I have heard many a time how “brave” it is to have a child at home. Well I feel the brave women are the one’s who go to the hospital and put things out of their hands. Having no exams, monitors or interruptions while laboring and being in our home with my family and chosen support team was the only way for us to do this. I was repeatedly reassured and lovingly supported while I listened to and followed my body and Oisin’s cues as to when and how to do this. Not only was I able to feel the power of giving birth again but I shared that experience of birth being natural with my daughter and my son began life innately knowing that he can figure it out and do it all on his own. Welcome to our family Oisin Francisco, here is your birth story.
Orgasmic birth, you bet! Just not the way I pictured it. This pregnancy began and ended with the same act of love. Surprisingly, after this one there was no rest as when I got up to go to the bathroom I felt something amiss and by the time I had reached the bedroom door I was experiencing my first surge. I bent over and took a few deep breaths and made my way to the toilet quickly in case anything else was going to happen (with Caoilinn my water broke first thing, putting us on the clock, then leaking for 20 hours) a bit pink but just a regular pee. Whew! I went to the kitchen and got a glass of water and headed back to bed but was interrupted in the threshold by another surge. This one a bit stronger. Meanwhile, Mr. Connector told me that the surges were about 5 minutes apart. Time to get up! What to do?
We had discussed getting into a relaxed state from the beginning instead of running around “getting ready and doing things” especially since this was to be a homebirth. I was assisted by Mr. Connector; midwife extraordinaire, Shannon, her second Pearl and super star doula/yoga instructor Britt… and cheering section Caoilinn Meadow. Mr. Connector got out of bed, smiling and telling me how awesome I was going to be and asking what he could do to relax me. We had a list of comfort measures from out prenatal partners workshop and he looked it over while I headed back to the bathroom. I felt a bit concerned at the speed of things as I was nauseous, pooping up a storm, legs shaking and having surges that were consistently under 6 minutes, all signs that I was in the later stages of birth. You can hope for a speedy birth but I did not want to believe and be let down when things dragged on or I was not progressing as fast as I wanted to be. Mr. Connector rubbed my back and kissed me as I bent over the arm of the couch and took some relaxing breaths. The steady pressure along both sides of my spine and his reassuring words were doing the trick. It had been about a half hour (5 or so surges) and they were not letting up so we called Shannon, our midwife, and told her it was on. She asked me to tell her what was happening and wanted to listen to a surge. She explained to me that sex/orgasm stimulated the body into labor or sometimes practice labor so we should relax, monitor and call back in 30 minutes. This would also be the time to call our doula, Britt if we wanted immediate support. We had a laugh when I told her that I was not looking to “start” anything just looking to get some sleep. Meanwhile, Mr. Connector had begun to fill the birthing tub and ran out of hot water, great. I figured that it was a good time to get in the shower and practice getting into a relaxed state. There I was brought to my hands and knees, on the floor of out bathtub, thinking why have I chosen to do this natural again when this could be the beginning of another 15 hour labor, including 3 hours of pushing? Did I mention that it was 2:30 in the morning and I had not slept yet and we had a 2-year-old sleeping in her room that could wake at any moment? Back to the birthing tub that was now being filled with water from the electric kettle while pots of water were heating on the stovetop- can you say old school. Mr. Connector called back Shannon and let her listen to one of my surges, now 3 am and I am instructed to get out of the bathtub so the birthing tub can resume being filled because Shannon is on her way and we need to call Britt too. Mr Connector tries to get me to call but I am in the middle of a surge that sounds convincing enough to get Britt packing up and heading our way too upon hearing it over the phone.
