Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.
Expecting our third child any day, I went into labor the afternoon of July 27th. Almost 12 hours of labor later, everything came to a stop. Hourly contractions would bring me to my knees the entire weekend and I was starting to lose all trust that I had in my body and the birthing process. On the night of July 30th at 10:30 pm, my water broke in bed. This is Part 2 of Nathalia's Birth Story.
After my water broke I reached over and grabbed my phone and sent texts to my friends and our photographer, called my mother, and then called the midwife’s assistant. The plan was to give her a call and she would come over and call the Midwife when it was getting close to time for me to push. She asked me on the phone “Do you feel the urge to push?”. I laughed. Of course not! I was only 4 cm. That was silly to think I would be ready to push out a baby.
10 minutes later, I was ripping off my underwear and jumping into my birth pool that was barely 3 inches full of water yelling “I’m pushing! Oh my god! Clément! I think my body is pushing!”. I was shaking and scared. This was all happening way too fast. I felt lost. I didn’t know what to do or what to think and the start of every contraction made me curse like a sailor because I dreaded feeling my body pushing without me doing anything. I felt like I wasn’t in control and it was maddening. In an attempt to calm me down Clement sat by the side of the pool and suggested that we talk about boys names. The look I gave him made it pretty clear that now was not the time to debate baby names. We had 9 months to do that!
Our birth photographer arrived first since she lived right up the street from us. I feared that she would have to help us deliver this baby because it was progressing faster than expected. She sat on our bed and captured contractions, tears, and reassuring kisses between Clement and I . I’m so very grateful for her being there. We were childhood friends, and now she was here to share in this beautiful moment with us. A moment that was fleeting and needed to be captured and celebrated over and over.
I knew I had to work with my body if this was going to happen in a way that I wanted, peacefully. I looked up at my prayer flags hanging above my birth altar and saw the words “trust” and “surrender”. I had to release all control over this situation and trust that my body knew what it was doing and that it was working beautifully with my baby. I had to surrender to each contraction and let my body push. My fear was in the unknown. Not knowing what was happening inside of me. I reached inside and felt my baby’s head. I kept my hand there through every contraction, feeling my body open up, every muscle contracting and pushing my baby further down without me needing to do a single thing. Everything went from being scary to absolutely beautiful. My body was experiencing all of this, and I was touching my baby, feeling them inch closer to being in my arms.
The assistant arrived and quickly checked the baby’s heart beat. I felt a sense of relief when I heard the pitter patter of a strong little heartbeat. This was all happening so fast that I was unsure if baby was ok because I hadn’t felt the baby kick or move, other than moving down the birth canal. I told the assistant that I was pushing and that the baby was coming. She called the Midwife, but we both knew that this baby was coming now and that she was going to have to do this on her own…for the first time.
I helped to stretch my perineum open and continued to feel baby come further down until they were crowning. I was trying hard to just trust this process and let my body do the pushing on its own time. I had wanted Clement to catch the baby, but when he got back there and I felt his hands on me ready to deliver, I panicked. I wanted to do this. I needed him back up at my face, coaching me, kissing me. I needed to feel this baby come all the way out into my hands.
Before the next contraction the assistant suggested taking it easy, and helping the baby come out slowly. I wasn’t in control of the pushing, and I wasn’t really sure how to begin controlling it. I asked her if the baby was coming. She told me the baby was right on my perineum, ready to come out, and that we were going to take this slowly. All I heard was “ready to come out”, and with that, I gathered all my energy and with the next contraction I pushed for the first time WITH my body. I felt a beautiful release rush over my entire body and the words “Antonette, reach down and get your baby”. I looked down in the water, and there was my baby! Floating up to me! What an amazing experience. I reached down and brought the baby to my chest and laid back into the pool to soak in everything. I kissed my baby’s sweet little head, checked fingers and toes, and then looked into their eyes. “She looks just like Evangelina!”, I said without even checking the gender of the baby. It took a few minutes for me to realize that I hadn’t actually checked if it was girl ,because i just knew. I moved her umbilical cord out of the way to see that she was in fact a girl…and she was perfect. I looked at Clément and smiled. We had another beautiful little girl. Another daughter! I announced her name to the room while looking into her sweet eyes as if to make her arrival official , “Her name is Nathalia Christine”. The words just flowed from me, and felt so right. Nathalia (pronounced Natalia) was suggested by my husband early in the pregnancy, and I fell in love with it, perhaps because every name he says in his French accent sounds beautiful. After researching and finding that it was also the name of a famous French feminist, I was set on the name if we had a girl. Christine is Cléments mother’s name. Family names are very sentimental to me, and I love that both girls now have our Mother’s names.
My mother arrived soon after. Knowing that she only lived 45 minutes away, and that I called her soon after my water broke, I looked over at the clock and asked what time she was born. My photographer said “11:39 pm”. Nathalia came only an hour after my water broke. I dilated from 4-10 cm in under an hour! My body worked! I was surrounded with a birth team and family and friends who trusted my body and my ability to birth on my terms, even when I did not. My body knew what it was doing, it was working at a pace that it needed to be able to bring Nathalia into this world.
An unexpected ending after 12 hours of labor that left us in suspense. Every minute and every contraction worth it. I lay here nursing Nathalia who is three weeks old today and I look into her eyes and thank her for the lesson her birth has taught me. My birthday is this week, and I sit here thinking about my mother’s birthing day and the strength and courage she passed on to me to celebrate and trust my female body. Every birth is a spiritual lesson, and Nathalia’s birth took me deeper into my journey and I hope to share these lessons with her someday the way my mother did with me.
Welcome earthside our beautiful baby girl!
Born at home into her mother’s hands
July 30th, 2012 at 11:39 pm
8 lbs 4 oz and 22 inches long