it’s been three months now since he wriggled out of me; that squished little chicken has turned into a meaty lil thang!
we spent breakfast time today (his and ours) scrolling through pictures of pre- and post-baby … incredible, how so much changes in so little time. me, hair long, belly stretched to the max, lying on the couch in an i’m-preggo-and-massive-and-fairly-done-with-it agony. me again, days later, on that same couch, belly deflated, a tiny wrinkled pink nugget sleeping in the valley between my breasts.
what a beaut he is now.
i’d like to tell the story. the whole story. the true story. most people didn’t get the whole, true story. they got a slightly watered down, craftily edited version. the Cliff’s Notes; highlights, with the introduction and the conclusion snipped out. that was to save myself and my partner the hassle of fending off worry and fear. i’d heard enough from other couples planning the same to make me shut that tap off before it even started dripping. and my mother … oh, my mother, already fraught with unfounded worry, already on my case about every little this and that. no, she couldn’t know. not if i wanted a peaceful birth and postpartum anyway.
but now, three months after Birth, my fibs are turning into a sticky web of lies. a few misspoken words and people are turning on each other with frenzied confusion – “wait, that’s not what she told me happened!” i now have to make the choice to tell everyone The Truth or not … and deal with whatever consequences come out of my choice.
so to help me mull it over, and also to simply get it all down for record, i’ll start to tell the tale. the whole true tale, and nothing but.
for the one who loves to read, this will be enjoyable. for those who like a quick birth story – the basic details (“labored for 22 hours, went for a walk, pushed him out in the tub, baby was 5 lbs 7 oz, had a 2nd degree tear, breastfeeding went great”) and not much more … you can go ahead and skip all this. (for the record, that parenthetical snap is not my story ;))
my birth story doesn’t begin with the onset of labor. i’d like to say it started about three years ago, when i met my best friend, my partner, my love, and that’s true, it did — but that is entirely too long of a story to flesh out right here, right now. so, my somewhat-abbreviated version shall begin about ONE year ago, with a toe-dip into the deeper past for more insight.
we’d been farming together for just about two full summers. after a particularly sticky spring (internally, and therefore in relation with each other; and during which my partner had a completely life-altering re-birthing experience deep in the woods), we decided it was time to leave our friends’ farm and get a little space from each other. we found separate places to stay around a small town closeby. his was an artist retreat way out on a quiet country road, on the host’s fifth-generation farmland. mine was the spare room above my boss’s garage. it was roasting the day we dropped all our stuff off (far too much stuff for two traveling fartists), rather haphazardly, as we planned to visit a newborn niece across the country the next day. we smoked, talked, excited about our open lives. i gave him a massage with my feet. the heat dripped off our bodies. the moment turned into something more, some magical time-stopping something, and he stayed inside me as we rode the waves to completion.
afterward i laid on the massage table on my back, absolutely blissed out. my hands rested on my abdomen. slowly, a presence crept over my belly. it felt like this ethereal bubble of peace and love — fuck! that sounds so gut-wrenchingly hippy dippy i am inclined to hate myself a little. but it’s true. it was tranquility, and it was a someone. i knew it, because i’d felt it before.
almost a year prior, we’d only been together a couple months, but things were hot and heavy, and i mean that in all ways. we certainly weren’t intending to conceive (he was expertly pulling out back then) but despite that, i felt a presence wash over my belly one day. it was masculine in nature, and steady. my heart burst in deep calm goodness. i knew i was pregnant, and i was okay with it! we were elated (albeit, mildly terrified, being so new (in one way) to each other) and danced through our days. he wrote a prayer song for the blossoming baby boy.
a couple weeks later, however, there was a day when i no longer felt the presence, and that evening, i bled. tears mixed with the blood as we mourned our lost child. i realized, at 21, that i did in fact want to be a mother (something i’d declared at age 5, after watching beloved neighbors get divorced, i would never do). i realized the depth of our union and what it meant, what it would grow. i realized the ways in which i was weak, and needed fine-tuning; all the things i wasn’t doing with my moments that i loved and should be doing.
