Eden Benedicta’s Birth
9.12.16, 6:28am, 7lb 10 oz, 21.5 in.
I’m a birth worker so it’s really really hard for me to not over-think my own birth experiences… I tell you this so that you know I left out A LOT. The times don’t matter, birth-life-death aren’t measured in time… This amazing birth was captured beautifully. This is what I felt that day. I’m sharing in hopes of sealing my healing (this has been a very very long year of tough stuff but this birth reminds me that I can do hard things with love & support) and blessing others with my story. I’m letting it flow.
Friday, 9/10/17: acceptance.
We had a routine appt with our life-trusting Midwife, Rachel Andresen, in Manhattan. Though I usually enjoyed the drive through the flowing Flint Hills, I was extremely annoyed this time. I was feeling grumpy in general. Not sleeping. Off & on warm-up contractions for the last couple weeks, with no grand finale of baby. I was trying to take my own advice and “do life” as long as possible, but it was getting exhausting. I wasn’t making great lifestyle choices when it came to mind-body-spirit nourishment either so that wasn’t helping my mood. I asked for what I needed- to have my love language, quality time, met. Now. Carl knew the drill- take off a day or two BEFORE the birth. He tried to make small talk. I was D.O.N.E done. They say the last weeks are the longest; it’s true.
Anxiety about the postpartum time (I’ve never had an easy one) was getting heavy and affirmations and journaling wasn’t cutting it. I looked up my old birth stories, pics, etc. and focused on my “birth 2 remember vision” board. I was kinda kicking myself for not just doing another unhindered family birth. So many people to keep in the loop. That boat had sailed. We needed people to help with our four little people, my husband needed extra hands. Moving on.
Acceptance. It’s a glorious thing that smacks you in the face if you allow it. Smack! I owned it. I pulled up my big girl pants (truth? I wasn’t wearing any, lol. Skirts are where it’s at in pregnancy and birth.) I let it all go. The perfect timing. The perfect waterbirth. The perfect pictures. The perfect husband. The perfect baby. The perfect babymoon. The perfect breast-nurturing relationship. The perfect life. It’s a unicorn.
Saturday, 9/11/17: connection.
This day is a bit of a blur. I woke up early and energetic after a decent night’s rest (amazing what sleep will do!) and took a sunrise walk that ended with me sipping on some chai in the screened in veranda Team Heincker had built less than a month ago. It was a gorgeous day and I was intentionally soaking it up! I wanted to do everything and nothing all at the same time. I focused on balance: when to hold on and when to let go, ate well, journaled, rested a little, and trusted the call to connect with womb-baby & the family in nature. Our family headed out to my favorite spot. While on the way I got queasy and had to hang my head out the window. I snoozed and moaned through mild contractions. Once there, big sisters snapped a few pics of mom-baby in the scenic locale. While the littles explored, Carl and I talked out more fears and took deep cleansing breaths. I’ve never felt more connected to the earth and every living thing. I was one with everything. Trippy is a good word for it. I couldn’t even really open my eyes. Carl joked (he doesn’t do that often) that we should have brought a tent and camped out (tent birth? That would have been a first), then remembered how much skeeters like me and how lovely the screened in porch setup would be… everything got kinda floaty and I noticed I had to stop moving during a contraction. The emotional shifts were pretty clear. Up to this point, I had joked, been angry, tired, happy, giddy, busy, eager, confused and overall kinda “ditzy”. LOL. Then suddenly I hated Carl asking if I was having contractions and told him to call them expansions “that’s what they are, expansions & muscles scrunching up!” Ha! Always the educator. I digress. I kept my eyes closed and my breathing slow but it was getting harder to focus so I firmly announced, “ok, lets load up. Now.” The troops buddied up and got headed to the van all the way- right away- with JOY in their hearts (I’m pretty sure I caught a smirk or two between the bigs and Dad). They all knew something was up as I usually give a 5 min warning before I say, “I’m leaving, if you want a ride.” No warning this time. I started to feel some more intense expansions and craved pizza… hhhm, this sounds familiar to my other family births. I thought to myself, what if we have that “van birth” I’ve been having dreams about? Make Ina May proud. Ha! Nope. I want my birth tub on the veranda. I slept & moaned the whole way home. With my head hanging out the window again. You could have heard a pin drop in that van. Parents worry that their littles will disturb the birthing mom. That’s not been my experience at all. They (and the family pets, lol) sense the sacredness of birth before the adults, most times. We got home. Hubby made some mini pizzas, I scarfed, journaled some more, did another “undressed rehearsal” in the birth tub because I was seriously getting tired but couldn’t sleep. Praise the Lord! It helped. The tub slowed expansions way way down and we all went to bed.
