Birth Story 1: Gabriel Sky

The Amazing Birth Story of Gabriel Sky

…starring the incredible birthing warrior: Megan!

Friday, July 28th, around 3:00 pm.

I check the weather report while at work and notice thunderstorms forecasted for the entire weekend. I chuckle and say “Ohhh, very birthy weather. The baby will be born this weekend”. I leave work anxious and glowing.

Saturday, July 29th, around 10:30 am.

Since Kaia is napping, I decided I’d try to follow her lead and nap as well. I toss and turn. I cannot sleep. I think about birth and environmental issues and how I can possible tackle all of my life’s dreams. I get up and start to blog.

Saturday, July 29th, around 11:30 pm.

I’d been blogging for a few hours and am fighting sleep. I hear thunder and the sound of rain hitting the patio pavement. I open the sliding glass doors and am swept up in the magnitude and energy of a desert monsoon. Lighting, thunder, and gushes of rain hydrate the plants and trees. Like the power of birth, so primal and perfect. “I must go to bed”, I tell myself “The baby is coming tonight”.

Sunday, July 30th, 2:15 am.

I am awakened from a dead slumber by the phone ringing. I know right away it’s Marinah. I feel well-rested after only a few hours of sleep. I run to the phone, and hear Marinah’s gentle, soft voice. “Leigh, Megan is in labor. It’s really early labor, but I think she would love to have her doula now. The door will be open so just come on in”. I can tell she’s smiling. I excitedly blurt out how I just knew the baby was coming tonight and I’ll be there as soon as I can. Not knowing when Megan went into labor, I predict that baby will be born at 11:15 am.

I wake Jason and tell him the baby is coming, that I love him, please take care of Kaia, and I’ll call him later. He gets up to help me jumpstart my car’s dead battery (lesson #1 in the life of a soon-to-be-doula: don’t put off the jumping of a car’s dead battery!), and I race around the house gathering clothes and snacks. Thankfully, my doula bag has been packed for weeks. I slather on some make-up in a matter of moments, check myself in the mirror to see I look presentable, and then brush my teeth. About 10 minutes later, I am on the road. I am trying to shake out all my nervous energy and transfer it into the universe, while keeping calm, steady, birth energy inside my body. I run through all the books and training I’ve read, the stories I’ve heard, advice from doulas, and my own birth experience. I rehearse what I’m going to say and do upon my arrival. I try to find some music with good energy. I resort to my old standby: Ben Folds. I put the song “Gracie” on repeat and simultaneously think about Kaia and this impending birth. “You can’t fool me I saw you when you came out. You got your Mama’s taste but you got my mouth…” I call my best friend, Theresa, and leave her a message. I knew she’d want to know. I tell her “You know you are a good friend when I feel comfortable calling you at 2:30 in the morning”! I drive in the dark of night, rain on my windshield, and the company of only a few other cars on the road. I feel like I want to shout to every passing car where I am headed, what I’m about to witness. The drive is almost 45 minutes so I have lots of time to get in the zone. I briefly meditate and envision a budding flower. I’m ready.

Sunday, July 30th, 3:15 am.

I park my car and take a moment to breathe. The air and grass are wet and soft. The sky is misty and black black black. The streetlights are hazy. The porch light is on. I walk in the door, remove my shoes, and see Marinah and Connie, her apprentice. We hug and they give me a brief lowdown on Megan’s progress. She’s in the bedroom with her husband, just emerged from the birthing tub because it was too “hot”, contractions are about 4 minutes apart, getting more intense, and they’ve been kicked out of the room. Marinah says this is good, that maybe she’ll let loose alone in there and get in the place she needs to be to birth. Testing my own knowledge, I say “Ok, so 4 minutes apart probably means…that she’s more than 4 centimeters dilated, right?” Marinah smiles and concurs. Whew, one down. She then mentions that Megan is liking counter pressure on her back. A few minutes later, I’m called into the room to announce my presence. I walk in and see Megan on all fours on the bed and her husband Mitch at her side. She’s quiet and mighty, but breathing through surges. I say hello and walk over to hug Mitch. Then, it’s time to leave them to do their work. Minutes later, our conversation is punctuated with Megan’s vocalizations and moaning. We nod and smile and know this is a good thing. She is indeed opening up.