a year later, last summer … we were ready, apparently, and so was he. because that little spirit came again, and this time, he stayed.
a couple weeks after That Moment On The Massage Table, i took a pregnancy test one morning, just to confirm what i already knew. it wasn’t the first test i’d ever taken, but it was the only one i wanted to come back positive – and, thankmyangels, the only one that ever did. as i sat behind the shop’s counter that quiet morning, i doodled a prayer for my growing seed:
thus starting a chain of doodle prayers that would carry me through the pregnancy and beyond. (might share more later on.)
when we returned from our trip, we went to our separate places and pretended we had never met, leaving it up to the universe to reunite us, if our relationship was indeed meant to be. it took a while, at least two weeks, before he walked into the little natural foods shop i worked at. the day led him there; he’d just biked for miles up and down hills on a single-speed bike with broken brakes that he’d built himself. (ha!) we instantly connected. there was live music in the park a couple blocks away, and since we both wanted to check it out, we went together. that night we hung out at my place, sharing heartfelt original music together, and realized that no matter when or where or how we’d meet, we would fall in love.
our relationship rekindled, and as the summer ended, we moved back to my home city; he got the job he’d asked the universe for. it seemed a good place to gestate — surrounded by my family, and a growing network of friends. i surprised myself by not hating it entirely and actually liking the constant hum and buzz of electricity. we settled into an apartment.
scarred from last time, i feared losing him for the first three months. i didn’t eat rosemary or sage or thyme or chocolate, i didn’t smoke pot, i didn’t drive so damn crazy anymore, and i tried really hard not to let my anger consume me. i sure as hell didn’t tell anyone he existed, save my sister. i walked carefully, drank lots of water, prayed every day.
my appetite was fairly nonexistent – the only things i could even think about eating were peanut butter toast, unsweetened wheat cereal, the occasional banana, and a very plain bean/rice/salsa combo. vegetables disgusted me. occasionally i could stomach eggs-on-toast, but usually that would repulse me, too.
i wrote, in october:
“It’s weird. You would think being a farmer and all health conscious for five years total would instill some sort of overriding drive in me to eat vegetables, tons of them, especially growing a fetus, but I can’t help it. That shit makes me wanna barf.“
thankfully i never did vomit, though many mornings an overwhelming feeling of nausea would permeate my entire day, forcing me to get up from sitting very, very tenderly, and take small, slow sips of water.
i suffered from allergy-like symptoms for months … was it four, or five? i don’t know. it’s all a disoriented blur of used tissue piles and phlegm. i’m still not sure what that was all about – some say it’s progesterone levels (which also gave me a bloody mouth every time i brushed my teeth) but i noticed that when i was not stressed at all, i sneezed far less.
don’t misread me, now — i’m not complaining, because i actually loved all that. my partner will tell you (or maybe not, but he certainly tells me) how much i love all the drama and the symptoms and the tear-jerking moments. “you love to be able to look up and to the right with a single tear falling out of your eye.” it’s true. (though i did NOT love all that sneezing. that fucking sucked.) i loved feeling nauseous in the mornings. i loved not getting my period – and i’m one of those weirdos who enjoys her period! i loved turning down the free drink after work. i loved the sore back, the sore feet, the sore everything. but above all, i loved saying, “because i’m growing a tiny human, AND a new organ!” in whatever argument i could worm it into. that was the queen perk of them all (even above the newfound perks on my chest harharhar ;)).
by the start of the second trimester, my belly started bumpin’ the eentsiest bit. and then i felt him, undeniably (previously – was that bubbling gas … or a tiny human??), making the reality sink in a little more. it hit me harder than ever, though, at an appointment with a nurse-midwife.
