Growing up, I never once heard any woman retell the story of her birthing in a way that made me feel excited about the experience.
At worst, it sounded absolutely dehumanizing; a lot of suffering, pain and trauma.
At best, a very tedious ordeal; something to simply be endured, but not looked forward to or enjoyed in the slightest.
This is not that story.
My water released around 4:45pm while I was in the middle of my maternity photo shoot. We were in the back yard and I lumbered up from the cross legged position I had been in when I felt a warm trickle of fluid escape from between my legs. I reached down to investigate. “I think my waters just released!” I said, smiling. Jenn clicked away, capturing the moment. Jenn is my photographer and also my friend. We get shots of the little river running down my leg. “Do you want to go tell Art?” she asks. I said: “Nah, let’s get some more pics first.” We’d been postponing this photo shoot forever and I tend to labor pretty quickly. I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to get pictures of me pregnant with this baby. I felt soft, big, juicy, curvy.
I’m giddy, knowing I’ll be going on another birthing journey sometime soon. I can’t believe I’m finally going to meet this baby. We didn’t know the sex and hadn’t even settled on a name yet. I wanted to sit with my sweet secret and tell Art a bit later.
After our photo shoot we go inside and I tell Art the good news. He looks so happy, but also stunned. Deer in the headlights. His face is a mixture of fear and pure joy that is amusing and endearing. I ask Jenn if she can get some pics of Me, Art and Austin. I figured it’d be cool to document our little fam before it expands into a party of four!
9PM: It’s been 4 hours since my waters released and still no surges, AKA contractions. The question enters my mind: What if labor doesn’t start and I have to be transferred to the hospital? My dream birth was to have this baby at home, in the water. I start walking up and down the stairs, walking into every bedroom and doing lunges on every bed, squatting, etc. I’ve got one foot up on the bed and Art asks me why I’m doing Captain Morgans pose. “No way am I going to the fucking hospital”, I tell him. I need contractions to start. Austin, my first son, was born in the water at a free standing birth center. It was a sweet, quick, unmedicated water birth. I really wanted to do it like that again.
11:45pm: Epic masterbation sesh, because Art is asleep upstairs. I get myself off as many times as I can. My belly gets hard as a rock when I come. Orgasms release oxytocin that help get labor started and I need to relax, any way. I'm downstairs where the birth pool is. Light my candles. Make my alter. Time to get my head right. I rub my belly with sweet almond oil mixed with a few drops of frankincense and tell baby: you are welcome, you are wanted, you are deeply loved. It’s safe out here. You can come join us anytime. We can't wait to meet you. Come on out, now. I’d really like you to be born at home, my love. Thank you.
I then make a conscious decision to release any expectation of how I want this birth proceed and just surrender to however my baby wants to come. Just let it all go. I’m at peace and trust that the divine plan will unfold as it should. My body and mind relax. "Ah, fuck it", I whisper to myself. I put on my headphones and fall asleep listening to the HypnoBirthing Rainbow Relaxation and Birthing Affirmations meditations.
4am: I wake up to pee, hydrate. Baby is moving, all is well. Constant low back ache. Which is a good sign and means progress but might also mean baby is posterior. Oh well. I go back to sleep.
7am: Art comes downstairs. Crawls in bed beside me. Spoons me. Puts his arms around me. I love his big, warm body close to mine. I love this man and our baby. Surges start immediately. YESSS!! Oxytocin is a helluva drug. The journey begins so I call to ask Jenn and my Midwife, Hope to come over. Labor starts like a hurricane. I love storms though, so it's all good. Jenn arrives first and then Hope gets there around 8:30am.
Art is filling up the birth pool. I’m naked on hands and knees beside the pool and Jenn rubs my back. “Harder’, I say. She gets some massage oil, digs into my sacrum and lower back with her thumbs. “Ahhh yessss, thank you” I moan. Eyes closed, I do the birth groan, deep and low.
I’m in the birthing pool. Submerged in hot water, I release, sink down, melt. The warmth of the water, it turns the volume down on the sensations real nice. So, so good. Art is bringing hot water off the stove and pouring it in. Lawd, yessss.
Eyes closed, a huge wave of energy rolls forth coming from some other place. It consumes me totally. Nothing exists except this wave and I’m just along for the ride. It wasn’t a sensation that hurt, just a BIG feeling, a powerful thing in my center, pulling me down like gravity... truly, labor surges can’t be compared to anything else, because they don’t feel similar to anything else. They only feel like labor surges. The powerful energy comes again, this time with a roar that shatters all the masks I’ve worn, until I remember who I am. I am back to myself. What a gift to be truly present in a moment. I can't think of anything else, just the birth sensations. I am at the center of the center of myself. Perfect focus. Fully present in my own body, filling space. Only breath, only me, experiencing this sensation. Birth brain is primal animal brain. Lizard brain. We so rarely get to be this Free and Wild.
I put my middle finger inside me to feel where baby is. I feel a head with the very tip of my finger. “Down and out” I tell baby. “ I tell my pussy “open” and command uterus: “soft”. I have the sensation of my uterus being hard as steel during the surges, I don't dig it so much, so I visualize all my uterus being composed of these soft, blue, stretchy satin ribbons. I see in my mind's eye the ribbons opening, unraveling, releasing my baby. It helps so much. I found my magic. I feel softer and more comfortable. I choose and create every moment of my reality. I choose to have a body that does whatever I tell it to. Every cell, muscle, hormone responds to my direction.
I try to fully, deeply rest and melt into the space between each surge and take a little nap. And that’s what I do: roar, rest. Roar, rest. Art is there, squatting with me, but outside the tub. We’re face to face but i still can’t open my eyes. Birth is big, heavy magic.
I’ve gone into the void. I am suddenly just so grateful for everything and tell Art “I love you”. I tell my midwife and doula: thank you for being here. They are the perfect birth team; quiet and lovingly present, unobtrusive, holding space. Letting me navigate. Trusting me. The perfect birthing companions.
I’m squatting in my big tub of warm water. Frog pose. Eyes closed. The buoyancy and warmth of the water are so comforting. My hips, knees, pelvis and yoni are so wide open. I feel the moment of completion; as cervix and lower uterine segment totally disappear, I suddenly experience the sensation of being completely and totally open; my pussy is HUGE. Everything about birth is just so interesting. It’s a series of singular, profoundly interesting sensations. My cunt is cosmic, a super nova. My asshole is turning inside out. The vortex is open. I can feel him moving down. Powerful surges.
My yoni blooms wider open still and now his head is crowning. The pressure and the tightness; I relax into it, accept it. Surrender = best course of action. I stroke his head. My sweet baby. The powers are what’s bringing him down, not me. The pushing is involuntary, spontaneous. I’ve been waiting my whole life for this. I’ve been looking forward to this since I gave birth to Austin. I’ve been looking forward to this since before I was born. The powers come again and now the head is fully out and there’s a sensation of relief. Our baby is in between two worlds.
Shoulders emerge. I am so wide open. The body of my baby just slides out into the world, into Papa’s big, gentle hands.
“It’s a boy!” Art says. I look over my shoulder to see because I’m still on hands and knees. I see Art holding our baby. Baby cries out, reaches out.
One of the most beautiful things in the world is the face of your lover when he sees his first born.
NOTE: “Stargazer” is a term to describe a baby was is born facing up, or occiput posterior. Also called “sunny side up” or “OP”.