A Peaceful Birth
by Lisa Bobrow
October 24th, 2003
I woke up to sunshine through the window, and realized that we’d all slept in. We were planning to take a weekend trip to see friends in the U.S. and Guy was supposed to have gone to pick up the rental car. Both him and Kai were still asleep, but I decided to get out of bed because I was having contractions. I had been having the most pleasant contractions throughout the previous days, the sensation was like being warmly caressed from the inside out. The night before, however, I felt what I thought were my waters breaking. I couldn’t be sure that this is what had happened, but the sensations were different after that. Crampy but not painful, frequent but not regular. I contemplated spending the whole day in a car, and reluctantly made the decision to postpone our much anticipated visit. After I hung up the phone I cried and cried. I had really wanted to go!
To put the day into context, though this may sound strange, there was nothing that had happened up to this point that made me think, “I’m in labour!” I assumed that the contractions I was having were Braxton-Hicks. I knew that even if my waters had broken, that only meant that labour was likely to begin in the next 24 hours. I knew of a woman whose waters had broken three weeks before her baby was born! Then there was the possibility that the water bag had leaked, but would reseal until the baby was ready. I didn’t have a ‘due date’, but I had told everyone who asked the baby was coming “in November”, and I guess somehow I convinced myself!
So instead of thinking I was in labour, I was realizing just how close it really was to “November”, and that my baby could be born any day now. This had been a difficult pregnancy for me, emotionally, and it was now taking me some time to warm up to the idea of giving birth just then. Frankly, I didn’t feel up to it. I was in such a different place from when Kai was born. Then, I had felt confident, strong, and simply excited to embark on the adventure of birth and motherhood. Now I felt tired, sick with bronchitis, drained. I knew that something needed to change.
Having sent Guy and Kai out on errands, I had the apartment to myself. I sat in my ‘birth space’, in my favourite room, and began to journal. I wrote:
I have been waiting for peace to come to me, but I have not reached out for it. I thought I would know all these things by now, but still, I don’t know anything.
I think my water broke last night. I might be in labour. But I am holding myself back. It is 1:30pm. I’ve been having contractions that don’t quite feel ‘real’. I have doubts about this new baby. But I do not want to be afraid. I must believe I am not afraid.
The room is beautiful. Cats walk in and out. It’s cold today, but breaks in the clouds let the sun pour in through the big window. I remember the sunlight after Kai was born. It was so warm and welcoming. I breathe through contractions and they quickly subside. I stretch my body, and release my tension and fears…
It was still another two hours before I admitted to myself that I was in labour. I didn’t time my contractions but there were many. They subsided after about 3 breaths, and were often completely painless. Especially if I was in a hands and knees position, the only sensation I felt was the tightening of my belly. Wondering how far into labour I was, I felt inside and found my cervix only slightly open, perhaps 1cm, and not effaced at all. I mouthed the word, ‘O P E N’, and then, ‘L O V E’. I told myself that I was gathering strength.
Guy returned with a sleeping Kai. I told him the baby might be born that evening, and sent him out again to get some labour food. When he got back a little after 4pm, Kai had just woken up. I wasn’t very hungry and decided I would take a shower before eating. The water was marvelous. I felt like dancing, so I danced. I found myself smiling! I made a conscious decision that I would no longer fight against this labour, that I would simply allow it to happen. I realized then that the contractions were coming very close together. Soon they were one on top of another. I concentrated. I was no longer smiling and felt like I wanted to jump out of my skin. The thought crossed my mind that I was in transition. I figured I had a couple more hours to go, since that was how it had been with Kai, but decided it was time to get out of the shower.
Just as I was getting out, I was surprised to find my body PUSHING, and even more surprised to feel the urge to push with it. Quite by itself, a sound I can only describe as a mighty birth roar welled up inside me and poured itself out, in time with the pushing of my body and mind. I reached down and was stunned to touch a crowning head!
Having heard the birth roar, Guy appeared and asked if I was ok. I told him I was, and that the baby was coming. He ran to get Kai. I stepped back into the tub, where there was the most room to squat. As I did, a small gush of fluid escaped. I caressed the top of the baby’s head, stretching myself over it as I did so, and asking the baby to please come slowly. By the time I had lowered myself into a deep squatting position, the baby’s head was born. There was a pause as I felt that magical rotation. Shortly after, with no further effort on my part, a tiny body slipped easily into my waiting hands.
I heard Guy from the other side of the shower curtain, which had unfortunately been closed the whole time so he and Kai had not actually seen the birth. I will never forget the looks on their faces just then! Kai especially was amazed. We explained to him that this was the baby from my tummy. Something clicked in his mind and he ran out of the bathroom, to return moments later with his little bus and a few other toys for the baby to play with. I delivered the placenta while still in the empty tub. Guy brought a bowel for it (we waited several hours before cutting the cord) and some towels for me and the baby, our little girl, and off we went to the ‘birth space’ to snuggle.
The birth had been so peaceful that the baby had not even woken up! We were a bit concerned at first that she was so small and quiet, but all was fine. She was born at 4:40pm, just 20 minutes after I’d stepped into the shower. Two days later we weighed her at six pounds. Her name is Noe, a Spanish name meaning ‘peace’, and she is a very content little soul.
This pregnancy and birth have reinforced for me the truth that birth really does just simply unfold, if only we allow it to. In a larger sense, this experience has also taught me so much about facing my fears for what they are, instead of trying to conquer them by pushing them under. I am reminded of these things each time I gaze at my lovely little girl.