Last night we finished dinner early so we can watch the water birth video that Robin had loaned us. We have been talking about the pending birth and how I am going to attempt a waterbirth and Val was incredulous that babies can be born under water. She thought we were bad jokers.
So we watched the video and halfway through Val told me, “You know, when Sophia was born, I was not scared. Really I was not scared. But I guess you didn’t know that.” I looked at her. Have we been through this conversation? I searched my brain in vain. I know we did talk about the possibility of them going over to either Cecille’s, or maybe Dick and Barbara, should I feel i need to focus and cannot take care of them. I do not remember mentioning that I think they would be scared. I think I actually avoided that because I did not want them to think birth is a scary thing. Val was initially upset as she said she wants to see how a baby is born, esp in water, and insisted we take both photos AND a video of the whole process. Actually, she told me the above, that she was not scared when Sophia was born, but that I did not know, twice. It gave me goosebumps. As if she knew my fears, and wanted to reassure me.
The girls were pretty nonchalant during the whole video while I was always on the verge of tears. They asked why the baby cried; why the mom cried; and why the dad cried? Sophia turned and asked me, “Will there be someone to help you?”; “Papa will be there to help you, right?” and so on. They did not seem scared, or too overly fascinated. Ralf asked why all the fathers in the video seem to have long hair and a beard. He also commented that the Guatemalan women are really quiet during the birth while the American women were loudly moaning and screaming. At one point during a Guatemalan birth, he said, “See? It’s no big deal at all!” And I turned and looked at him and replied, “Yeah, you gotta try it once! No big deal… …” The fact that the Guatemalan women tend to be so much more quiet also impressed upon me. Is it the presence of a filming crew, or is it a cultural thing? I wonder if the other women were screaming and yelling because of media influence? Perhaps in American popular media, birth is always such a dramatic thing, full of pain and commotion and excitement.
At some points of the video I felt a little scared. Those parts that were most challenging- when the baby’s head just start to emerge… the last few steps is always the hardest…. when the finishing line is close ahead, you feel the most like dying. This is my experience as a sprinter and runner. The closer you are the more you feel you are not going to make it. Those parts where the baby’s head is there, but when the mother is most in pain, and needs the greatest courage, stamina and strength to bring everything to fruition and completion, it scared me a little. I recall my own pain and myself on the verge of giving up.
Then I reminded myself that everyone has their own experiences and their own journey. I need not feel scared. I need not feel the fear. I really do NOT need to be scared! I started to try to envision my birth, our birth… our journey. Initially, I thought to myself, Do I even dare to write this? Dare I dream a vision and challenge the gods to thwart it? Do I want to put this down in black and white to see it burnt to ashes in futile hopes?
I decided I will write. If one fears to dream, and dares not to hope, then I might as well not live. This is my vision of our journey, when i step aside and watch myself:
The due date could not be determined, only estimated. So when the “due date” came and went, she was unperturbed. She had birthed on exact due dates before and it had not felt right. She had been shackled by the “when” before and determined to not let that happen this time. She was going with the flow of what needs to happen when it will occur best.
This morning she felt things were bathed in a different light when she walked into the kitchen. She made herself a cup of tea and sat to watch the leaves gently dancing in the breeze. She looked over down to the creek and the water was shimmering in the sun. A Stellar Jay settled on the deck rail and looked around, and she smiled again to think how this is like the Zorro bird to her. The girls woke up and they hugged and then decided to all have pancakes.
After breakfast the girls went out to play and she decided to also wash up and go outside to enjoy the fresh air. She thought the tightening across her belly felt stronger this morning as she was brushing her teeth. By the time she got changed, it dawned on her that her body was trying to tell her something. Her baby was trying to send her a message. Is this it? Is this the day? she wondered, and swallowed a lump.
Her husband came in from outside and she told him, while settling down onto her hands and knees as the forces hug and squeeze her again. They decided to go outside and walk around the property and see what the girls were up to. The sun already felt rather warm but the breeze was constantly breathing across the landscape, rustling leaves and exhaling loudly through the branches and grasses. She closed her eyes and tried to breathe with the breeze. It was definitely happening.
He prepared the tub while she went in to call their midwife. She’s coming. It will be a long drive, but she was not worried. The baby was not going to fly out. The body still needs to expand.