No long thereafter, I go back into the room with the birth team. Marinah suggests I stay. And then they leave me. Alone. With this birthing woman, a midwife no less, and her husband. Game on. I perceive right away that Megan is not in a place to want immediate assistance from me. I can sense that she’s going inside of herself, searching for strength. So, I sit on the bed next to where she is now lying on her side and just wait. Mitch and I share some small talk about the experience thus far. Megan went into labor about 6:00 pm the following evening. Marinah arrived around 1:30 am. We are interrupted by her surges, and I watch Mitch support her, apply counterpressure, and reassure her with his words. At some point, Mitch takes a much needed bathroom break and I see this as my opportunity to connect with Megan. Alone, we are quiet. As her next surge begins, I nervously position myself to apply the same counterpressure I had methodically watched Mitch apply. It works. I let out an inaudible sigh of relief. When Mitch returns, Megan comments “Mitch, can you rub my back. Your hands are bigger”. At first my ego is slightly crushed. Then I realize she’s so right. Of course big man hands would feel great! It doesn’t take long though for me to jump back in to relieve Mitch, who is growing weary by the minute.

Megan settles back into bed, with a mound of pillows surrounding her and supporting her. For the next few hours, she naps between surges. Sometimes they start before she wakes up; I can hear her breathing quicken. I continue counter pressure through every contraction. During them, she moans “Owwwww, Owwwww, Owwww” in a high pitch, and closes her eyes. Sometimes, her toes curl at the edge of the bed. Mitch looks exhausted but hasn’t complained once. He mentions how he’s fading fast. Within a minute after that comment, he is sound asleep facing Megan. With awe, I take in the picture of both of them, husband and wife, resting peacefully while their baby turns inside of her. I remember when Jason and I experienced this during Kaia’s labor also. It was divine.

Mitch begins snoring. Megan awakens and shoves his hand to wake him up. This goes on for about 10 minutes and I cannot help but crack a smile. At some point, she looks at him, shoves him, and says with obvious annoyance “You’re SNORING!” Now with Connie by my side, we try to stifle our giggles in the quiet of the room, which is beginning to glow with the light of the rising sun. As Megan wakes from her birthing slumber to ride another surge, Mitch jolts his head up, eyes open, and institutively grabs her hand and calming says “Good job, Megan, Breeeeaattthhe”. And when it’s over, they both fall back into dreamland. Perhaps they are dreaming of their baby.

Marinah is sitting on the floor with me as they nap. We are still and silent. We exchange glances every now and then. I am in awe, as usual, of her wisdom and love. Of her trust… for birth, for Megan, for me. For a moment, I contemplate how I got so lucky to be at this amazing birth, with these powerful women. I nod because I affirm to myself that Kaia led me here. It was part of our path. A year ago, I was recovering from a C-section, coming out of postpartum depression, and struggling every moment to cope with Kaia’s birth. I questioned what my path would be. Healing had only begun. And now, I lean against a birth tub, stare out the sliding glass window at the first light of the morning, in a home of an almost-stranger during her most vulnerable, earth-shattering, life-altering, goddess-like moments. I am humbled. I am honored. I am beginning to blossom like the flower I had envisioned hours prior in my car, like the purple lily tattooed on Megan’s sacrum that I will soon see, like her own center at this very instant.

Megan’s surges become intense and she struggles to stay with them. Labor has not been easy on Megan, but like a warrior she continues with resilience. She is tired. Her back aches terribly and she says “It’s breaking. The bones in my back are breaking!” She whimpers during some surges, saying “It’s almost morning; I’ve been doing this all night long”. She screams at times. She isn’t sure how much longer she can do it. We reassure her that she IS doing it, and she’s doing a wonderful job. Mitch echoes our encouragement with “You are so strong, Megan”. Some of Megan’s vocalizations have been high in her throat. In an effort to try and bring them lower, and subsequently aid in loosening and opening her body, Marinah begins softly moaning through Megan’s next surge. I join in. After a few seconds, Megan curtly (and quite appropriately for a women in full-on labor) says “STOP making that NOISE!” Of course, we stop. We look at each other shrug our shoulders. We should have learned our lesson, as earlier in the night when Mitch repeated “Breathe, Breathe, Breathe” Megan yelled “Shut UP!” Indeed, Megan will do it her own way, the way her body tells her. She takes its cues.