i’d started seeing her because my mother insisted i get prenatal care ASAP (anxiously on my case every time we talked to see if i’d gotten it or not) and she was the first i found at the location closest to my house. talk about intimate. overall she was pretty fear-based, especially about homebirths, which she was not allowed to attend due to hospital rules. a valuable moment did arise in her office, though; she offered to listen to my belly with a doppler. the night before i’d been crying, worrying he had died in my womb, worrying he’d leave us again. so for one heart-stopping moment of absolute silence, i thought my fears had come true. they were drown out soon with the steady THUMPTHUMPTHUMPTHUMPTHUMP of his little heart drumming. i cried so hard my belly shook and we lost the beat. “would you like to hear it again?” “YES!”
that was my last visit with her. soon after, i found a private practice midwife through a local birthing center that i vibed with, and we hired her. my prenatal care was easy; i was well-informed, intuitive, in touch with my body, and a healthy eater. there were never any issues and rarely any questions. i denied all of the tests for all of the things, though on the topic of an ultrasound, there was a snag. my midwife (and, again, my mother) very much wanted to know where the placenta was. (with hindsight and further research, i’ve found out there are other ways of telling if it’s in a “bad” position or not.) i was unaware at the time, though, so after a week or so of mounting pressure, i gave in and scheduled the scan. this was about halfway through the second trimester. it was actually a really fun experience for my scientist mind, watching the chambers of his heart pumping blood, and watching him kick me as i felt it happening. i was assured, in a way, that he was healthy and growing.
unfortunately, as those things often do, the ultrasound led to concerned doctors and annoying follow-up calls. the OB who i’d scheduled it through (who was to be my backup if the homebirth should go awry) called me one morning as i was taking my partner to work. it was weird, because i was half in the call and half on the road, so i hardly heard her when she said “i’m concerned about his growth; it seems his head is two weeks ahead of the rest of him. though it’s not terribly common, he may have diastrophic dysplasia.” “uh okay, and what is that?” “commonly called ‘dwarfism.'” “uhm, okay, what?”
she wanted to do a follow-up ultrasound to be sure. when i asked what one might do differently with a baby who came out a dwarf (er, midget? keebler elf? idk), she said “nothing, although some couples choose to abort.” yeah. not my cup o’ tea. neither is the worrying-about-the-potential-abnormalities-of-my-fetus game. i stopped returning the OB’s calls, and felt reluctant about going back to my midwife.
around 33 weeks, i went to our last bi-monthly appointment before home visits begun. i brought my snacks, and as the baby kicked strong, we did the usual; talked about things (i never had many questions, really), she’d measure my heart rate and blood pressure (always G), and then i’d get on the cushy table and she’d feel my belly and listen with a fetoscope or a doppler.
this time, she couldn’t find the heartbeat where she usually did – it was stronger on the other side. i could feel her start to get a little worried. she started palpating, and said it felt like his head was now up in my rib cage instead of his butt. i didn’t think so, but let her keep feeling. after a minute, though, her hands were moving in fear, not in curiosity, and the baby could feel that. he stopped kicking like he had been (on my lower left) and it started feeling really uncomfortable.
i hadn’t yet mastered my voice (still working on that … writing helps) and so i didn’t say anything. she confided in me that a fellow midwife friend of hers had just attended a home birth where the baby was surprise breech, and had died during birth. sad, but (excuse me if this sounds pretentious, i don’t mean to be) that was not going to happen to me. (i just knew.) i asked, because it hadn’t occurred to me before, “if the baby is breech, what happens?”
the answer? we would go to the hospital and i would have a C-section.
now, i was new to pregnancy and birth and the whole everything that comes along with that, and had absolutely no ‘knowledge’ of breech births whatsoever … but inside me, i knew that was wrong, and not at all what i wanted for my care.
shocked, i think all i said was “damn, yo” and soon after, i left. on the forty-five minute drive home, my belly was feeling all kinds of weird. the baby was no longer in the position he had been in; he felt tight and pushed into a corner or something (not that there’s any corners in the uterus); constricted. i didn’t like it. at home, even though i felt hungry, my stomach ache was too strong to bear food. that didn’t go away for two days, although i did manage to eat a bit.
if that wasn’t enough of a sign, i received another, unignorable message soon.
