About 2 weeks before your birth, I dreamed that I was holding you in my arms, and thinking how odd, that the labor had been so painless that I didn’t remember it at all. In the days since your birth, I return many times to that dream. Your birth was not painless, but it is memorable now as a dream that I cannot quite believe is real. It is a story of faith.
On the 2nd of August, in the morning, I started to have something much more uncomfortable than the Braxton Hicks I had been feeling for the past four months. Berny was still staying here, but his week between jobs was ending, and I wished you would be born before the hectic week of a new job began. We had been planning on the arrival of Rebecca the midwife from the US the 29th, and so had recently stopped expecting to be “unassisted”. I was a little sad, because part of me felt so prepared for a birth without outside help that I had come to wish for it.
When we called Rebecca, she said Lise (her housekeeper and friend) was also having contractions more or less every 8 minutes. She said if Lise was in labor, she couldn’t come here. I felt a bit nervous and even maybe angry that Rebecca couldn’t come, but I saw it also as the reminder to be ready to birth without help, to recenter myself. I asked Berny what he felt, and he said birth is natural and he was ready if we had to do it ourselves. My contractions never picked up, and subsided by afternoon to irregularity. Rebecca said sleep, as the ones lasting 3-5 minutes indicated that this was not “the real thing”, as far as your birth being immediately likely.
The 3rd I was impatient, like a cat pacing a cage. I wanted you to come, and was irritated that nothing seemed to be happening. Also nervous that Berny would not make it for the birth, having started his new job. Mama made pizza, we ate, and my contractions started to get more intense again. I didn’t mention this to Papa and Mama, as I wanted them to go ahead to Tia Rosita’s and get some rest.
I talked to Rebecca, telling her I was not sure I could handle transition, if these spaced-out contractions were any indication of how intense it would get. She reminded me about endorphin pain relief and that labor builds gradually. Lise was going right along with me, as her labor also sped up after a slow day. Mama and Papa left about 8:30, I showered, and Berny came around 9. He ate the pizza and started writing down contractions, which had started to get closer together as soon as he arrived.
He said, “Nell’s coming tonight”. I went to the bathroom, and there was the mucous plug. We called Rebecca again, and sure enough, Lise had show, too. This was when I was sure you would be born without a midwife. I felt calm, really, and prepared. After Berny ate, labor really started, and I felt best on knees and elbows. I saw my “My Body Knows” reminder note and asked Berny to write some ideas on the board of what to do for me in labor. “Write ‘drink water’ I said, ‘and tell me to open,’” then breathed out a contraction. “Okay, now ‘faith in God’ and ‘relax your stomach,’” as Berny wrote.
Shortly thereafter, Berny was asking, “And how’s your faith in God?” and I was saying, “Great, I am made for this, He made my body well.” Berny was completely with me as the waves got stronger, with a hot compress and sips of coconut water and linaza and water, or saying “Efeta, abra”. I almost always wanted to be on my knees, though gazing into Berny’s eyes and a yoga stretch gave me breaks in between. The most intense contractions had me up, hanging from Berny’s shoulders in the kitchen, gazing into his eyes. “Gracias por compartir esa experiencia conmigo, por dejarme compartirlo” he said in between the two contractions I wondered briefly if I could handle. And suddenly I had the urge to push. “I want to push” “Push, then” he said. “But it’s too early.” “What do you want to do, then?”
I made my way to the bathroom in a crouching walk and washed my hands, reached into myself, and touched your head, so surprising, and with no cervix to be found. I hadn’t checked my dilation since the mucous plug came out at what I guessed was 2 centimeters. “Oh, here she comes” and it was back onto the mattresses in the living room, knees and elbows, and the first contraction was the crowning “I see her!” another and it was your whole head “I see her eyes, she’s coming! Here’s her head. Push!” “Not yet, until another…she has to turn” and then the third wave and puuush the same feeling as with Brahm “I want this baby OUT” and Berny says “Here she is. Here’s Nell!” and there you were, yelling just as I was about to ask if you were breathing.
Berny patted you dry and we wrapped you in a blanket, and we put you beside me and you nursed as we called Rebecca “Already? Wow! That’s great” for a reminder about cord cutting and placenta delivery. Less than 15 minutes and I felt a contraction coming, got into a sort of squat, and out came the placenta. We checked the cord, each tied a string, and Berny cut between them.
Somehow, he cleaned around and under me. I lay with you nursing while he got things cleaned up. Then we dressed you. Finally, he asked, “What else, my love?” “I want a shower,” so we lay you down beside him and by the time I got out, you were both asleep. I puttered around a while, cleaning up but really just taking it all in-enjoyed the energy I had, marveling at you birth, then fell asleep, too.