LabOrinth

35 Weeks.

A number.

An imprecise countdown.

Nonetheless, a marker of sorts that has my mind whiling like a dervish with images and sounds and thoughts about this birth.

And so, a wish list is born.   Some yearnings.  The knowledge that birth is among one of the most human of acts and thus prone to surprises and swerves and turns. But to admit I don’t have visions of what this experience holds for me – for us – would be a lie.

And I don’t like denying myself my own Truth.

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You might worry I’m “setting myself up”, or “placing too high of expectations” on the birth experience.

But you see, I don’t function that way.   If I follow my heart and intuition (though sometimes it bursts open and flares like fire and, well, that is to be honored too) how can I go wrong?  I believe as women most of us do try to listen to the cadence of our hearts and yet, often, we are criticized for doing so.  Or told “ur doin it wrong”, or led to believe that just because we are mainstream, or not mainstream, or choose to birth in one place of the other we are LESS intuitive.

Fuck that (courtesy of 35 weeks).

I am so over the competition and the disclaimers and the in-depth explanations.  There are none to be had.

There are contractions to be breathed and screamed through, and blood to flow, and bones to widen and shift, and babies to wiggle shockingly into this world, and moments of fear and pain and vulnerability and holiness and primal power and tenderness to be had.   These have no space for competition.

To affirm my place, and my baby’s place, in this world is to envision birth as only I know it.   To expect, to hope, to live in Love.   And then, to simply unlearn and let it flow.

As I prepare for this birth, I hold deep in my cells the memories and reminders of so many women who have gone before me.  Those whose births I’ve witnessed through my own eyes and those who have humbly allowed me to witness it through words.

Their experiences are knitted into my very fibers.

But at some point, as I’ve experienced before, I birth alone.

And alone, we walk, unfazed; competition and disclaimers unbeknownst to us.

Alone, we birth in Mystery.

And for a brief time, there is no fear.

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Pam England’s description of labor as a “LabOrinth” has also resonated with me.    At times, during surges, I even visualize my breath leaving my body in the form of a labyrinth.    There is a calm, a stillness, in the center.  A meditative moment amongst seeming chaos.

Pam explains:
“Mothers experience labor as a labyrinth, a LabOrinth.  “Ready” or not, with the first contraction, or when the water breaks, they are catapulted across an invisible, but felt, threshold. Once in labor or in the labyrinth, steady progress is made by taking one step at a time until the Center is reached. The Center represents the birth of the child, the birth of the mother, the birth of the family.

You could be blindfolded and still reach the Center by feeling your way through the path. You don’t need to study the path before you enter it. You don’t need a birth plan or a cell phone to call for help! There is no time-line.

Unlike in a maze, you cannot get lost in a labyrinth. You can get lost in a maze, which has more than one entrance or exit; there are choices to make and dead-ends.”

Sweet baby, thank you for being my Center.

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Dear baby,

So much is yet to come.   I find it quite delicious not knowing the details of your arrival.  In some ways, we both live in a place of suspension.  The in-between world.

It is good, indeed, to move into these final weeks with fear long behind me.   Knowing that I’ve honored the underworld, that enigmatic place of no answers.

Your movements are often so close to the surface of my skin, and so deep within my ribs and pelvis, that I can be heard saying “Oooohhh baby.  Ow.  You are crazy, baby.”

I don’t recall your sisters being so…forceful in their movements.   Some mornings, an appendage of yours is planted firmly into of my ribs and I’ve had to literally coax it out to remove the pressure.

You shift positions almost daily.  I’ve stopped attempting to palpate you.

The ways in which you’ve stretched my body feels inexplicably right.   I’ve not struggled internally with the weight and the heaviness and the soreness like with my other pregnancies.  You seem to find this home of yours comfortable and I am glad to provide it.

I watched the ocean with you this weekend, baby.   Entranced by her tide, as always, I held you in my hands and came to an even deeper place of peace with your birth.   The waves rose like a peak of a contraction, swelled beyond belief, and then tumbled over both chaotically and beautifully.  A release.


The continual churning, the energy and force, so similar to birth.   The feeling of completely letting go and floating above it.  Or of being fully lost and drowning in the swell.

And I remembered.

It made me smirk and gasp all at once.

Baby, if I had my wishes for your birth, here’s what they may look like:

