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Sunday, March 7, 2010

A window to the divine-my daughter's birth story

Some one actually suggested I take caster oil. I was dying to have this little baby girl, but I wasn't too sure I was that desperate. I had never taken caster oil before, but I imagined it tasted something like fish and black mold. It at least looked something like that. By the time I was almost two weeks overdue, though, caster oil was starting to sound OK. I'm sure my neighbors got a kick out of watching the big fat pregnant woman doing jumping jacks in the backyard. It wasn't to fun for me though. Try jumping with at least 35 lbs of weight around your waist and you'll understand. Walking didn't work either. Whoever said that walking will help put you into labor, were just trying to give you something to do. I know I walked about one hundred miles that last month with no signs of labor coming soon.

On the other hand, looking back now, I don't think I appreciated some of the good parts of pregnancy. In my impatience, I disregarded some of the small, seemingly inconsequential moments that connected me to something beyond myself. It was fun to watch the tiny ripple of little limbs moving across my stomach, letting me know of her presence. I still remember the first time I even felt her move. My husband and I were on a bus in Costa Rica and all of sudden small bumps were pushing their way up to the surface. Brent's hand lay on my stomach with mine on top while Emma bumped her hello to us. It was a connection I won't forget.

There were countless times, especially as I got larger, that I would lay my hand absentmindedly on my stomach and feel her presence there. It left me with a sense of love, awe, and gratitude for the opportunity to be a part of the workings of creation. Sometimes I would hold my stomach in the shower and sing to her, talk to her, and tell her how much I loved her. I would imagine what she would look like, and how she would act. In reality, it was during those 9 months that I learned what the beginning of love really was. It prepared me for the powerful impact that giving birth and becoming a mother would have in my life.

And becoming a mother definitely has had an impact. In fact, this beginning part, the beginning of motherhood, had a huge impact on me. It was during my time of pregnancy and birth that I began to grow into someone different. I was becoming something new. I was becoming a mother.

When I went in for my 41 1/2 week check up I was just barely dilated enough for the midwife to sweep my membranes. That did it though, and by 8 that night labor had commenced. Brent, and I were watching Ann of Green Gables. He would sit behind me and hold me while I had a contraction. It is sort of a sweet memory. Not just only then, but all of my memories of him holding me, rocking me, supporting me while I worked through each contraction. There were times when I would support myself on my knees and rock while he stood behind me and rubbed my back. I think it was through my labor that he learned how to give back massages. Other times we would stand together with my arms around him and I would work at welcoming the pain and the new life that each contraction brought with it.

I labored through the night at home waiting for when it would be time to go to the birth center where I was planning on giving birth. See, the midwifes had a rule. It wasn't the 5 min. apart rule. It was you are ready to come in when you can no longer talk through contractions. When it takes intense concentration to breath and relax through each one, then it is time to come in. I think I look back on that time a little more rosy now that I'm not longer experiencing it, but it was a time to work with Brent, to learn about myself, to share the excitement of a new born life moving it's way down and preparing to come into this world. I wish I had paid more attention to it.

But eventually there came a time when the midwifes, after talking to me on the phone, said it is time to come in. Now was the time to really work hard. At one point I remember looking at Brent and telling him I couldn't do this anymore. I don't remember his exact response, but I remember his eyes. They looked at me with concern and support. I can still see them now when I think back. At that point, he couldn't take that pain away. He didn't even really know what I was feeling. But I knew that he loved me. That is a knowledge I took away with me and cherish today.

Other little passing memories float around from that time. Sitting on the bed in anticipation, soaking in the tub to help relieve the pain, feeling the intensity and almost unbearable pain of transition. My midwife, Karen, is a soft shadow in these memories. Sometimes by my side, sometimes in the next room. She, of course, was monitoring baby's heart beat and attending to the safety of birth, but she did so much more. She held my hand and wiped my brow. She cleaned up after me and shared in the wonder of the moment as I began to push my daughter out. She calmed me when I felt out of control, and helped me to bring my daughter out into this world with peace and happiness.

And then she was here. As most moms can tell you, new babies really aren't that cute. Emma came out a little blue, with a funny shaped head, and ears that were bent over. After Brent went to go wash his hands he kept telling himself he would love her anyways. For me though, she was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen. To try and use words to describe how I felt at that time would be completely inadequate. All I can say is that it was the greatest sense of love, peace and joy that I have ever felt. As a looked at her I felt a part of the divine was right there with me.

That feeling of the Divine stays with me as I am now a labor and delivery nurse. Each time I stop to think about what I am witnessing, a sense of awe washes over me and a reverence for the experience that labor and birth can bring with it. I am filled with a deep sense of love for these women as they too begin their journey into the beginning of motherhood.


Cherylyn said...

I love this! Thank you :)

Handsfullmom said...

Beautiful post! I love that you haven't lost the sense of awe even though you are around birth all the time.

Handsfullmom said...

Beautiful story.

Alaskan Darlings said...

Rachel, I love this story it is so sweet to hear the story of Emma's Birth. And I will say she may have started out blue with a funny shaped head. But now she is a beautiful Young girl. I know exactly how you feel I too hope to someday be able to help other women begin this wonderful journey.

Crissy said...


Birth is a Journey: Does it have to be life changing?

  • One woman might have to climb on an overfilled boat, risking her life and nearly dying as she escapes over the ocean to come to this land. This experience could certainly be life altering. It may very well color the rest of her life, positively or negatively. (I overcame this amazing struggle and here I am triumphant! OR Holy crap, that was SO hard I don’t know if I can go on! By the way, neither response is “right”. No one would judge the woman with the 2nd response.)
  • One woman may buy an airplane ticket, sit on a comfortable 747 and fly to America with a nice smooth flight and landing. She is happy to be in America. Those welcoming her are glad she is here safe and sound. She may only travel by plane 2-4 times in her life, so it is pretty memorable. But the journey itself probably wouldn’t be life changing; it would simply be a journey.
  • One woman may learn to fly an ultra-light plane to lead a flock of geese into America teaching them to migrate. This experience could certainly be empowering and life altering.