Sun, 9/12/17 Hold on. Let go. I woke up next to my lover on the “birth suite bed” he had set up in the living room for me two weeks before when the restless nights of warm-up labor began. We don’t mess around with nesting or postpartum accommodations around here. I needed to avoid depressing isolation and stairs post-birth so this was the logical answer. It was super early morning and these squeezes wouldn’t let me sleep anymore. My tooth was killing me (did I mention that my filling broke in my molar a week before?! Talk about pain… HOLD. ON. tooth). I went to the bathroom, because, what else do you do all.night.and.day when almost 40wks prego?!. I was surprised to find no bloody show but I peed and peed. Hhhmmm… I proceeded to pace around the house like the mating zoo lions I could hear from across the park. You don’t know wonder and awe of “how the mammals do it” until you hear them making love “in your front yard”. Backstory: the first time we heard them it scared us into thinking one had escaped… funny. Not funny. So, I mimicked them in movement and sound and started swaying and moaning in front of the bed. Contractions (I didn’t care about terminology anymore as long as it meant I had a baby!) were 3 minutes apart and I had to pause to focus on letting go. I always get these weird thoughts going through my head in labor and this labor was no different. I couldn’t help replaying the “Can you feel the love tonight, song. And that led to, we could name the baby Lion? Crappy latch feels like a lion bite! Ugh! No, no fear now. LET. IT. GO.” I had a big contraction that brought me to my knees over the birth ball and I woke up Carl. Not very calmly either, as I was a little worried I would birth this baby before he could get the tub full. “Carl! Time. Time to fill up the birth tub with WARM water”. Goal #1 with this birth that we weren’t able to do with any others: fill up the birth tub with WARM water before I was in transition. He sprung out of bed confused and dazed and sputtered some words about “ok, where’s the hose, I’m getting it… and then, stopped dead in his tracks, “I gotta pee.” I died. Laughing during a contraction- no bueno. So while he was taking care of himself and I got a break, I texted our Midwife who lives an hour away an update. She didn’t bother texting me back. She called, “To clarify, are you asking me to come or just giving me a heads up?” My short and sweet answer, “Come now”. First emotional sign of active labor- seriousness. She also asked me if I wanted her to call our photographer (who also lives an hour away), Tammy. My answer, “yes, please”. I called our doula-in-training in between contractions. Danyle, who I planned to invite so that her first doula experience would be awesomely trusting… answered after one ring (Moms never sleep) and I quickly said something like this, “hey-it’s-happening-so
If-you-are-free-and-you-wanna-join-the-party-come-on-over. uuuuuuuuhhhhhhh…..” She was excited but I could also hear in her voice that needs of her little one might keep her away… I trusted whoever was supposed to be here would be here. Goal #2 Let go and flow. Things weren’t crazy fast yet, but knowing my history, they could get that way quick. So, I got my swimsuit on and started trying to ignore the contractions (pointless, but I didn’t want them to fizzle in the excitement) while I refreshed the diffuser with Peace & Calming and said, “Breathe in love. Exhale fear.” over and over. Carl got another kombucha-water drink (stay hydrated!) I sprayed on some magnesium oil (stay relaxed). I put on some specially chosen oils to help me seal-the-healing from past not-so-good birth experiences. It was time. Carl filled the tub with salty water and woke up our mini doula-photographer, 10 yr old Bailee. After a few good contractions, 6-yr-old, Bella, joined us with her “camera” the iPad. Shortly after, bleary-eyed 8yr old Blair joined us with the mini camcorder. All the while 3yr old big brother slept a couple steps away from the commotion. At some point, Tammy, Rachel & Danyle slipped in. We all had some good laughs in between my roars and make-out sessions (what gets the baby in…) and found my long lost Rosary! The rest gets super foggy! I labored intensely over the ball, kneeled and slow-danced with Carl and moved all around the living room. I got some of the sweetest moments with each of my big girls connecting our energies, sharing prayers, and watching them connect with their Dad and birth team. My midwife mimicked my movements even praying with me. Our doula did so many things I don’t even know, I’m sure. Blair said it best, “Danyle was invisible until she wasn’t.” Our photographer melted into the background and peeked her head into our space at the most perfect times. Cali, our cat, was right in there. Surprising as she’s totally my cat, introverted and chill. She knew. <3
