|Just after birth|
Six months ago today I was sitting around Sara’s kitchen table drinking tea and bitching about still being pregnant. Kelly had a watch with her constantly that day because Joel needed to apply cream to his eczema every 15 minutes.
I had started the day at the osteopath’s office. I was two weeks past my due date and had already struggled through several nights of long, strong contractions that after 4-6 hours would stop. Multiple acupuncture appointments hadn’t made me go into labor, but because my acupuncturist was also a counselor they had been a wonderful place to evaluate where I was and to talk through things I was really struggling with.
After my last acupuncture session it was suggested that alignment might have been an issue. So I went and had an adjustment. Sure enough my sacrum was all out of whack. Fully aligned, but still not contracting I drove home discouraged. Although I could really see the blessing all this processing was bringing, I was convinced I would be pregnant for the rest of my life. After two weeks of sticking close to home ‘just in case’ Scott and my girlfriends convinced me that a day at the park was just what I needed. We let the kids play and when it got cold, we headed to Sara’s for tea.
At first I didn’t really let on I was having contractions. I was used to them not being actual labor and I didn’t want to get anyone’s hopes up—including mine. But Kelly had that clock. And I kept noticing that they were getting awfully regular. Eventually I admitted it and she started timing me. As I remember it, they were every 4 or 5 minutes and about 45 seconds long. Finally they got strong enough that the girls noticed. So everyone rounded the kids up and Loulou drove me home. I had one massively strong contraction right at the base of the Caterham Hill roundabout. That was about 4:30 if I remember correctly.
We got home and I told Scotty I thought this was it. Anja said to let her know soonish if it was the real deal. She had a speaking engagement in Tunbridge Wells at 7:00. We went on a walk. Down Church Road and through the graveyard. Back behind the horse fields. I stopped a few times. We saw a fox. Then back through town. I wanted us to buy something at the Co-op I remember. So we took Bridger’s ‘short cut’ and walked by the chip shop. I needed chips. Good thing we bought two, because I ate one almost entirely by myself before we ever reached home.
I called Anja at 6:45ish. “Nevermind. It isn’t labor. I’m barely contracting now at all.” I was so frustrated. She encouraged me to have a little dinner, get in the birth pool to relax a little, and then go to bed early. Maybe watch a movie lying down or something.
Scott started making spaghetti and I begrudgingly stripped off and got in the birth pool. And then it’s all a blur. I remember demanding (not asking nicely—I wasn’t in that sort of a place) my cell phone around 7:20 and insisting that Anja come as quickly as she could. I remember grabbing Scotty by the front of his Rockies sweatshirt and yelling, ‘HE’S COMING.’ I remember an absolutely primal scream escaping me while Scotty was on the phone with Anja, “Anything I need to know about catching this baby?” Something about that scream made me relax. She wasn’t going to be there. We were on our own. The baby seemed to be quite comfortable clipping along at this pace. So I settled in and made peace with the speed. I instinctively began pressing on my perineum and chanting ‘sloooooowwwwwly baby. Slowly baby. Slowly baby. Slowly baby. Please baby. Slooooooooooowwwwwly for mama. Slowly baby. Slowly baby. Slowly baby.’
Most of all I remember Caid. He heard me making the low moaning noises right away from the pool and immediately sat beside me. I remember his cool, soft hands on the side of the pool. His calm, dark eyes looking deep into mine. His sweet voice soothing me. “Good job, Mama. That’s right Mama. You’re having a baby. Goooooood Mama. It’s okay. You’re having a baby.” I would grip hold of his hands tight during a contraction and then after it had subsided he’d gently and slowly stroke my warm hands with his cool ones. He was incredible. Instinctively providing just what I needed.
Bridger was amazing too. Present. Kind. Running errands for Scott and attentively watching.
Anja walked in at 8:00 and asked the boys to run to the car for her bag. When they walked back in at 8:05 I was holding Asher and rocking back and forth cooing to him and sort of basking in that deep, calm high after the rush of childbirth ends.
There was very little blood, so Anja let the boys get in the tub with me. I remember them in their shark swimsuits. Anja pointed out the cord which fascinated them. “Isn’t it a nice, juicy cord?” she asked them. Caid liked that phrase. Later when we check to make sure it was indeed a boy he noted what a “nice juicy penis” Ash had.
After a while Scott cut the cord. Not ready to leave the safe haven of the pool and deeply conscious that moving to ‘dry land’ would break the sort of trance I was still in, I opted to birth the placenta in the pool. With so little blood it was still safe too, so Anja let me be. I remember noting that this might be the last time my body would give birth. The last time I would make that ‘home’ and a haven for a small person to be formed and knitted together inside me. I knew in that heart-space that this was to be cherished. Noted. That the home was about to leave my body and that most likely this would be the last time. There was grief. I loved being pregnant. I felt so alive and beautiful and full of purpose. I knew something magical was ending. But there was relief and even excitement. Something magical was also beginning.
The placenta birthed I moved into a more conscious space. I laid on the couch with warm blankets tucked around me and Ash on my chest. He nursed and nursed and nursed. The big boys finally had their dinner which had burned a bit on the stove in all the excitement.
Anja showed us all Ash’s little house for the last 9 months. I couldn’t believe how small it was—she noted how big it was. A nice, big strong placenta for my nice, big boy. 9 lbs 13 oz to be exact. We did a little exam—nothing major. I held the baby the whole time. No tearing. My biggest baby. My shortest delivery. No tear. I credit the water and the slooooowly baby, slowly chant.
After a while Scotty took Ash and I went upstairs for a shower. I think I drank some juice. I put on soft jammies and crawled into bed. We were all tucked in and sound asleep by about 11:30. Peacefully, blissfully asleep in my very own bed!