Tuesday, April 29, 2008

george-ephraim's birth

after i posted on the blog on saturday night, i went pee and had a bunch of contractions on the toilet. i decided to call blake to see if he was planning on heading home early. what i didn't expect was that he, in his words, "had his hands full." i was like, yeah...too bad! i need you! i could tell he didn't want to tell me exactly what was happening but he quickly explained that there was a sort of crisis at the shop with a client friend of ours (whom we had long suspected had a drinking problem) who was there with her two small children and was completely wasted--not to mention there were other clients in the shop and blake was busy tending them and had taken over care of these babies while their mom was making a scene. we both agreed that she needed to get home safely immmediately and blake needed to get home to me asap--i was in tears thinking that all this was happening (the labor picking up AND the other situation) and i just really needed my husband. so he called her a cab and loaded up her children and paid the cabbie--it was the best we could do at that point, and we just knew that we had to deal with that later and hope that everything turned out okay. it was NOT ideal, that was sure, but i was for sure in labor and we needed to move on...

i had gotten up and made dinner by the time he got home a little after 7pm. i wanted to know more details about what had happened but he said "that was only the half of it...." and his face and body were saying that he was holding back on the story since it was stressful and i also wasn't sure i wanted the details then and there. but it was this heavy thing he was carrying and he needed to decompress somehow...we both started to get tense and snappy at the kids. we stopped ourselves and both had to make this huge effort to pull back, reassess and connect with each other and the kids. we sat on the couch in the living room and we "filled the kids' cups" so-to-speak. things were back on track.

so we ate dinner (meat, rice, bean burritos) and sure enough the contractions picked up to every 4 minutes. we all excitedly looked around at each other and agreed it was probably the last dinner we'd have as a family of FOUR. at the end of dinner i told blake, who was trying so hard to shift gears, that he needed to tell somebody about his day, even if it wasn't me, so he decided to call his manager and best pal in bend, rick, and unload on him. i said tell him everything but be brief too becasue we are calling the midwives as soon as he was done. this was a very smart move, b/c after the call he looked lighter and things were growing in intensity for me. this is about the time this picture was taken:

i talked to beth, who said she'd send melissa first since she lives close to us, and also get herself ready and be on her way. she expressed a lot of excitement that i was in labor, and that my body was finally doing it--on it's own and that it sounded like tonight really was the night! i cleaned the kitchen and just kept playing it cool....what if the contractions slowed down? what if this was just the beginning of a long labor? i just tried my best to be welcoming to each one, and imagine them pulling my cervix open...they were bearable, but shorter than i thought they should be. but then blake would tell me "that one was almost a minute" and i'd say "really? it seemed like 15 seconds..." we both put the girls to bed and reassured them that things could go on for a while, and it was best they got some rest, and we would for sure wake them up when it was time. i wanted to feel very connected with them before things got heavy, so i sang them their lullabies and tucked them extra tight.

about 9 or 9:30 melissa arrived, and settled in. she assured me that they weren't there to just lurk over me, and told me to do what makes the contractions most intense, which for some reason was being in the kitchen and doing normal domestic-y tasks. i grabbed a load of clean laundry and started folding while melissa sat and charted in the living room and the ipod played some sufjan stevens. for little bit i shuffled between the bathroom and folding laundry, until beth got there. the baby and i both were sounding great, and i felt like the contractions were getting a little choppy and irregular since the 'wives came (which they told me was normal) so as blake and i stayed close and enjoyed each others company, i expressed that i really "wanted the labor to just bring it" becasue it didn't want things to drag on forever. while melissa was listening to the baby's heartrate during a rush, and it was a particulary strong one, the album ended and we wondered what the ipod, which was on shuffle would chooose next. i bet that it would be nick cave since we have the more nick on there than anything else, and sure enough, Nocturama came on, which was a nice tone. then i realized what was coming up--just as i finished up the folding, my favorite song came on, aptly titled "Bring it on" which is about facing your fears and embracing the doubt and yuckiness, and then just letting it all go. it was then i got to do something that i had since we moved into the house i had secretly fantasized about doing in labor--leaning in front of the stereo with my forehead and hands on the slanted cedar walls and experiencing some contractions to some intense music. it was one of those "details" that i was trying not to get attached to, like my friend Savannah had suggested--instead of focusing on the romantic details visualize general things like holding my wet, warm baby or a feeling of joy and accomplishment. so there i was living a detail and it felt wonderful! i was moved to tears, and blake rushed over and asked what was wrong and i sobbed "i can't believe we are going to have a baby!" i took the sign of emotion as a good one, that the hormones were shifting to more serious and so would the contractions, although i was back to laughing again after the next. the midwives agreed they were all good signs.