at 35 weeks, i was about to have a baby shower (with 30+ invited attendees, ahhhhhh!) in our little apartment. on top of that, i was in crazy nesting mode. a friend came over and we rearranged the Nest (our family bedroom) to be more baby-inviting.
the Nest is what is sounds like. there’s a huge cozy mat with innumerable pillows on the floor, christmas lights strung around a tapestry by the window, some sacred art, baby and mama’s dressers, a couple altars, and musical instruments. it’s meant to be a quiet, prayerful room, intended for deep focus, good sleep, and clear dreams.
in it, i have this one particular altar-wall: the bottom holds a giant abstract charcoal piece my man did of himself, me, the baby and some angelic energy. above that, a small shelf with candles, crystals, ceramic beads, charred cedar flakes, rose petals, an owl feather, some pine needles, a china turtle, a plastic elephant, a necklace of my late grandmother, three yin-yang beans, and a pin of a mama cat carrying a kitten in her mouth. above that, a bulletin board comprised (mainly) of my prayer-doodles, as well as an ultrasound picture of his body, and the positive pregnancy test. (“what? there’s pee on your altar?” YES, STFU.) and finally, at the top, is a narrow chalkboard from my childhood that is embroidered with “home is where the heart is,” on which i’d written “STAND STRONG — BE LOVE — ALL WAYS — ALWAYS — BE TRUE TO YOUR SELF.”
so on this day that we’re rearranging, i leave this wall intact. except for the bulletin board – that i want to declutter (there’s a couple images on it that are only so-so) so i start to move stuff around. i put the pee stick (ha) at the top and directly under it, the ultrasound. the board is then complete — or so i think. as soon as i remove my hand from the ultrasound, the pee stick rattles off, knocking the ultrasound down, which in turn scoops the three yin yang beans from their position on the altar, and everything falls to the ground.
in my momentary not-all-there-ness, i am annoyed; i scoop it all up and hurriedly replace it. but then … it happens again. in exactly the same way – pee stick rattles, hits the photo, which snags the three yin yang beans on its way down.
this is weird enough for me to pause, come to my center, and look at it plainly. i am struck with strong meaning – these two interventions that were completely unnecessary (because i knew when i was pregnant, i didn’t need the test to tell me so; and i knew in my heart everything was okay baby-placenta-position-wise) are FALLING OFF of my labor/birth focus board, and, because they were up there at all, they are KNOCKING DOWN the yin-yang (balance of polarity in our universe) within myself (bean one), my partner (bean two), and my baby (bean three).
i knew then that i had to fire my medically-trained, couldn’t-help-but-be-fear-based midwife, and birth alone in the Nest.
i shared this with my partner, who, after two of our friends’ birthed on their own, had been egging me to go unassisted for weeks. “i already told you that!” but, i had to come to it on my own. actually, not on my own. it took stark messages from G for me to finally do what i needed to do for myself and my baby.
so, after the hubbub of the baby shower was over (and we had recovered -.- ), i wrote her a very long letter explaining what had happened and what it meant for me and for our contract. it took a week for her to send me a very official LETTER OF TERMINATION (which is as unemotionally pointed as it sounds). i wrote her another personal letter and received a phone call back; we talked some of it out. she said she had had a feeling all along that she wouldn’t be attending my birth, so wasn’t surprised. about it all, in my letters to the baby, i wrote:
“And it was all about my mother, really. I don’t know if I would’ve sought out a midwife, at least not so hurriedly, had her anxiety etc not intervened. I wonder who, if anyone, I would have found. Might I have come to the same conclusion?
