Little Miss Green’s home, water birth story
Welcome to the Empowered Birth Week Blog Carnival
This post is part of the Empowered Birth Week Blog Carnival hosted by Child of the Nature Isle and Betsy Dewey . For this special event the carnival participants have shared their perspective on Empowered Birth. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
Even though it took place ten years ago I wanted to share my birth story as part of the Empower Birth Blog Carnival.
I set my heart on a home, water birth the moment I knew I was pregnant. I wanted minimal medical intervention, I never had scans or tests apart from diabetes, blood group and iron levels. I trusted myself, I trust my daughter and I trusted that I would connect with the wisdom of the sisterhood of women who had given birth before me.
After plummeting iron levels caused concern from midwives as to whether I would be able to give birth at home or not, and I was told under no uncertain terms I would hemorrhage and need a blood transfusion I simply stopped having the tests. I figured if they had nothing to go on they couldn’t keep feeding me with their concerns…
It took me 19 months to finally write my story. How can one put into words, that which cannot be closeted by the mere formality of language?
I say to people that birth was the most profound, empowering, amazing experience of my life but how can I attempt to share just a tiny part of the extraordinary journey I have been on? Surely I am ‘just another woman who has given birth’ Just like the millions of women before me who walked towards motherhood?
The thing is, every woman’s experience is unique; a personal and profound voyage full of insight and reflection that can be matched by no other. Just as we have individual fingerprints, just as every snowflake differs from the previous one, so our birth experiences are inimitable. Every woman has her own story, and although the mechanics may be similar, the legend etched upon their soul and the route of their voyage is matchless.
A poignant reality existed as I joined hands with the mothers before me – that of ‘time’ being nothing more than a man made instrument, which we allow to control our lives. Time had no meaning or truth or certainty, as my life became a presence, a state, and a series of intricate moments that beautifully and expertly wove themselves together with no hint of join or seam. I joined the realms on another plane and placed my trust in my baby and myself for those blissful hours. I had the privilege to fall supported and innocently into the arms of myself – the soft blanket woven over nine months, of faith and tranquility.
So here, dear readers is the story of my daughter’s birth:
For 9 months I have awaited your physical arrival in my arms, yearned to see your face, to feel your bare skin held against mine, to taste your breath on my face and smell your sweet, milky flesh of innocence. Patiently I have nourished you; filling you with my love, my life, my heart and soul.
On Saturday 3 March 2001, it comes as no surprise when at 6pm the contractions come, gently shaping, toning, stretching, moulding and I settle down to eat in front of the fire that Daddy has lit. In the opposite corner of the room stands the birthing pool where we have regularly immersed ourselves, surrounded by photographs, pictures, crystals, feathers, pinecones and pebbles – all the things we have collected on our journey together of 9 months. As I have walked through the forest you have pointed things out to me – a bit of wood there, a leaf here, or you have bought to my attention a bird song or shimmer of light in the distance and I have dutifully collected these things physically, on camera, or stored them safely in my heart so that these familiar things are with us at the moment of your birth.
Every evening for the past 4 months between the hours of 6pm and 10pm we have had Braxton Hicks contractions but within the past 48 hours I have given you the surrender that you need, the willingness and readiness for this part of our journey together.
10pm comes and goes and the contractions do not stop as they usually do. Strangely though I do not respond or register that. I think nothing of it, unaware that time has already begun to slip into the non-existence that only happens at birth and death and I relax, sinking back onto the feather duvet, arranging the huge array of the pillows around me so that we are comfortable and supported.
Evenings have always been my favourite part of the day with you; the time when you and I have shared the most. The times in which we have communicated far beyond the limitations that language hold – you have somersaulted your replies and I have shared in the joy of your existence and growth. You are very still tonight, very peaceful. Not asleep, but resting just as I do while my uterus continues its work. Strong surges, gentle ripples every half hour, every 5 minutes, closer still and then pulling right back into nothingness. I marvel at my body working in synchronicity with you and the Universe, responding to your commands as you orchestrate the symphony of your arrival – your personal masterpiece that you composed, conduct, perform and now dance through. Together we rest; connecting, singing our songs of love, sharing our fears, our hopes, our dreams and we make one final pact to be together throughout the next 16 hours. I promise to hold you, to guide you, to never let you go, to never leave you no matter what and you trust and accept this with your unbinding, pure love.
An hour or so later Daddy looks at me and asks ‘Is this it do you think, shall I fill the pool?’ and for a moment I slip away from you, suddenly feeling unsure: ‘I don’t know.’ is my reply – from far away this voice comes, not from me surely? It is as if I want no interruptions – this is my time with you, our special time and no one else is invited or welcome. Daddy starts to fill the pool anyway and the sound, smell and sight of the water looks so inviting – it is the womb that will cuddle and support me while you are cuddled and supported by mine; the macrocosm to your microcosm.
