Your beginning ~ spring, 2015
I was out planting potatoes the day after Beltane – a few days before the May full moon. I had expected my period to come a few days earlier, but there was still no sign.
After moving to a little village in New Mexico the previous fall, we had finally gotten our chickens, and some rabbits too… the rabbits had already had babies. We were in the process of reclaiming a beautiful old garden by the house from the wild mustard and crab-grass. Little carrots, lettuces and parsley were already sprouting. We were putting the finishing touches on the small goat barn we were building, expecting to pick up 5 baby goats in a few weeks.
That spring was a busy one. Some sort of wildfire had been ignited within me, and after years of up-rootedness, moving again and again from one house to the next, I was determined to make this one my home – resolute in my ambition to finally set down some roots! That spring I was in building mode, planning mode, gardening mode – having another baby was really the last thing on my mind!
But the May full moon came and went, and still no period. I began to suspect that you were there, a tiny seed sprouting in the garden of my womb. You came to me so quietly that I barely noticed, growing peacefully, perfectly… through all that spring excitement.
The rains that May were incredible, pouring and pouring for days – The green burst through, and flowers! I lay at night, listening to the downpour, and thought to myself that you were a girl, and that maybe your name would be “Iris Rain.” I was so surprised at your coming! Your birthday seemed very far-off, though, and so I kept on planning and building our new little homestead, the wildfire in me still ablaze despite the rains.
By the end of may, I started to feel tired, and morning sickness slowed me down incredibly. The boundless energy I had felt in the spring was waning, and I found myself very irritable and stubborn – still determined to continue work on our homestead even though my body was slowing down.
The business of spring continued through summer, and I worked on all sorts of big and little projects with you inside me, and kept up with the garden. In July & August, we had so much to eat from our little farm that we didn’t have to buy any vegetables or eggs from the store! And, although this work of growing our food was so physically and emotionally rewarding, I was exhausted.
Then, one night in September, I had a dream. It was fast and fiery, full of tension and movement. Then, the movement stopped, and remaining in its absence, clear and real, was FEAR. Fear of birth. Fear that my body would not be able to handle it this time… And in the midst of the fear, my own voice called out, as clear as clear could be, “HELP!” I woke immediately ~ completely lucid, completely clear… so surprised by what that dream had revealed.
Things had changed, and I was ignoring the change. Since I had had such a positive experience birthing Micah alone, I had been assuming that I would just to duplicate that birth… that it would be simple – easy – nothing to worry about – no planning necessary. But things had changed. You and I were calling, loud and clear, for support.
That dream was a turning point in my pregnancy with you, sweet one. Things became dark, but not in a bad way – I needed that darkness – that inward movement. I needed the calm and the quiet. Things became slower, gentler… more organized and clear and soft. With the turning of the year towards the deep, dark winter, so my body turned.
I sat at night by candlelight, reading birth stories. I drank these birth stories in – they were nectar for my soul. I was suddenly SO excited to be connected with you, to birth you and care for you and be your mother.
I began to plan for your coming. I worried that Peacy and Micah would be distracting for me during labor, so I looked for a Doula, and found the perfect one. It was so good to have that reassurance – that safety net. If we needed to, we could call her to help with any of it – to watch the kids, or stoke the fires, or feed the goats & chickens….
In November, I met with a midwife. I was still unsure of why I was meeting with her, but it felt right somehow. When we met, I knew right away that I could trust her. She was patient and calm, completely accepting of my birth choices, completely accepting of everything I had to say. She didn’t seem like a ‘birth professional’ – she was a wise woman who I could talk with openly. I told her my fears – what if something was to go wrong? Could there be trauma to the varicose veins around my yoni? What if Joey and I needed more help than a Doula could provide? What if the children were loud and distracting for me during birth?? It was so nice to talk with her, especially after rejecting midwifery care in my first two pregnancies. I began to see how amazing it could be to invite this woman into my life. She was a voice of wisdom and care, a true “sage femme,” advocating for self-care and intuition.
