1) Appreciation of Birth
Not only am I absolutely in AWE of the POWER of birth after having been through it naturally, but I am appreciative of ANY birth. In fact, this experience has really made me grateful for my other experience (ya know, the 36-hour one with pitocin and epidural and 3-hour-pushing marathon). If I never went through that experience, I never would have known what experience I wanted from birth, I never would have had such a high threshold for pain, and I never would have known the difference between the two births. There are pluses and minuses to both (seriously, the epidural is like magic -- erasing all pain, but also not allowing you to walk afterwards). I don't know how to explain it, other than going through natural birth helped me think about the other birth in a different light. I'm no longer sorry it happened the way it did; both births helped shape who I am today. (I know that sounds corny, but it's true.)
2) Recovery Post-Natural-Birth = Awesome
Within ten minutes of giving birth (and let me remind you that I was basically passing out during the pushing hour), I was absolutely lucid and chatting away. There must have been a HUGE rush of endorphins because all I wanted to do was chat-chat-chat (I'm not even like this on good days). By the end of the day, I was even walking around a little bit by myself and could get up to change diapers. The last time, I could barely walk even by the time I came home. Within a few days, I felt like I could walk around outside. From the recovery alone, I am convinced that I want to do a natural birth the next time. Elliott and I just couldn't get over it.
3) Blocking Out Pain
Someone asked me which part was the most painful part, and I said afterwards -- when they are stitching you up -- that's when I wanted the epidural the most. Someone asked me if pushing hurt much, and I honestly can't remember. I remember that the contractions didn't hurt as much because they were being push to good use. I don't remember it hurting as much as the contractions beforehand. BUT when I said this to Elliott, he laughed and told me that it was definitely the most painful part for me. I think in general, we women tend to forget exactly how bad the pain is so that we will want to have children later. However, even in the midst of the contractions, I knew I wanted to do this whole thing again (my doula said that was incredible that I could say that during labor). Even after having Amelie, I knew I wanted to do this again. I can sit here and honestly say: YES, I want to do natural childbirth again. In fact, I am looking forward to it. It was so powerful and amazing.
4) Trusting My Instincts
In the post about my last birth experience, I mentioned that I just wanted to make the best choices and be proactive about the birth. Even if I ended up getting an epidural, I wanted to feel empowered. And I did. Even from the very beginning, I weighed all the options and made very deliberate decisions. Here are some of the ones that -- I feel -- just made the whole experience for me AND Elliott:
- Going with a Midwife: Did I mention she was with me for the ENTIRE labor at the hospital? She NEVER left my side. This was not my experience with doctors the last time, who just came in for pushing. I also loved the practice in general -- all the midwives know me, the receptionists know me when I call -- I'm not just a nameless lady having a baby. The last practice I went to, there were so many women I was just convinced my doctor didn't know me from anyone else.
- Having a Doula: This turned out to be so important -- not just for me, but for Elliott. During labor, Joy was there to coach us through every little bit; she was armed with knowledge and we felt at peace during the whole situation (if she were not there, I think we would have been second guessing ourselves constantly). If I needed something but wanted him to stay, Joy would go and get it. When I wanted Elliott to stay with Amelie after the birth while they were stitching me up, Joy's hand was the one I held onto. She was absolutely essential to this birth experience, and I am beyond thankful that she came into our lives. I can't even begin to tell you how close I feel to her now!
- Delivering in a Hospital: We have an excellent birth center nearby and I was seriously considering going there, but I hesitated because you have to clear out within 12 hours of giving birth. I knew I wanted to recovery in peace for a couple days, and I knew I wanted to be in a hospital "just in case." I am so thankful that I trusted these instincts. I definitely needed the 48 hours to recover before coming home to Gwen, and we needed a doctor there who knew how to rotate Amelie safely so that she could be born. Honestly, if it weren't for the doctor, I don't know what could have happened. They don't tell you when things are going wrong, but Elliott said he knew something was really amiss and everyone looked worried. It was the scariest moment in his life, but because we were in a hospital, everything turned out okay.
- Trusting Myself: Like I said in the previous post, I JUST KNEW when certain things needed to happen, and I trusted myself with those moments. I KNEW when Joy needed to be there, I KNEW when we needed to get to the hospital, I KNEW a lot of things, and just jumped on those moments. It was very primal and in-the-moment and inexplicable. But it has given me great confidence.
So in conclusion: would I do natural birth again? In a heartbeat. Yes. Definitely. Do I feel like I can do anything now? Well, I feel like I can do most things physical, but I'm a little frightened at the prospect of parenting two children under two! Here's praying God gives me the same grace he gave me during labor!
Thank you all for your encouragement along the way! What a journey it's been!