I was impatient for Sophia’s birth. I think it was the heat. And being so big, not being able to fit into clothes anymore. And people telling me I look huge, and that I should be popping any day now! Ralf’s uncle and aunt from Germany visited us about a month before my due date and they were amused that a belly can get that big. They kept saying things like they don’t think i will reach my due date, because I think they think the belly is going to explode in a few seconds. I felt so not nurtured and just frustrated, and I must have felt pretty pissed off too. I made and froze foods for Ralf and Valerie and the cousin Corinna.
Cannot really remember if it was a day before, but we decided to go to the mall and walk around as i was not experiencing much contractions. I was anxious for the baby to be out. We walked and walked and I felt a few contractions but nothing that was going to throw me off or set the clock going. I guess the baby was just not ready and I was just so not plain listening! I was anxious, antsy, impatient. I wanted some action, not just waddling around, puttering around, rolling over like a turtle on its back. We got home and rest.
Probably a day or two later I started feeling contractions more regularly. In the evening things started to feel more painful, more regular. I drifted in and out of sleep, trying to time the contractions, trying to get some rest. Early in the morning, maybe about 5am, we called our midwife Jan. It was the day of the projected due date. Jan felt it was time and said she was heading over. I put down the phone and the contractions seemed to taper off. I started to feel panic and regret. Is this a false alarm? Maybe Jan will come check me and tell me I am not ready at all. Deep down, I had the feeling the baby was not truly ready. I was just overly anxious and impatient.
For some strange reason I remember the house being neat and clean that morning. So weird, how did that happen? I think I nested a lot in the last weeks, cleaning things out and decluttering…. maybe we also cleaned up that morning after knowing that was the day and people were going to come over.
Jan arrived and checked me, and i was at 4. Same as when I arrived at the birthing center two years ago… her assistant arrived soon after and I basically just puttered around. Contractions came and went, sometimes it felt intense but never to the point where I felt out of control, or as if someone was hammering nails into me. At one point I had a vision of a round clock on a bare wall and the time was three o’clock. I told my friend (who came over briefly with her gals to keep me company, but we lost our friendship about nine months later when we decided to give up vegetarianism) and Jan and her assistant that I think the baby will be born at 3pm.
But contractions slowed down and stalled. I was stuck. Just like the last time. I paced all over the house, walked sideways up and down the stairs, and I remember Corinna coming back from school, and myself being very tired, frustrated and annoyed. I remember now during my first labor at the birthing center, when labor also stalled, the midwife suggested that we try nipple stimulation. URGH! We were left to our privacy in the room and Ralf got to work. Well, I was NOT in the mood to be touched, or worse, stimulated! It really made my hair stood on end and I had to resist the urge to push Ralf away, or slap him! This time, after several hours, Jan decided to give me an acupuncture that will help the baby descend and come faster. Hmph. Since the process was pretty much painless, I do not remember much of it. I guess I did feel a bit amused.
Not long after the acupuncture, my water broke. Hopefully things would move along then, and it did, albeit slowly. We took some time out to just relax and connect, Ralf and me. Everyone else was downstairs, just squatting around and waiting. It was taking so damn long and I know my energy level was going down. Val was also getting restless but eventually she did fall asleep and was brought to Corinna’s room.
At about seven in the evening (yes, 3pm came and went and Sophia was not born) I started to swing into the intense part of labor. Contractions were strong and I got into the water tub after what seemed like centuries for Ralf to prepare it. I was in pain, and by then, terribly tired after walking around and wondering all day long and not having the appetite to eat. I also started to worry if Val will wake up in the middle of birth and cry. I felt the need to bear down but I did not have the strength. maybe the water was buoying me up to much. I tried to make sounds to move the baby down, but ended up yelling and screeching instead. I guess if I was graded for performance on that part, I got an F. It’s like the test was to ask me to count from one to ten and instead I was singing from Z to A. Totally off the mark. Jan thought I was panicking and gave me some homeopathic Aconite. I felt drained of energy. After the event I thought it was because of the acupuncture I had a few hours before; I remember the Chinese doctors always warned that the patient not go home and take a shower after such a treatment. Something about the pores having been opened and should not be exposed to water, and cold air. Jan tried to get me to focus, and I wanted to. Damn, I wanted to! But I just felt so tired and wanted to die. I tried again. And again and again, bearing down, trying to make low sounds, but always ending up screaming and pleading that I could not do it.
Then Val woke up. I was relieved to see her. I was worried about her, She was quite calm but wanted to get into the water with me and we told her it is not possible at this point. She wanted me to carry her and I hugged her from the side of the pool. I sang to her and held her, feeling afraid, worried, anxious. Jan started to feel that I was being distracted and wanted Val brought away and Corinna tried to occupy her. Oh, it was so hard!! I felt a little angry that Val was not given due attention and support. I was afraid she felt excluded but I was unable to include her then. I was just helpless, almost drowning. My feet touched the bottom of the pool but I was sinking, sinking, sinking in energy, in spirit, in my courage and in my will.
Jan decided things need to move along. She got me out of the pool and onto the birthing chair that they had managed to bring upstairs into our bedroom. I sat on it. It set me up in a good pushing position. Now I needed to push, push, push!! That was it! I pushed like hell. I truly felt I must die. I summoned every little ounce of energy I have left, commanding every muscle I still have will over and I pushed! It was painful, and hard and even seemed futile. “I cannot do it! I cannot!!” I whimpered. “Yes, you can!” Everyone yelled back at me, as if I am trying to slack off. I had no choice. I am on the chair and I guess come pee, come poop, I gotta stay there and push till the baby gets out! I really had no strength. I don’t think I had any glucose left in me, and any energy left in me was fast dissipating. “Push, push! She’s coming out! Feel her head!!”
