I have had three children. The first two were hospital births, both induced and with epidurals. The last baby was a natural water birth with Jenny at Andaluz water-birthing center. I was far more anxious about a natural birth and the idea of not having an epidural. However, the experience impacted me on an emotional and spiritual level that had not been touched in the hospital births.
The two hospital births felt exciting, but at the same time I felt pressured by the nurses and doctors to follow their labor plans. The environment was hectic, and unfamiliar. I had never met any of the nurses checking my progress, nor did I know what was going on at every point. I felt uninformed about vaccines and circumcision, and pressured to make a decision right then. The setting was cold and uninviting. On top of that, rather than allowing my body to go through the process of giving birth, there was pressure from the nurses to push and do this or that throughout. After delivery, the baby was taken away randomly in the three days of my stay at the hospital and I was never informed about what was going on, or where they were taking my babies.
On the other hand, my experience with a natural water birth was amazing, despite the lack of any pain medication. There was no pressure to push or go by anyone’s plans other than my body’s natural process. I was comfortable throughout the stay, in a homey cottage, chatting with the midwife and eating whatever I wanted. The level of stress was non-existent and incomparable to the stress experienced at a hospital birth. My love was there with me the whole time and when it was time to move into the tub, he was allowed to move about freely and tend to my needs. I asked him to get into the tub with me and he was able to hold me close as I worked through each progressing contraction. I had a choice of music, but chose silence, and this lent an atmosphere of serenity as we focused in the miracle of the moment. My daughter, Ava, who is five was there holding my hand and stroking my head. After the delivery of baby Ramses I was able to take him directly into my arms and hold him close, creating a bond.
The natural birth made an imprint on my heart like none else. There was a moment in the last push, where I was hugging the tub, squatting in the water, and I felt the relief of the baby coming out. I saw the baby in the water beneath me, and Jenny tipped me backwards to draw him up. I was caught by my love’s arms, and it seemed in that tipping moment a transition had occurred between pain and pushing and the introduction of a new life. That moment will stick with me forever, and be kept close to my heart. Jenny handed me Ramses and I was allowed to hold him in sheer joy and relief. We stayed in the tub for another hour as he was nourished by the placenta before cutting the cord. My five year-old was allowed to cut the cord with Jenny’s help, lending her a memory of this shared experience.
Relative to my previous two hospital births, the water birth was perfect and beautiful in every way. I didn’t leave that cottage confused nor with one single regret. It was a wholesome and invigorating experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything in this world. I don’t plan on having any more children, but if I did, it would no doubt be another water birth with Andaluz