Up to this point in her labor, I haven’t been able to connect with Megan’s soul, with her eyes. They remain closed most of the time as she buries her face in pillows during surges, or covers her face with curled fingers. I want to look in her eyes and tell her she is so powerful, so able, so good, so physically full of love. I want her to know we are here, but that her instincts alone are the only things she needs, that her body is wise. I want to tell her to gently let go, sink into the pain and the pulsing and the stretching until she reaches that place of ecstasy. I want to say this. But I know it is not the right time or place. I know Megan will come there on her own accord if it’s what she needs to do. She is teaching me an important lesson in allowing birthing women their own set of rituals and rhythms and support.

Megan ends up in the bathroom, alone, and I hear her vomit. I react immediately, because I recall how, during our prenatal visit, Megan had commented “I hate vomit. I hate it when others do it, when I do it, I can’t stand it and I don’t want to deal with it.” While I know Megan has been utilizing the bathroom as her place of security, I knock on the door and crack it open to ask “Is there anything I can do?” It’s a relatively small space, with a shower. Megan is leaning over the toilet, with her long gown flowing to her calves. The door cannot even open all of the way. Megan immediately turns and sternly requests “PLEASE go away!” . I walk away and into the living room to find the birth team. Thinking she may be in transition (good news!) I advise them that she’s throwing up but she doesn’t need any help. When I return, I tell Mitch that she’s vomited and that it’s a great sign. Confused, he asks why. “It’s helping her body to open up, to help the baby down.” I instantly recall how I vomited handfuls of times during labor. I remember Marinah saying “Perfect!” every single time. When Megan emerges from the bathroom, I offer her a cool washcloth and some water.

Megan agrees to try the birthing tub and removes her cotton gown. Her golden, pregnant shape is stunning and beautiful. Her hips are wide and strong and shaped just right and I wish an artist could paint her form at this moment. I see her lily tattoo and her Pooh Bear tattoo and am relieved that I will now have reference points for counter pressure and massage. Almost instantly, some of her discomfort is relieved in the warm water of the tub. She sits on her knees, and rests her head on her arms on the padded sides of the pool. When I apply pressure now, my hands glide smoothly over the water on her skin. Megan becomes introverted again and a veil of calm finally blankets her body. It seems like an appropriate time to offer a gentle, full back massage. Nervous, I cup some warm water in my hands and let it cascade on her back. I begin sliding my open hands slowly down her spine and end on her lily tattoo, where I apply some pressure. I repeat the cycle and Megan says “Ohh, that feels good” in a soothing voice. I am pleased she is relaxed and open to being served in this way. She deserves a respite.

I enjoy the feel of my small hands on her strong back, a back that has carried her through her experiences as a doula and a midwife. A back that has supported her when she squats to catch babies, their first breathe in her hands. The back that has curved and turned to carry her growing baby for nine months. I imagine her muscles relaxing and stretching gently. She has done so much work. The rhythm of the massage calms my spirit. I close my eyes and send energy to the baby through my hands. I hope it makes it to him. Intensely introverted during labor, Megan has not directly spoken to me the entire time. However, she has been quite kind and surprises me by saying “No, thank you”, or “Please” at times. By this time I have begun to feel confident in my ability to support Megan. I sense we have connected and that she trusts me. I like this feeling. I roll with it.

