The Line in the Sand

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Their first birth experience was 40 hours of labour and then a belly birth.  

Even though they had done all the things and knew from a practical place that the path could not have gone another way, it took some time to process and work through.  Like most first time birthers, they were not mentally prepared for how complicated that experience could feel.

They were sure their family had room for one more, but she wasn’t sure when she could face birth again. She wanted to be in the right place emotionally and mentally so that it wouldn’t swallow her up. So that she could move through the path wholly.

A little over 2 years after the birth of their son, they began the journey to their second birth. From the start, and for the entire 40 weeks, they kept their goal in sight. She wanted a trial of labour with the hopes of a vaginal birth experience, he wanted his family to be safe and emotionally secure. They worked together to make choices to support this. He believed, that she could do this. Most of the time she did too.

But this took strength and courage, something this birther has in large quantities.

So often people hold back their hopes in order to protect themselves against disappointment, and end up in a half living kind of state. They chose not to do this. They knew the possible outcomes and bravely forged ahead as if only one outcome was possible. They managed to get a supportive Midwifery team to guide them along the path and took each step towards their goal.

When she would get filled with doubt she reached out to him, to her team, and together we moved in the direction of optimism.

All the while, they knew where their line in the sand was. Having experienced the reality of having a baby in distress during labour, knowing the impact her overall well being has on the family, they knew where their line was.

And so the night before her 40 week date, it began.

She messaged to say she thought contractions had started, or possibly her stomach was upset?  This happens so often with second births. The early contractions seem so much less than the remembered late stage labour contractions of the previous birth, that they are dismissed. Except there was a pattern to these maybe contractions and she needed to breathe through some of them…

And then she was pretty sure her waters broke. And then the contractions were more frequent and she needed to move around and work through them. The pattern of the labour suggested the uterus was working on shifting the baby into a more favourable delivery position. So they worked with it, using all the positions, doing all the things.

In the space of 6 hours the contractions went from being possibly an upset tummy to being intense and close together. She was feeling hot too. Her parents headed over to take over care of their son, I was headed over to add support and then the intensity increased enough that the Midwife felt it was time to go to the hospital.  

Going to the hospital was another hurdle for her to overcome.  What if it was too soon? The memory of the previous birth came rushing back.  But then this labour was too strong to stay home with.

So we met there and it took a long time to get from the door to triage, she was having so many contractions and had to stop for each one.

Finally we were in triage and she was assessed.  The cervix was dilated to 3 cm, but the baby was definitely facing up.  So we laboured in triage for an hour and a half, doing belly lifts and pelvic floor release techniques and position changes using gravity to help the baby find the way. And then she was dilated to 4 cm and more effaced. While we waited for a room, the contractions became even more powerful and were coming every 2 minutes, he showed her photos of their son as a newborn to remind her of the reward, and we reminded her to stay soft, to release.  She started to have the shakes and the hot/cold shivers. She felt like she was starting to lose control. And then we moved to a private room and she was able to start using vocalization to work through this intense labour. Every contraction she opened her throat to let out that deep moan we love to hear, that told us she was digging deep and doing what she needed to do.

She was powering through this.  Wondering if she needed help and then finding her strength again.

Another check told us she was dilated to 5 cm and was fully effaced. Baby was still facing up and trying to navigate a way down.

20 minutes later the labour was still so very intense and now we were seeing some deep decelerations of the baby’s heart rate during contractions.  It happened enough that the on call Obstetrician was brought in for a consultation. With continued decelerations, he determined that this baby needed to be born now.

The Midwife did one final cervix check just to be sure what was happening wasn’t part of a dramatic change and actually the start of delivery.  The cervix had changed some more, but not enough.

It was time. We were at that line in the sand.

And again they did the brave thing, and put their hopes for a vaginal birth aside and pushed forward towards meeting their second born with joy and confidence.

14 hours after this birth began, he was in their arms.

Their happiness was not diminished by the path, because they took each step along the way with intention.

They understood the limits and faced them with optimism, not fear. And that has made all the difference.





Meeting their son!






This is joy. Peace.


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