With the stars up above in your eyes.
A fantabulous night to make romance,
‘neath the cover of October skies.
And all the leaves on the trees are falling
To the sound of the breezes that blow.
And I’m trying to please to the calling
Of your heartstrings that play soft and low.
And all the night’s magic
Seems to whisper and hush.
And all the soft moonlight
Seems to shine in your blush.
Can I just have one more Moondance with you,
The Mother called, and I answered. The spirit of a child is waiting for you, she said. A year had passed since the caesarian birth of my firstborn, but this time would be different, I knew. My heart and mind opened, and a tiny person began his journey within me.
My journey was just beginning as well.
I knew I was pregnant immediately after conception, and was deliriously happy about it. My friends thought I was crazy. I think they were waiting for me to realize that I wasn’t pregnant, and they were bracing themselves for the fall. What wonderful woman-friends I had, so ready to extend their shoulders for my weeping benefit. Thankfully for all of us, I was indeed carrying new life in my scarred womb. It was a beautiful first lesson in intuition.
Our pregnancy was beautiful, sacred. With the exception of a few necessary visits with a doctor to obtain legal documents, we were untouched by outsiders. Our family was growing day by day, as was my belly. It was simply my soul-mate, my beautiful daughter, my growing son, and I. We were so close in those months… Ginny would caress my tummy gently, cooing “baby”. I’d lay awake at night, anticipating birthing my child, holding him naked to my bare chest. Taking in the smell of birth, the feel of fresh human. Kissing a tiny baby’s head, holding him to my breast for his first nourishment. Matt and I made love frequently, celebrating this sacred life we had created between us.
One magical night, two days past the forty week mark, I lay in bed with my husband. Our legs were intertwined in the middle of the mattress, us both reading. I expressed a concern. “Maybe I should be laying on a chux pad.” We both laughed, Matt assuring me that the mattress will be fine. I went back to reading, and got swept back into the wonderful world of fiction. My current book took place in modern-day, rural Ireland. A main character and her husband were expecting their first child. And as fate would have it, a terrible and awe-inspiring storm struck their village the night the woman was to birth. Her husband was away at work, the power was out, and she was in heavy labour. She birthed a baby girl unhindered by well-meaning outsiders.
As I lay there, getting more and more excited about my own upcoming unhindered birth, I felt the strangest sensation. And jumped out of bed as if it were aflame. Liquid gushed from my naked body, pooling on the floor at my feet, and I exclaimed “Oh! My waters just broke!” Matt sprang from bed and came to my side. “Oh wow… oh… wow…” Such wonder, awe, love and tenderness in those few words. He kissed me passionately and asked what he should do. I first asked for a towel. Then, I suggested we fill the birth pool. I’d been having prodromal labour for weeks, and I knew that things could progress quickly in such cases. I needn’t have worried: it was not to be.
Rushes came almost immediately, and I spent the night breathing in my living room. Breathe, breathe, breathe, pause… smile. By morning, my birth song had emerged: Haaaaaaaaa. The pool was beckoning around noon, so I slid into the silky water, closely followed by my little girl. What a novel idea… a bathtub in the living room! This way, she could both splash in the tub AND watch Dora! Heaven! I quickly realized that the water seemed to make things more intense… and not in a good way, either. Out of the tub I got.
That night, after Ginny was dreaming toddler dreams (no doubt of dancing to Yo Gabba Gabba music and eating frozen juice bars), Mathias made me a gorgeous platter of food. Small pieces of fruit speared on toothpicks, lightly sprinkled with powdered sugar and grated mint chocolate. Cubed french bread, paired with a bowl of oil, vinegar, and spices. Between rushes, I nibbled succulently on the snack, drawing energy and love.
By midnight, my birthsong had gone from “Haaaaaaaa” to “HAAAAA”. And around four in the morning, “HAAAAA” had evolved to “HAAAAA!!!” I gripped my husband’s hands, took myself deep into his eyes. I squeaked, “I can’t. I can’t.” He rumbled, “You are. You ARE.” Ever present, ever my rock. I was swept away, swirling in primal pain, being drug under the surface by the chaos that is life. And he was my lifeboat, my regulator on a deep-sea mission.
