The blessed event we're awaiting in February will be my fourth experience with childbirth. Well, aside from the time when I was born, of course. But I suppose you were already under the assumption that that particular birth had happened.
So, this will be the fourth baby I've ushered into the light. If all goes as planned, the fourth waterbirth, and the third homebirth. All the same, I have certain ways to prepare myself for the big day.
At this point, I don't feel a huge need to study up a lot on technique. I remember the stages, the sensations, the progressions. I remember that I tend to think "I can't do this anymore!" right around transition. I remember the new tricks which I've learned over the years: using low tones with vocalization (high pitches tighten, low pitches loosen), pushing while leaning against the tub and on my knees, and smooching with my husband (yes, it really helps!...it loosens things up.)
I also remember what I don't like: bright lights, noise, vomiting during transition, and having contractions while on a quick trek to the toilet. I remember that I detest pushing.
Still, I do have my rituals: my ways of getting my head and heart in the game. There are several books I like to read while preparing for baby's arrival:
Babycatcher by Peggy Vincent
This book is a poignant memoir written by a midwife. I was especially drawn to it upon my first reading because, contrary to the stereotype of midwives, Peggy seems to be very "white bread." She grew up on the midwest, started out as an obstetrical nurse, and found her way to midwifery several decades ago. I'm always struck by how well-written this book is. A wonderful, touching, thought-provoking read.
Ina May's Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin
Ina May Gaskin is another midwife. She is famous for being a pioneer in modern American midwifery, an unwavering advocate for women and their right to a gentle birth experience. She offers wonderful advise and wisdom, most notably saying "Your body is not a lemon." Birth works!
Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way by Susan McCutcheon
If I'm feeling the least bit rusty or unsure about the birth process, I turn to this book. It was here that I first learned about natural childbirth...how it works, why it works so well.
Hello Baby by Jenni Overend
This one's for the siblings! I recently became aware of this sweet picture book, which depicts a (fourth!) baby entering the world at home, surrounded by his parents, siblings, and a midwife. It is such a precious story. And the illustrations are beautiful!
I also read birth stories. A lot of birth stories. I can't seem to get enough of them. I watch homebirth videos on YouTube (I just tracked down my absolute favorite one from a few years ago! It completely made my afternoon.). I watch the videos of my own children's births. I view the waterbirth video we were given from the birthing center where my first son was born. It's definitely a part of my ritual to gird myself with tales of positive, encouraging birth experiences.
I'll share which supplies I'm gathering in a later post. There's plenty of time for that, anyway. For now, I'm preparing my heart and mind for this sweet little one's arrival. My anticipation is growing, yet I know I've got a ways to go. For now, I'm living vicariously through the experiences of others....and I'm dreaming...