To read part one of Levi’s birth story click here
Four Hours Later . . .
Yes FOUR, Daphne gently asked me if I would like to get up and try polar bear pose, which is what shifted things into gear with Micah. My response?
How about some of that elephant stomping you did at Micah’s birth?
Will you try to eat something?
How about some Labor Aid?
Here’s Heather, writing “mama says no no no no no no no.” Okay, maybe not.
Now, I generally try to be a cooperative person, but the suggestions that usually help mamas progress don’t work for me. I did eventually sip a little labor aid, but anything I ate just came right back up. As for moving around, something about the angle of babypotamus’ head made it just too painful. I’d pretty much resolved to never move again, then WHOOSH! Halfway through a sleepy contraction my water broke.
Knowing that babypotamus’ head would sink deeper into my pelvis without my waters intact, I heaved myself into polar bear pose in hopes that he/she would realign. No one captured this lovely position, but lucky for you Daddypotamus snapped a photo during Micah’s birth.
Aren’t you glad you didn’t miss THAT? Ha!
Dr. Jeremy stopped by for another adjustment, and then I hopped on the birth ball for a bit. My midwife must have taken that as an encouraging sign that I was ready to get up and move, so she asked me to try some walking. I responded by getting on the couch and going back to sleep. So cooperative, right?
Riding The Rails
Now here’s where things switch tracks. With my first two births I was coached through transition and pushing. I trusted external voices to guide me through, and I loved that experience. This time, though, something inside me took over. I saw the path ahead – my body was following the exact same course it had with Micah, and all I had to do was ride the rails to the end.
My contractions were totally inconsistent and I was still laying like a lump on the couch, but I felt transition hit. Working through every contraction without a sound, I dared not breathe a word to anyone. If I was wrong I just didn’t want to know.
After awhile I felt a little restless, so I got up and went to my room. Daniel followed me and everyone just let us be. I did a few belly lifts to help myself dilate and felt things shift again, so I waddled to the birth pool and sat down.
I felt disoriented, unsure of what to do next. Five little candles flickered in the velvety darkness. I leaned toward them and then – BOOM – I was on my hands and knees.
I had not decided to do that. Something within me was moving me.
[Uhh, did I just push my baby’s head out? Yes, yes I did. Wow, that was EASY! Hmmm, the birth photographer and videographer are not here. I suppose it’s not practical to wait for them to arrive before I push again? Uhh, uhhh . . ]
HARRRRUMMPGH GRRR UGGGGGH!
And with that, it was over. Two pushes. Two glorious, instinctual, painless pushes. It all happened so fast no one had time to put gloves on.
I moved like lightning to find my baby, whom Heather had already scooped from the water. He was in my arms in an instant. Wide, liquid eyes stared up at me – fully aware and calm, beautiful beyond words.
After a few minutes I remembered to find out what you already know – we had a BOY. A gorgeous, perfectly pink, 8 pound, 22 inch long little brother for the potami. Katie immediately jumped in the pool with Daddypotamus and I to meet him, while Micah took a look and then asked to watch a movie.
One of my heroes, Ina May Gaskin, once said:
“Your body is not a lemon. You are not a machine. The Creator is not a careless mechanic. Human female bodies have the same potential to give birth well as aardvarks, lions, rhinoceri, elephants, moose, and water buffalo. Even if it has not been your habit throughout your life so far, I recommend that you learn to think positively about your body.”
Now in general I agree with this statement. We are far too often told that our hips are too small, our babies are too big, and that birth is too painful. We are bombarded with completely unrealistic, scary birth scenarios on TV. Though there are exceptions, most of us can have a natural birth if that is what we desire.
But here’s the thing: I think my body may actually – sort of – be a lemon. Now don’t get me wrong, I love my body. I was told that I might not be able to carry a baby to term, and instead my body has protected, birthed and nourished three. I am grateful and happy to feel comfortable in my own skin.
That said, my mom just happened to mention after Levi was born that she has a hip malformation that may be congenital. Now she tells me!
Because I am breastfeeding I am not going to have an x-ray done to confirm, but my guess is that the reason all my babies have been asynclitic is that there is no other way into my pelvis. After talking with my midwife, Daphne, it’s my best guess that polar bear pose does not cause baby to disengage and re-engage as I first thought. More likely it opens my pelvis in just the right way to let my babies through.
This possible defect may be the reason I’ve had such difficult births, and though I don’t think it’s necessary to label things either way I will say this:
I still believe in fairy tales. Even **if** my hip is a “lemon” due to a defect, my birth team is the collective fairy godmother that helped to transform me into the best I had it in me to be. In another setting I might have been pressured to seek intervention due to “failure to progress,” but their wisdom, skill, compassion and PATIENCE gave me the opportunity to have the birth I wanted.
Thank you to my midwife, Daphne, for giving me the freedom to rest and do things my way.
Thank you, Katie C., for being there for the potami. I never imagined that my condition for hiring a mother’s helper was that it be someone I could give birth in front of – kind of a tall order for the first interview but you have been an incredible gift to our family.
Thank you, mom, for coming early to help me nest, and for staying with us while I recover.
Thank you, Heather, for being my insta-friend and amazing doula. Your support was so needed!
Thank you, Dr. Jeremy, for coming not one, not two, but THREE times to care for Levi and I. Without your help the outcome would not have been the same – I am convinced of that.
And of course, thank you Daddypotamus for being the guy who read fairy tales for me, and who helps me write our story every day.
That, dear friends, is the story of the littlest potami’s birth. Thank you for allowing me to share it with you. ♥
Welcome, Levi Austen!
Also, HUGE THANKS to Alana Rasbach Photography and Amelia Hambrook Photography for the photos!
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