Micah was conceived a few days after Peacy’s first birthday. It was a beautiful night – a crescent moon hanging, white and luminous, above the tall pine trees that grew to the west of our little cabin. Venus and Jupiter twinkling, side by side on the horizon, in that magical half-light just after sunset… the first night of Micah’s journey inside of me. So, there were to be two!
About a month in to my pregnancy, I could tell he was a boy. I could feel his spirit was much calmer and quieter than his sister’s, like he was always watching and waiting, taking his time.
I knew well from the beginning that Micah’s birth would be a freebirth too. I had so much confidence in my body, and my friends and family were all much more accepting and supportive of the choice this time around. I had other questions this time; would it be just Joey and Peacy and I at the Birth? Would I be able to provide for Peacy’s needs during the intensity of labor? Would Peacy stay with a friend, or would Joey look after her while I gave birth without his full support (which was so crucial at Peacy’s birth)? I had so many questions! I have a tendency to over-plan, and in the beginning I wanted to know the answers to all of these questions. As my belly grew bigger, I gave up on my planning – I knew Micah’s birth would be perfect, however it played out.
Micah’s birth started very much like Peacy’s, except by then we had moved to a different town in Maine, where we had found another family to live with. We had just finished building a cabin on their land that would be our sleeping cabin, and we shared the main house for cooking, washing, bathing & meals. We had spent part of the summer and fall camping on their land while Joey worked on building the cabin. When we finally moved into our little sleeping cabin in November, it was so revitalizing. We had a warm place to sleep and a comfortable bed; a place to settle down, relax, and have a bit more privacy.
I spent the weeks just before Micah’s birth sewing curtains for our cabin’s windows.
I was so ready to meet this calm, beautiful little boy!
December 8, 2012:
I am irritable. I’m emotionally volatile. I want to be alone. We’re in the main house trying to get dinner ready for our two families, and it’s hard to find the time and the space for privacy. I can’t stand all the commotion. I end up crouching down behind the stove, where there’s a little secluded space under a shelf. I take a deep breath. I don’t know why I’m so irritable!
After dinner Joey & I take Peacy out to our sleeping cabin. It’s dark and quiet and I feel relaxed again. There’s just enough space for our huge family bed (a queen mattress pushed up next to a twin,) in the bigger room of the cabin. I’m so grateful for the soft candlelight. Peacy, who’s about 21 months old now, has trouble going to sleep as usual, but finally lays still and eventually closes her eyes. Joey and I lay down next to one another, but after a few minutes, I don’t feel ready for sleep, and I go back to the main house.
John and Nyla, (who are sharing the main house & land with us) are inside sweeping and doing the dishes from dinner. Their two little ones, Jonah (5) and Ara (about 7 months old) are there too. I offer to help clean up but they have done most of the work already, and seem happy to finish. Grateful for the opportunity, I go into the bathroom and start to fill a warm bath.
The water is so relaxing. I feel like maybe it will help me sleep well tonight. After the bath I wrap myself in a towel and walk the snowy little pathway back out to our sleeping cabin. It’s so warm, dark, and quiet. Peacy and Joey are both asleep. I lay down with them and drift in and out of peaceful dreams.
December 8, 11PM
I wake up needing to go poop. We have a sawdust composting toilet next to the woodstove in our tiny entryway room; we call it the “potty bucket.” After I use the potty bucket, I have trouble going back to sleep… I feel restless… I recognize this feeling! I’m not expecting Micah to come for another two weeks, but I suspect that these feelings are very mild contractions! My body wants the soothing warmth of the bath again. I climb into bed with Joey to tell him that I think Micah is on his way, and that I’m going back to the bath. I tell him I’ll come back if it feels right, but somehow I know I won’t. I know Micah will be born in the main house.
All the lights are still on when I walk in the door to the main house, and John and Nyla are still up, talking. I’m surprised they’re still awake! The lights feel blinding – they hurt my eyes. I stop in the doorway, looking at them. I was not expecting to meet anyone – I feel like a deer in headlights! A light contraction comes and then passes. Nyla asks me what’s going on. I start to explain, feeling guilty about taking two baths in one night. I’m holding my belly, moving it around a bit because it seems to ease the feelings. Nyla very clearly knows what’s going on. As I’m rambling about the bath, a stronger contraction comes. Micah is telling me to shut up and get in the bath! I comply, thankful to let go of my guilt about using too much hot water.
I light a candle and turn off the lights in the bathroom. I’m relaxed again, back in a dimly lit and comfortable space. The hot water feels so amazing. The contractions get a little stronger. I no longer feel remotely sleepy – there is a powerful energy running through me, like waves of light. At first I am still in the bath, but that doesn’t last long. I move into all sorts of positions. The bathtub feels restrictively small – I can’t find my ideal position, but the water is so nice. I jiggle my belly with my hands when the contractions come, and sing a low, almost inaudibly low note – my earth chant again, but more refined this time. I keep thinking maybe this isn’t labor after all, it is so mild. I feel so calm and spacious and steady.