i then sat on our little soft cube in the living room and the four of us hung out together. when a big contraction came i had to stand and hold on to blake, who felt wonderful and smelled familiar (but not gross which was very worrisome to me in the last months of pregnancy since i seemed to be "allergic" to his scent--lol.) after each one i was feeling petty sleepy--they were really sapping my energy. it was about 10:35 and i thought our regular 11pm seinfeld episode sounded really relaxing, so we planned on that and then to draw a bath. by the time i got upstairs, the contractions seemed to have no beginning and end. they would surge then ease but never fully let go. i was having a very hard time staying on top of them. seinfeld wasn't on anyway (it was saturday, damn it!) so by now the bath was sounding real neccessary. blake took this picture while it filled up:

the first few contractions in the tub felt good--it allowed them to space out so i could really feel one coming on, prepare, cope, then have some relief. blake sat in there with me and things felt peaceful for some time. we lit the candles on the alter and i looked at all the 10 centimeter shapes i had: the circles from the blessing, the mums, the lotus candle holder...i visualized as best i could about opening all the way. time began to get lost, and the more time i spent in the tub the more i felt my fears and doubts surfacing. how long can i do this? what if i am not opening? what if this is just the beginning? pretty soon i was hating the contractions, HATING them. i wanted so badly to have a welcoming, positive attitude, and i thought that this crappy, poor-me attitude was surely keeping me from dilating. i started bawling, thinking if i can't take one more and i'm not at 10...then what? i would be devastated to hear that i was only at 7 or 5 or....."you ARE doing it" i kept hearing. while blake and the wives' words were encouraging and well-intended, i just didn't really believe what anyone was saying. i thought maybe i was not making myself very clear--no REALLY, people, i SERIOUSLY can't fucking live through another one.

i knew that i could not know where i was at if we checked b/c i knew the news would be discouraging--i needed to believe that every contraction was my last contraction and that i would need to push on the next one and that i would feel some relief--so we just never checked, and i am really happy about that. i just had to have faith, but it was hard to the 10th power.

i spent some time closing my eyes and resting, and after one contraction fell asleep in the water only to jerk awake abruptly which brought on another. soon, i noticed that both wives were in the small bathroom, sitting quietly. i asked beth how i would know i was complete, and she said, your uterus will just start pushing. after a while toward the end of the contraction i felt a little "pushy" but again the doubt was so huge that i thought "i am just making myself feel pushy b/c i want it so bad, but it's not real..."

i was very tired, and feel very out-of-body. i kept thinking that i must look like i was on heroin or something...my eyes were narrow and rolled around, i could not meet my gaze with anyone....i lurked around in the water like a restless shark. i began shivering uncontrolably but it was not the bath temperature. i had had some waves of nausea but nothing was trying to come up. by this time it was around 2 am, i'd been in the bath for almost 3 hours, and though i could not recognize it, something needed to change. beth kindly suggested that i get out of the bath, maybe lay down and rest, and assured me that i could alwasy get back in. i thought without the water easing my hips, how will i ever survive a rush out of the water?? but i admitted that my bed did look really nice...and i thought i might like to sit on the toilet....we made the game plan to sit on the pot first, then make my way to the bed.

as i was stepping over the side of the bath, i said outloud to myself "i must be fucking crazy to get out..." then immediately felt the need to throw up. the puke pot was handed to me just in time and as i threw up, i started peeing like crazy too, making room everywhere. it felt great and terrible all at the same time. i spent one contraction on the pot, but nothing exciting happened there...closing my eyes on my bed sounded like perfection.

but once i got there and layed on my side, i changed my mind. it felt terrible!! like my hips were pinching together. i quickly and instinctively moved to my hands and knees where a whole new contraction overtook me. it was borderline demonic how this force grabbed my and i was bearing down with all my might, except my mind was so fighting it. i was shocked! i really thought that the pushing stage would bring me some relief, that i'd get to put my own energy into it and start moving baby down. but i was not doing anything! and it was happening so hard and so fast. i felt...robbed. and quite terrified, honestly. the force was so great i was not sure i could hold up. during this push the terror showed by me pulling my hips forward while my back arched--i was protecting myself, holding back. the midwives both gently guided my hips back toward them and said, "no, no, thiiisss way..."

next push: water bag pops loudly and startles everyone. luckily the cloth pad catches all the glorious fluid that comes gushing out. (it's 2:08 at this push said the notes.)