The morning passed as she sat and then walked and then squatted and crawled and swayed as she tried to compose her birth dance. The girls smiled and hugged her, giving her a boost in strength every time. They were looking for bugs, and building a bed with twigs up at the play fort of the play-set. They were going to sleep there, they say, and also have dinner there. She wondered if they will stay for the birth, or if she should call Dick and Barbara.
The tub was ready but she did not want to get in yet. The girls were hungry for lunch and something was quickly put together. She could not eat. She just wanted something cold to drink. She wished they have some coconuts right in the fridge then. She chomped down on an energy bar, afraid she will run out of energy before the climax surged. She felt sweaty, and everything felt heavy. She felt like having a nap. She remembered thinking, “I don’t want to be checked. No!!”
Their midwife R arrived with her assistant M. She felt relieved. Some womanly company is good, and reassuring. She needed that support. It’s as if all that energy squeezing on her can be shared then. She dec’d it was time to have the girls brought over to the neighbor’s. The energies are closing in on her faster and faster, stronger and stronger. She remembered to think about how contractions means expansions. How things are in nature…. wax and wane; grow and die; compress and propel… the stronger the squeezes, the more the body opens to create a glorious passage way for the baby.
The leaves were no longer rustling. Not in her eyes. She could no longer hear the busy birds. She was in a bubble. Surrounded by water, she moved about, trying to find a place to be comfortable, yearning for a feeling of being cradled and support. It was hard. Comfort became a fleeting concept. This was not a time for rest, but one that called for dynamics. Move. Swing. Sway. Float. Move again. Breathe. He tried to get into her rhythm, watching and moving; sometimes in opposition, so together they form a complete motion. Sometimes merging in the flow. R and M stayed close, sometimes still, sometimes uttering words of comfort and encouragement, sometimes moving their energies together. The sounds, the heat, the movements, the energies, of people around her, kept her going. Sometimes she felt like crying, and she was not sure if she was touched by it all, or impatient, or afraid, or just moved by some mysterious energy within. She reminded herself to have no fear. She reminded herself that Nature is working with her. She reminded herself of how the butterfly has to struggle to cast off that cocoon. She reminded herself of the many tastes of life- sweet, bitter, salty, sour… she reminded herself not to think of the magnitude of dilation- when the times comes, the body knows and there is no holding back the waves.
The afternoon floated by in waves of breezes. Animals scurry and flit here and there. The light is shifting. She started to feel drowsy listening to the creek bubbling and bubbling non-stop, flowing over the rocks, the plants, carrying with it memories and stories and songs and words… …
Then something awoke her. Something was moving downward. The baby wants to swim out. Yes, yes! It’s about time! She felt a sudden pang of fear- how is he going to get out?! Is he in the right position?! Yes, yes, he is. Remember! It is meant to happen and he will swim out. You just need to remain open and not let fear slam the door shut. OK, yes, she tried to remember, clutching to the edge of the tub. She wanted to bite into something, somebody. Some flesh. And then she remembered to let go. Be loose, be flowing. No tightness, no fears.
His head emerged. She cannot decide what to do. This is the hardest part. Is he able to breathe down there? Is he OK? The breeze is blowing and the creek continued to flow. Yes, flow. Think of the waters merging… the baby will be carried out. She tried to breathe. Tried not to yell and scream and suddenly be afraid that she was not going to do it. She imagine that he is squirming, wanting to be in the light. She breathed down, and out. Imagining her breathe is water. Imagining boatmen and mermaids and oars and seaweed and golden shimmering bubbles and women singing and chanting and slapping their thighs and their hearts. She heard all, she saw all. It’s just a little more, she knew, she just had to be brave.
She was not sure how, but in a moment his shoulder was out and he swam right into the tub, right into the creek, right into the flow of life! Yes, he’s here, he’s here!
The wind exhaled loudly and the creek laughed as everyone’s faces brightened to welcome a fresh new life onto this earth. Tears, tears, water all around. She thought, “We are on the other side now, my son. We’re arrived on the shore!” Welcome, baby. The day was fading away in the golden light, a small group of people stood by and around the tub, near to the creek and laughed in joy, marveling at the new little life with a face that said it also had so much to say and to tell. Night wants to throw her veil over everyone, the day is drawing to a glorious end. And a new life just began… …
Read Full Post »