Gently, slowly, surely, the pace gathers momentum and the waves of contractions become larger, bringing you ever closer to the shore of my open arms. The water of each wave caresses the sand and shingle, teasing, tantalising; rushing forwards then pulling you back again. Part of me stands on the shore watching you swim closer to me, another part of me swims with you and the dolphins in the water: laughing, splashing, diving and surfacing. At 2.30am Daddy calls the midwife as I feel the desire for a little bit of professional opinion on my progress. I know we are doing just fine, everything feels so natural and gentle, but at times I am aware that this is ‘ my first time’. Of course in reality I in a familiar space I have been in many times before as I enter my woman’s rite of passage into motherhood for this lifetime and I gather the strength and support of the thousands, millions of women who have given birth through eons of time. Together they collect and stand holding hands, forming a circle of love around us, and you and I crouch by the flames of the fire watching them dance towards the night sky.
I want no intervention, but I crave reassurance. I keep turning down internal examinations until I am quite sure I want to be in the luxury of the water. The first exam reveals that we are 7cm dilated! Such relief and joy washes over me. I am so proud of the work my body has done effortlessly, without instruction, without external guidance. The powers of nature and of myself infuse me with a sense of hope and an extra surge of energy. The realisation that I have stored within every cell of my being so much knowledge, power and wisdom is overwhelming. Knowing that together we will dance our way through this short but magnificent journey is awesome, spine tingling, chilling……
I feel at home in the water, my body can escape the gravitational pull that has made me feel so cumbersome and awkward of late. Supported by invisible arms I am caressed and soothed by the gentle rhythms in this space. The comforts of the water are the softest of duck down, plucked one by one from the earth where they have fallen solely for me.
The peace and serenity of the past 12 hours changes pace as the peaks and troughs of each wave comes closer to the next. For months, through the preparation of hypnotherapy we have known that the time between each contraction will feel long and restful; enough time to build more strength and energy, and so we move into the realms of giving and taking, giving and replenishing, giving and renewing. It is a process, a long process but as each wave dies back leaving its glimpse of you, we know that we are closer together. Each wave ridden is one less to ride. Each contraction is different; a different pulse, a different undercurrent, a different shape, a different taste. It carries in and washes with it life, joy and power. Sometimes you and I ride deep under the currents not needing to come up for air and at other times we ride high on the crest of the waves holding hands, embracing, blinded by the spray and foam but never letting go. And at other times we rest at the bottom of the sea allowing the waves to wash over us, too tired to move, too exhausted to bother.
At around 8am our friend Angela calls – our healer, masseur, reflexologist and Doula. I am looking forward to her protective presence, to her soothing aura being in our sanctuary. She arrives at the perfect moment – 9cm dilated with anterior lip – ouch! For the first time I am out of control; forced to distrust the rhythms and desires of my body. Forced to ignore my feelings and instinct which for once, for the only time in my life, are bettered by experience and knowledge of the physical.
I am desperate to push and my body contorts itself into a torrent of movements and spasms that indicate it wishes to do the same, only I must hold back for fear of rupturing or swelling the cervix. Angela and Daddy are wonderful and we are thrown into a primitive, base chakra chanting; our tribal war dance against the wishes of my body. Here, mind pervades body’s wishes and we chant rhythmically for an hour, Daddy soothing gently with his words and presence, loving us back into relaxation, Angela massages feet and back and selects a piece of rose quartz for me to focus on. It is cold in my hand, hard like this process of the journey. This is the storm after the calm, the turbulent seas that threaten to throw us overboard from our ship of surrender, this is where we hold on for life, this is where we are tested to our extremes…
At last, at last we are free to go with the pushing and the waters feel familiar again. It is 10am and I am so tired, yet with renewed hope and optimism we push. My – how stubborn you are! Once again I am forced to think base, think earth and it pains me. My place is not here with feet firmly planted on the ground; it is flying and sailing around the spiritual realms and my pushing is not effective. Strange the issues such transient times bring to the surface, but I think ‘I am not pushy, I am not earthy, I do not want to focus with my eyes open and stare at the ground and my feet; I want to stay here, deep within the etheric with you, talking to my spirit child, my star child.’ I understand now that a part of me never wants to lose the relationship we have now. Naturally I want to see you, hold you and put you to my breast but part of me never wants to let go of my pregnancy and already I start to grieve for the past 9 months. It has been a wonderful, insular, solitary time and I wonder if I am ready to leave the confines of myself yet. So we take our time, you and I and just as I have waited patiently for 9 months until you were ready to come, you return the favour by waiting quietly and contentedly until I make up my mind that I am ready for the next stage of my life.
All around us there is the frenetic challenging energies of fear from the midwives claiming “over 2 hours of pushing and ‘no progress’” – what little they know! I am told to stand up and I think I will die; never before have I felt so unnatural, so violated. This huge ungainly land animal, wading her way through the desperately heavy earth energies, feeling so top heavy, so ready to collapse and fall. All I want to do is lie down. I am so exhausted. I want to be left alone as there is nothing to fear, nothing to rush. Time is nothing, it is man made and does not have a place within the sanctuary of the birthplace. We are not machines, we are not ‘average’, we are unique and beautiful and we intend to do things our own way. You continue to astonish the midwives with your patience and happiness; they are expecting to see signs of distress, but your heartbeat never steps above 140.