I can’t say I’m not fearless, but I am also deep in trust with G. I have no choice but to be. It was that trust and peace that created you (I found a journal entry of that day – it was my birthday!!!), that washed over me when your soul entered my body (so beautiful, my love), and so it is that same trust and peace that I must return to as I prepare for your Emergence.”
a day after the correspondence with my ex-midwife (late march, about 37 weeks), i’d had shooting thigh/crotch pains, and suddenly it felt like he was five inches lower. i googled it, and it turns out, babies ‘drop’ when they’re preparing to make their exit. cool! nice timing! but – that meant he was COMING, so i started getting real deep in my self and my prayer.
with my heart resolved, and the birth seemingly imminent before me, i began preparing more physically for labor. i’d been drinking red raspberry leaf (to tone the uterus) with nettles for quite some time, and continued this, minus the nettles (they no longer felt right). we had friends over and super-cleaned the entire house. i went to a local herb shop and got hibiscus (to make labor tea; it’s high in electrolytes), as well as sea salt and crystals (for his placenta; we were preparing for a lotus birth). i stacked the basket of placenta supplies with a plastic shower curtain, many towels, and receiving blankets near the bed.
and then i waited. his ‘due date’ (via calculations and the ultrasound) was april 26th. we thought he might come on his father’s birthday (april 12th) since he was conceived on mine. a couple days before, i woke up feeling crabby. we got it on :D :D :D but afterward, my lower back started hurting quite a bit. he bought me an Ayurvedic massage from a friend, and the pain turned into rolling waves, which i took to be signs of labor coming.
“When I got home, I was all oily and relaxed and feelin really sexy. I turned on some chill music and started dancing, intuitively moving my body around. It felt like I was unwinding something at my tailbone, at my base, my root. Felt really good. I was getting lots of rushes and just breathing / moving through them. It started to feel really, really good. I was on my hands and knees and started laughing, a deep belly soul laugh, with G and you and the whole universe in between. Because I remembered how to give birth … the knowledge is cellular, written into me from countless generations of women before me … and my body, though never having done it, knew how to move and breathe. And yours, in return, knew how to move within mine. It felt like you were moving down even lower, getting into position, while my pelvis was widening.”
but then, around 1 am, the sensations diminished. oh well. it can’t be so goddamn symbolic all the time. my partner aptly remarked, as we laughed over our expectations, “let’s just give him the space to be whoever the fuck he wants to be.” yup.
similar labor-esque happenings occurred a couple more times leading up to his ‘due date.’ it would only happen when my partner was home or within ten minutes of being home, so i knew baby wanted him to be there for the birth. every time it felt like he was moving lower and lower – i could feel the weight of his head on my cervix – and i was opening more and more. i started to get the hang of breathing and moving with the rushing energy, so that i was transforming the pain into something moving, flowing, progressive.
although after, it would dissipate every time (usually between midnight and 2 am), my back would hurt monstrously and i would struggle to get to sleep, not sleep well, and wake up cranky. a midwife friend of mine said that at this point, i’d technically been in labor for three weeks, and by feeling externally, she guessed i was about 5 cm dilated.
we started trying to egg labor on. one famed night we went for a four-mile hike through town (that’s a lot for me nonpregnant, alright?!) and down by the river, all the way to our favorite pho place (spicy!) and back. that was fun, but i was definitely waddling, feeling his cabeza pushing on me, thinking i was about to pee the whole time, wondering, oh my god, am i going to have this baby right here next to Toppers Pizza?! thankfully i didn’t. my partner started getting a little … restless. “come out, dude.” he’d say to my belly. “it’s time, yo, we’re all ready for you.” my man was ready, my body was ready, the baby felt ‘fully cooked’ … i knew there was some hang-up inside me, i just didn’t know what. i turned off my phone and dove even deeper into myself and my prayer.
on the night of may first, the back pain was the worst it had been. the next morning, my partner was supposed to go on a special work trip about 45 minutes away from the city. there was an an alarm set for early-as-fuck o’clock, and up we got. i had slept fitfully for a total of two hours; my back hurt incomprehensibly, it was no longer comfortable to sleep on either side (and i certainly couldn’t sleep on my back or belly anymore), so i was pretty miserable. as soon as i rolled out of bed, back still aching, i kneeled in child’s pose and wept to God, begging for release. “i’m done, dude, i can’t do this anymore!” — and i meant it. i had not felt that way the entire pregnancy. even in the last month, with all those false-starts, the massive amount of stretching, the waddling, the acid reflux, the cramped uterus … i had still felt beautiful, strong, ready. but on this morning, i don’t know; i was just broken. i’d had enough.
