Here is my story. Sorry it is so long...
On Saturday around 4 in the afternoon I started noticing that I was contracting on a fairly regular basis. I timed for about an hour to see if I was right, and they were about 4-6 minutes apart. Cyana and Luis got home from shopping, and I told him about the contractions, but didn’t want to get too excited. I had read too many birth stories of regular contractions just fading after a few hours. So I went to Monique’s to drop off sling fabric, and chatted with her and Benji for a while. Still contracting, a little more frequently. I decided I better hit the road, before I was unable to drive. Got home, ate dinner. I kept telling myself and Luis I didn’t want to set up the pool, only to have things fade, and be disappointed. He said that it seemed likely to be it, and that we should go ahead and do it. Around 8 we set up the pool with one hose of hot from the washer, and another of cold from outside. We also put water on to boil to fill the pool as it cooled, or the water heater ran out. I got in the pool for a while with Cyana, then decided if I wanted things to move along I better get out, and move around. I paced the house for a little while, and Luis hooked up the dvd player in the bedroom in case Cyana decided she didn’t want to hang out with us. I tried to walk around my yard, but I felt super exposed. Cyana watched a dvd while I labored in and out of the pool. Contractions were very manageable. Her dvd ended, and she came out into the living room. It was getting a little more painful, and I felt the need to be alone, and wanted to try and sleep (yeah right), so I went into the bedroom for about an hour or so. I began to need to vocalize through the contractions, and repeated to myself as a mantra You have all the knowledge, You have all the power in my head between contractions. I went back out to get into the pool, and Cyana had fallen asleep in her room. Luis put her to bed, and we put on Life Is Beautiful to watch. I had planned on music, but really didn’t want any at the time. The movie was perfect, since I could labor with my back to the t.v., and easily tune it out since it wasn’t in english. Things sterted to really pick up then. I kept telling myself I couldn’t be in transition yet, because I was still too rational, and that I better prepare myself for worse. And it got way worse. I started howling and shaking during the contractions. I tried to keep my voice deep, and my mouth and face loose, and for some I could, but others I just screamed, and howled like a wild woman. I told myself I was in transition, but my logical self, and my instinctual self were not communicating effectively by then. I kept thinking I was done, and how good a shot of something to take the pain away would feel. Then I would be clear again, and would tell myself that the giving up, and desperation are all signs of transition. I was in the pool, leaning with my arms over the side, and resting my head on the side between contractions. At first Luis left me alone, which is exactly what I needed. It was good not to have any distractions. As it got more intense, he leaned over and offered me his hand. I remembered squeezing his hand when laboring with Cyana. He also did a little efflurage between contractions, which I surprisingly didn’t mind. During the really intense ones, I started yelling NO! I was getting mad at my body for hurting so much, and was telling it no more. Luis reminded me to work with the pain, and not fight it. As I was screaming no he said open, make them work for you. So I found myself howling Nooopen through a lot of them. It actually helped a lot to have him there to center me, and encourage me. After every one he would tell me I was doing a great job. I didn’t think I would want to be talked to, as with Cyana anything anyone said was irritating, and to me patronizing. This time I think it helped so much because I knew he was telling me the truth. With Cyana I think it was more he said what he thought he should, but was himself, unsure if it was true. This time we had actual knowledge of, and faith in the process, which I think gave me the ability to believe what he was saying, and trust his advice.