Although I was still planning a freebirth, this midwife offered me her phone number, just in case I changed my mind last minute. I didn’t need to sign a contract, make an agreement for payment, or make any agreement of any kind – she told me I could just call her if I wanted, as a friend in need rather than a ‘client.’ I felt so encouraged and blessed to have met with her! I felt like I had gotten a whole lot of baggage out of the way in one sitting, and now all that was left in front of me was the clear, free path to meeting you.
I felt big and beautiful. I had found a routine, with my dark quiet nights, reading birth stories by the fire, candlelight showers after gentle days… I envisioned your ecstatic birth. I was so ready and excited to meet you!
Our home blossomed as I cleaned and arranged and made safe a place for your coming. Fires blazed in the woodstoves, and snow fell outside, and then more snow. I thought you would come on Solstice, but you waited.
We built a nursing bed by the woodstove in the middle room, and I envisioned you coming right there. I sewed and sewed every night – bedspreads, pillows, and lots and lots of new curtains to cover the windows. When I found myself sewing curtains, I really thought “you must be close!” When January came, I prepared each day for your coming, but you waited…
Our house really felt perfect – I had found such a good groove with keeping it clean and organized, and felt SO ready! Some nights I had what I thought might be contractions, and even the altered consciousness of birthing, but you waited, and I waited.
Then, around the beginning of January, we all got sick. Joey first, then Micah and Peacy, and then me… not just a little cold, but a real, big cold, with a raw, dry sore throat and a fever, congestion headaches and foggy exhaustion. I hadn’t been that sick for a long time. Suddenly it hit me how cold it was outside. Going out to feed the goats, chickens & rabbits meant trudging through the snow, breaking the ice on their water buckets… and we had to bring in a whole wagon of wood each day to keep the fires hot enough to warm the house. Feeding the animals and keeping up with firewood seemed totally unmanageable. The house seemed to fall apart. The floors, which had been swept and tidy every day, were now strewn with snotty tissues, towels, dirty clothes, bits of kindling and wood dust… I made a big pot of chicken soup, and it was all that we ate for days. It all felt like too much, with the knowledge that you were so, so close to coming. I didn’t feel like I had an ounce of energy left, not even enough to sweep the floor, let alone to give birth to you.
But after about a week, on the morning of January 15th, things lightened. Though the sore throat remained, some of my energy returned. I felt well enough again to make another big pot of chicken soup, and to thoroughly clean the kitchen and middle room. Peacy and Micah were still sick, but also feeling a bit better. They went to bed around nightfall. As I was tucking them into their blankets, I felt a stirring… I felt you. Deep down inside, I knew you were ready ~ you were coming.
The Night of your Birth!
I said goodnight to Peacy and Micah, and turned off the bedroom lights. The house was quiet. Joey was up, on the computer. There were a few more dishes to do in the kitchen, and some more cleaning. As I was doing dishes, I felt you stir again… not a physical stirring, but something deeper – a calling out from you to me – a message. “Prepare, I am coming.”
I almost smiled… was this really the night? After all this waiting, I really didn’t expect it to be this night!
I kept on cleaning, and made some balls of honey mixed with slippery elm and rosehip powder. We’d been sucking on these all week to help with the sore throat.
You stirred again… this time, a contraction.
I felt so clear and alert… so aware. I completely forgot about being sick.
A few minutes later, (maybe 10 minutes?), another contraction. This was the night!
I had to use the potty bucket a few times… all the while, so clear and present… so calm and ready. I was clearing my body for your passage.
I ran out of wood shavings for the potty bucket.
Joey came into the kitchen. I felt secretive… I felt interrupted… I didn’t want to tell him what I knew was happening.
“We are going to need some more wood shavings for the potty bucket” I said.
“Now?” He obviously didn’t want to get them, understandably; it was dark and cold outside where we had a bin of shavings in the woodshed.
