My visceral desire for a child had consumed me for months leading up to my pregnancy.
I intuitively knew that the process of growing and birthing a life would be a powerful healing experience for me– I had read Ina May’s Spiritual Midwifery when I was in University and I hung on every word, wanting that initiation for myself. I was mesmerized by the experience of these women, bringing life into the world.
The day I found out I was pregnant, I was thrilled – I knew my life was going to be forever changed. However, I had no idea just how profoundly the experience of giving birth to my daughter would change me.
I spent my pregnancy practicing yoga, visualizing a healthy home birth, rubbing my belly and talking to Clara, and napping as much as possible.
I also spent my pregnancy neurotically worried about the health of the baby I carried… “what if-ing” was my pass time as I intently read every book about birth and babies that I could get my hands on.
As Clara’s birthday approached, we moved into a new community and a new home and prepared my nest. My husband, an Air Force officer, deployed for my third trimester, and we were unsure whether he would be able to attend the birth at all. I settled into a routine of long walks, online scrabble games with my husband, midwife appointments, yoga, and lots of funny movies. It was truly a time of nesting – one of the only times in my life I let myself do exactly what I wanted and rested as much as possible.
My husband and I laid out our birth plans — the people who were to be present for a few weeks before my due date and also for a few weeks after. At the last moment, my husband was released from duty to come home for about a week around my due-date. I was convinced Clara would arrive on time as I confidently gave him dates to travel.
A friend of ours was visiting when my husband arrived home and she was scheduled to leave about a week after my due date, with my parents arriving 2 days after her departure. When we said goodbye to her at the airport, it was with a heavy heart. My husband was set to return to deployment two days later – the day my parents arrived. But when would the baby arrive? Would Erick be there? Would I have to go to a hospital and be induced? The uncertainty hung heavy in the air as Erick requested a few extra days of leave.
The one night that my husband and I had to ourselves between guests, we had a meeting with the midwife to discuss our options. I had my heart set on a home birth and didn’t want to induce labor at the local hospital, since I had no relationship with a local GYN. The midwife stripped my membranes for the third time and left us to eat dinner.
As we ate Indian food, my husband said, “I hope Clara doesn’t arrive tonight — I really need a good night’s sleep.” I was incredulous that he would say such a thing given our time constraints and her over-due-ness. I was so ready to have this baby. And I especially wanted the baby to arrive while he was home.
We went to bed early that night. I was woken up by what I *thought* were contractions. I went into the guest bathroom with the clock to time the waves of pressure that were periodically coming over me. I hung out on the toilet (a GREAT laboring spot), watching the clock for about 2 hours, until I was SURE I was in labor. The contractions were coming steady at 2 minutes apart. I was SO excited as I woke Erick up to tell him to call the midwife….
My midwife was NOT convinced. I insisted that I was in labor and that I thought she should come and she reluctantly agreed, even though she has seen me a mere 5 hours before. She arrived with her assistant about an hour later, checked me and confirmed I was in labor. I was 4cm dialated and she recommended that everyone lie down and get some rest.
My labor passed in that way. The midwives slept downstairs and I slept in between contractions. I was curled up with my husband and, when a contraction would wake me, I would simply breath deeply and softly chant “open” on the exhale.
Around 4:30 in the morning, the intensity really increased and the contractions were coming quickly and they were much more painful. I remember thinking to myself, “If this isn’t transition, I’m fucked.” The midwife came up to check on me, having heard the increased intensity of my sounds. As she checked me, she announced (surprised), “You are at 10! It’s time to push!” I had only been in labor for nine hours.
I remember feeling so excited that I would be meeting my daughter within an hour or so.
My birth tub was set up in Clara’s nursery and I eased myself into the hot water to push. I could NOT get comfortable. Erick got in with me and it was so slippery, we weren’t in there long. I tried pushing in the tub for a while and nothing seemed to be happening. When my midwife checked me again, she told me that I had developed a cervical lip and I was going to have to push past it.
Little did I know I would develop a cervical lip three more times during my five hours of pushing.
I have vivid flashes of memory from pushing: going from one place in the house to another: squatting on the bed, lying on the bed (YUCK), standing up, leaning on my desk, getting back into the birthing pool… at some point another midwife arrived with a TENS unit as I elevated my hips and tried to lift Clara out of my pelvis to get her into a different position. At one point, in the birth pool, I was alone with the midwife assistant and I told her I thought it was time to go to the hospital, that I couldn’t do it.
She asked for 30 more minutes of effort.
Two hours later, as the sun started streaming through the windows of our home, Clara’s heart rate started decelerating during contractions. It had been four and a half hours of pushing and the midwives gave it to me straight. Get this baby out of your body, or we must transfer to the hospital.
With every ounce of strength and courage that I could bring to bear, I sat down on a birthing stool and pushed like I have never, ever pushed before. My husband held my hands as he sat behind me, silently bearing witness to that very thin veil between life and death.
I reached down between my legs and felt the soft, downy head of my little girl. With one last push, and a little tug from the midwife, Clara rested in my arms. Perfectly peaceful, she gazed up at Erick and I without crying, without fuss, she looked at me like she knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that we would meet in that moment.
The birth of my daughter showed me a well of strength and love that I did not know existed in me. My age old belief that somehow my female-ness was bad and/or flawed was dissolved. At that sacred intersection between pregnancy and birth, I felt my connection to the divine source.
Over the last six years since Clara was born, my fierce love for my daughter and the memory of her birth has fanned the flame of my desire to continue revealing my true, divine nature — knowing that I am, in fact, a creator of my life. That I can give birth to ANYTHING on the physical realm — my strength and ability is limitless when it is based in authenticity and love.
Nona Jordan, the Business Yogini