By now, it’s around 6am and morning is here. Megan turns on her IPOD, which is connected to speakers, and we groove to Bob Marley and Enya. Always amazed at a birthing Mom’s keen awareness, I watch Megan finish a surge to ask “Mitch, fast forward through this song”. I look out the window and notice her cat carrying a dead bird proudly in his mouth. A gift to the soon-to-be new Mom? Megan and Mitch decide it’s time to call their family to announce she is in labor. Mitch leaves the room to make the phone call. When he returns, he proudly recounts to Megan each of their responses, his voice cracking with emotion and tears in his eyes. “Your Mom said she is so proud of you. I am too, honey, you are doing so great.” Later, Megan rests on her heels and undoes her hair bun. Her brilliant gold hair sparkles and is Rapunzel-long and curly. With her eyes closed, mouth soft and red lips closed too, she slowly twists the hair around and back up on her head. In that moment, I am awe of her grace. I haven’t seen someone look as beautiful as she. She is serene, calm, and intense. She is aware, and far off. Her face is dewy and bare and pink. For the first time, I see her as a Mother. And at once I also think “Thank GOD she did that because I would have never have known how to re-tie her bun”.

Megan works through a surge and then stops to say “I think my water just broke”. After checking out the water, Marinah determines it probably didn’t, but who knows? After a good few hours in the tub, we again encourage Megan to switch positions. She lies on the bed again, her cats and dogs periodically checking on her, rubbing against her. They know what is happening.

At some point soon thereafter, Megan agrees to let Marinah check her. Marinah advises she is a conservative 7 cm dilated and that there’s some cervix remaining. Soon, we encourage Megan to switch positions, to perhaps lie on her side. She relents, and I help her place pillows under her knees. Later, she moves her tired body and begins to wander. She begins to pace about through surges, leaning over the sink counter with Mitch to her side. She seems a bit overcome, mainly due to the overwhelming work she’s been doing now for a good twelve hours or so. I get the impression her mind is scattered, that she is desperate for a sign of hope, of progress. I know she wants to hold her baby to her skin and kiss him. Soon…soon…soon. 

Marinah again suggests Megan may want to walk outside, or get in the birthing tub, or the shower, and to just think about it. We sense she may have been feeling trapped and perhaps needed a change of scenery to get her mind off of the pain. To refocus, or perhaps not focus at all. Megan thinks the shower sounds like a good idea. Mitch follows her in the bathroom and sits on the closed toilet. The door is shuts, and we hear the steady stream of the water hitting the shower floor. We hear Mitch and Megan talking. Megan is mentioning how bad it hurts, how exhausted she is, how she just wants it to be over. Mitch reassures her and we hear the cracking of overwhelming, tired tenderness in his voice. We hear tears. He says that they will meet the baby soon, and he’s so proud of her, he’s never seen anyone stronger and more capable, and how much he loves her. It’s authentic and so very touching. We hold back tears and decide to move the pack-n-play to the living room to clear space. As Marinah and I carry it outside and around to the living room, we breathe the fresh air and joke about falling into the pool. A little humor lightens the mood. When we pass the bathroom from the exterior, we can see Megan through the full-length glass, kneeling in the shower. Outside the confines of the walls, you cannot tell she is spiraling, groaning, and breathing down a new life. The water looks like a flood of pearls. Once inside, I take a short break while they are in the shower and chomp on a Luna bar.

After about 20 minutes, Megan is done with her shower. She looks so tired, but a bit renewed. Mitch helps her tie a green towel around her body. I suggest she try walking around with Mitch and say he can support her through contractions. She agrees and together they begin to slowly walk. The birth team and I take this opportunity to let them be together. We sit on the couch and relax. Megan has changed back into her gown and we watch her and Mitch pad slowly through the halls. She leans against the walls during surges. She looks at the house with glazed over eyes, as if she is a stranger in her own home. “Good”, I think, “she is in birth time”. I chat it up with Hannah, another one of Marinah’s apprentices, who had arrived hours earlier to function as the birth photographer. Smartly, she has spent most of the time sleeping on the couch. I let the dogs outside to go potty and move back into the front room with Marinah and Connie.

I hear Megan’s moaning increase in intensity in the living room. And as if we were all one, all connected, the birth team and I move into the living room go to check on her. She is kneeling and leaning over into an overstuffed chair, face in a pillow. Mitch is sitting on a wooden chair that’s painted lime green. He rubs her back with one hand, and tiredly leans his head on his other hand which is propped up on the back of the wooden chair. His eyes droop. It seems as though any minutes his glasses will slide down off his face. I feel that something is different.