“I need them tonight… I could get them if you don’t want to… but…” I was so reluctant to say I was in labor, for some reason… maybe because I thought that saying it would make me a thing to observe, and I didn’t want to be observed… but I said it anyways – “I think… I might be having contractions… I think the baby is coming tonight.”
Once I had spoken about it, it became obvious that there was regularity and an increasing intensity to the contractions. It’s amazing how vocalization can really solidify something like that…
Joey went to get wood shavings.
I started to get the house ready, and Joey helped. The last of the dishes were done. We put a basin of water on the woodstove, laid out towels, and brought the potty bucket into the middle room where I felt most comfortable. Fires were going in all of the stoves, and extra wood brought in. During this, some of the contractions were more intense, requiring more attention and movement.
Then Joey went to bed. The house was dark, save two candles, one of which was a beeswax rose candle that I had been saving for your birth, finally burning. Of course, just after Joey went to bed, things greatly intensified. Even after my realizations during pregnancy that I would benefit from support, I had still planned to birth you alone, just as I had with Micah. I was so thirsty, and drank a lot of water, and ate almost all of the slippery elm/honey balls that I had made (which were supposed to last for a few days, at least.) The tapered candle seemed too bright, so I blew it out, leaving just your rose candle burning. Things became very, very intense. I was on all fours in front of the woodstove, holding a warm cloth to my perineum, with olive oil. I felt like I had to pee, but every time I tried nothing came out. Back and forth, back and forth, from all fours to the potty bucket, with gulps of water in between… the energy so quick… my moans loud and low…. So, so intense… It became clear then, so clear, that your birth would not be as easy as Micah’s. I called for help…
“Joey,” I said quietly. And he came out of the bedroom, looking tired. Another contraction. “Can you bring me some orange juice, and some more water?” He brought it and placed it next to me by the middle room woodstove. I asked him to not to go back to bed – I asked him to stay with me.
With each contraction, I needed to hang onto the windowsill, pulling down and moaning loudly and deeply. I remember thinking right then, just after a contraction, “I will have to write this down, otherwise I will forget – I have to write down that this hurts, alot!!” (Of course, now, I have forgotten – looking back it seems like it was blissful, and of course it was, but I am glad I noted in that moment, that there was real pain.) But there was no time then to write it down. There was only just enough time between contractions to rest for a few seconds.
I was grateful for Joey’s presence. I knew he was there, but he wasn’t obtrusive at all – just quiet and present.
I sat on the potty bucket, feeling like I needed to pee again, but unable to. The pressure felt unbearable. I reached up inside my yoni to see – to feel if you were close. I hadn’t planned to check my progress at all, but this felt so instinctive, and not at all intrusive. I didn’t feel you, and let my fingers slip out.
Another contraction came – it was painful. I rocked back and forth, moaning. And then another came, and then another! The feeling like I had to pee was really unbearable! I reached back up inside myself, instinctively again. I felt my cervix – it was barely there, stretchy and thin and almost gone. I felt the front wall of my yoni, and felt my bladder there, taking up too much space, full and hard. I pressed gently forwards on my bladder, and I was finally able to pee! And, just on the heels of that relief from finally being able to pee, there came a series of the most incredibly intense contractions! I was blown away, completely vulnerable as you opened me that last little bit. As those contractions came, without thought, I reached out to Joey and gestured in front of me, saying “I need you, right here!”
Joey came. I reached up to him and held onto his arms and pulled down, hard, with all of my weight and yours, through the contractions. He supported me under my armpits, and the relief from his support was instant. What felt like it would be impossible suddenly became so doable! I had something, someone, to pull against, to help you through me. I had found my support.
In between contractions, we let go of each other, but each time I felt another wave building, I called out, “again,” and he was there. After a few times doing this, I could tell you had moved down. I reached inside myself again, just to see, and I felt you! Not too close, but there you were!
