I wanted to write this all down before it got away from me,
before the quickly passing days with this new special soul
almost eclipse his arrival...
they say you never really understand how deep love can go until you have a child - I see the tender truth of those words with a just-beginning clarity.
It was 10:15 PM on February 29th when my water broke: we had said goodnight to Anthony's parents who had driven 12 hours in a feverish attempt to be close. They intended to be there for my morning Dr.'s appointment in case the pre-eclampsia turned out to be a reality and I was induced.
A short pop and a few trickles later, we called them to announce we were heading to the hospital ourselves, right now! My first thought when I felt the oddity of a ruptured bag of waters was, "No!!! Not tonight, I cannot do anything well on little sleep!"
I took a shower in our home and shook like a leaf, not sure what I was doing, not sure what this night would yield
not even sure of my own birthing strengths that I had been working to foster through hypnobirthing cds and books galore. I had spent at least an hour every day working toward the realization of a natural, quiet birth.
In the car, dressed in my green bee pajama pants we listened to Rufus Wainwright sing "Across the Universe" and I felt the first small contractions begin, close together and faint.
This baby, so loved for so long was finally going to be in my arms, in our lives!!
Standing up from the car to enter the hospital, my water truly broke (holy moley!!!)
and we were wheeled up to labor and delivery to settle in for a long night.
I was hooked to a monitor, given an iv drip of penicillin for strep B
and dressed up in a hospital gown: I never felt the letdown from these medical restrictions that I feared might be the case, instead I concentrated on the task at hand and breathed slowly and lovingly through the ever increasing surges
a large surf-worthy wave with me and Baby O at its crest
driven by breathing and intention.
The hours passed quickly and my surges took on a sharp quality that rendered my surfing visualization too tidy, too small. The pretty wave became a tsunami, and I strapped the baby to my back and took in breath like a superhero might, so great a sensation I had to overcome as my labor progressed.
Even if the nurse was talking to me
(or there was banter among our amazing midwife Sandy
or Elika, our doula
and my beloved husband, Schmilly)
everyone would get reverentially quiet when I would begin a contraction
and I felt so respected, so encouraged by this honoring
that it nearly brought me to tears - the goal had become shared and bonds formed:
we were all committed to the work.
At around 3:30 AM the sensations took on a sharpness I had never imagined experiencing
and at the height of each contraction Orion's heart rate would drop to below an acceptable point.
The little birthing room got concerned.
My visualization became me on a bike, picking up Orion and whisking him uphill sharply and away from danger with the words, "Come on, Baby - you're coming with me."
For lack of a better phrase, shit was getting real.
I have to say this because it bears expressing: I decided to start the process
of learning about a quiet, peaceful birth because I wanted to bring Orion into this world as gently as possible:
here he had languished in the softest peace for over 9 months - I wanted the transition to earth
to be as loving as possible. My version of loving. This does not mean that I think any less of intense vocalizations,
or that my choice to go natural means that I frown upon any kind of intervention -
on the contrary giving birth has given me such tremendous respect for any woman
who experiences the miracle in any way:
I am astounded at the strength of opinion some have shared
that one method is better than others, that one experience is somehow elevated...
it all has a shared goal, but there are many roads to mecca
and the pain is such that I would never even BEGIN to question a woman's right to ease it
by whatever means she so chose: there were moments where I considered everything available to me!
For the last three hours of active labor I began to feel despondent, though I didn't speak of it:
lack of sleep and the intense athletic work
with no end in sight made me feel discouraged: I had still not yet been measured -
we took a gamble and called Sandy in to find out how far along I was:
The sun began to rise outside the window, a pale orange and grey sky
full of clouds and the worn hills of greening grasses
lit up like they too were waiting for this new life.
Here is your dawn!
My husband was my lifeline and my heart through all of this.
I was not a woman who wanted to be touched: I labored at the edge of the bed, sitting up as one would do on any given morning putting on shoes or earrings. I did not find comfort in changing positions
or walking, I moaned low and moved my body in ellipses, edging back and toward the pain.
With each contraction Anthony loved me, talked me up the hill by encouraging
my choices and lauding my strength...
I heard his words like a lighthouse might be seen by a sailor on stormy seas.
Hard transition and its shaky fierceness gave way
and with a team of four amazing souls around me I bore down
and moved Orion out to our wonder very slowly.
The stethoscope lost his heartbeat for about sixty seconds close to his birth
and we all held our breaths to hear that gorgeous tiny steam train sound....
Nurse Marilyn moved the sensor around and around with no trace of our tiny beloved
until suddenly she found a new angle and he was
And then the crowning and the shoulders and the fierce
cry of a beautiful boy...
my eyes had been closed through every push
Anthony had caught the babe
and handed him to my open arms
where with my eyes wide to daylight I found myself
feeling like a Liliputian handed the biggest baby I could have ever imagined:
why I thought he'd be a tiny doll is beyond me!
"Oh, my son!!!!" I cried out loud from my gut like a verbal reflex after my arms enfolded him
greedy and protective all at once.
Orion was the color of Russian purple chalcedony and marble
slippery and dense
and as I held him he pinked and calmed.
In those unreal moments every second of time since June 26th, 2011 made perfect
and complete sense.
As I write these words, Orion is tucked into my right arm
where he will stay for hours, nursing and resting as his namesake constellation moves across the night sky.
Such are the sleepless nights of newborn life
and I a blithe participant along with Anthony and wee O.