i tell blake to call breana right away so she can wake the kids. he hesitates and says i can get them up, the midwives say lets see what happens on the next push....i am thinking at this point, there is no way this can last long--get her here NOW so that the girls and blake don't miss the birth. i tell him, no, i need you near me, and i want the girls to be comforted by her. he calls her and runs to unlock the door.

next push: i feel something moving near my pelvic bone. i am roaring, full of power so huge i feel i might just disapate into thin air. its completely unreal. i am shocked at the magnitude. (for this push, breana has made it to the bedroom and has no clue what she is walking into so she has her camera out, filming, and captures 4 seconds of my choas--then blake tells her to quickly wake the girls)

the wives still can't see the head, and i am panicking that this may take some time if i still have so much progress to make.

next push: i reach down and feel myself opening, but not just opening--as i roar, i am sure i am going to split into a million pieces and i need to confirm this. i reach down and feel the tissue around my labias and the thought occurs to me that maybe, b/c of my allergy, i have damaged my birth canal and i won't be able to accomodate a child. before this fear can even be spoken i feel a great moving sensation and then a wet, warm hairy baby head is completely out of me. it feels absolutely amazing. it was like in an instant my pregnancy state went from abstraction to suddenly: life. i was touching life.

i turned back to the doorway to see that breana and the girls had just barely caught the show. the girls were smiling and looked so sleepy and sweet. i feel hands and i ask what they are doing, and melissa says she is just checking for any cord around the neck. there is none.

next push: i am emptied, and all i see when i look down is a bright red leg and belly and some sweet cord and i hear loud strong crying. i ask blake "what did we have??" and he comes around close to me and meets my gaze and he's so teary and excited that is comes out a whisper "it's a boy!"

i want to hold him so badly and they offer to pass him between my legs, but i want to sit and hold him to my chest so they quickly help me flip around and then e is really in my arms. he's really there. i cry out "oh, he's so CUTE!" because he is. his eyes are open and blinking, his lips huge and soft, and so much wet curly hair....i think to myself then whisper to blake with wide eyes, "honey, he looks like a George..." because we'd been toying with the family name heavily, but we were waiting to see.

but i was still so stunned about what had just happened. the sensations, the power---i was reeling from the shock. some of me was saying "i did it!" but a much louder voice was saying "oh, fuck, that HURT! how am i even here on the other side?" 5 days later the shock is still slowly wearing off, and i am making that shift to...YES, i did do it.

the girls came close to me and i asked isadore if she was okay with having a boy (she'd been concerned about having a penis that might spray pee in the house....) but she smiled sweetly and nodded her head. we all exchanged excited looks and blake kept saying "good work, mama..." "you did it, honey!" and "we have a SON!" after a few minutes though i noticed that someone was missing and i asked "where is isadore?" "oh she wandered back to bed" which i thought was funny--the girl loves her sleep. i found out later she said "i'm cold--i'm going to bed." but mayan was completely interested in the rest of the process. when the midwives examined my perinium, i looked down to see the flashlight, two adult heads...and mayan's head, with a inquisitive look on her face.

i quickly delivered the placena, a minor squishy delivery compared to the last passage. there was much excitement when the time came to weigh him: 7lbs 9 oz.--we were all floored, not expecting over 7 pounds at all! and just perfect, perfect in every way.

the wives stayed for a bit, make sure we were all clean, settled, and cozy. mayan went back to bed easily, and blake and i stayed up for just a while, b/c it was hard to go to sleep after what really seems like the event of our lives. blake kept telling me how amazing i did, and we just took turns marveling the accomlishment, the fact we have a son, and his size.

i don't even know how to wrap it all up. that was it. so much anticipation, fear, doubt, uncertainty....it's all past. i can write the final chapter now, and know that it all works. my body can make a perfect baby and deliver it into the world on my own. someone had asked me what my fear was--why did i need a home birth so badly, and what would i lose if i didn't have one? i had decided that mostly it was that chaos that i didn't want--the medical chaos, of machines and strangers and unfamiliar surroundings...i craved the gentle welcoming of a home birth, the feeling of control and empowerment within myself, owning the process of giving birth to my own child. the shocker? it was by far the MOST chaotic birth i've had--because it was all internal. sure, everyone else was calm and my environment was my own, but my internal conflict was wickedly deep. i was facing myself with what was the internal struggle of a lifetime--fear over faith, with the final stage being the most out-of-control, humbling battle i've ever had...i wasn't even sure who won at first. there was nothing gentle or un-chaotic about it! but it WAS my own, that is for sure, and the bigger suprise is that even though i "got what i wanted," i think this birth will take just as much processing as the others. i guess that is exactly what it is designed to do--push us completely to our limits and help rebirth ourselves in the final process. and once i get over myself, i think i will feel very, very grateful for that opportunity.