Feel her head, yes, feel her head… that moment is always such a quivering one. Heart-wrenching too. I reached down and I felt something wet and warm. My legs were quivering, my hands were shaking. My whole body was going out of control. Ring of fire! Rest, pant…. trying to hang on, trying hard not to fall off the chair, not to just give up and plead for the baby to just be yanked out! Jan asked Ralf to prepare to catch the baby.
OK, time to push again, just a few more times! I felt my body was going to break apart. Explode and blow into a million pieces. “I CANNOT!!” I repeated again. I need a bath, a long relaxing bath and good nourishing food and a new start in the morning. But heck, that was not possible! “Push, push!” everyone was shouting at me again. I felt like spitting. I pushed. I looked up and saw Val, standing alone, staring while everyone else in the room seemed to have gone crazy and in a frenzy. I wanted to reach out and hug her. Why is Corinna not holding her and assuring her? But I had no time nor energy to give commands then. I had to goddamn PUSH!!! I cannot remember how many pushes there were but finally, Sophia was born! She was out of me and into this world, this world of rolling red dust… …
She cried. Loudly. “Oh, my baby! You are here, you are here! You are fine… you are going to be ok, Mama’s here!!” I cried and put her to my breast. Immediately, Val roared into tears as well. I have written about her piercing scream before, that night in the room, when she saw her new little sister take to my breast, who before was her sole right. I hugged her close and told her to look at her new little sister, and I let her nurse the other breast. I was shaking all over. I needed food. I needed to lay down.
After I expelled the placenta, I had to lay down. I could no longer walk or stand or do anything. I must be almost dragged to the bed because everyone was tired too. I laid down so Jan could examine me. Another tear. And not small, nor minor. Jan took some time to stitch me up while I laid and nursed the new little one, and Val as well. I think I may have even fallen asleep a little. I was really exhausted. Bone exhausted. And extremely hungry.
Finally, the stitches were all done, and I can’t remember much else of anything except that I just wanted to sleep. Wanted to eat something warm and sleep. Poor everyone else went downstairs and made dinner- theirs, and my special menu. Soon Ralf came up with the first meal for the confinement. Rice with eggs fried in a ton of julienned ginger and sesame oil. And that herb tonic I’m supposed to drink for five days that helps dispel all the “dirty” blood after the birth. I could not really move. Ralf had to help me sit up in bed and my bottom felt very sore and I ate. I cannot remember much else, except for that night and the day after I could not get out of bed unless Ralf helped me. Everytime I had to stand, I felt faint. Everything everywhere inside of me hurt like hell.
That was how Sophia came to me. So long, and hard. I wondered often what went wrong. I “blamed” many things. Not asking for support. The drift between Ralf and myself then. The tension of having Corinna there. The concern for Val and some guilt for bringing her a little sister a bit too early. Not waiting long enough for the body to be truly ready for the birth. The acupuncture and then getting into the water afterwards. Arrogance. Lack of will. Not taking care of my body well enough during the pregnancy. Etc, etc, etc.
But, even as I work now to process everything, and ingrain trust in my body and the Universe and its plans for me, I sometimes find it futile to analyze all these “should have”‘s and “what if”‘s, because in the end, no matter what, I was gifted with another precious being. Sophia is my heart. She’s that piece of my heart that is the most tender, and that smiles the most and that is the most playful and mischievous and wonderful.
I recall now the days after as a crazy patchwork of all kinds of emotions and experiences. Tender times, tough times… …they all do have a meaning and a purpose. Nothing is in vain. Nothing is futile. (Though I cannot really appreciate having to be re-stitched three days after my birth! I wish this not even upon my worst enemy…) The second time was tough. The transition was very hard, and probably why we decided “two is enough”.
So then where came the courage, if foolish courage, to have a third? To go through again, that rite of passage to bring another tender new life into this world, and into our little family? To go through another transition that will impact us on so many levels?
I don’t know. Maybe it is just the lust for life. The yearning of holding virgin flesh in my arms again. To offer my breasts to nourish and grow a life. Maybe the naive bravery to test the bonds of our family. Life is calling. It sings to us all the time. And gets increasingly enticing everyday. Maybe Life does not want us to just wander along like this. Perhaps we need a big detour to go in another direction. More ripples in our stream of life. More love. For our hearts to expand further. For me to truly believe that love will multiply and not get divided. To understand that contractions and expansions go hand in hand.
This took so long to write, amidst all the distractions, with all the painful memories being drawn out, and not wanting to really recall the rather long, dark period in my relationship with my husband. Not wanting to write something that does not feel glorious that is a homebirth. But eventually coming around, and just accepting, and throwing it all to the wind. Let the wind take it all. Let the water dissolve it all. It is in the past, yet it will always be in the present as well. It’s deep set in my cells and will never leave. It’s just what I choose to do with it. And while I feared it, I now love it with all my heart, because after pain, a heart rejoices more deeply and gratitude runs deeper. I am thankful for the experience, and ever so grateful for my daughter that came to me in darkness and in pain, for then I see how bright a light she is.
I think I am quite ready for the Third time.
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