Rachel’s Home Water Birth: Part 1

June 18, 2011

I have the most precious 7-day old son. This has been the sweetest, deepest week of my life. My son’s birth has been like an enormous purifier on my life. I feel stripped of my layers of cynicism, doubt, and annoyance. My heart is laid raw and weeps for any pain I hear about. I have this absorbing feeling that all I am is my heart, and right now it’s all I want to be. I am reeling in the richest emotions of tenderness, gratitude, adoration, reverence.

I’ve waited so long to be able to write this story! I have to start with this (from my journal on June 3, 2011) as a preface because it explains my state of heart and mind when my birthing experience began.

Laura Curtis came over tonight to do a fear release and it was glorious—I had so much energy and felt so serene afterwards. She used a script she wrote herself and I learned so much from it and had the most incredible, ready visions. I wish church could be like that…it unlocks my mind and fills me with light and resolve. This week I’ve been complaining about my body a lot and feeling like a manatee/elephant seal/toad person. Part of the fear release script involves you looking inward and THANKING your body for the miracle of conception and carrying a healthy baby. When I opened myself to those ideas I felt so ashamed for my ugly thoughts. My body might not be as svelte and lithe as it once was but it’s making a miracle possible. Also, when I think of the women who perceive their bodies as “broken” because of infertility or other problems I absolutely ache for them! I feel grateful that my body is alive and thriving and capable of giving life. It’s so beautiful, it really is!

In another section, Laura talked to the baby and told him how much his parents love him and how welcome he is. She talked about his little face and his little hands and I was crying. He is more important than I can understand; he will mean everything to us! He will be the best of our lives, I know it.

The loveliest of all was the warm hallway full of light, I had to imagine all my fears, doubts, and limiting ideas hung on the wall as pictures. I looked at them with detachment. I imagined portraits illustrating the scenes where people had discouraged me and treated me with disdain. I saw the colors blur and drip from the page as the pictures shrank smaller and smaller, eventually disappearing. Then I got a new canvas and painted enormous depictions of the hopes for our birth. My favorite and the most vivid was just me and Jonathan and our little Stranger sitting in the pool and adoring each other, with light streaming in from the windows, from the water, from the baby. I titled the painting “Dar la Luz” and it filled me with such joy and confidence. I hung it with a most heavy frame and Laura said “It will be.” It was such a good day to do a fear release, and made me feel so alive! Laura has a perfect voice and cadence for doing the readings. She said she thinks of it kind of like giving a blessing. That’s exactly what it feels like to me, it feels like such a strengthening gift. It’s incredible. It was a spiritual readjustment and knocked me back into alignment where I want to be–in a place of respect for my body, faith in the birthing process and in my own strength, love and anticipation for my baby. I am ready for this! but I also feel a sweet peace about being pregnant for longer, if I need to be. My child is healthy and all will be well.

Last Monday (June 6) I called my midwife, Cathy O’Bryant, because I suspected I was leaking amniotic fluid. This concerned me a little; did it count as my water breaking? Women in the birth stories I read always described it as a gush, but this was a barely noticeable trickle. Where was my GUSH?! I was feeling no contractions besides the occasional tightness I’d felt for months. Cathy confirmed that it was amniotic fluid and told me that if I were birthing at a hospital they would want to induce me, but she wasn’t worried about it, because it seemed to be a slow, high leak and it would be so much better for me and the baby if he would get started on his own. I was a little disappointed; I was just so eager to do this and I’d had so much positive energy since doing the fear release—I wanted to put it to good use. However, as I was driving home from my midwife’s home, I sneezed! And behold, the flood! This time the gush was unmistakable; it felt like water from a hot tub suddenly pouring around my legs. I grinned and I think I even said, “Yay!” I called Cathy to let her know and she said “Great job!” and to keep her informed if I started sometime that day.

I came home joyously to the arms of my Jonny and informed him of my news. He was so excited; we were both so happy to know something should be happening soon. I called Laurel (my doula) to tell her and explained that I was a little worried that I had my water broken but no contractions at all. I know it’s much better to begin with surges first and have the water break during labor. Laurel offered to come over and do some pressure points to try and get labor started. I agreed; not necessarily because I had the most faith in pressure points, but I love Laurel and wanted to hang out with her (also I will almost never object if someone wants to rub my back). We had a picnic lunch in my living room while we watched Pocahontas and experimented with acupressure. A couple of times I thought I felt a tiny pang in my uterus, but maybe I imagined it.

After Laurel left, I decided to take a “long winter’s nap” with the hope that my birthing time was very close, so I curled up in bed with a book and some jolly ranchers chews. I never got my nap, because by the time I finished the box (*cough*) I was feeling some unfamiliar sensations in my abdomen. At first I thought I was just laying in an uncomfortable way, so I shifted my weight and redistributed my pillows, and then I felt a very distinct cramping sensation. It startled me with its power. I sat up in bed, almost holding my breath. “Oh, baby baby,” I whispered, “are you really coming?”

The wind was wailing outside and it was a grayish afternoon (this was around 3:30 PM) and because whenever the weather is bad (or it is night) I tend to think my house is haunted, I suddenly couldn’t bear to be alone. I called Jonny at work and asked him to please come home. I explained that I knew it could still be awhile, but I wanted to be with him for our last few hours alone. He is so steady and comforting to me always. He came home and hugged me. We were so excited to be doing this and there was a solemnity about it as well. I think we could sense that we were about to go through something powerful and difficult, and even though it wasn’t quite there yet, we were bracing ourselves.

We decided to eat some pineapple, watch SVU and start keeping track of the surges so when I called Cathy I could tell her how far apart they were. I leaned over my birthing ball and tracked the surges on contractionmaster.com. They were pretty irregular in length but all under 5 minutes apart. I remembered to do my slow breathing, but between surges I was chattering to Jonny about SVU, and how excited I was, and I don’t know what else. I couldn’t have fathomed sleeping, and walking didn’t feel too good, either. I felt nervous if I wasn’t close to the floor when the peak of the surge hit. The surges were very manageable at this point and felt more like pressure than anything else—but they were so strong, and seemed so separate from me that it was a little intimidating, like an unseen hand was clutching me in an iron grip and then releasing me. I kept humming the chorus of “Lightning Crashes:” “Oh, I feel it coming back again/like a rolling thunder chasing the wind/forces pulling from the center of the earth again…” describes it pretty well.

This is the end of Part I. During intermission, read this beautiful poem, that I have loved and read often with labor and imminent motherhood in mind :

God speaks to each of us as he makes us,
then walks with us silently out of the night.

These are the words we dimly hear:

You, sent out beyond your recall,
go to the limits of your longing.
Embody me.

Flare up like flame
and make big shadows I can move in.

Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final.
Don’t let yourself lose me.

Nearby is the country they call life.
You will know it by its seriousness.

Give me your hand.

—from Rainer Maria Rilke’s Book of Hours (I, 59)

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: