Quincy’s birth was hard and fast. I had planned a second waterbirth but there wasn’t time to fill the pool. His birth was soooo much more intense than my first labour with this big sister Dusty, which had gradually built throughout the night and day, culminating in her arrival in the bathtub of our Melbourne share house.
I thought I’d never see these photos again. Photos from my second-born Quincy’s birth, lost to an old computer that doesn’t turn on anymore. But one of my amazing midwives Rhonda of By-Your-Side Midwifery had kept a copy, and delivered them to me today on a USB.
Quincy's birth was a 'classic' second labour. I've already said it was much faster and it felt more intense than my first. My body achieved in mere hours, what had taken 24 hours the first time. I know many women can feel like those quick births are harder or more challenging than slower ones. It's like the mind has to catch up with what the body has done. In the months following his arrival, I was able to do all the things needed to care for a newborn and a 3 year old. We even packed up our home and moved to the West Australian desert when he was 4 months old. But I didn't feel the same sense of ease that I felt about Dusty's birth, something was niggling inside me, like I was holding on tightly within, yet I couldn't say what it was, or even if it was a problem. I certainly didn't feel traumatised. I felt supported, happy, proud and grateful when I considered my pregnancy care and his birth. But something also didn't feel as good as I knew it could.
Years after Quincy's birth, I had a Birth Healing Session with Virginia Bobro and everything changed for me. It’s hard exactly to describe what changed, I just don’t feel disappointed or niggly by it anymore - I just feel f*cking powerful! I feel so strong and happy about his birth, and so grateful for my incredible midwives, my family and friends who supported me, and the chance to have a skilled Birth Story Listener help me reframe my birth experience.
If I hadn't had the opportunity to share his birth with her, and to have my story received in a non-judgemental way, I think I would still be feeling uncomfortable about his birth. After the Birth Story Healing experience, I became highly motivated to help other women who have been feeling traumatised, distressed, disappointed with their births. It's possible to reframe any birth experience.
“I want all birthers to have the opportunity to process their experiences in a compassionate, understanding and transformative space.”
The second birth I was ever invited to attend was the birth of my second little brother in 1986. I was five. (I had attended my mum's second birth (I was her first) as a two and a half year old, at the Queen Victoria Birth Centre in Melbourne- and had been present for the birth of my first little brother.) My mum's third labour was longer than expected and my labour companion (my mum's close friend Linda) took me to her place for a nap and a snack. Whilst there, we got the call that mum had given birth and that we could come in to see them. So I missed his birth, by hours. However, my five year old mind made an agreement to herself - Birth is important, don't miss it!
In reflection, I think part of the discomfort I felt around my own second labour was that I had 'missed it' in order to cope with the intensity. With Dusty (my firstborn) as my labour with her had gradually progressed, I felt a sense of being present in my body as it performed the awesome miracle of birthing her. But with Quincy, I had a sense that I had left my body in order to cope. That being in-the-body was far too intense. I think, I had broken my 5 year old girl rule - I think, in her simple, follow-the-rules in order to fit-in, be loved, make it in life 5 year old mind, I had 'missed' Quincy's labour. By missing his labour, feeling not-present (others may describe this as out of body, or out of control, or transcendent) my little girl within was flailing. Her black and white rule of the world had been challenged and she was doing everything in her control to feel in control again and make the world right. I think, this was the source of my discomfort around his birth.
I had to find compassion for that five year old. I had to show her the numerous shades of grey that exist. I had to show her that as an adult, I didn't miss it, that despite the intensity, I was present and how f*cking awesome was I, that I could still birth him through the intensity!?
More info on Birth Story Healing on my website.