The Birth of Cy

I could hardly contain my excitement while I shopped for groceries Thursday evening.  Even though my contractions were sporadic, I had a strong feeling my third baby would be born within the next day, and I would welcome him lovingly in my peaceful home.  My first child’s birth had occurred at a major Houston hospital, and that surreal experience coupled with an innate belief that birth could be so much more—healthier, more intimate, more natural, more comfortable, more spiritual for my baby, my family and me—led me to seek certified midwife Cathy Rude during my second pregnancy.   

I came to Cathy full of questions—Is home birth safe? Is it messy?  Is she really qualified?  Is it legal? Can she keep my perineum from tearing?  With her trademark attention to detail, Cathy gently answered my questions and referred me to additional information on home birth and birth in general. (Namely, The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth by Henci Goer.)  Then she listened patiently as I described my hospital experience--stale, fluorescently-lit rooms; a brusque nurse who smelled heavily of cigarette smoke; a paper thin “gown”; fear; lack of access to my doctor; a continuous IV and nearly continuous fetal monitoring; feeling like a “patient”; an episiotomy; a tear; a loud-beeping baby warmer frightening my newborn; my perfectly healthy baby going to the nursery for “monitoring”; an uncomfortable bed; exhaustion; incessant post-partum blood pressure checks; hospital food; a painful recovery; more exhaustion.  Cathy empathized with me and assured me that birth could be better—safer and gentler. After further research, even the biomedical engineer in me was convinced that home birth was safer, and I was surprised I had previously thought otherwise.  My second child’s birth confirmed home birth was better.  The contrast in experience was obvious.  My baby was perfect--bright and relaxed. He nursed more readily than my firstborn and slept more soundly.  I had an intact perineum and virtually no recovery.  And instead of exhaustion and frustration, my husband and I experienced relaxation and sheer joy.  Needless to say, I was really looking forward to my next birth experience.    

I brought my groceries home and put them away—crackers, cheese, fruit, an extra package of tiny diapers.  My husband Michael had already put our children (four and two years old) to bed so we were free to enjoy a rare peaceful evening.  After sleeping five hours, my contractions woke me up. They weren’t painful, just noticeable.  I grabbed my watch and a book and spent the early morning timing contractions, resting, reading and praying.  By 6:00am, my contractions weren’t closer than 15 minutes apart, but Michael stayed home from work anyway.  At 10:00am, we took a family walk on the nature trail to the park.  The air was slightly dry for mid-June, the sun was shining and a gentle breeze was rustling the leaves in the trees.  It felt so good to be outside enjoying the weather.  The warmth of the sun relaxed me and the walking distracted me from labor. My contractions were now eight minutes apart and growing stronger.  

By 1:30pm, my children were napping and my mom arrived to help.  Mom and I sipped Italian sodas on my back patio while I sunbathed and breathed deeply.  After another nature trail walk at 3:15pm, I called Cathy.  My contractions were now 5 minutes apart.  Cathy arrived by 3:45pm and examined the baby and me.  The baby’s heartbeat was strong and regular and I was seven centimeters.  So, I took another walk with Michael.  By 4:30, I was ready to stay inside and relax in a warm bath.  As I focused on relaxing through the now painful contractions (which is much easier to do in my own bath tub than in a hospital bed), my mom and husband cared for my children while Cathy and her assistants attended me and prepared my room for the baby’s arrival. 

By 5:30pm, I was ready to push.  I was helped out of the tub, wrapped in a warm blanket and assisted to my bed. About fifteen minutes and several strong contractions later, my baby boy was welcomed by his father’s loving hands and immediately given to me.  While Cathy and her assistants (one is a pediatric nurse and the other is a labor and delivery nurse) examined the baby and me, I massaged his tiny body, prayed for him and sang to him.  That is one of my most cherished life experiences.  I felt wonderful—relaxed, energetic, healthy, peaceful and wholly available for my baby.  And, thanks to Cathy’s expertise, my perineum was totally intact. 

My older children were so excited to see the baby immediately after his birth.  They gave him kisses and sang him a song.  After my newborn and I had been thoroughly examined and monitored, we enjoyed a warm herbal bath that Cathy had prepared. When I finished bathing, my room had been completely put back in order and more of our family had arrived to welcome the baby.  Since it was dinnertime, we ordered pizzas and enjoyed a really special time of fellowship.  There is something sacred in birth, and birthing at home allows everyone involved to intimately experience that sacredness. 

After everyone had eaten and said goodnight, my husband and I climbed into our bed with our newly arrived creation and marveled at God’s power and goodness.  I sank into my sheets completely relaxed and at peace, empowered by my experience to give my baby my very best energy and love.  There was nothing artificial or intrusive in my quiet room--no obnoxious equipment beeps, no bright fluorescent lights, no interruptions for blood pressure checks—just my husband’s strong, warm body and the quiet whimpers of my new baby boy.