"Are you not frightened mother ? ", I ask, incredulous.
"what is there to be frightened of ? " , she responds, smiling sweetly.
"The waves are huge and the ocean is filled with so many unknown creatures ! " I respond.
"Nonsense", she says squeezing my hand gently, "there is nothing to fear. You just dive in, like this.."
With that she dove into the waves. I watch her twist and turn joyfully in the waters with ease. Suddenly, I lose all fear and with a running start I too dive into the water, letting the waves take me away, there is no resistance as I swim effortlessly along side her. Together we swim into the wide open ocean as the great mother envelopes us...
That is how my labor began June 9th at 7:00 am. I awoke with a contraction and running to the bathroom I noticed a good amount of blood on the TP. This is it , I say silently to myself, with a mixture of excitement and dread, this is the day !
Suddenly all my senses are heightened, I pause briefly, to savor the moment. Looking out the window at the sun filtering through tree leaves, I notice what a beautiful day it is. A male house finch sings softly from a nearby perch, a redtail hawk cries in the distance and a slight breeze blows gently through the open window, carrying with it the many smells of late spring and early summer... recently mowed grass, warm cedar chips, freshly blooming flowers . I notice, just outside the bathroom window on the ledge, the resident pigeons are nesting and the mama looks down on me from her place upon her nest. I will soon be a mother too, I think, as ours eyes meet .
A contraction draws my attention back to the immediate situation, I rise and walk excitedly back to the bedroom. Moss is just stirring from bed as I tell him, this beautiful day will be the day of our precious daughters birth ! He is excited, though sweetly nervous. Since the contractions are not real strong or regular at this point we take the time to clean up the room a little, prepare the birth pool and make sure all our supplies are in order. I then settle down to meditate, listen to my c.d's and relax.
Around 1:00 pm contractions are becoming a bit more regular and I am feeling some nausea. We decide to call our midwife Kari and give her a heads up, as well as our friend Jackie who will be providing labor support and photography. After a short conversation, everyone agrees that it would be best for them to make their way slowly over to our place.
Despite the fact that I am handling everything well, I am eager to get into the birthing pool. Moss fills the pool for me and after a half hour I get in. If this is it, I am gonna sail through labor, I think smugly as I lower myself down into the warm water. The relief is nearly instantaneous and seems to actually halt my contractions. I fear that maybe I got into the water too early and although I know this is probably not helping my labor along, I could not bring myself to get out. kari arrived a short time later and upon seeing me in the tub laughing and talking, decided to check me for dilation. After checking she announces I am 2 cm dilated.
Yikes..on hearing this my previous smug confidence disappears. Things are going to get a lot more intense...
Kari suggests I get out of the pool and walk around to get things going. I pace the hallway for a while and this really does seem to speed things up. Before long I am needing to lean on the stair railing during contractions. I keep this up for some time, until I can no longer bare the sound of my in laws arguing downstairs over 1940's actors and old tv shows, which although I find very amusing, was becoming distracting. We decide to move out to the bus to labor for awhile. It was here that things really started picking up as I began to lose all sense of time and really entered my own little world. At one point I stopped pacing to throw up, sit on the birth ball and moan through a contraction. Once again Moss was there for every contraction, rubbing my sacrum and offering me kind words of love and support.
At some point we move back into the house and on the bed, with Moss behind me, rubbing my back. My main coping method was to breathe slowly and deeply between contractions while concentrating on actively relaxing my bottom as completely as possible. When I felt a contraction coming on I would signal and Moss would rub my sacrum, as I vocalized using low and open throated tones.This helped incredibly. I read that there is a subconcious link between the vaginal canal and the throat. By keeping the throat loose and open with use of certain tones, the vaginal canal is relaxed, which in turn allows for an easier, less painful birth. I noticed the few times my voice began to rise to a kind of squeal, my pain intensified dramtically. As soon as I brought it down low things were much more manageable.
We stayed on the bed in this way for what seemed a very long time. At some point kari came in and asked if I wanted to be checked. Reluctantly I agreed. After checking kari announces I am 7 cm dilated ! I am both pleased and disappointed at this news. The good news is I am nearing transition and will soon have Sage in my arms ! The bad news is..I am nearing transition...
