BIRTH STORY PART 3 – Water, Home, Love

Mary arrived around 4:30 pm (I think?) and confirmed that indeed the fluid was amniotic fluid. She then began to time my contractions and shortly thereafter called Marinah – I was in active labor and it felt great. It was at this time that “birth time” started to set in for me, meaning much of what occurred after this point is still hazy in my memory, as my body’s natural endorphins kicked in to help me out. Lucky for me, I have photos and supporters (i.e. Jason, the birth team, my family and friends) to fill in the details.
I spent a majority of my labor in the birthing tub, with Jason behind me to support me. During contractions, I leaned on the edge of the booth, floated on my back, and relaxed in Jason’s arms. The warmth of the water helped me to remain calm and float my way through the rushes, which I can only describe as powerful courses of energy that flowed through my body…I never experienced a moment of pain, although there were times when I began to get tired. I had to remind myself to take them one at a time and to focus…to breathe. To surrender. Looking deep into Jason’s eyes, as he matched my moaning and sighing, was an experience more surreal, deep, and intimate than I could ever capture with words. Jason later commented that he had never felt more close to
me than during these times…the pure, stripped-down love he gave to me that day will carry us through the rest of our married days and reminds me again that we humans are capable of SO much love. Some things surprised me about the birth process, like the fact that I vomited about 4-5 times! The first time this happened, I remember thinking to myself that I must be in transition and that the baby would soon be here. We laughed about how “good I was at throwing up”, and the birth team got good at interpreting my “here it comes” hand signals, and were ready with a bucket. As we sat in the birthing tub, I recall that we would have brief conversations that would be interrupted with a contraction. I would hold my finger up as if to say “hang on”, and work with Jason through each contraction. When finished, I would release a cleansing breath and go back into the conversation. Another thing that surprised me was how instinctively and naturally I vocalized numerous sounds through the rushes. It all felt so right at the time – whether I moaned, groaned, breathed, signed, or even vocalized words. At some point, Marinah suggested I focus on opening up and letting our baby “down”. As my next contraction came, I vocalized the phrases “down, baby, down” while Jason and the birth team joined in. Having others match my sounds and breathing made all the difference in the world. I think that many women must be terrified of sounding crazy or primitive and therefore hold back many things that seem natural to them. However, having Jason and the birth team join in with me made me feel completely comfortable and actually allowed me to concentrate fully. It was so unbelievable! With the guidance and suggestions of my birth team, I labored in many different positions – hands and knees, on my side, standing up, slow-dancing with Jason, and floating in water. I cannot imagine being anywhere else but home – free to be me, free to be one with our baby, free to do anything I pleased to manage the incredible, overwhelming, loving, miraculous experience of childbirth.
Throughout labor, our birthing team continued to check my vitals (i.e. blood pressure, listen to the baby’s heartbeat, etc). They even made sure I went to the bathroom often. One of the members of the birth team reminded me that I could go pee in the tub if I wanted to. Let’s just say I took them up on the offer! I am sure they were timing contractions as well; however, I was not aware of it and never asked about my progress. I could tell by the way my body felt, by the way my concentration and thoughts changed that I was progressing through the stages of childbirth normally. I was so anxious and ready. While so much of the experience remains a blur to me, what made such an impact was the amount of support and caring I received – but it all felt “behind the scenes”. I was constantly aware that someone was holding my hand, or stroking my hair, or whispering phrases of encouragement like “perfect, Leigh, that was perfect…you are doing such a great job…” However, I wasn’t sure who it was, or where they were in that space of time. It truly was as if I was alone, but surrounded. I know that women have described this sensation and I now know exactly what they mean. I can only describe it as feeling as though I was in some sort of “trance” – keenly aware on one hand, yet so far away in another dimension on the other hand. One thing I was sure of is that Jason never left my side. Looking back, I don’t know how he did it. I can only describe it as though he felt like an extension of me. Whatever I chose to do, he followed instinctively. He never doubted, or asked questions – he flowed with me. In fact, I don’t recall a single thing he may have said to me, but his love pierced my very soul the entire time. He didn’t have to say anything – I knew he was there. It must have been a marathon for him!
Another lovely memory is that of our dog JP – he truly was a part of our childbirth experience. He would nudge his chin onto the edge of the birthing tub and stare right into my eyes. He waited and watched and protected. If JP was lying on the floor, the birth team would simply step right over him – they respected the fact that our furry dog was a just a much a member of our family than anyone. I loved having him there, and remember smiling at him and giving him quick kisses.
As the evening dwindled on, Marinah’s wisdom about childbirth continued to show. At one point, she asked that I stand up in the birthing tub for 2 contractions. She later said it was at this point that she began to feel something just wasn’t quite “right”. She determined that if I stood up in the birthing tub the contractions should be very powerful. However, they weren’t. I hugged Jason and breathed through them easily. Next, she asked if I would sit on the toilet for two contractions. I did it semi-reluctantly, as it wasn’t the most comfortable position. Finally, we moved into the bedroom where I layed on my side, and supported myself with pillows on hands and knees. I know that at some point in the night, I began to become very introverted, not speaking much. I had always felt like I would be that way during labor. I guess it was my way of handling the emotions and feelings and sensations of this experience. Another surprise for me was that during some of the contractions amniotic fluid would gush out. While on the couch, this happened for this first time. Shocked, I said to Jason “I’m sorry”. He calmly said “Honey, don’t worry, this is why we have leather!” It happened again while I was on the bed – miraculously, it seemed that there were always towels under me!


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