  • A night labor.   I love the flicker and shadow play of candles.  Maybe I’m just sentimental because much of your sisters’ labors took place at night.  Perhaps you’ll surprise me with a sunny, desert day birth.
  • I’ve never labored with my bag of waters intact.   That would be rather interesting to experience this time.  Or you could be like your sisters and signal the start of labor with the rupture of your membranes.  Whatever works for you.
  • A mellow-ish labor.  Not too fast, not too long.   I guess this is every mama’s wish, really.   Intensity is fine.  I can handle it.   I’m thinking around six hours or so would be dandy.   But if you need more time to maneuver and rotate, then by all means.   I’ll have lots of Emergen-C, and honey, and a birth tub, and love all around me to get me through (Kaia and Indigo’s birth both included right around 8 hours of active labor, though Indi’s was almost 4 hours of pushing).
  • Okay, so water birth sounds so enticing to me.  You know how I love laboring in warm water.   But, if you are Breech, it seems that standing is one of the most optimal positions.   So, I’m not sure you’d actually swim out (feet first) into the water, but I sure plan on staying in there as long as possible.
  • I want to trust my body, and you, fully.  I don’t want to know how dilated I am, because generally speaking, I can tell based on my physical and emotional signs.   I want to push when my body tells me, in the way it tells me to.  Quietly, breathing you down.  Or roaring, using my power.    Just the way Indigo’s birth was.  Perfect.
  • I have a whole list of amazing women to be included in my birth tribe.  But like last time, I remain untied to who, what, when, where, why.   I will know in that moment who should be there and know with confidence that those who are not present are indeed there in spirit, energetically.  A joyous birth party? Or an intimate soiree with just me and Jason? Hmmm, more mystery to look forward to.
  • Oh, oh, oh, I’d seriously love great photos and a video.  (Tripod: Check.  New digital camera:  Check).
  • I want to be the one to catch you, baby.   Your position may make it a little more interesting, but I’ve never been the first person to fully lay hands upon my baby.   Will you be the one?
  • Having your sisters present at the birth seems fitting to me.   To give your sisters the gift of undisturbed birth is something that will be forever imbedded on their hearts for the rest of their lives.   The power of women.  The forces of nature.  But, knowing the unpredictable nature of labor, I remain open to numerous possibilities.  Kaia has expressed sincere interest in seeing you be born and in helping as best she can.  I’d like to honor that if we can.  And I think…there would be some healing in that experience for all of us.


  • A strong, healthy placenta would be a blessing, since I’m having Shell encapsulate it and make some of it into chocolates.
  • PS A semi-tidy house would be oh-so-lovely. And clean toilets.  And WARM birth tub water.  Maybe a gorgeous clear night with moonbeams dancing through the windows.  Or an unseasonably cool, perhaps rainy, summer day? Am I asking for too much now?
  • You.  Just You.  Exactly as you are.  As you are meant to be.

I see the tiny cloth diapers (still on the fence about using them. Ha!) and the birth kit supplies and the muslin swaddle blankets and I still am blown away that you – this tiny new life – will be part of our family soon.   Mind blowing awesomeness.

Am I really fit to be a mother of three?

There is no choice in that matter.

Only the choice to welcome it, to know it will unravel perfectly.

Even if my toilets aren’t clean.

I love you my party-animal baby.  With each pulse of my heart, I send love, love, love.

Knowing this birth will be exactly what we need.

No disclaimers.

Mama

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11 thoughts on “LabOrinth

  1. Love. Love. Love.

    And I especially love the idea of birth as a LabOrinth. Awesome. You will totally rock this, I know you will. I wait with breathless anticipation to hear the story.

  2. I actually was wondering about you the other day. And what your birth would be like. Being a birth worker by so much more than trade I cannot imagine you in that experience. Sacred, to say the least. I love what you wrote. Your loving requests. Your gentle flexibility. That baby is so darn blessed to have chosen you. Thank you for sharing this. So much love!

  3. This is just so perfect. I feel almost guilty because you always articulate so many of the things I am feeling—yet I’m not working to get the words out. It is so easy to read you.
    But you inspire me to go do a little more work myself. And to get some awesome pictures. I will do it.

  4. Mama, you bring a tear to my eye. You’re beautiful heart and experience makes me a little sad I didn’t get to experience labor with my 3…

    You are a beautiful and strong women…as a mother, as a wife, as a friend, as a daughter…as all you are! Thank you for continuing to share your wonderful experiences…they have an effect on all who read them!

  5. i love your list…especially because after you write your wish you follow it with a ….unless it’s not meant to be….(not in those words, but you know what i mean.) it’s that ultimate TRUST in what will unfold, in yourself, in your baby, in LIFE. I love it. I love you. And I most certainly love that amazing person wiggling and dancing inside you. You are so perfect. It all is. I am honored (and giddy) to witness this new birth…of all of you. xxoo mb

  6. Oh Leigh… I almost cannot believe how close you are. What, I wonder, will this birth be like? Soon, very soon. All will be just as it is meant to be. I hope this birth brings you new, profound joy and growth. I hope it is an experience beyond your wildest dreams. I hope that it is familiar and yet exciting, unique and mysterious. I can’t wait to hear about it!

  7. Beads of tears (joyous tears) are rolling down my cheeks. Moved by your expressions of love, real life and openness. I think of you weekly now and tell Sage stories about you. I still constantly review photos from my birth with you by our side and revel in knowing that you were newly pregnant with #3 the whole time. Missing you and loving you.

  8. We birth alone as ourself but really you are never alone with a little one inside. This baby will make his or her journey soon together as one until the light comes. Shine on beautiful woman with child! Always respect the baby!

  9. like mb, i love your desires – said out loud, owned – but also the wiggle room of trust. of surrender and allowance and meeting each moment with a wide open heart that says – bring it on baby, bring it on.

    smooch.

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