We all surround them, sitting on the floor, and watch. But no rest for the weary, Megan soon begins to ask for solid, firm back support. “Rub my baaaack” she cries through a surge. I immediately jump up and begin. “A….little…lower” or “A…little…higher”, Megan struggles to quietly and painfully request through a surge. I am used to the way she requests support now and can usually anticipate it before the words exit her mouth. She now wants vigorous rubbing over her entire back, so Mitch and I tag-team. I swirl my hands in a rotating figure eight pattern on her lower back, the symbol for infinity. I know that in this moment, indeed time is infinite… Mitch takes her upper back. It is tough to do on her gown, as the fabric gets scrunched and bundled up. She mentions she is soooo hot and I instantly take the opportunity to say “You want your gown off?” The idea is nixed and Hannah begins fanning her. “Whoever is fanning me, keep doing it. It feels soooo good!” Soon, Megan revisits having Marinah break her bag of waters and Marinah agrees. Marinah does this relatively quickly and it seems painless.

Megan’s surges begin to climb in force. They are severe and she has little time for rest in between them. She begins to scream through rushes “God-dammit! This hurrrrrttts!”. She begins to sob when surges end. She believes knives are stabbing her in the back and cries when she asks “why is this taking so long? I want it to be over”. She claims he must be posterior or her back wouldn’t be breaking. She says she knows now why women want drugs. She says she is going to die. At this moment, as her confidence wavers, so does mine. We reassure her in every way possible. Marinah nods and says “You’re right…” when Megan talks about how bad it hurts. And then, as quickly as the intensity came on, it let up a bit. Megan rests her head on the brown pillow and we wipe her forehead off and give her sips of Recharge and EmergenC. All I can think is that Megan is one tough cookie. And I am so damn proud of her.

Marinah decides to check her again to make sure she doesn’t have a swollen cervix. “What did you find?”, Megan swiftly asks. Marinah slowly explains “Well, it looks like you are still at around 8…” and is interrupted by Megan’s sob of defeat. Calmly, Marinah says her cervix is a bit swollen and there’s a lip BUT she can help her push it back. She talks about how she will work with her through contractions. What occurs next is hard for me to explain, since I’m still not savvy about midwifery and techniques. I know that it was quite invasive and that it was painful for Megan. She screamed through contractions, yelling “OWWWW, that HURTS! Marinah, you are KILLING me!” and begs Marinah to take her hands out. Marinah agrees waits and tries again. I watch Marinah’s face, intense and focused, struggling to move the lip. She almost has it but has to stop again for Megan’s sake. Finally, she manages to move it.

And then, Marinah demonstrates her amazing wisdom. As she’s still inside of Megan, she says “Ohh, I can feel a lot of hair!'”. Mitch beams and laughs. We all laugh. What a reassurance that the end is near and that their precious son will be here soon. I continue vigorous massage and now her gown has been moved up over her hips. I’m glad to once again have skin to skin contact as I massage. However the friction makes it difficult to move as quickly as Megan prefers. I’m getting a bit frustrated and Connie must notice. She squirts some apricot baby oil on my hands and I am so grateful. Again my hands glide smoothly over her back, and I watch the oil sink into her glowing skin. It is around 9:50 am or so and the light pours through the huge picture window above Megan. Her yellow lab is outside, standing on the sill, looking in on the action.

I notice that soon Megan’s energy is shifting. She is more relaxed and I watch her face in between surges. She rests. She begins making lower, grunting noises. Yessss! Good pushy noises. The baby is own his way, I think. Megan mentions that she feels rectal pressure and we all rejoice. She says “I think I have to poop” and again, we lightheartedly encourage her “Then go for it! Poop Away”.

Marinah says “If you feel pushy, just go with it. Grunting is good”. Still on her knees, facing the chair, Megan begins bearing down slightly with some of the surges. She says “Oh, it feels so much better now to grunt through them than to scream through the pain”. I am so relieved for her. She is back with us now. Her baby is moving down and with that motion, Megan has become grounded with him. She has worked so very hard and I am so proud that she didn’t give up, though I can imagine she felt like it a thousand times. She now gets to work with her body, work with her baby, and reap the reward of her long labor.