seeing how i was feeling, he didn’t leave for the work trip. i felt guilty but grateful. he ran me a bath (and i HATE baths) with epsom salt and lavender. (what a guy.) i got in, still crying, and he sat with me as i breathed and wiggled a bit. the warm water helped a lot, though i started to feel overwhelmingly hot, and got out, opening all the windows and taking off all my clothes. the back pain returned with incredible vigor. i swayed, danced, but it was painful, not at all like the rushing i’d been able to flow with for weeks. i was moaning, “OW, OW, OWWWWWW.” baby-daddy was like, “yo, try OHHHH instead of OWWW.” i did, but since i was fighting the pain in my mind, it only mildly helped.
i got on the floor on my hands and knees to try to deal with the rushes. with my head down on the ground, i suddenly felt very, very afraid. “i don’t know if i can do this,” i muttered.
“what?” he probed.
“i can’t do this, dude, i can’t do this. i’m scared.”
“well, would you like me to take you to the hospital?”
and that ‘fuck no’ was my resolution. remembering something i’d read helped — that transition, the moment when early labor turns into active labor, is accompanied by the fight-or-flight response. it’s also the moment when most women, when birthing in the hospital, give in to panic and say “FUCK IT, GIVE ME THE EPIDURAL!” i was grateful to have a strong partner to remind me of my own strength, to remind me of my intention, and to have a strong core to fall back upon.
that i did. i began breathing deeply through the rushes instead of vocalizing, not saying anything, just quiet on the floor. he called, “is it over?” unable to speak english right then, i just shook my head slowly. i’m not sure i mentally knew that this was The Real Deal; there had been so many is-this-its that i think i was a little hesitant to believe it was anything but more practice. i wasn’t committed to it being It, but i did have to, in this moment, completely surrender to the sensation, let it overtake me entirely,
i got up from my position on the floor and deliberately started moving with the energy. our bodies wanted me to move fast, so i did. my loving Other had prepared the bed with the shower curtain and some newspaper, but walking on the paper set my teeth on edge, so i marched across the carpet. “don’t you want to–” “SHUT UP!” “kay.” i no longer wanted him in the room; he made himself busy in the kitchen. i danced like a serpent, stomped like a rhino. the movement of energy was all-consuming, requiring my entire being to be nowhere else but right there, right then. i committed fully. it was time.
half-crouching in Warrior II pose, a yell erupted: “YOU GOTTA GET OUT OF ME!!” with the last word, my water broke, just absolutely SPLATTERED across the room. “uhhhh … i think it’s really happening now!” i called to him, laughing nervously. i had about three more concrete thoughts before The Lioness took over my brain.
of this next bit, all i can access are flashes.
… holding onto the baby’s dresser with all my might …
… standing on tip toes, bearing down, deep down; feet like roots …
… roaring so loud that i can’t hear anything, not even the sound of my own voice …
… the cat coming up to lick my face, worried …
… the sensation of my butthole turning completely inside out …
… my Other saying “i think you’re pooping.” and me yelling “SHUT UP!!!” …
… a slight burning …
… a brief moment of stillness and clarity — “oh my god, dude, i see the head!” …
… staring deeply into the eye of a tree on a sacred painting …
… a wet sploosh! as his little folded-turkey body slipped out of me …
… me yelling, him yelling, his papa crying …
… kissing his face, blood all over us both …
… crying, laughing, praising God inside me …
i remember birthing the placenta within two minutes, crouched on the bed over a special bowl. that felt good; as i recalled shortly after, “i was so surprised at how big it was, oh my god. huge and floppy and squishy and awesome.” most of it came out, but a little of the membranes stayed inside, so i stayed kneeling over the bowl.
but then i became so cold, freezing, my teeth chattering, my whole body trembling with it. i told my partner to grab the motherwort tincture off the kitchen counter; i’d read that could help allay shock, if that’s what this was. i downed a dropper full but the fatigue was overwhelming. i could no longer crouch – i couldn’t even hold the baby; i put him in front of me, and as i gazed at his face, my vision slowly colored with red, then yellow. i wasn’t scared; i didn’t have the energy to be. i just stared hard at the baby, willing his face to stay in focus. then everything faded to white.