Nyla knocks on the door and asks me if I need anything. I ask her for tea. She brings it to me, and brings me some towels to drape over the hard edges of the bath. Both the tea and the towels are a great comfort. She sits with me for a while. “I keep thinking this isn’t labor,” I say. She just smiles. Of course it is labor! She breathes with me and tells me I am beautiful. At one point, I need to go poop and feel a little embarrassed for a moment. Then I let that go. My body needs me to let go. I get out of the bath to used the potty bucket.
John leaves the main house to go out to his and Nyla’s little cabin, where his two boys are sleeping. All the lights in the main house are off now. Then we hear the sound of Ara’s beautiful little voice coming through the baby monitor. Ara wakes up, and then starts to cry. Nyla gets up to go out to him; she seems conflicted for a moment, unsure if I want her to stay with me. My body is glad at the idea of being alone. I ask her not come back. “How will I know if you need anything?”
“I’ll turn the house lights on if I need any help.”
December 8, Midnight
Things speed up so quickly! I hadn’t realized how much inhibition I had been feeling. Now I am alone – I feel completely safe and unreserved – I really am able to let go, and it is so, so, so powerful!!! It is a beautiful blur! Contractions are coming one after another, and so strong. I realize the bathroom is not where I want to be.
I leave the bath and head out into the rest of the house. There is a candle burning – it is luminous, swirling. The whole house seems to swirl around me. I am rocked by such a powerful contraction as I am walking, and it brings me to my knees. It is mind-blowing. I don’t feel in control of my body – it seems to have an intelligence so far beyond my mind! Micah is coming so quickly!!!
I want access to the potty bucket. I feel like I have to go pee, but I don’t want to be in the bathroom. I feel super-human! Somehow, I manage to drag the whole potty bucket contraption and a bunch of towels out of the bathroom and into the kitchen/living room through those infinitely powerful contractions! For some reason, I want to be right there by the couch. It feels so right. My body does this before I even have a second to think about it. I sit on the potty to go pee, but I jump up almost immediately, almost involuntarily, and then fall to the floor on my hands and knees. I feel him!! He is right there in the birth canal, so close!!
I smile with such joy!! I don’t remember ever in my life feeling so much joy and pure elation! I say his name, (for this time around, I know his name.) It feels like pure light flowing from my mouth as I say it, almost out of breath: “Micah Starlight Rowan Flower Frost!!!” My whole being is pure, blissful love. I say his name again, and there is another burst of infinite love! How can this get anymore beautiful?!!!! I call him again and again and again!
“Micah Starlight Rowan Flower Frost! Micah Starlight Rowan Flower Frost!!!”
And then, so quickly, Micah is right there, swelling, opening me. With my hand, reaching back underneath me, I feel his head start to crown. I feel the caul is still over his head but there is no time to think about if I should break it this time. He goes back inside me for just a moment and then crowns again. I hold his head as he pushes through. There is no way to describe the intensity of the love in this moment. I catch him as he slides out, and bring him forward all in one motion. The caul falls away and reveals his body, waters spilling to the floor. He so tiny and blue, choking and sputtering. I feel the cord is around his neck. I struggle with it, recklessly trying to pull him free, but then he does a little flip in my hands and unwinds it himself!
Micah breathes. I hold him to my chest, stand up, and walk to the bathroom, followed by a trail of little drops of blood on the floor. I get into the bath and the water immediately turns red. I gaze at him. His eyes are open, slate-blue like the ocean on a quiet, cloudy day. He is looking around. I turn on the bathroom light, and he starts to cry, but talk to him, sooth him. He looks up at me, so innocent and beautiful and trusting. He is so small, the smallest baby I have ever seen. (We never weigh him, but later on when he’s about a week old, we compare him to a 5 lb. bag of apples and figure he weighs about the same.)
December 9, From Midnight to Sunrise:
Joey and Nyla make a big fire in the woodstove and push a comfortable chair up next to warmth. Micah nurses right away. The placenta comes. There is a lot of blood – more than there ever was with Peacy’s birth. I feel what I think is a huge clot, or a part of the placenta that didn’t make its way out, right at the opening of my vagina in the back. It doesn’t hurt so I try to loosen it, but it’s clearly attached. (A day later, the Midwife who attended the birth of Ara’s comes to check out what is going on – it turns out it is a rather bad tear where the blood is pooling and clotting. She says I’m very lucky it doesn’t hurt.)
Joey ties and cuts Micah’s cord with such reverence. He and Nyla help me onto the couch, which they’ve pushed up near the woodstove – I’ll sleep on the couch tonight; making my way out to our sleeping cabin seems like too much right now. I just want to hold this sweet little boy. He fits right on my shoulder, he is so small. Nyla makes me some cereal with blueberries and molasses, and she and Joey both go back to sleep. I lay there in the main house, drifting in and out of a very light sleep. Micah sleeps so well, and wakes to nurse often. I watch the moon rise just before dawn – it is a luminous sliver, and then watch the sky turn pink and then gold, and then see the sun come up and illuminate the house. Micah’s first sunrise!
Joey brings peacy in to meet her little brother. She is interested, but she’s more interested in having breakfast.
(picture: Micah on his first day)
(pictures: Peacy’s first day as a big sister, and week-old Micah, breastfeeding.)