Marinah mentions that is that it’s probably a good time to start videotaping. so Hannah gets set up. Megan says “Please coves my butt because no one wants to see an inside out rectum! “ We all share a hearty laugh, especially when Mitch replies “‘Well, maybe I would. I’ve never seen one!” We cover her bottom with a Chux pad and I slide my hand under it to continue massage. With each low groan, we all cheer Megan on, “Good! Good!” Mitch looks at the video camera and begins to narrate. Marinah sits and watches. I wonder what she’s watching and I wish I could watch too. She says she notices that her body is changing nicely, which means the baby is doing his work. Marinah asks if she’d like to get on the birthing stool and Megan says she doesn’t know. Connie is soon wiping down the stool in preparation for Megan. Before I know it, Marinah says OK, Leigh, you sit behind Megan on the chair for support”. Mitch is overflowing with anticipation and holds Megan’s hand. I sit behind Megan, rubbing her back gently. I’m slightly bummed that I cannot see the action, but fix that by standing up periodically and looking over Megan’s shoulder at the mirror on the floor. Megan is actively pushing like a champ, her sturdy legs shaking, and Marinah reminds her that she can blow through the next few surges so that she can continue to stretch nicely and not tear. I have butterflies in my stomach. I, too, wonder what their son will look like and what he will have to say to us. Marinah asks Megan if she’d like to reach down and feel inside her yoni to touch his head. She says that she can’t and asks Mitch if he’d like to “No, honey. He’ll show us when he’s ready”.

Megan comments that she’s starting to feel a burning sensation which means the baby is beginning to crown. I hear Mitch overcome with awe, amazed at what he’s witnessing, saying “Oh my god, there he is. I can see his head. Oh my god!” and again I am near tears. Marinah recommends that Megan blow through the next surge. Megan grunts and bears down. Marinah asks again. Megan grunts and bears down, taken over by the sensation. Marinah begs her to blow and with the next surge Megan roars with all the power of the thunder in the sky, like a goddess, a protective lioness, involuntarily pushing with all of her might saying “Get him OUT, get him OUT!!” His head is out, I think. Megan calmly says “I just ripped up, didn’t I”. Marinah nods her head and says “Yep” . My heart skips a beat. There is blood on the chux pads. Marinah firmly asks her to save her blood, not to bleed, to save the blood for her baby’s milk. The next few minutes scare me a bit, but we all work to reassure Megan that she’s okay and the baby is almost out. “Please don’t let her hemorrhage” I think to myself. Megan panics and begs Marinah to get him out, to flex his head, that it hurts so bad, it burns because of her tear. And in a whirlwind of time, fiery Gabriel Sky slides out of his watery womb world and into our world, into the living room of his new house. It’s about 10:15 am. The dogs go crazy when they hear the baby cry, their primal welcome. We all rejoice, congratulating Megan and Mitch as Gabriel is placed in her arms. Mitch worriedly asks if he is breathing and is quickly reassured. I look over at Hannah and we are both wiping tears. Mitch is crying, drinking in his son. I immediately step back to Megan’s side to give her space with her new family. The emotion in the room is palatable and sacred. Megan holds her son as if she’s done this a million times, and I guess she really has as a midwife. But now, it is her son, her flesh and bone, newly born from her body and blood. Still connected, still one. I stand before them but feel as if my spirit is kneeling at their feet, in honor, in namaste. I taste the salt of my tears and recognize the flavor. In those tears are bits of healing from my birth and I am humbled and grateful for the lesson’s of Gabriel’s birth.

