Three years, almost to the day of my first born, my second son was born. Owen Ray Rothert. He was born 10 days late, 10 lbs and full of lessons for me to uncover.
If you have read my blog post about the birth that brought Matteo into the world, you would understand that I had reason to be nervous about baby number two. My first labor really proved how unpredictable birth can be. How even “the doula” can’t predict nor control the outcome of this mystical experience.
I did my fair share of processing and healing in the 3 years that followed Matteo’s birth, but when faced with the reality of going through it again, I recognized that I was experiencing some PTSD. The fact is, I honestly almost died the first time, and this time I had more to lose. That felt really big and really scary in my heart.
However, it did not sway me from wanting another homebirth. Although Matteo’s story had a very traumatic ending, the labor itself was beautiful. There is honestly nothing like giving birth in your own bed, with nothing but the people you hand selected to be a part of this experience. Free from having to get into a car and fight LA traffic during the intensity of contractions, free from strangers forcing their agenda on you, free from the need to explain things to medical staff that may not understand your vision.
Yes, my homebirth did not go as planned, but it did prove that the system works. We had 30 hours of labor and 30 blissful minutes of gazing into each others eyes in our own home, before it all changed. Emergencies are rare in homebirth. Most women transfer to the hospital for exhaustion or failure to progress. Very rarely do you see something as extreme, like I experienced. And as I said, the system worked. I was in need of immediate care outside of my midwife’s abilities, and within minutes the ambulance was driving me to the hospital. The hospital staff acted fast and they saved my life. Amen. Thank God, the Universe, the stars…whatever you believe.
So here I was, 30 weeks pregnant, planning my second homebirth, trying to work through some of this PTSD that continued to come up in my yoga, my meditations and subconscious thoughts. But, I could not shake it. I could not shake the fear, the “what if’s”, the potential of all that trauma happening to me and my family again. Afterall, as a Doula, I know without a doubt, that fear gets in the way of birth.
So I switched gears. I decided on a hospital birth. Little did I know that I was only exchanging one set of fears for another.
The next 10 weeks were full of disappointing doctor visits. The wait times were 45 minutes, and the visit itself was always less than 10, during which it became apparent to me that the doctors and I did not speak the same language, nor did we have the same viewpoint on birth. Their focus was fear. Mine was trust. This sent me into a spiral of wondering if I had made the right decision after all.
However, a few weeks before my due date, with some work on quieting my “new” fears and trusting in my decision, the doula in me decided to “get real” with my choices and expectations for my hospital delivery. This conversation with the doctor resulted in a very heated discussion followed by many tears. Yet, it was in this moment that all the walls came down. The OBGYN really saw me. She heard me. And this was apparently all I needed to proceed with the faith that it was all going to work out just the way it was supposed to.
Fast forward to my due date. Then 2,3,4….10 days past it, my water breaks at 8:00pm. My son was just getting out of the bath and I was naked standing over a towel on the floor (thank goodness!) ready to get in the shower. My husband and I locked eyes and prepared for the shift, accepting that our lives were about to change yet again.
By the time he finished putting Matteo to bed (8:35pm) my contractions were already 2 minutes apart and were getting stronger by the minute. Our Doula, Kathy Stanclift, arrived by 9pm and by 10:30pm we decided it was time to head to the hospital.
That was the longest 20 minutes of my life!!! I was half naked on all fours in the trunk of our Toyota Highlander. Every stop light, speed bump, and turn felt like agnony!
We arrived in a whirlwind. I felt so much pressure and I’ll be honest, pain. I’m not one of those Doulas that believes in a “pain free birth.” Birth is painful. But it’s also incredibly powerful.
When we arrived, I was 4 cm. However I knew intuitively that it was almost time. I could feel him coming. Dilation after all, is just a number in labor. Some women take hours to progress from one number to another, while some women go from 2cm-10cm in a matter of minutes…it’s all relative.
Sure enough 45 minutes later, after many screams, moans, “I can’t do this”, oh wait “Yes I can”, and counting my breath from 1 to 10 over and over, I felt the urge to push.
However in this moment, the fear creeped its way back in. It took me 6 hours of pushing with my firstborn son, and ultimately my uterus came out with him and I almost died.
Okay. Deep breaths Chelsea. Focus. Pray. Trust. Push! He’s coming one way or another!
Twenty minutes later, out he came! All 10lbs of him! With a brief scare of shoulder dystocia because of his size and some pretty significant bleeding which required some attention, I was grateful that I was in the hospital. I was supported. I was safe. I was alive. And just like that, I was a mother of 2. We were a family of 4. Magic! Pure Magic!
My son Owen Ray, was born on 3/13 in Room 313 during a butterfly migration. Yes, he was 10 days late and I could have been talked into induction. Yes, he was a “big baby” and I could have been talked into induction or even cesarean. But, I believed. I believed in the power of my body, in the strength of my mind, and I trusted in the process of birth itself. Was it easy? Hell no. Was it perfect? Absolutely not. But it was our story and one I will treasure forever.
Giving birth to a second child is different than the first time. During my pregnancy, I continually questioned my ability to love another child as much as I loved Matteo. Everyone told me to simply trust. Trust that the heart is capable of expansion beyond comprehension. That somehow I just would love him just as much. And it turns out, they were right. Right about it all. Somehow this little soul completes me. He fits perfectly into our family. My heart seemed to be hiding a private chamber reserved just for him. One I didn’t even know existed.
I am so grateful for these 2 boys. Grateful to be their mother, their mirror, their light.
Forever each others’ greatest teacher.
Welcome to the world Owen Ray. My ray of light.