I’ve been blessed to have three home births. A good college friend of mine convinced me to give it a shot with my first born. She’d had 2 hospital births which ended up being c-sections and was convinced that the operation would not have been necessary were it not for all the other interventions. So she really wanted a v-bac for her 3rd, but since hospitals in her area would not permit it, she started looking into midwives. Long story short, she had an awesome unmedicated natural birth at home with her third, and I was sold. If I needed the intervention, I’d be all for it! But I wanted to try the more relaxed home environment.
With my first, I went into labor shortly after midnight – well, that’s when I felt the first contractions. I was texting my friends and family, all excited about it, into the morning hours. The contractions were irregular and they didn’t really hurt so when we contacted the midwife around 6am, she said to let her know when things got more intense. She didn’t come until around 11am, and I was still feeling pretty good which she found a bit surprising because when she checked my progress, I was already 9cm dilated. But the baby wouldn’t arrive until almost 7pm that night.
My dear first born was in the occiput posterior position, which means that though he was head down, he was facing my abdomen. While it’s debatable whether the OP position leads to back labor, in my case, I did experience back labor. From around 1pm, every contraction made my back hurt more, and the pain only compounded with each contraction with no relief in between. Oh, it was terrible! The pain was so intense I couldn’t even cry. I just remember telling our amazing midwife that I’d do anything she told me to for just a little relief.
Finally, close to 6pm, the midwife instructed me to get on all fours as she performed the rebozo technique – she used a scarf to sift my belly in hopes of dislodging the baby from my pelvic girdle so that he could rotate himself into the anterior position. When she was done, she asked if I felt any different and I didn’t. As a last resort (before she planned to transfer me to the hospital), she told me to go up the stairs, two stairs at a time. I made it to the first step and there it was, a serious contraction! You would not believe my joy at that contraction!
It was way more intense than the contractions I’d been having all afternoon. I suppose you could say it was painful, but not in comparison to the pain I’d been enduring in my back. Most relieving about these new contractions was that I instinctively knew what to do with them. They made sense to my body.
The midwife tried to get me to go back to my room but I wasn’t budging from those stairs so she set up right there, in preparation to receive the baby. I was screaming with each contraction as I pushed. But the scream was actually a relief. Like a tennis player slamming a ball really hard across the net, it was a scream from the exertion that brought with it a sense of satisfaction.
That baby was out in less than an hour. I didn’t even feel that I’d ripped until the midwife examined me afterwards. But I didn’t even care! I remember thinking that if labor and delivery was everything I’d experienced minus the back labor, I’d do it all over again. And all over again I did do it.
The most challenging thing about the back labor was that it felt like pain for no reason! Normally, every contraction brings your baby closer to arriving, right. But because my little one was not optimally positioned to exit, each contraction only brought meaningless pain. And between contractions, there was no repose…my back just ached more and more!
Such is the suffering when we’re not optimally positioned to perceive the purpose for our pain in this life. It feels meaningless, and without respite. This is one reason why it is important to understand, and keep in view the great controversy metanarrative. Our pain is not meaningless. Our suffering is not without purpose. And just knowing that brings relief.