I tried to narrow down each birth to just a few words, and this was what I came up with:
Bear: relief, out-of-it, disconnected, tiring, fulfilling, empowering
Eagle: intense, personal, hyper-aware, primal, powerful, peaceful, beautiful
Both births were unmedicated. Both births were in the place of my choosing, and with a provider of my choosing who respected my birth plan. I went into each birth well-educated about the process and what to expect and what I would need to do. Each birth was proceeded by mental and emotional (as well as physical) preparation on my part. With both births there was a point where my care provider had to step in and help facilitate the baby's getting out. Both babies were healthy. Both times I had a relatively uncomplicated recovery.
Labor with Bear was 23 hours long--but when it started it started, and over the course of the day it gradually increased in intensity until he was born--just like the books say. Early labor with Eagle occurred in little fits and starts over the course of two weeks (causing me no small mental and emotional exhaustion because I kept thinking this was it...and then it wasn't). When the time came though, I was wakened in the night (by Bear actually), and within minutes was in active labor and Eagle was born a few short hours later. Eagle's labor was more intense--harder in many senses--and yet shorter. Ironically I spent the 'active' part of Bear's labor in bed (because I was tired). While laboring with Eagle I found I could not bear to lay down, I had to be upright and constantly moving. Even while I was pushing Bear out, I was sufficiently exhausted that my contractions were several minutes apart and I was falling asleep between them. While pushing with Eagle everything seemed to move very quickly, and even as he was coming through the birth canal it still seemed a bit surreal that this was finally happening.
Because Bear's coming had been preceded by so many losses, I spent much of my pregnancy connecting to him. I talked to him, sang to him, and during labor thought mostly about finally meeting him. Eagle's pregnancy was such a busy time that I didn't connect to him in the same way...on the other hand, I did get in tune with my body in a way I had not before. During labor I was excited to meet him of course, but I was mostly focused on myself, my body, and what I was doing. It was an entirely different perspective, and for the purposes of labor, I think a more effective one.
During my labor with Bear I was an active participant, but I was following directions. I was too tired and out-of-it to do anything else. While laboring with Eagle I was the leader, doing what felt right when it felt right, without being told to breathe this way or push that way or wait just a minute. I was hyper-aware of every sensation, but I also had the energy and presence to be able to respond to them, so they were more manageable in spite of seeming more intense.
Bear's birth was empowering and triumphant. Eagle's birth was a thing of beauty and peace...and a whole new kind of power.
"Cradle of Love" by NancyBright
used with her permission
used with her permission