Jacqui did a session two days before I went into labour with lots of cupping and extra moxa. After I left, the strangest feeling came over me. I knew that this was the beginning of labour and I needed to go home, rest and nest!
The next evening, with mild contractions I ventured out to the Aboriginal Tea Tree Lakes with my partner Don und my good friend Liz... the same place that I had gone to 11 years ago in labour with my first son at 34 weeks pregnant . I needed to be in the soothing energy of those red still waters and beneath the whisper of trees, the smell of ocean drifting from afar and the sands of time beneath my feet, connecting me to Earth Mother. I leant against the tea trees for support and nourishment, feeling the softness of bark on my palms and rotated my hips gently with each contraction, feeling my baby, talking to it quietly. Don took pictures of me as Liz watched with that serene smile of knowing, no words. just presence. We played at the lake as the sun set and birds fluttered. Ahhh natural birth, in nature!
Coming home, Liz and I did a thorough clean of the house and the words of Sheila Kitzinger echoed "Women nest at home then go to a hospital and have their baby!'" Never made sense to me either!!
That night I lay in bed feeling my uterus contract through my quiet slumber. Here I was at it again, about to have this amazing life-affirming experience, in my own bed, my own home ... with an awareness like never before!
I rose at 6:30am and thought “Yes this it it. Today is the day!"
Don and I looked at each other. "It's happening Don." I said. "Are you sure?" “Yes!" We hugged as I called Jayne, my midwife. She arrived around 7:30am. Such a blessing, such an Angel Mother to me, so calm and joyous. I rang my photographer Katerina and friend Liz.
Everyone arrived - my circle of comfort and support, my beautiful sisters. The day was still, no wind, overcast but fine. "The BEST conditions for birthing!" I thought. ''God has covered me with a fine silk-like protection, but given me enough light to guide my way."
The cows roamed the paddock as I roamed the garden. Contractions came and went. On the birth ball with pelvis wide I rocked and rolled, danced and stretched, relaxing into this sacred birthing. Don went about fixing the pool and organising the house, I walked around, smiling and laughing as we spoke about how we all felt immersed in this energy of birthing, this blessed moment of Life. It all felt normal, peaceful.
I walked outside into the garden and called Don to be with me. I leant against his strong chest and quietly moaned , opening my legs into a wide stance, circling and opening my pelvis, connecting with my man. We walked down the tree-lined road outside my house, arm in arm, connected as my body began to feel more surrendered, baby and I exchanging our essences through the pulsation of the chord. Baby spoke to me of timeless wisdom, teaching me to let go, be brave and strong. "I am giving birth" I thought, “How lucky I am!" I realised that a great pouring of love was beaming out of me. I took Don’s hand as we walked further into our garden, and then came that less flattering but essential need to relieve my bowels, straight into a bucket in the garden for all to see. That moment spoke to me: “Inhibition is not a requirement of birthing. Let it all go Maha, let it all goooo", I whispered to myself!
I came inside the house and instinctively I needed to be in a cosy darker space, so I went into my bedroom and played some lovely Donna Delroy chants. As some bigger contractions melted through me, I danced, softening into my pelvis. Liz came into the room and danced by my side. Together we were in harmony, no judgment, no words, an unspoken symphony ......
And so the labour progressed. Don filled the pool, Jayne sat quietly by, Katerina danced around the scene taking pictures, and beautiful Liz flowed with gentle ease- everyone calm, relaxed. Inside and outside the house, I just went wherever my body took me.
Early afternoon came and I was ready to get in and out of the pool for pain relief. I had a moment where a strong pain gripped my right side. I crouched in the water and moved rocking from side to side, breathing through the cramp-like pain. It passed. I got out of the water and wanted to lay on the couch. I had hardly lain on my side when I had to get up again and dance through another strong contraction. I remember this moment, that desire for everything to stop, for mother to have rest but body saying no!
