Beverly's Second Birth Off Base in Okinawa
A note from the Military Birth Resource Network: Birth comes in all shapes and sizes. We often hear the negative side of birth. By sharing women’s stories we hope to put a positive outlook on the experience when giving birth at military bases around the world.
Because I knew what to expect a little better, the second pregnancy and labor went so much quicker than the first! The first labor experience at the clinic out in town was amazing, so we decided to have the second baby there as well (Since we’re currently no longer stationed in Okinawa, we joke that we can’t have any more children unless we fly back to be at the same clinic.).
We hired a doula again for this birth, but we decided to try placenta encapsulation and to focus on the postpartum experience. My first baby was a perfect labor and delivery, but an extremely difficult infancy wrought with colic, acid reflux, and postpartum depression. I wanted to mitigate the difficulties so we hired Laura, who specializes in postpartum health.
My mother-in-law had retired just a few months before this baby’s EDD, so she was able to fly out to be with us for the birth. Her role was to stay with our 2-year-old, whom I worried about an awful lot. My little boy was such a mama’s boy, and I wasn’t sure I was ready to “give him up” as an only child. Once my mother-in-law arrived, my worries subsided and I knew my oldest boy would be in good hands.
The night after she arrived, I went into labor. It was 9pm and my husband and I had just crawled into bed. I got maybe 30 minutes of sleep before the contractions began. When they only grew stronger over the next half hour, I decided to wake my husband up and go. I could already feel this birth was going to be much faster just by the speed of these contractions. We packed our bags, called our doula, said “good bye” to Nana, and left for the clinic.
The entire 15 minute drive, I was in the back seat on my knees, holding on to the headrest for support. These contractions were serious! Once we arrived at the clinic, I was ushered into the same room I labored with my first son. The clock started at 11:30pm.
I stood for most of this second labor experience. I stood below a little electric fan, letting it blow cool air on my body, and swayed my hips until the contractions came. I used my hypnobirthing tools to breathe long, even breaths during contractions. It was incredibly peaceful. My doula was supportive and would say things like “You’re doing great, mama.” She gave me her headband at one point so I could keep my stupid bangs out of my eyes. She rocks.
After a while in this position, I felt the desire to get in the tub. I didn’t spend very long there because my body didn’t want to be in the reclined position. It felt painful and wrong. So I got back out and laid down on the tatami mat to rest. I am amazed at how much sleep a laboring mother can get between contractions! I fell into deep, dream-induced sleep in the 3 minutes between each contraction. It was good to get that much rest. I woke up at one point to throw up, which didn’t bother me. My body didn’t want to expend energy on digesting my dinner, so it expelled that food. I wasn’t worried or frightened, I just understood that’s what needed to happen.
When the contractions picked up and the baby dropped into the birth canal, I felt this intense ripping feeling in my muscles. I still wasn’t scared, though, but I just remember thinking this baby was coming way faster than the first. It was like he couldn’t be patient and wait for the muscles to relax and open by themselves – he needed to push them open NOW! I used more hypnobirthing techniques to breathe HA HA HA noises, which prevented me from screaming. This pain was different from my first birth experience. I remember hitting my husband on the shoulder each time I breathed a loud HA. He encouraged it and would lean into the punches. What a guy.
The painful part lasted maybe 20 minutes before the baby came. From start to finish, this labor lasted 3.25 hours – he was born at 2:46am on his due date! Pushing him out was just as euphoric as my first baby. The intensity of labor followed by the wave of endorphins during the birth is a feeling you just can’t beat. I was laid down, shirt removed, and baby placed on my chest until the afterbirth.
Placenta encapsulation ROCKS. My doula took the placenta home with her and made the pills and a tonic for me. My depression was completely mitigated and the postpartum period was much easier on my mind, body, and spirit. My mother-in-law had come to help us, but we really didn’t need her as much as we thought!
I highly recommend hypnobirthing as a way to learn breathing and pain management techniques that work, as well as hiring a doula, because they are sources of empowerment, support, and serenity. My husband liked having a doula to turn to when he didn’t know what I needed. I liked having a doula to turn to for encouragement from someone who had given birth before. I also recommend placenta encapsulation for anyone! Placenta helped me heal faster, replenished my energy, aided in milk production, and kept me mentally stable when I had a history of postpartum depression.
If I have any sage advice for other women it’s this: picture the perfect birth. Where are you? What are you doing? What smells do you want? What sights or lights or people do you want to see? Now go get those things! How much money do we spend on our perfect wedding or our perfect honeymoon? I think you should spend that same money on the perfect birth. It’s worth every penny.