Within moments, Gabriel opens his eyes and is at once aware of at his Mother, looking into her eyes too. They connect. I am in shock that it’s over and humbled that I am a witness. I look at Megan, now a different person. A mother. A birthing goddess. A midwife. A woman forever changed. She is suddenly serene, happy, talking to her new son as if she’s always known him. She is no longer in pain. He cries, his passages filled with mucus. But he’s healthy. Thank goodness he’s healthy! She tells him that he must have had a hard day, but jokes that it couldn’t have possibly been as hard as hers. She strokes his face and says he looks like Mitch and like her Granddad. Her adrenaline is coursing and she no longer looks tired. Gabriel has red hair. Mitch lifts the towel Gabriel is wrapped in and says through tears “Look, lie has a penis!” Megan evenly responds “Oh yeah, I forget to check”. This is why I love homebirth.

Megan’s bleeding quickly ceases. I offer Megan lots of fluids and cover her shoulders with a towel and Marinate tends to her yoni. Family members are notified and the cord stops pulsing. Dad proudly severs the lifeline between son and Mother and photos abound. We prepare to help move Megan to the bedroom and Marinah suggests I carry Gabriel. I cannot believe I will be able to hold him, honored to walk him to his new room. I carry his precious body in my arms and remember… I look in his eyes and welcome him, tell him how long we have waited for him. He continues to cry. Megan and Mitch are finally settled on their bed, holding their son. Soon, Megan perfectly births the placenta. Megan looks like an incredible goddess atop her bed, a woman who could conquer the world. Gabriel looks a little purplish, so we administer a bit of oxygen to help him out.

We let the family have some alone time as we tidy up the house in preparation to leave. I overhear Megan on the phone, saving that it was “tough but worth it”. My heart leaps. Through every painful surge, through the agony and the exhaustion, Megan found seconds and moments of faith and courage. And it was those moments that carried her to her new child.

Finally, it’s time for me to depart and I head into the room to say goodbye. Gabriel lies on Mitch’s bare chest, bonding with his Daddy who worked so hard and lovingly to support Megan. I thank her and Mitch for allowing me to be their doula and I kiss Gabriel goodbye. It is hard for me to leave this beautiful family, but I am anxious for them to begin sharing secrets and stories and love.

Outside, the sky is clear and bright. I try hard to keep my eyes open during the drive. I recount the birth with my friend Theresa. And though I’m so tired I’m afraid I may fall asleep at the wheel, I cannot come down from the birth high.

Megan’s resolve, her untold trust in birth, her ability to breathe through just one more surge moves me. She will always hold a special place in my heart as she was my first doula client, my first homebirth. She reminded me that birth is raw and that we are so vulnerable and perfect. And in those raw, vulnerable moments, when the energy and chaos spirals around us, we don’t just birth our children. Truly, we birth the world.

I wrote in Gabriel’s birth letter that I felt sorry for him as he cried after his birth. But then I realized that he was just telling his story. He did not want to come quietly and peacefully. He wanted to announce his presence like the sky’s music that night. Like the messenger angel Gabriel who appeared to tell Mary she was carrying the baby Jesus, he was indeed a messenger of birth and hope and courage. He will continue to tell your story, I am sure. I continue to be open to his messages. I am so very thankful I was able to be a very brief chapter in the adventure of his life.


7 Comments Add yours

  1. S says:

    Born on July 30th, just like my beautiful daughter.

    What amazing stories you tell here … they have me in tears, as birth stories always do. Thank you so much for sharing these stories, and the power of the mothers and fathers and wise women in attendance. You are lucky to do this “work”. And these families are lucky to have your calm, wise, and loving presence at this momentous event in their lives.

  2. ladyelms says:

    Sush lovely stories. You capture them so well.

  3. ladyelms says:

    Such lovely stories. You capture them so well.

  4. Ninotchka says:

    What a wonderful story, Leigh. Amazing, really! My favorite part:

    And in those raw, vulnerable moments, when the energy and chaos spirals around us, we don’t just birth our children. Truly, we birth the world.

    Thank you so much for sharing it.

  5. Megan says:

    I shared Gabriel’s birth letter with a friend today, and she cried, just like I do every time I read it.
    It inspired me to come back her and read our story again.

    You have so many amazing gifts. We feel so lucky to have had you as our doula and to have our story written written in your words and with your voice.

    Sending much, much love to you!


  6. Pingback: Burgeoning «

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