I returned to the water and an overwhelming emotional anxiety arose, taking me by surprise, sweeping through my body. A childhood trauma connected to my father and men in my life ... and the women, my mother. Don's mother, the women that we had both been taken from as babies. It was overwhelming. The sadness and grief welled up in me, and I knew it was an important bridge that I needed to cross. My contractions stopped as I burst into tears deep heart-wrenching sobs, and Don came and sat beside me and just placed his hand on my shoulder, his head very close to mine. Katerina brought some candles and pictures of our mothers and my sons, and placed them beside me. I looked deeply into each photo and cried and cried, feeling the depth of the loss of our mothers, and the gratefulness of my own chancee to have my beautiful boys and now another gift. another baby, to embreace my sorrows and give me joy. Ahhhh birth! The magnificent clearing, the space for emotional allowance, the learnings, the spiritual awakenings...
And as the feeling had consumed me and beckoned me to face my fears and my sadness, the moment changed, as energy shifted and I felt strong again to keep on going. The waves parted and the passage was clear. No turning back, this baby was coming!
I felt a huge pressure deep down in my pelvis. I let out guttural sighs. The sensation was intense and I kept changing positions in the water to work into the pain. “My body knows what to do” I thought, “You can do this Maha” I repeated. “Surrender” I whispered through my out breath. The water bag was bulging and Jayne broke my waters at my request - the pressure was too much, logic was nowhere to be found in this raw state of birth.
I could feel baby was well and truly right down, and I moaned, breathed, spiralled and rocked in the water. Before long Don was in the pool with me. Immediatly I was drawn to lean against him, and there I stayed through second stage. The baby was coming fast and it was sooo intense. I screamed through the contractions, trying to bring my voice down onto my perineum as baby’s head began to push and stretch me, and I remembered my first son being the same, my primal sounds as though excavated from the bowels of Mother Earth. I focused on my breath through the lull and into the bite-bearing down was my hardest moment.
I yelled at Jayne “Get it out!” She calmly told me “You are doing it, baby is coming!” I wanted it out now!!! I felt that knowing again - there is no turning back, both comforting and difficult a moment all rolled into one ... nowhere to hide, this IS the power of now!!
Last big, strong push through the stretching, in unison with a magnificent contraction. Out baby’s head came into the water... such relief! I waited for the next contraction, all while breathing and focusing on my breath, now my lifeline to God. I turned onto my left side to help baby throught the birth canal... and then final relief as the whole body slid into the water. I leant back into Don and before I knew it my baby was on my chest, wet and warm and slippery. “We love, we love you” I kept repeating, staring at a crunched up face and ears, little nose and solide, strong looking hands with chubby fingers.
“Oh Don. Oh Don” I cried, in a total oxytocic moment. I stroked out baby saying “There there. It’s OK, it’s OK”, my voice laced with such love... Ahhhh that primal nurturing: the staring, smelling, stroking, total unison in heart, body and soul. No words, just joy, shock, surpirse, happiness. I kept kissing baby and then did the peek - I lifted baby’s leg gently and saw... a girl!! I did a double take and placed my hand to my mouth in shock. “A girl, a girl!” Oh My God, I had wanted a girl for soo long and here she was... I couldn’t believe it. I looked at Don, we both smiled and were so genuinely happy. The birds tweeted sweetly, just outside our window... It was perfect!
We enjoyed the next hour in the warm pool with our beautiful Aminah who cried and connected and cried. And we laughed and smiled and shone as we held her, stroked her, breastfed her, loved her. I was so deeply immersed in the moment that nothing could touch me... that nectar of birth I wished every women could taste, breather and be enraptured by. No interference, just Mummy and Daddy swooning in the love... and as my next contraction came. I stood up in the pool and delivered the lotus placenta.
At 46, I felt so blessed to have once again been given this opportunity of a lifetime. I could do anything, anywhere, at any time! I love yo Aminah Anne...
Published on 15/07/13
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Congratulations on your beautiful daughter Aminah, welcome to the world little girl. I really enjoyed reading her birth story, it brought me back to my home birth practice in Dublin with many fond memories of all the wonderful parents and babies I assisted. Im also so grateful for the wonderful support Jayne gave me almost 9 years ago when I had my first son Luke in Ireland, an angel she is. Wishing you many blessings, happiness and good health for the future. Mary