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A Birth Story

A Birth Story
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I have been reluctant to write anything about how Amyas was born into the world, even for my own records, let alone for a public blog. As most mothers can attest, there is something so intensely personal and private about the birth experience -- not even private in the sense that we’re not willing to share it (most moms I know are eager to share the details of their labor and delivery), but private in the sense that it is so specific to the little soul we are birthing, that there’s no way to give a really good description of it, and so little of the experience is applicable to anyone else, even another child within the same family, that it serves as a dubious point of reference for other moms-to-be. Still, there is something universally relate-able, some piece that touches me in every birth story I have ever heard, along with the details that make it deeply unique.
So it’s with some hesitation that I share Ammie’s story here, in hopes that if it does nothing else, it shares some of the magic and grace with others that he has brought into our lives from the very first day.

To do this story justice, I have to take it back to the last days, moments, hours before his arrival -- utterly uncomfortable. I have promised myself that I will be more gracious, more tolerant of pregancy in the last weeks with my second child than with my first. Lamentably, I must admit, this is not proving to be the case. Even in my sleep (sitting upright on the bed, propped against the wall with pillows behind me) my husband reports I am moaning with discomfort throughout the night. What sweet relief then when the labor begins in the early morning hours of November 1st, 2011, All Saints Day, since I know that his much-anticipated arrival will end the trauma of sleepless nights and nauseated days. We have decided to have him in the comfort of our home with a midwife that feels perfect for us, and to birth him in my favorite of all places, the bathtub. I gave birth to Aidan in a tub at a wonderful birthing center, so I didn’t think it would be too terribly traumatic to transition to the home environment. Still, I must admit, when labor begins, I can only think, “Oh god, I think I’ve made a terrible mistake.”

Sweet Ammie is the most agreeable baby I have ever met, so when his older brother entreats him repeatedly in utero to please please please not arrive on Halloween and interfere with Trick-or-Treating, he obviously has taken it to heart. I go into active labor at 2:30 in the morning after an evening of muggy hot fun (?) watching Aidan invite neighbors to sugar him up out of fear of retaliation while dressed in a skeleton outfit. (I love Halloween as much as most, but does anyone else think this is weird?)

So at 2:30 I know that its time. I know, as much because Halloween is now over and he is invited to come as much as I know because the “Oh god...terrible mistake” thought is really the last thought I have. I remember a moment of giggles with my husband when he makes an unexpected joke, and a moment of flaring anger when he tells me he hadn’t phoned the midwife yet (at 4am he is still waiting to see if my moaning pain meant this was really it :)). Beyond this, there is no thought at all.

At 4:50am when the world’s most gentle midwife Laurie arrives, I hardly notice it, except that I feel the relief of experienced and loving female support. She and her assistant Jessica remain calm and stable, reverent, entirely in the background, keeping the lights dim, the environment warm enough, checking the baby’s vital signs at intervals. I labor almost entirely out of the tub, in the door frame of the bathroom almost the entire time, or curled up with my head on our bed and my knees on the floor.

When I gave birth to Aidan, anyone might have worried that my yelps, groans, and yes, occasionally screams would frighten the baby. This time, I stay really quiet and internal, using exercises I had learned from the Resurfacing Section of the Avatar Course (an experience that merits a post in its own right). I feel calm, down to business, and yes, in excruciating pain. The only external encouragement I desire comes at the perfect moment from my midwife, when I gasp out, “I -- just -- wish -- I -- could -- have -- a -- break.” She nods, then gently, firmly gives me the truth. “You’re not going to get a break until he’s out.” Okay, I think. Okay. Now I know what I have to do.

It is around 6am when Laurie suggests that Grandma and Grandpa come and pick up my older son. Brian reports that as he carries Aidan out to them, Aidan asks “why are you carrying me out to the car? Mommy’s not in labor.” “Grandpa and Grandma are already here, Mommy IS in labor.” His eyebrows raise in surprise and he smiles. Grandpa is so excited that he wants to come in and wish me well, but Brian knows I am well beyond being able to speak or listen. They leave without seeing me, but have sent their enthusiasm and love.

By 6:20, I’m feeling lots of pressure. Still it surprises me when Laurie says its time to push. I had no idea we were so close, but Laurie can see that my body is naturally beginning to push anyway. By 6:25, I am in the tub.

In some ways I find the pushing to be easier than the contractions. The contractions came one on top of the other, but as I enter into the pushing stage, I am getting small breaks. aahh....he’s coming soon. This I can handle.

By 7:14 I begin to talk to Amyas. “Hi baby, we do this together, okay? We do this together.” Something in me begins to feel in my heart that we are very much a team in this, and to feel the reverence of his upcoming entrance. Its less than 10 minutes later that he crowns, and two more minutes until he is delivered.

I’ve heard such a myriad of stories about second births being faster than the first. In this case, it was entirely true. When the contractions began at 2:30, the biggest difficulty was that I couldn’t find any real space between them. Perhaps this is how my body rewarded me with 5 hours of labor from start to finish.

And what happens as he moves out of my belly and into the world? Well this is the part that becomes difficult to explain, and maybe too private to share. But I will say this: It is a moment that starts a lifetime, a moment that seems to contain all other moments, a moment of wonderment.

So there it is. It’s not sophisticated in any way, but I wonder if its possible to be sophisticated about a birth story. Birth takes us back to our more primal selves, our animal natures, and simultaneously to our best self, our higher self, a self that’s more connected and at peace with all life. There’s no way to say this that doesn’t sound trite, but there it is all the same. If in any small way the grace with which we were blessed during Ammie’s birth can create inspiration or insight into your own birth experience, past or future, then it is worth sharing. All birth stories feel unspeakably special. And if not? Well, Ammie, this blog is really for you.

 

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