Those contractions while holding Joey were so effective, but they became so intense that I was desperate for some change! My body took me down quickly, onto my hands and knees on a mat in front of the woodstove, all despite my mind, which had chosen that time for a sudden uproar of, “Is this the right thing to do??? I don’t know what to do!!” But I didn’t need to heed that internal voice… it was fairly comical to hear the frantic inner commentary, but I paid no more attention to it than to notice it. I trusted my body. I felt such relief in that transition to hands & knees, for that is what it was… transition! You were on your way, descending.
Contraction after contraction, you were coming closer and closer. My moans were so loud. I assumed I was waking up your brother and sister, but didn’t know what else to do – the sound helped so much. I was on my knees, chest supported on the couch, my back end facing the woodstove, and in the middle of one of the most intense contractions, BURST!!
Waters!!!! They just exploded from behind me, like nothing I had ever felt before, for your sister and brother had been born with their waters. They barreled from me, so unexpectedly sudden! I felt SO open.. SO very vulnerable. I knew you must have been feeling the same way, suddenly exposed. My low moans turned to high-pitched, vulnerable gasps of air. I could feel the rush of hormones – the knowing that you were almost there – that I would be meeting so soon! You were coming! One or two more huge contractions, and I knew that in that intensity, I couldn’t turn to catch you. “Come to catch!” I said to Joey.
He was there.
You were crowning, slowly, beautifully. I thought your head had passed through, but then to my surprise, it had only been the top of your head. Then I felt your little nose pop through, and then your little chin. It was a beautifully foreign feeling, how slowly and gracefully you came, especially after the turbulence of your labor…. Like the sun poking through the clouds after a particularly fierce thunderstorm. You rested for a moment, with your head outside of my body. Then I felt you, clearly, beautifully, gracefully turning inside of me. You paused again, and then you slid from me, into your fathers waiting hands, and then slipped down onto the mat. I turned and saw you, so tiny, like a little frog, belly down on a pile of wet towels. I will never forget that moment, beautiful Ahmik.
I picked you up and held you to my belly, fumbling. You were so slippery! Your breathing was raspy, full of mucous. I tried to clear it for you. I passed something big and wondered if it was your placenta, but realized it was just a bunch of large blood clots. Your cord was so short; I could barely reach you to my lap. I felt uncomfortable sitting, but unsteady and unsure of how to stand. I was shaking. Then your placenta came, with more blood, and we decided you were ready – your breathing was steady, and you had latched on – and we cut your cord. You were there, a tiny being on your own for the first time, but so safe and loved in my arms.
I stood, and more blood came. Joey helped me set up a little bed on the couch for the night. I was so thirsty and hungry, and felt so depleted. All of the feelings in my body, which had been outshined by your coming, returned. I noticed how sore my throat still was.
Joey brought me lots of water and chocolate milk… he made me more slippery elm honey, and got the fire going really well… and then he went to bed. I lay there on the couch with you all night. You seemed agitated. You latched on, but wouldn’t suck for long periods, and you cried a lot. Neither of us slept. I wanted to talk to you to sooth you, but my throat felt so dry and scratchy and sore that I couldn’t. Then, dawn came – that first light after a long night, and I found my voice – I sang to you… “sweet asela, sweet ah-sey-laa, sweet asela, sweet ah-say-laa…” … and your body relaxed, and you fell asleep on my chest… like you had been waiting for my voice all along. I fell asleep too.
I woke maybe an hour later to little voices coming from the bedroom, interspersed with Joey’s low voice. Your sister and brother came out, beautiful as they always are in the mornings with ruffled hair and newly shining eyes. They crawled into bed with us on the couch, Joey standing nearby, looking at your little body in surprise. We were all together – now a family of five.
Ahmik Ash Meadow Sunrise. Ash for the tree, strong and graceful. Ahmik, meaning beaver, for family and home. Meadow for your beautiful, verdant, interconnected soul, and Sunrise because you are as bright and strong and clear as the morning sun. Your birthday is January 15th, a Friday as I remember, just an hour or so before midnight. As I write this, you are only four months old, but you have brought so much joy to our family already!