready to have a baby. He stayed calm and collected, always quick to offer an encouraging word when he thought I needed one, or recognizing when words would frustrate me and staying quiet instead. He would walk beside me, helping me move from the birthing ball to the shower, and eventually, to the tub.
Everyone in the room believed in me. They allowed things to unfold naturally. They gave me room to listen to my own body, my own baby. They waited.
There were moments during Bea’s birth that I wondered if we might be in it for the long haul. My contractions were strong, but as soon a they were over, I felt so calm and aware. I wondered if I had mistaken just how close we were to delivery. This awareness, I think, is the most difficult part of a natural delivery, not the pain. The complete mental awareness of everything that is going on is both a gift and a hurdle.
As soon as I got into the tub, I felt even more relaxed, and this heightened my concern Was my labor slowing down? Was I failing to progress? I had to choose to focus on what I did know – I looked at the faces of everyone around me. I saw the love and the support. I tuned in to the work my body was doing. I felt the warm water on my skin. I waited.
I don’t think I was in the tub for more than two hours when I knew it was time. I knew I would be holding my baby soon. With the kind of confidence that only a mother can have, I pushed once, twice, and then drew my baby to my chest. We stayed there, in those warm waters, connected by that literal cord that binds us, but also by something more -this was my daughter. This was my little girl. We did it. We did it together.
In that quiet moment, that stillness, a mother and daughter were born.