|Although she's not such a baby anymore, she's my first baby.|
I've given birth twice now. My first was a hospital birth, and my second was a home birth. I loved both of those birth experiences and wouldn't change a thing about either one of them. My first birth left me feeling so strong and amazing. I couldn't believe that I could accomplish something like a natural childbirth. Me. It was the first time in my life that I actually felt respect and admiration for what my body was able to accomplish. I felt incredibly sexy. Fluffy tummy, stretch marks, leaky boobs, and all. It was the first time in my life that I understood what the word empowered meant. Because that was the only word that could describe everything I was feeling in just one word. I felt like I could do anything.
My first birth empowered me. It empowered me to survive those first sleepless nights with a newborn. It empowered me to parent how I wanted to. It empowered me to start running when I never thought I was capable of doing something like that. It empowered me to become a doula. It empowered me to ask questions. It empowered me to say no. It empowered me to choose a home birth for my second birth. None of those things were easy. None of these things happened without a lot of hard work, determination, and even difficulty. I had set-backs. I cried and felt like throwing in the towel many times while working toward my goals. I had moments of doubt. I felt like crying, "Uncle!" I thought many times, "Surely, this will be the time that I fail." I did fail. I did quit. At least momentarily. But then I remembered what I am capable of, and I tried again. I was able to remember that I can do hard things!
For my second birth, I planned to have a home birth. There were several reasons as to why I chose one, but the biggest reason was because I wanted to. Plain and simple. So I did everything that was in my power to try to make that happen.
I have read many amazing home birth stories. I've attended amazing home births as a doula. I expected that I would be overcome with this incredible, empowered feeling after having my home birth. I thought I would feel something that I'd never felt before.
But I didn't.
Don't get me wrong. I was so happy to meet my baby. I was so satisfied that everything went so well. I wouldn't change a thing. I felt that wonderful birth high that you hear so much about. It was all there. I loved it. Everything went better than I could have hoped for.
But I didn't feel empowered.
I was confused. What is this? My home birth didn't empower me? My home birth didn't empower me?
It took me a little while to realize it, but it wasn't really that my home birth didn't empower me. It was that I figured out that I had been empowered the entire time. I was already there. I was already empowered. I started to realize that the only way I could have felt empowered after my home birth is if at some point I felt dis-empowered during my pregnancy. But I never felt dis-empowered during pregnancy about my ability to have a home birth. My husband supported me. My midwife supported me. My doula supported me. All of my supportive people supported me. They believed in me and saw strength in me even when I had my moments of doubt. Even when I would forget how strong I was already. Even when my life's circumstances were making me feel like I was weak. Like I was nothing. And because I was already empowered by my first incredible hospital birth, and I surrounded myself with uplifting people who believed in me, I was able to shield myself from anyone who may have wanted to dis-empower me.
I won't go into a ton of details, but there were plenty of opportunities for me to feel dis-empowered during the time I was preparing for my home birth. That time was one of the hardest times of my entire life. My family was going through some hard stuff. I may have felt dis-empowered about life in general and what life was throwing my way, but I rarely did about my ability to give birth. During my moments of fear, "Can I do this again? Will I be able to do this again?" my support people and I would be able to say, "Yes! You did it once, you can do it again!"
As I am preparing for my third birth, and my second home birth, I do not expect to feel empowered after this birth. My first birth gave that to me already. It set the stage for all of my future births.