It was a two-baby night, and the first cold night in this mountain town.
It is a late morning, so I am in my bed, drinking my coffee before finding some sleep.
I am thinking of you. I am thinking of your birth, your sweet, insane birth story.
Now my coffee is cold, and I have eaten my hash browns. The dogs have been fed; I will nap and doze with my eye mask on. Slumber deeply, restore and nourish myself. I am waiting for an overdue mama—I imagine her contracting quietly at home.
She’s wondering, is this it? Should I call? How will I birth?
So birth quietly with tiny little sounds, groans, was that a moan? A sigh? Does that sound like a push? Are the lights low? Can I find your belly to listen to your sweet child?
It is dark; the lights peeking in as the sun rises…you breathe. Deeply and shallow, too. Darkly and with joy. Your exhaustion exponentially more than mine, your body heavy and working perfectly. It is quiet in the room. It smells of oils and vanilla candles.
So birth like a lion. Roar your baby out. Thrash and burn and yell and squeeze tighter. Yes—no, you are not hurting me. Can I take some of your pain away? We all wish we could. So let the train barrel through you, hold on tightly, jump out of your body and right back in again. Deep down sounds—low in your belly. Growl. Yes. Birth is like this. A primal depth—you may never return to this place. So feel it now and thank you for allowing me here with you.
So birth flat on your back—the knees by your ears. Wait! You think quietly somewhere deep in your head, this is not how I wanted to do it. I wanted to stand and dance my baby out—I wanted to squat firmly and grounded. I wanted to be powerful. Oh, you are so powerful, mama—you tried every single other position in the whole world and your baby chose this one—be proud!
You did it the hardest way…pushing up against the bones we watch your baby’s chunky creased little scalp appear and disappear, appear and disappear until slowly it eases up and out!
Like a miracle, it fits through the beauty of your open self. You pant, you breathe your baby out into your partner’s hands. With tears streaming, cause they always are, he lifts your child to you—uncontained in his joy and your exhaustion.
So birth like it’s nothing. Yes, please. Walk in and say your contractions started last night, but you slept through them all. They are getting closer together you say, “Oh yes…see.” You smile, “Here is one now.” Okay, it is over now. So quickly. I smile, I see—you are early, I think. And another one.
I check and you are nine centimeters dilated. Holy cow—how do you do this? Why don’t you feel the pain? The discomfort? The sensation, the surge, the pressure? Why is it like this? I can’t believe it. Yes, my partner says, you are right. You are not a crazy midwife. She is nine.
And soon the crown of your sweet baby’s head shows. The hair so sticky and wet and the nose is there—I can tell it is a girl (not really), but oh how sweet that baby’s face is. And here is your baby—laughing and crying joy. Everyone in the room. That was easy you say—I’ll do that again. Me, too!
So birth like you are alone. Yes, your boyfriend arrived late to the birth. Yes, you would not push until he got there. And when he did, and smelled like alcohol, you laughed with joy that he was there for this child. And you cried like a young girl because you had to wait so long.
And then, he is there; he loves you and tells you he will never leave you. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you for giving him a son. He promises to be a good dad and before you know it he is gone, so she is putting her baby in the car seat and packing her suitcase alone.
So birth in the middle of the room surrounded by family, surrounded by friends. Someone is playing a drum; there is a dancing circle around you. You are caressed and loved. Someone gives you sips from a green bendy straw of coconut milk. Your hair is braided.
Flowers drip from you; the blessing way belly bracelet sparkles. You are oiled and your skin is damp and warm. Your water leaks clear onto the chux pad beneath you.
You appear serene until the labor storm picks up—and then you kick everyone out and get down to business. Howling you deliver your child to this world. You scoop her up and press her to your breast, “I can’t believe it, I can’t believe it! I did it!!!” You did it.
So birth in the operating room, you worked so hard, you pushed as the sun came up, you pushed in a squat, you pushed so lightly and then you grew braver and even more courageous than yourself.
You pushed into that pain—through the fear, through, through your very inside self. The midwives talked with you, the doctors came they encouraged you to push harder. “God damn it! I AM pushing. DON’T tell me to push harder!” Finally, the whispered voices came and the suggestion for a C/S. You birthed your baby in the most challenging way possible—through labor, through pushing and through surgery. What profound admiration I have for you.
So birth in the water. Oh, you wanted a water birth. You dreamt of it. You told your mother-in-law that you were going to a Birth Center and you would give birth in the water. “But honey…..” she said. “Won’t the baby drown? Won’t you?”
You dreamt of the water, the waves rolling to the shore, the sand that soft, soft kind—the kind that holds your feet in all the right places.
You dream of the warmth, the salty fluid. When you arrive the midwives suggest the tub, oh, YES, you think. The tub! You strip down.
Unaware of your nudity you step in, moving between contractions in that ebb-and-flow of the tides. Stopping, moving, waiting, breathing and easing yourself in the warmth. But it is wet, you cry! Oh no, this is all wrong.
I am too hot—please get me out! We gather the towels to dry you off, but sooner than you can stand the baby arrives. We scoop the baby up and onto your beautiful breasts and place the warmed blankets on you both. It is steamy and quiet. Your rosy cheeks and your damp hair are the baby’s first glance.
So birth as you are. Birth your baby. Do it your way. It is the only way.
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Assist Ed: Jes Wright/Ed: Sara Crolick
Photo credit: dscans (Flickr). Birth of Apollo and Diana ~ Marcantonio Franceschini.