The birthing tub, as I had learned the week before labor started by submersing myself in it, brought instant relief in so many way because it took gravity out of the equation. The pressure and weight of a big belly, the inability to move into a comfortable position, these were nonissues in the water. When the home birth midwife suggested I get in the tub, I flung off my nightgown, grabbed an elastic and a headband and twisted my hair into a crazy style, and got in -- quickly -- between contractions, with help. We had set the tub up in the baby's room, which was warm and dark. The house, thankfully, was quiet. I immediately settled into a kneeling position, gripping with white knuckles the side of the tub and pushing my forehead into the padded lip. The midwife checked me for the first time, and said I was fully dilated, after about only 3 hours of active labor. Every time a contraction hit, I marveled at the sound coming from my throat and kept thinking I would wake up our 4-year-old, or the neighbors, as our old town house is attached on two sides. For the next two hours, the only words I remember saying are: "When will this end?" "Soon," was her response.
I also had two constant thoughts running through my head: "Now I know why women considered childbirth the Curse of Eve...because if one did not choose to go through this, and had to do so every couple years, it could make you a very bitter woman."
The second thought was more of a question -- "How many other babies were born in this house, built in 1874? And what was it like for them?"