Given a week now to reflect upon the last nine months and the grand finale of pregnancy… the birth… I still come up unsure as to how I should describe it with as grand an account as the actual event was.
Giving birth is indescribable to anyone who has not experienced it. I also think each woman’s experience is unique, different from all the rest.
Here is mine~
In the four days after my official “due date” had passed, I found myself in a deeply profound place of constant worry. I was desperate to go into labor naturally, on my own, to avoid the medical cascade of intervention birth. I had been down that road before with nothing but unfortunate results.
Going past the 40 week mark was never part of “my plan” for this pregnancy~ I tried everything to get my labor started~ acupuncture, moxa, herbs & teas, walking up hills, spicy food, relaxation… But nothing was working and I was starting to feel the pressure from others and myself to begin considering an induction or even scheduling a c-section.
It is crazy how quickly we can lose trust in ourselves and in nature.
On the second morning of being over my due date, staring out of my window, thinking about the past and the unfolding future, I realized that it was time to say goodbye to some old attachments. In a small box, I placed his picture, a tiny hospital newborn hat that he wore, a letter I wrote to him, and finally, some of his ashes. I walked out into the woods behind my house until I came to a spot that felt right. There, stood a big hollowed out tree, surrounded by moss, on a hillside overlooking the river that runs beside my house. As I stood there, by myself among the trees, reading out loud the letter that I had written, the air became noticeably still and I felt calm. A goodbye, and a promise to never forget, to continue carrying him by the strength he instilled, impossible to ever truly die. I Buried that box there beneath the hollow tree and spread the rest of his ashes onto the forest floor. I had held onto those ashes for 8 years.
The following morning, I was woken by the subtle surging of cramps in my belly. I had an afternoon appointment with my midwife, so we decided to wait until then to find out if this was actually labor. By the time we left the house, the surges were coming every 10 minutes, strong enough at times that I had to focus on my breathing to get through them, but I still did not believe I was in labor. When I was checked by my midwife, I had dilated to 5 centimeters and it was obvious then that it was time to head to the hospital. But after spending so much time doubting my body and my ability to do this naturally, I was still convinced that this was not true labor. We called our doula to let her know we were heading to the hospital, and stopped to shop for a last-minute few things… While roaming around a giant department store, searching for soap and toothpaste, my contractions had become so strong that I could no longer walk through them. Perhaps it was time to go to the hospital…
We checked in around 2pm, and proceeded to just hang out in our room for the next few hours. Contractions became erratic and were spacing apart more, so of course, I began to doubt if this was real labor again. I took some homeopathic black and blue cohosh, and within the hour, my contractions had come on so strong that there was no more denying it. I got into the jacuzzi tub and labored there until the contractions were coming very regularly and building in strength. With Colin by my side, it was still tolerable and each contraction seemed to pass by pretty quickly. Natural contractions are much different from pitocin induced contractions. They feel… Natural. Intense, but natural. Soon, the intensity and volume of each contraction increased and I moved into the birthing pool.
It was there, in the birthing pool that I fell from this earth into a dimension that only women have been to before. The pain of each surge was so all-consuming that I literally felt my mind divide away from my body. My bellowing screams were completely new to myself, I truly did not know I was capable of producing those sounds. There comes a moment where intense pain transitions into something else, and there you are in a trance, embodied by its aplomb.
There was no room for my mind in that place, my body was in total control and I had no choice but to completely surrender to it.
Going through natural childbirth was more important to me than I thought it could be. It was a transformation that balanced my everything, and I believe Miles’s everything as well.. It brought me and my baby into some space and time that I define as the place where I met god, and I have found myself in the last few days wishing to go back to that hugely powerful place to feel it once again, even accompanied by the pain. There is a reason why women are meant to do this, and I know why now. For years I had questioned why it had to be so painful and so miserable for women to give birth, so unfair… I no longer have these questions.
Guided by four women (my midwife, doulas and nurse) and my dear husband, Miles was born at 11:35pm that evening. After just six hours of hard labor, in a dimly lit, quiet room, he was placed on my chest as soon as he came out and stayed there for an hour before he was taken to be weighed. It was a dream, that I am still living in.
I do not think we would have had as amazing of a birth as we did if it weren’t for our birth doulas. Their support throughout the pregnancy, the birth and now in the postpartum period has been so essential. I would strongly encourage any woman considering unmedicated, natural childbirth to find a birth doula for the RIGHT kind of support.
For me, having faith in my own body to do what it was built to do, the power of nature, having the right support, and letting go of the past were the key elements that allowed me to bring my child into this world the way I wanted to welcome him.
Miles is a rather content little baby. He loves to eat and sleep, as most newborns do in the beginning… He has the silliest expressions and looks just like a little man. He definitely looks like Colin!
Yes, life has flipped upside down for us, just as everyone felt like they needed to remind us that it would. And yes, we are tired, just as everyone predicted we would be… but it’s all good, and I will definitely not be one of those parents who will feel it necessary to remind any one about to enter into parenthood how your nights will be sleepless and your days be restless. Because the truth is, the new life that comes into your own outweighs all of that.