As I sort things out in my head, Daddy blesses us with his patience and Angela draws circles of protection around us so that the three of us can focus within once more. The midwifery supervisor is called, the hospital is called. It is like 2 films running side by side: you, me, Daddy and Angela in the old black and white silent movie played in slow motion, the 3 midwives in the action-packed, adrenalin pumping 21st century thriller. There can be no faulting them though – they respect my desire for a ‘hands-off’ delivery, and never show a visible rising of temper or eyebrows when we yet again turn down this test, that test, this intervention, that medication…
We get back into the pool and Angela anoints us with essential oils to revive energy and any flagging spirits, Daddy is braced getting ready to meet you. Together we call up all the forces available to us to create more contractions. The gentle ripples along the shoreline we will into action and I come to hold your hand. Together I guide you along dark tunnels where there is silence and strange shapes along the wall. We can hear the muffled echoes of external life and I ask you if you are finally ready to take your place on earth, if you are finally ready for this incarnation you have chosen. I make one last promise to unconditionally love you, to learn what you have to teach, to teach what you need to learn from me and to respect you. You agree and we are on our way. There is no going back and we take this final stretch of our beautiful journey towards life as a family.
There are steep slippery slopes, tight corners, places where there are no footholds and sheer cliff face drops. We hang on together, carefully treading our way through the treacherous path. Each time you slip I catch your fall, each time you get stuck I free you, each time you dangle in the nothingness I embrace you and you know that this will always be the way if you choose it.
The supervisory midwife is anxious and without our knowledge or consent she has called an ambulance and it is waiting outside the house to transfer us. She has no faith that we are going to make this final leg of our journey. She wants me to get angry and ‘get this baby out’. Her actions and words are laughable; I couldn’t feel less angry or have less desire to ‘get you out’. Such harsh words, such a misunderstanding of the space I am in and the person I am. Daddy lies to her and tells her that he can feel more of your head. No one can reach us because we are in the pool so the midwives watch on, feeling helpless, feeling out of control, feeling fearful while we continue at the pace we have chosen for ourselves.
You tease everybody with the tip of your head. It never moves, not for hours, yet your heartbeat remains steady and strong. You are totally at peace, totally relaxed and completely willing now to wait until we are all ready. I can sense Daddy wants to meet you now, Angela is waiting patiently and Daddy starts willing me, giving everything that he is to me. He puts his hand on my third eye, demands me to focus on him and pours every last ounce of his energy into me. He makes me take it, creates further contractions for us, he goes through this last part of the birth himself, pushing you out, helping you down the slippery slopes, selflessly and relentlessly he gives us everything.
He lives through every second, breathes and becomes the birth himself, until at last, at last we are engulfed by a ring of fire as his power, my power and your power unite.
He is finally ready to be your Daddy, you are ready to join us and I am ready to let go of what we had and we all surrender as you swim out. Your eyes are wide open, your arms are swimming and you are lifted onto my tummy. Daddy is ecstatic, I am over-awed, feeling numb with every possible facet of emotion and you loudly and proudly announce your arrival on earth again.
We invite you to sit, relax and take time to read the excellent and empowering posts by the other carnival participants:
Empowered Birthing – Amy at Anktangle shares a simple list of things that support an empowered birth experience.
Little Miss Green’s Home, Water Birth Story – Mrs Green at Little Green Blog shares her (home, water) birth story. Even though it happened 10 years ago, the empowering feelings are the same to this day (and yep, it STILL makes her cry!). This post is also a tribute to her husband who was there mind, body and soul throughout.
Save Birth, Change The World – Toni Harman, mum and film-maker talks about the highs and lows of creating the ONE WORLD BIRTH film project dedicated to helping more women around the world have empowered births.
12 Steps to an Empowered Natural Birth – Terri at Child of the Nature Isle wants to talk to all pregnant women and tell them YES they can have an Empowered Birth! This is her personal 12 step guide.
The Blessingway: a sacred blessing for birth – The Blessingway is a sacred ceremonial circle of women gathered with the intention of blessing and preparing a pregnant woman and her child to give birth. Betsy Dewey describes the beauty and the how-to of a modern Blessingway.
Informed Birth is Empowered Birth – Darcel at The Mahogany Way Birth Cafe tells us why it’s important to take control and be responsible for our own births. She says Informed Birth is Empowered Birth.
Empowering Birth in the Trenches – Over at Belly Tales the Midwife explores what empowered birth looks like in an urban hospital with a vulnerable population.
An Empowered First Birth – Zoie at TouchstoneZ follows the path she took to her first homebirth and finds she may not have started out as the best candidate for an empowered birth.
And this one to be published on Sept 12th :
Empowered Birth: From the Personal to the Universal – Zoie at TouchstoneZ questions the criteria for what makes an empowered birth and finds she has to let them all go.
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