I thought being in the water would really take the edge off. I don’t know maybe it did. But I was frustrated that during the worst contractions, when I was really thrashing my arms and head, the water moving against me hurt too. I kept wanting to ask Luis to rub my shoulders to relieve the tension, or counter pressure on my back, but I never found the words. I also tried to stand up at one point, but moving was not going to happen. I guess it must have been about an hour or so of super intense, out of my mind ,howling so loud I’m surprised the cops weren’t called laboring. I sat back on my knees and heels through one of them, and threw my head back, and just let go. I don’t think I have ever felt so primal, and not in control. I was leaning over the side of the pool, feeling like I was going to explode, when I felt a pop, like a balloon. I said the water just broke. Then it was 2 contractions later that I felt the burning, and pressure. I screamed at Luis it’s coming. He jumped in the pool ( fully clothed). He said he could feel the head. Then I just started pushing. I had no choice, my body needed to get rid of that pressure, and fire! Luis said the head was out, and I rested for a maybe 30 seconds, then remembered her head was out, under water, and I needed to get the rest out. I pushed to more times, roaring as I did, and felt the amazing relief of her body spinning and slipping out. Luis said she shot out like a cannonball into his hands. He lifted her out, and I heard her scream. He said it’s a girl. I was shaking and leaning on the side of the pool, and kept asking is she breathing, and telling him to rub her spine. He said she was, and that she was pink too. Then he had to pass her to me from behind between my legs. That was tricky, a we found she had a fairly short cord.
I got out of the pool, and sat to nurse her and check her out. I had Luis give me some shepard’s purse under my tongue. I wasn’t really bleeding too bad, but I was afraid of it I guess. She didn’t want to nurse immediately, so we just hung out. I kept offering her the breast, and she took it about 15 minutes later. It was awkward though, as her cord was so short. We planned on waiting to cut the cord, but when 2 hours had passed, and the placenta still had not made her appearance, and nursing and holding a slippery newborn with a short cord got too much, we cut it. It was white and limp, and cold. I started stressing about how long the placenta was taking. I did some uterine massage, and found my uterus was already turning into a ball like it was supposed to. I kept checking for excessive bleeding, there was none, but it was hard to tell what was new, or was just dripping from the sac that had fluid in it still that was hanging out with the cord. I tried squatting, light pushing, but still no placenta. I had a few contractions, but no placenta. Around 3 I got up to rinse off the old blood to help determine if there was a lot of new blood. When I was in the shower I tried squatting again, I also tried gently pulling to see if I felt anything. I didn’t, but I was NOT going to pull for real, in case the placenta was still attached. I had Luis bring me scissors, and cut what I could from hanging too low. The sac kept filling with shower water, and blood, it was irritating. It looked like a little water balloon hanging between my legs. Luis found it slightly amusing to watch me waddle through the house with a plastic bowl between my legs to keep from dripping all over. Cyana finally woke up around 4. She said she heard the bay crying, and it woke her up. HUH?! Mama screaming at the top of her lungs for an hour straight did nothing to ya though. Luis had even gone in after we cut the cord to wake her, and she just rolled over. I was clearly stressing about the placenta, and Luis told me to just go lie down, and try to rest, and wait. I did. I had just started to fall asleep when I had to pee. I got up, had a contraction with a pushy feeling, and plop went the placenta into the toilet. The placenta was born at 6:10 am a full 5 hours after her baby. I felt so much better.
We asked Cyana what the baby’s name should be, and after ruling out Miss Jimi Hendrix we agreed on Lilah Ruth. She nurses when she is not sleeping, much to the discomfort of my sore nipples. I never thought I could get sore nipples after nursing for 3 ½ years. I guess that 6 month break made a huge difference in nipple sensitivity. We will work it out though.
When I think about Liliah’s birth, and what it was, I realize that it is just normal. Sure amazing in the sense that every pregnancy and birth are amazing, but also normal. I don’t feel empowered, like I am a super woman. I feel more humbled like every mother does this (or used to). I feel like any other way we could have brought her into this world would have been wrong. That’s what I want people to understand. That we are normal. It hurt like hell, and I don’t ever want to do it again. I am tired and sore, like any other woman who has given birth. I am elated, and in love, just like any other woman who has just given birth. That’s what I am. Another woman who has given birth. I am grateful for the ability to see past society’s fears about birth, and for the friend who first alighted me onto the path of unattended birth. I am grateful for the strength that all birthing women possess. I hope that more women find it, and draw upon it.