Slowly, I felt the tug to get in the tub. I got a second opinion from our Midwife that the tub wouldn’t slow things down like the night before. She did what she always did when she wanted to hand the trust back, smiled. I took in deep cool breaths and awareness of this atmosphere surrounded by nature (without all the skeeter bites). It was such an amazing early morning. Dare I say, perfect. The lantern-lit stillness. Then smoke. Uh-oh. I looked at Carl and he knew exactly what I needed though as we had communicated about it many times. I’m super sensitive to tobacco smoke. Or any toxins for that matter. He stepped next door to ask our neighbors to stop smoking. They were surprised to see him but probably relieved to know I wasn’t dying. I’m a bit vocal in labor. I slipped into the gloriously warm birth tub. Sweet relief. The intensity diminished by half, at least. Hello aquadoula. I rested and was thankful for the break from carrying my bountiful belly. Our dog came up to the screen to see what was going on. She was barking like crazy but we couldn’t figure out why… she settled down when Carl talked to her. After maybe an hour of swaying, moaning & relaxing in the tub, I felt pushy. I kissed Carl and said, “I’m opening for you and our baby.” I began to swirl my hips in the watery oasis, moving side to side, lifting one leg at a time as I felt our baby was trying to make the tuck-and-roll exit. Our baby began to shift and the energy was so still. I felt her head with my fingers as I waited. I highly recommend it. My mom says, it’s your chance to touch the “other side” and forever you will relive that moment when you put your hand on their heads. True. The wind even seemed to slow to a gentle breeze. I imagine everyone outside of the tub may have been chilly. It was eery. In the limbo between her salty-womb world and her salt water earth world, I checked out, floated, and oozed her out. She opened her eyes (AMAZING pic, Tammy!) and the contractions mellowed way way down so I just waited a moment. It was unreal. My little one smoothly swam out. I felt empty and full. Love pouring out of you will do that. The head was barely above the water, I checked this little being out then we wrapped up in a towel and I tucked the babe in the “habitat” against my warm body. Carl and I connected, the girls got right in there and we all gazed upon this perfect little person. Moments later we found out she was a GIRL (love that our photographer captured this one as well!). It brought the grand total to four girls and one boy. Bliss. Our dog started barking frantically again (more on that later) and the rain began to fall….It smelled like new life. It was surreal. Our son still had not woken so Carl took him potty and introduced him to his “baby seester”. The birth was a medium, in length and intensity, compared to my past births. But, it was a 10 in regard to timing and satisfaction! It was exactly what this mom-baby-family needed. The girls were so excited to go to school to tell everyone and we wanted them to do what they needed even though I’m sure they had a hard time keeping their eyes open. It was raining. Doors were open. It was glorious! The idea that birth attracts wild creatures proved true as we found out what our dog had been barking about all night- a huge red fox had intruded on the birth space (and threatened our chickens) and our great pyrenees had run it up the fence to its death. To say that bright-eyed face staring back at him through the fence startled him doesn’t quite cover it. I died laughing when I saw my city-slicker husband, in his construction-orange raincoat, bringing it up to the screen door to show us. Weird universal gifts? We couldn’t agree on another girl “Bee” name (I wanted Benedicta, he wanted Beth), so Eden “Benedicta”, which means, Heavenly Blessed, it was. I’m so grateful for this healing experience that would carry me through the next 6 months of even tougher stuff. To be continued…