On hearing this I felt well within my rights to finally get into the birthing pool. I slip into the warm water with a huge sigh of relief and let my body float with my head resting against the side of the kiddie pool. Moss was right there, as he was throughout the entire labor, holding my hand and rubbing my back. This was the most intense part of my labor. The only way to deal with the intensity of what I was feeling was to completely surrender to it. I could not run away from the feeling, or stop it. I could only submit myself, body and mind to it, and keep telling myself to relax all my muscles. The Beatles were playing on the ipod,
"Turn off your mind relax and float down stream, this is not dyeing, this is not dyeing" ...
I had to smile at how perfect that mantra was. Gotta love those Beatles. I was then reminded of the dream that began my labor and visualized myself diving into the waves of contractions I was now feeling. I continued on in this way, laboring in the water for some time, riding the contractions like waves. They were coming hard and fast at this point, starting as an ache in my sides and quickly building to an extremely intense tightening across my lower belly and back, then gradually subsiding. At the peak of every contraction my hand would shoot out, almost involuntarily, grasping and clawing wildly at the air like a person drowning. I wanted to grab something, anything, and pull myself back. It felt as though I was sinking , being sucked down into the very earth herself by the force of my own body. Always a hand would quickly emerge from some where for me to hold, usually Moss's, but there were others as well. I noticed every time the sensations got to much to bare I would feel a rush of energy, followed by a feeling of ecstasy, which I figured was the much talked about endorphins, "the body's natural pain relief."
At some point my thoughts began to turn towards pushing, and just as I was thinking this I started to feel the urge. Thank Goddess, I thought with a renewed strength. I am so close to holding my baby !
These pushing contractions were distinctly different. I felt them throughout my entire body instead of just my lower back and belly. Every muscle in my body seemed to surge at once, causing me to bare down with very little effort on my part. I was doing nothing at this point, my body was in complete control and I was simply along for the ride. The Moody Blues, To Our Children's children, was playing on the ipod and faded in and out of my consciousness between contractions . At last the contractions seemed to slow a bit and I had a long and much appreciated rest. I draped my head over the side of the kiddie pool and breathed slowly, relaxing completely in preparation for the final act..
Before long I felt that intense aching again in my pelvis and lower back that signaled the start of another contraction. With this one however there was an added sensation as my pelvis seemed to separate, to my amazement. It felt like I was splitting in two as my body literally opened and became as a vortex for this new soul to enter the world. I realized this was the baby moving down lower into the birth canal . Oddly though, there was little pain at this point, in fact there were fleeting moments of what I might call, pleasure, followed by the very strange and some what alarming sensation of my body opening. Another rest, then a contraction, my entire body convulsing at once and baring down hard, then the "ring of fire", that intense burning as the head crowns. Excited voices drift in and out of my consciousness, the smell of lavender oil fills the air, time stands still, then silence as I go deep within myself searching for that last bit of strength to actively push the baby out.
The next thing I know there is a huge release of pressure and Holly, Moss's sister exclaims excitedly as Sage slips out into the water just in time to Moody Blues, Eyes Of a Child, playing on the ipod. I cannot see what is going on because I am turned around and draped over the side of the tub and and on my knees. Everyone is oohing and ahhing excitedly. I turn around, Moss lays Sage on my chest and our eyes meet for the first time. Breath taking....
"Hello beautiful daughter ! So wonderful to meet you !"
But wait, something is not quite right. There is concern in Kari's eyes as she tells me Sage is not breathing. Rub her back Kari tells us. Moss and I vigorously rub her back. Is she o.k I ask repeatedly ? Kari does not confirm that she is. The room goes quiet as we continue rubbing Sages back and kari suctions her nose. Finally after what seems like an eternity, the first cry, tiny at first, then louder.
We all breathe a collective sigh of relief as Sage lets out a healthy wail. She is wrapped in a warm bath towel and the two of us, still attached, are helped out of the tub and onto the bed, where we are joined by Moss. We cuddle for awhile and eventually Moss cuts the cord. Soon afterwards Sage begins nursing.
This was the most profound and beautiful experience of my life.
I am so pleased I chose to birth naturally and I cannot imagine doing it any other way. Yes, it was intense but never did I feel that I could not do it or that it was too much to handle. I actually found myself longing to re live my birth experience weeks later. In some strange way it actually felt good.... to feel the awesome power of my body, to be aware and conscious of this sacred event, to witness and honour the emergence of this new soul into the earth plane in such a deliberate manner. I simply cannot imagine a more peaceful and sacred way to welcome a child.
Sage Evenstar Ratafia was born on June 9th 2007 at 7:05 pm, weighing 7lbs 14 0z, and we couldn't be happier ...............