Amy said...

What a perfect story, I'm tearing up at the beauty and power of it all.

I commiserate so loudly and strongly with the intensity of each contraction and especially the roaring involuntary pushing of the uterus. I feel a little traumatized by the power of my own body, too! LOL It's all so fresh in my mind, I just want to wrap my arms around you and give you a giant squeeze and celebrate our wonderful birth's together!!!

I'm so thrilled for you and your family and am so happy G made it peacefully and perfectly into his new world and loving family!

Loves and Baby Kisses!!!


Aimee said...

Your story is beautiful, brings me back to Jons birth and how beautiful and amazing it was. That natural high you get, never was it as strong as when I birthed Jon. I'm so glad you got to experience it. Congrats momma. He's just beautiful!

Hedro said...


I experienced a lot of the same things with my second birth, which was not a hospital birth. Until I actually pushed her out? I had some serious doubt and internal conflict. And yeah, that involuntary sensation was... not at all what I was expecting. I definitely would have liked a little more control over the situation.

Still! You did it! And what you said at the end about birth pushing us to our limits... so, so, so apt!

He is finally here, and he is beautiful!



Cat said...

My laptop's keyboard is soaked in tears of joy! What a beautiful story. You have so much to share. Thank you for being so candid, with such a personal success. You rock girl!


Pauline said...

So beautiful Leah. Thanks so much for sharing your words and pictures. You are a strong mama for sure. Congratulations on baby G.

Nicole Homel-Tellier said...

Leah, like all the other comments, I am moved to tears by your experience. So many of us, including myself, dreamed about the experience you just had. As you know, my birth story did not result in a home birth, but the richness of your words in a small way allow me to live the experience vicariously through you. I am awed and touched by your candidness and willingness to share this.
Much Love (and pride for you)...

Numinosity said...

I had to read this in two installments, because I just couldn't do it all at once. I'm so very happy for you, so very happy. I'm so proud of you for working so hard to 'get what you wanted' and at the same time for realizing that it's stlll a huge process.
you are amazing, and I'm so glad i know you.
xo korin

radishly said...

What an incredible story, I am so happy for your experience and the beautiful boy to have been born of it. You're an amazing woman with such a powerful body, mind, and soul - no doubt you will process what you need to from this birth and come out the other side an even deeper, more awesome person. Who knew that could even be possible?

Loves to your peops!

Rebekah said...

WOW. A 4-hanky birth story for sure. Beautiful and wonderful and powerful, L. We are so SO SO SO HAPPY for you all!!! You are a birthing GODDESS!!!

Candice said...

Wow, that was beautiful to read. I really liked what you said at the end about a birth pushing us to the limit and helping to rebirth ourselves. That is so true, and I never thought about it that way.

Congratulations again! And happy babymoonin'!

Laura said...

it was like suddenly my pregnancy state went from abstraction to suddenly: life. i was touching life.

it was that sentence that started my tears flowing! I remember that moment distinctly. Your birth sounded so much like mine... the fears, the exhaustion, the power. It took me a week before I could write my story, too. I'm only now finally processing and accepting that chaotic night only because I'm pregnant with my second! Your story, with all it's similarities (not in circumstance, but in the process), definitely helped.

Thank you for sharing your deepest feelings about such an incredible birth!

SUV MAMA said...

Man. It's taken me a few reads to even think about commenting. What an amazing birth. I greatly appreciate you posting and sharing! I am really most endeared and the idea that OTHER women felt the same things I felt during my natural birth. That release and knowing that "you did it" is so incredible. I'm STILL decompressing from Amelia's birth- and she's 21 months old!

You rock, Mama. Baby G is one lucky boy!

Bill & Savannah said...


I love the way you own your experience and share it so richly through your words. I felt like I was right there, witnessing you re-create yourself. Baby G, welcome little guy. You have chosen an amazing family and we all know you have many gifts to bring!!


UrbanHippieMama said...

How amazing to read this from start to finish, in your own words... I am so happy for you that you had this experience, and the opportunity to feel that terrifying power of your body.. it is unreal. Thank you so very much for inviting me to be a part of this.
I love you!!!

elliesmadre said...

I can't believe I never commented on this before. As George's birthday is rolling around, I wanted to read this again. This is such an amazing story. We all believed in you Leah. And I'm so thankful to be part of your life. :)