since i wasn’t conscious, i’ve asked him to write what happened:
The scene was bloodier than I imagined it would be, though the glow of the precious new life that just emerged blinded me to it. I only noticed all the dark red, mostly out of the corners of my eyes, when she started to fade. Her pupils dilated rapidly until they were almost completely black, and she began swaying in circles saying “whoa B, I don’t feel right, somethings wrong.” She said this three or four times in a row, her voice growing fainter, her swaying becoming less controlled. I could feel her drifting somewhere else, she was leaving (or at the very least fainting, as I found out later is somewhat common after birth). I made sure the precious new life was secure before I jumped behind her. Her cold, clammy skin was startling as my bare chest pressed against her naked back. “Hey!” I yelled, “don’t you dare leave me!” She mumbled indiscriminately, and then her head fell back, mouth open, eyes wide, seemingly not breathing. Her color was a sickly pale yellow, covered in smears of dark red blood. I began slapping her in the face and yelling at her to come back. After several unsuccessful attempts of this, I started gently pounding her chest as well. I gave her a wicked slap in the face after a minute or two of unresponsiveness had past, and her head moved ever so slightly. I grabbed the bottle of electrolyte infused water she had prepared, and put the straw in her mouth. “Drink,” I said as commanding as possible with another slight slap on the cheek. When I was 8 years old my dad took my brother and I open face rock climbing without any harnesses. He slipped on an edge, and would have fallen to his death, but my body moved like a wildcat on its own, and I caught him by the hand before he plummeted. I’ve always been calm, quick and decisive in a crisis. Her body took commands, and drank small sips without her conscious attention. She looked possessed in the way she drank, but after 4 or five sips, a sudden rush of breath entered her lungs, and she sat up on her own gasping, disoriented. I thanked God/dess for now… the tears didn’t come til later.
the next thing i remember, there was a straw in my mouth, and my partner was holding me from behind, yelling at me to drink. i found out a long time later what had happened in that time.
after i came to, he put a blanket around me and the babe, and got to quick-steppin’ on the warm-and-heal-the-lover tip. in what order things happened is elusive to my memory; he made me a warm electrolyte drink, hot tea, started a giant pot of soup cooking, and took periodic hot showers and then jumped into bed with me. lord knows he was tired, and hella shocked from watching a baby erupt out of my vagina, but he went above and beyond all my expectations. i mean, dude caught the baby and then saved my life like it was nothin’.
to say i am blessed is a huge, huge understatement.
after i was fully back, and things were a bit calmer, we spent the night in utter bliss, of course.
i held him to me, close, unbroken, for hours. i laid him on his tummy low on my own, and he crawled up to the nipple and latched immediately. oh my, did that feel sublime. like i hoped it would, but better. not sexy but sexual. deeply fulfilling.
we kept his placenta attached, in a bowl next to him. by the end of the first day i was able to coat it in sea salt, rosemary, and calendula. (i was still extremely shaky, even after lots of warm soup and meat and cheese.) i admit, i had no idea what i was doing — i’d only read about lotus birth in a book — but it didn’t feel right to cut the cord at birth or after.
by the second day, we could tell the baby was bothered by the connection. we were, too; it was really hard to pass him between us when i needed to go to the bathroom, because it shrunk, and i was sore and unsteady. i handed stainless steel scissors to his papa, but when he held them to the cord we all shuddered. instead, he gnawed on it until it broke apart between his teeth. (mmmhmmm. suck on that, ya OB freaks!) that felt right by all beings. the placenta stayed wrapped in herbs and salt in its basket. the cord stump, i wrapped in purple cloth, and it stayed on for about a week until the baby and i subconsciously ripped it off.