Out of the shower, I drink some coconut water and head to our bedroom and put on my favorite purple cotton dress that I have made sure was clean and hanging in my closet since the weekend before my guess date, I know- Fashion Slave. With a closet full of clothes at my disposal I figured I should pick out my “birthing” outfit ahead of time so I am not freaking out that something I want/need to wear is dirty. This dress makes me feel beautiful, cozy and relaxed – all good things. I had completed Oisin’s birthing mix earlier in the day, while having a dance party with Caoilinn in the living room, and started that up. Shannon would later remind me that I told her when that when I was done with the playlist I could have the baby! Comfortably dressed, music playing I set about lighting all of the candles set about in the bedroom and lounge. For my mama shower all the ladies had adorned candles with wishes for Oisin & me and as I read and lit each one I felt relaxed, loved and supported. On the bed I laboured, rolling from the top of 2 stacked yoga bolsters onto a soft body pillow through each surge as they rolled trough my body. I had a pretty good rhythm going, rest my upper body on the bolster and as the intensity grew straighten my arms, arch my back all the while slowly blowing and moaning into the bolster then rolling down onto the body pillow and relaxing as completely as I could. Mr. Connector rubbed my feet and back, all the while whispering sweetness to me. The candlelight and music were wonderful, I remember hearing bits of The Peach Kings.
I knew that Britt, Shannon and possible Pearl were on the way and felt reassured that Mr. Connector would fill them in and that they all knew their way around and could figure out amongst themselves what they needed to go on as I did not want to play hostess, my usual role. Funny enough I remembered my manners when on the way to the bathroom I literally bumped into Britt, coming up the stairs and mumbled sorry and went about my business- this was around 3:40 am. I came out and went back to my bolster set up and Britt came in at some point and took over talking me through the waves rolling through my body. I was so glad to have invested the time in going to her prenatal yoga classes twice a week for the last trimester as my mind and body was trained to listen and relax to her voice. All the things she was saying to do were things I had practiced and heard regularly so they came easily. My body remained supple as it was reminded to relax by the hands that were laid on me – stroking, applying pressure to hands, feet or my back .
Shannon (The Shadow) slid in at around 4:20 am and when Britt told me she arrived I felt the urge to push, really my body decided that it was in eject mode and I had no control over my bottom. I reached down and felt what I thought was Oisin’s head (his bag of waters) and begged to get in the birthing tub. There was a debate going on over the temperature of the water being too hot. While filling the birthing tub , Mr Connector had only thought of my pleasure and relaxation upon entering a hot tub or steaming bath not that the water would have to accommodate a newborn, sweet man that he is! So some cooling off was happening and I was reassured, after another tearful plea of “Please, let me in the water, he is coming” that I could get in between the next surge (the push count is 2 on the bed). Everyone helped me shuffle and then climb into the tub and as the blessed water caressed my body I sank to my knees, thankful for its warmth and comfort on my aching bottom. Sighing with relief, I felt a pop, reached down and there was his head, crowning. I thought, “Oh no, I just tore something! Oh well, he will be here in a minute.” I asked Mr. Connector to grab our still sleeping 2-year-old from her bedroom next door and held out on pushing until the next surge came, all the while holding his head with my hands, just me and him. The next surge came and brought me to my hands and knees and as I let out a howl Oisin Francisco was born at 4:37 am, weighing in at 8 lbs 7 oz and 21.25 inches. Shannon caught him while Mr. Connector, Caoilinn and Britt witnessed this wonderous moment and Sleepy Sun played in the background welcoming his arrival. With a bit of negotiation, due to the short cord, he was in my arms and so it all ended and began in the same moment.
Suddenly, our baby boy was in my arms, Caoilinn was stripping down to climb in the tub with us, saying “He is so noisy, MaMa!” and Mr. Connector was kissing me. We hung out for a half hour or so in the tub relaxing and loving on Master O then made our way to our bed. I learned that the popping I felt was not tearing but his bag of water bursting at crowning. The placenta took a little more coaxing, requiring a double shot of pitocin an hour after the birth but with no other assistance. What a difference from Caoilinn’s birth which required hours of pushing and coaxing at the birthing center, a posterior presentation, and postpartum hemorrhaging requiring a quick check in at the hospital! Both natural, vaginal births with no drugs or interventions but so different. She was an uphill, cross-country tour while he was a bullet train going through my body. Four pushes, no tearing or bleeding in about 3 hours, Yeah!
The body is amazing when allowed to do its thing in its own time and space.