When I think of birth, I think of optimum health. This is the time when all senses become the wisest. Wanting to keep my body at it’s purest – smells, tastes, sights, and sounds should be naturally wholesome. There is a new life developing within me – I am a habitat and I control my own environment within me.
So, for this third and final pregnancy, I do a lot of the same as my first and second. I continue to eat organically. I stay active. I connect with this developing life. This pregnancy and birth is an extension as to how I live. It doesn’t just begin with conception and end with birth. This outlook on birth is merely an extension of life and how to live.
I ended up enrolling in a prenatal yoga class, just as I had done for my first and second babies. Only this class was a bit less spiritual than my first two – it seemed to be more about “strength and endurance” as I would continuously report to my husband when I arrived back home after the sessions. The instructor referred to the Sanskrit “so hum” -which translates to “I am that”- a few times and this is something that would prove to be of great use during birth.
June 11, 2008 was a day that followed a terrible storm that knocked out our electricity for 16 hours. I woke during the night before to still find our electricity out and my mucus plug starting to disengage. Slippery toilet paper – a sure sign. As the sun rose, my two children woke to the heat of the open windows – we decide to drive to my parents for breakfast so my refrigerator would stay closed, keeping the cold from escaping. I ended up napping for three hours as my parents took care of my children. Somehow the body knows to rest as a great journey is about to be endured.
My husband, who is a high school teacher, was administering his final on this day and was able to leave work early. He found the electricity up and running when he returned home and called my parent’s house to let us know. We stayed for lunch and then left to pick up my husband and proceed to, what would be my last, prenatal visit with my midwife.
Around 2:40 a.m. I finally crawl out of bed to the bathroom. I say “finally” because I love sleep and I have been trying to stay asleep and ignore my squeezing abdomen… My body begins to ready itself. It empties, contracts, and empties some more. With ease and acceptance, I approach my sleeping husband with, “Love?? Babe???” He opens his eyes and looks at me. It is around 3 a.m.
I tell him, “Game on.”
With a few contractions and some instructions to line the floor with a path of chux pads from bed to bathroom, my husband pays attention to the steadiness of each contraction. We make two calls to close friends who have agreed to be on my “help and support” list. In between another wave of rushes are instructions to my husband to “turn up the kids wave (white noise) machines and to shut their doors.” As always, my husband is task oriented and putting in 110%. A call to the dispatcher service for our midwives is put in around 3:30 – the first of many, as we would soon come to learn, completely useless efforts. The dispatcher service was not connecting with our midwives.
My husband filled our jacuzzi-style tub, lit candles, and filled the bathroom with the aroma of lavender. I get in and melt into complete relaxation. I worry silently that this may slow down my labor. My contractions do not seem regular – they are surely strong, but they are fast – definitely not lasting for a full minute. I wonder if I am just being a wimp and if I am still in the first stages of labor.
My first closest friend arrives – it is 4:15. I try to check my dilation while my husband greets her at the door. When she comes into the bathroom, I am in the middle of a contraction. I am inhaling, silently, “so”.” I am exhaling deeply a loud “huuuuuuummmmmmmmm.” My girlfriend from childhood enters, what is now referred to as, the birth chamber. I tell her that I tried checking myself. I do it again and she asks if I feel anything. I don’t know what I am feeling. We laugh. My waves are steady, but still not lasting a minute. I share my doubts… I snort to myself and say, “See? I shouldn’t be able to talk in-between contractions. I am talking. I am not in active labor!” But these waves continue to come. I continue to breath, “So hum.”
I feel like I have to urinate. My husband and girlfriend help me out of the bathtub and over to the toilet. Within that time period I am met with another rush and I lean on the counter. I can’t bring myself to lowering onto the toilet seat. Every time I attempt to lower my body down, a contraction comes. I want to get back into the tub, but another rush comes and I lean on the counter again. I am rocking my body – doing circles with my hips, like a clock not like a hula hoop.
My other girlfriend who is a practicing doula arrives next. It is after 5 a.m. Rushes are doubling up. I remember my girlfriend telling me that she thinks I am probably 8 centimeters. She suggests that I have hot tea with honey. This does not sound appetizing to me. She suggests an orange – my husband hops to it and brings me the juiciest orange. He feeds pieces to me. What a strange sensation – to have something in my mouth that has such a pungent smell and sweet taste. I have mixed feelings about having to eat something, but I know that it is good for everyone involved.
It is somewhere around this point that I realize no one (meaning, midwife) is coming to this birth – I am doing this with no intervention! How cool! No one is sticking a doppler into my belly to check the baby’s heart rate. No one is prodding me to find out my dilation. I watch, in between contractions, my belly as I feel my baby descend. I lean back in the water and I look down to see my baby actually moving – knowing which way to go. I breath deeply, inhaling through my nostrils so deeply “so.” When the rush comes, my exhale rides along with it, “huuuuummmmmmmmmmm.”
This way, I know my baby is receiving my strength. Natural oxygen is plenty. And I know my baby is doing wonderfully by seeing and feeling this movement.
I am more aware at this moment than I have ever been in my life. I am present. I am paying close attention to my baby’s journey. This is no longer about me.
I change position abruptly and my inner-earth mama-lion sound comes out. I remember this sound from my previous two births. I grasp my husband’s hand for leverage. There’s a pop under the water – my bag just broke. It reminded me of an underwater firework – poof! I hear, “We’re having this baby!” My hand feels the top of the baby’s head. I remind myself to go slowly. Let my body release this wonderful life. My baby’s head is out and with the next push, my baby arrives. Loving hands reach in I bring my baby to my chest. Avi Zion has announced himself to this world – it is close to 6 a.m. – June 12, 2008.
The placenta is birthed 30 minutes later and Avi stays attached for the next four hours until our midwife arrives. Avi’s big brother and sister wake to find their baby brother waiting to meet them!
The epiphany “birth is inevitable” comes into my head. I have surrendered. Birth will occur, whether midwives or doctors are in attendance, or not, in the hospital, at home, in a field, in the water… birth simply is.
And I am that.
Maple Glen, PA