every little noise worried me. i hadn’t known babies could seemingly stop breathing for a bit, and then casually restart moments later. what?! what a terrifying bit of evolution that is! the end of either the first or the second day, he started screaming bloody murder, and turned the darkest shade of red skin can get. i held him, freaking out a bit myself – “what?? what’s wrong?!?!” only to be explosively shat on seconds later. the stickiest mud river i’ve ever seen. it took an awful lot of towels to clean that up. loved that. (actually.)
we told everyone not to come or call when we gave birth, or immediately after, but what with the fainting and the suddenness of labor/birth and the general newness of it all (not to mention the fact that all the towels were dirty and the kitchen was destroyed) we realized help was desperately needed. i asked my mom (i know! of all people! it was just one of those mom-moments) to come, and she did, making a huge pot of chicken soup and spoon-feeding it to me. a neighbor who i’d never met before also swooped in and, with the grace of an angel, the speed of light, and an impossibly quiet manner, cleaned our entire kitchen in thirty minutes. amazing. she returned multiple times in the first couple weeks to help clean. so did my mother, and a couple other family friends.
being so overwhelmed with just the aspect of baby care (along with the house + personal hygiene) made us realize the truth in the phrase ‘it takes a village.’ there was no way we could have stayed healthy and even remotely sane without that little bit of help. six days postpartum, i wrote:
“Our [evolving] theory is that men tend to leave / be gone on moneymaking excursions (soon after birth, and/or in the early years) because that’s how they’re wired – protect. provide. hunt. In most cultures, traditionally, women have networks of other women, and generations live together, raising the children. So a new mom has her sisters, grandmothers, and the entire community to support her. That’s why they say, “it takes a village to raise a child.” All of that responsibility (postpartum mama care, house cleaning, cooking, and baby care) on a man’s shoulders is an impossible expectation, one that will probably always be met by stress, relationship trouble, or dude leaving. Because he’s not wired to love domestic shit. He’s wired to go out and provide for you in a different way. Men are not fulfilled from sitting and watching a newborn sleep the way a woman is. And that’s not sexist, it’s biological; it’s written into our genetic makeups. Getting out in the world, making money for his family; that’s what probably lights him up. He can’t help it, it’s probably not personal, and he may not understand it himself. I think it’s vital to understand the way women and men work to keep our relationships [and our lives] healthy and strong.”
it took a while for us to ‘get back on track.’ about eight weeks, honestly. until then, i was having friends and my mom come over on the reg to help clean up. the house is still in a semi-constant state of wreckdom, but i’m over it.
more importantly, the cause of my diverted attention, is that my sweet, strong, smart, shining, beautiful brown sun is here; born safely and naturally at home, with only his parents and God present. mmm. mmm, mmm, mmm.
i’ve gained so much from this experience (besides the new love of my life), it’s damn near impossible to sit here and quantitatively list it all for you. but in the spirit of summing things up (said 6,210 words later), here’s some golden nuggets.
… i am a strong ass female lion.
… our bodies are built to do what they’re built to do, and, like seeds given the proper nutrients and care, they don’t need assistance from outside sources, especially those that deem themselves “more qualified,” to do what they finna do.
… sometimes you must do what people say you shouldn’t, even if it sounds dumb or scary to them, or to your logical thinking monkey mind. if that’s what you know in your Heart is right, if that’s what brings you closer to G (Spirit / Self / Source, whatever you wanna call It), then you must do it no. matter. what. acting out of fear will only create what you fear. acting in love and trust of Self and G will lead to the fulfillment of your dreams, in birth, life, and death.
I KNOW – SOOOO CHEESY! but alas. true.
phew. that was a lot to write, friends. it took me the better part of a month, what with baby-naps and milkin and all that. i haven’t decided yet … i don’t love living in this web of lies with my family. it feels pretty icky, and i don’t really want those feelings to permeate the story of my son’s birth. in due time i will share this post with them, but for now, it will remain our little secret. i’m only just now Emerging myself. it’s scary.
but if i’m to be true to my word, i too must plunge head-first into that which scares me, must continue to strengthen my spirit, mind, and body.
… i wouldn’t want my son to do any less.