Hours pass. Was it hours? Eons. Nanoseconds. I am afraid I will frighten my sweet baby girl with my vocalization, so off to grandma’s she goes. Why wasn’t I pushing yet? Why weren’t we a family of four by now? It had been… what… 33 hours? Six hours of “transition”? I am yelling through rushes now. I panic when one comes, urging Matt desperately to come help me by holding my hands. This isn’t right, I think. This isn’t right. My baby wants desperately to come over my pubic bone, rather than under it. From hip to hip, my body screams. From soul to cerebral cortex, my body screams. I need you to come now, baby, I think. I need you to come now. Your mama needs you to be born. Please, please, please, baby, your mama needs you to be born. “Oh Goddess, please help me! Oh baby… I need you to come now!” I say. I ask Matt, “How much longer should I give it?” “Until four,” He answers, after some thought. “Until four.” My heart sinks. Surely I cannot live another six hours?
My husband goes to the computer and starts an insistent search for women in my situation: stuck in transition. He finds numerous suggestions, between getting his fingers broken by his wife. I go deep, deep within myself… depths I previously had not known existed. And I buck up. Chin held high, I begin the first of an endless barrage of physical maneuvers, meant to push baby lower into my birth canal. I still screamed during rushes, but no longer did I panic between them. For six hours this went on. Thankfully, (extremely thankfully!) the Goddess took pity, and time flowed much more quickly than before.
It was 4pm. I registered the time dimly in my exhausted brain. Time to go. Wait… go where? What? Oh yes… to the hospital. I tell Matt it is time to go. Apparently, there is something in my eyes that tells him this is Truth. This is not pain speaking. This is not a desperate woman looking for an epidural. This is my very innermost soul speaking. My intuition. Telling me in a clear, quiet voice, “It’s time to get help. Be strong.”
Our toothbrushes get thrown in a duffel bag, along with a pair of pants and a t-shirt. I put a pad in my panties to soak up amniotic fluid. Ginny is taken care of, and I cannot think beyond that. Clothes are thrown on, and we prepare to leave. Then, I have a rush that sounds like “HAAAAAAAAAuuuunnnnnggghhhhAAAAA”. Then, “HAAAUUUNNNGGGGHHHH”. Am I pushing? I think I am. I’m pushing! Off the pants go, and I lean over my trusty chair, letting my body grunt for a little while. Oh, how it hurts. If I weren’t grunting, I’d be screaming. I felt “Alien”-esque. There was no child coming from my vagina. There was a fully grown panther clawing out of my scar. Both Matt and I check to see “how far along” I am. I’m complete with a small lip, and we both take turns caressing our baby’s soft, slippery head. What a beautiful moment, being the very first people to touch our sweet boy. The unforgiving hands of time held still, and all was right with the world.
At 5pm, the pants went back on, and to the hospital we went. No seatbelt for me, thank you. I stood as well as I could in the front seat, screaming during rushes, conversing with my husband of what was to come in between. Gone was “laborland”. Pain, horrific pain, and absurd moments of clarity were all that existed then. “Don’t tell them I’m a VBAC.” “If they ask, my water broke last night, NOT the night before like it really did!” “It’s instant c-section if they find out my water has been broken for almost 48 hours”.
The emergency room door was 50 feet away, and we stopped five times for a rush. I’d crush Matt’s hands in the middle of the parking lot, yelling, and hoping we didn’t get run over. Ironically, Matt’s crazy ex-girlfriend was at the window in the emergency room. I didn’t notice this at the time, he informed me of this juicy tidbit later. A man came to take me up to the OB ward while Matt filled out paperwork. The man asked me, “Do you want to walk or ride in a wheelchair?” “I’ll WALK!” I exclaimed. How anyone manages to sit in a wheelchair during their birthing time is completely beyond me.
Before I know it, I’m in a gown in an L/D room. I’m asked when my water broke, and I answer “Last night at 11pm.” It was really the night before that, but who needs to know? A vaginal exam is administered, and I am found complete with a small lip. I chuckle inwardly. I think, “I could have told you that.” Shortly, Matt joins us, and the doctor shows up. He immediately bestows tales of doom, claiming that he’s all for VBAC, but my labour is already abnormal, having gone on so long after my waters broke. And this was going off of 24 hours less than what was accurate! He left the room, and my angelic nurse suggested I use the restroom… and push with all my might while I’m in there. Although it was excruciating to oblige, I did so, in the hopes of a natural birth. Oh please, baby, I want you to come out like you were meant to! No narcotics, no epidural, no forceps or vacuum… please come out vaginally!
