The healing power of a positive birth

We did it! My new baby arrived into the world at 40+3 (exactly the same day in relation to his due date as his older sister) bringing with him the second major change of the year. But what a positive start it is! Aside from the fact that I am now the proud mommy to a beautiful (and thriving) baby boy, it was a very empowering experience (I got my VBAC!) as well as a bringing a huge amount of relief both emotionally and physically.

Now it’s over I can look back and say that pregnancy really doesn’t agree with me and it is a huge relief to know I am never doing that again – ever. Both times it’s been hard but a feature of this pregnancy was a few unwelcome bouts of SPD and also general immobility, perhaps because of the baby’s position or size and the fact that I’m only short. The physical limitations didn’t matter so much when I was pregnant the first time around as I only had myself to take care of but with DD, a very active toddler, in the picture, I was painfully aware of the limits on my mobility and it’s only now that I can appreciate just how miserable I was. Being up and on my feet relatively quickly (compared to a CS anyway) these first few weeks have really brought home how much happier I am when I’m mobile. Here’s a list of some incredibly mundane things I’m delighted to be able to do again:

  • Change a bin bag and put out the bins
  • Wash up
  • Curl up on the sofa
  • Reach my own feet to put on my shoes and socks
  • Stand on one leg (have you ever tried putting trousers on when this isn’t possible. It’s quite tricky!)
  • Change the bed sheets
  • Put some washing in the machine
  • Cook a meal

And the less mundane, all of which involve the way I can interact with my toddler again: cuddling her, picking her up, tickling her, walking with her, chasing her round the bed/room/house, picking up after her, getting down on the floor to do a puzzle with her, sitting at the table to craft with her.

Being uncomfortable to do many of these things over the last three of four months was actually quite heartbreaking, so it’s bringing me so much joy to be free to move as I wish again. And DP is pleased too, as it seems I’ve been taking my misery out on him by being demanding and critical, which I regret because he really did carry me through those days and weeks taking on all the extra jobs (and extra childcare) that I couldn’t help with. In short, pregnancy sucks for me and everyone around me.

Regarding the VBAC, it was such an empowering experience that emotionally I was “over” the it the minute they laid that baby on my chest. Compared to the trauma of DD’s birth, which ended in a C-Section and lingered for many months afterwards, threatening to derail my VBAC, DS’s was all round positive with the main differences being two-fold. First, I felt totally in control of all the decisions that were made. Secondly, having spent time discussing issues with DD’s birth with the hospital and making a solid plan in order to address those issues, I felt like the midwives were on my side. So despite being in the delivery suite and being fully monitored and the need for a few “medical” interventions, I always felt that the midwives supporting me had my best interests at heart. Those two major differences made the whole thing a hugely positive experience which has brought with it some much-needed healing, primarily, that I can no longer muster a tear when I think back to DD’s birth.

Having a vaginal birth wasn’t without it’s difficulties though. DS was in an awkward position, so labour was difficult (although not too long, fortunately) and a few interventions were necessary, namely some oxytocin to keep the contractions moving along, and an episiotomy to avoid a nasty tear. This meant that wasn’t back on my feet and raring to go hours afterwards, as I hear some people are, as there was blood loss and the associated anemia to recover from, stitches, and some other unpleasantries (let’s just say I never really knew what a hemorrhoid was before this VBAC – and now I do), in addition to the “usual” swelling, bruising, and muscular exertion to recover from. I had two nights in hospital and it was at least a week before I could sit down comfortably, which is a cruel trick to play on someone who is exhausted and nursing a newborn close to 24-7.

But now? Well, two and a bit weeks on I feel great! Still a bit bruised and sore, but that’s only noticeable if I overdo it, so I’m trying to remember that all this happened less than three weeks ago and take it easy, not pushing myself. I remember at this stage after DD’s birth I was up and about but still in quite bad shape but at least when you’ve had major surgery it’s easier to be easy on yourself. The temptation with a “natural” birth is that you feel good enough to get up and out, when really it’s still early days and there are lots of physical changes going on that take time and require rest. Given the year we have lined up there will be a time for rushing around but now is not that time.

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