For the first few weeks after delivery, I would recount my experience by societal expectations. I felt that I needed to say how long it took and how hard it was and sometimes even defend the fact that I had had a home birth. I would say, "Early labour lasted over 24 hours!", "It was so much harder than I could have imagined.", etc. Don't get me wrong, both of those statements are true but labour was SO much more than that and every time I said either of those things, it just didn't feel right.
Six weeks ago, I woke up early with contractions. I waited a little while before getting up, before waking Paula up, and before anything, I let a wave of peace wash over me. I acknowledged that baby and I were about to embark on an incredible journey together. I was about to join this magical realm of women that had birthed before me and I just lay there and breathed it all in: the excitement, the fear, the trust, the joy, the peace. I was ready. Baby was ready.
Looking back at the hours in between that peaceful moment and the life-changing moment of delivery, I can only say that it was a wild ride! Ultimately I'm happy that early labour lasted so long - it helped prepare me, physically and mentally, for the later, more intense part of labour and delivery. I reflect on that time in early labour so positively. I was surrounded by an amazing team: Paula, my sister Candyce, my mama, our amazing midwife Megan, my brother Bretton, his sweet little one year old Louise, and lest I forget our very intuitive pets Juneau and Lucy. We spent the entire day hanging out together, as my body prepared. There was laughter and joy, even when I would pause for a minute of discomfort and pain. I felt so supported. When labour slowed, I would rest. When it felt like I needed to get things going again, I would do stairs (with my mom and sister at the bottom of the stairs offering words of encouragement and Paula at the top of the stairs offering kisses as a reward for making it to the top). When I needed a change of scenery, I would spend time outside walking and gazing upon our freshly sown garden.
As labour intensified, I became less interested in what was happening around me and I began to really go inward. I still relied on outside support (acupressure, massage, words of encouragement, being in the water, Paula feeding me ice, etc.) but I really became tuned in to myself and baby. I felt like I was "in the zone" like never before. Focusing on breathing was everything to me. I don't think I opened my eyes for 8 hours.
I recognize that there are so many different experiences of birth and some people don't get to have the experience that they wanted. This makes me even more grateful that I was able to have the birth that I set out to have - at home, in the water, surrounded by loved ones. I feel so empowered looking back on my experience. I feel incredibly proud of myself, mostly for surrendering and trusting my body, our baby and the process.
The part of delivery that stands out to me, aside from the moment that we met our boy for the first time (!) is the transition to pushing. I remember it so vividly because it felt like it was just happening to me. I think I resisted for a few moments and then, with some support from our midwife Megan, just let it guide me. I felt so primal, like I was vibrating on a different level.
At 11:32 pm, Rainer Ellis Shyba was born into the water and caught by his mom, Paula. She placed him upon my heart and there he'll remain. I didn't know a love like this could exist.
An enormous thank you to my sister Candyce for being there to capture photos and video of it all. What a gift. We also have the biggest love for our midwives, Megan Dusterhoft and Rae Veillard at Beginnings Midwifery Care, who have been the most incredible, knowledgeable and supportive duo throughout pregnancy, labour and postpartum.