My body wailed “STOP!” when I’d push. I was put back in bed, sitting completely upright with my knees bent and my feet in stirrups at hip level, my yoni at the very edge of the bed. The nurse told me to listen to my body and push! I then said the most out-of-control thing of the entire experience. “My body is telling me to STAND UP!!!” I yelled at her. I quickly regained control and continued pushing. The lip on my cervix was pushed back during a contraction by my nurse… baby boy’s head slipped down into the birth canal. Oh sweet Goddess… it felt so beautiful. Gorgeous baby boy… coming further and further through his mother’s pain. Further into his family’s lives. Further into his mother’s life story… and his own.
Then my nurse’s face fell. My savior thus far had discovered something awful. Apparently, my ischial spines were only three inches apart. If given enough time, then maybe… just maybe… my baby could maneuver his way under them. How long? I wondered. “Twelve hours?” they answered. My body had been screaming at me to stop already for hours and hours… this was going downhill. And fast. My heart ached… my soul wept… and my brain was completely content with itself as I signed consent forms. I would be cut open again… my womb scarred even further, my baby torn most violently from his home, my hopes and dreams absolutely shattered. Yet, a rather loud voice within me calmed me. It stayed my nerves, and increased my courage. I was prepped for surgery. Matt held my hand, squeezed it, knowing that I was making the right decision. The complete trust he felt in me then was earth-shattering. Unhindered vaginal birth, caesarean section… either way, he knew that I trusted my body and would follow it ‘till the very end.
For some bizarre reason, the hospital insisted on me riding to the operating room on my back in bed. I screamed during a rush on the way there. Not pleasant, to say the least. The anesthesiologist began to administer the spinal, and as luck would have it, I began to have a rush.
That contraction was to be the very last. Ever.
I lay down, and the OR was prepped around me. My torso was scrubbed, blue screens erected, and blessed numbness overtook my lower half. “Would you like something to relax you?” The anesthesiologist asked. I hesitated, a “yes” on the very tip of my tongue. Surgery terrified me. “No,” I answered. “I’d like to be lucid when I meet my baby.” The doctor made the first incision.
Matt and I looked into each other’s eyes. I felt absolutely terrific. The horrifying pain was gone, the intuition had stopped nagging, and I was about to meet my baby. We joked about not knowing the baby’s name yet, about silly names we could call him. My upper body jiggled around: a testament to the trauma in my lower half. Finally, an extremely rough tug resulted in a very gurgly sound. My sweet new babe. I exclaimed, “Baby!” as the gurgle became louder and more distinctive. “It’s a boy!” the doctor announced. A son. A beautiful new baby boy had just been granted life beyond the womb. His cry was the most beautiful sound I’d ever heard.
Due to my insistence, the doctor had agreed that I could hold the baby right after his birth. It was a right I was denied with my first child’s emergence. Baby Finn was brought to me, and my husband held him up to my face. I spoke. “Hello. I’m your mama. You’re so beautiful.” His crying immediately ceased, and my sweet new son and I grabbed hold of each other’s souls, never to let go.
I was to learn later, as I was being stitched up, that my womb had ruptured. This explained the long labour, the very long stall in transition, and the horrific pain. I was lucky to be alive, they said.
No. It wasn’t luck.
It was destiny.
Tristian, vegetarian wife to Matt, intactivist, UC supporting mama to my little earth-child-in-training, Ginny (4), and my sweet boy, Finnian (2). Due mid-July with our third little one!
Sorry things did not quite go as planned. But it is wonderful that you now have your little boy to hold!
they are placed there for the amusement of those who like to point them out.
your story is so beautiful written, and I am glad you are ok.
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Mommy to Kai 2/03, Caden 1/08, Kara 10/09, 3/21/13, &
Cole 2/3/14 ♡ Happily unmarried to Papa since 2002 ♡
~We may not have it all together ♥ but together we have it all~