It was a sunny, windy spring day. I had a doctor’s appointment at 9 a.m. I planned to drive myself, but my mother and father-in-law said they would take me. The appointment went fine. I found out I was already dilated to 2! Good thing I didn’t drive myself! After the appointment, we drove down to the Pier on Lake Michigan. The waves were huge on the lake. We drove close enough so our car was getting splashed.
When I got home I continued nesting. The past few days I felt the need to keep cleaning and keep busy by preparing food for after the birth. The freezer was stocked with my favorite soup and lasagna rolls. We went grocery shopping the day before. I had been making list after list about what I needed. It felt so good to cross things off of it.
At around 2 pm I bent down to pick up a tiny scrap of paper and felt a pop! Then a drizzle of liquid seeping out. Did my water break? I called Jan. As I spoke with her, the drizzle became a gush. I was soaked. Yup, my water broke. I called my husband Dan and told him to come home.
Labor started at about 3 pm, with my contractions coming at regular intervals. They were 5 minutes apart, lasting 1 minute. Jan and I kept in touch. We decided she could wait to come over. I called my mom in Minneapolis, MN. She was so excited. She shut down her computer at work and said she was on her way. My parents’ had already packed their bags. Their plan was to start driving to Milwaukee once my labor started. I wanted my mom at the birth, but knew we needed to leave it up to the Universe.
Meanwhile Dan got home. I needed him. His presence is grounding and comforting. We called his mom and she was going to pick up a few more things for us. I labored in the bathroom, the bedroom and on the phone with Jan and our family. It was getting harder to talk during contractions. Jan got to our house around 6 pm. I grabbed the birth ball on our bed and hugged it. My favorite way of laboring was being on my knees with my arms and belly draped over the birth ball. During contractions I made any sound I felt like. In between them I told our baby how much I loved her and laughed and talked with Mary (my mother-in-law), Jan and Dan.
In the meantime all around me, Dan and Jan were setting up the birthing tub and organizing supplies. Dan got the hot water bottle and put it on my lower back. I also felt them in my hips. My contractions were getting stronger. I remember being in the bathroom and having about 4 contractions before I left there. Jan called to me and asked how I was doing. She decided to check my cervix. I was already dilated to 7!
Now they really started into high gear. People found all of our biggest pots and began boiling water on the stove. The birthing tub was only partly full. Our cat Asher was very curious about it and kept wanting to play in it. Finally I was able to get in the tub. It felt wonderful! The warmth surrounded my muscles. I felt so loved and comforted by the water. I was filled with gratitude. Meanwhile, people were pouring water from the stove into the tub. I said “I feel like I little girl in my pool.” I stretch out my legs. This is the part of the story where it becomes dream-like, when I went inside myself, calling on women who came before me, my grandmothers, my ancestors. This is when I turn to my journal. This I wrote days after the birth.
Hands and knees
Dan’s hand on my back
pressure low in pelvis,
want to start pushing
Dan gets in tub,
lights are low,
go within, go within
Boundary Waters, lakes, stars, loons, wolves howl, I howl.
Connecting with mother wolves, birthing.
Jan, Lucky, Mary in that order sit on the bed.
I lean over the edge of the tub,
vaguely able to make out their silhouettes
“Jess, reach in. Can you feel your baby?”
One middle finger length,
half a finger, one knuckle.
I keep holding it up to show them
float like a whale
rise up like a seal
kneeling supported by Dan, hands gripping the tub
hands and knees,
moaning low, yelling, pushing, kissing Dan “I love you”.
“I love you Aramae. You’re doing such hard work. Both you and mama, working together.”
Waaaaaaaaa! I breathe out the sounds
releasing fear surrender, prayer hands, squatting, up to the third eye, ohm!
All together, surrender
trust my body
this much closer to holding her
“That’s the way Jess. That’s the way.” says Lucky
“What is your body telling you to do Jess?” asks Jan
Afraid of tearing, need to go pee, drinking water in between, throat sore from yelling,
turn voice low
Waaaaaaaa! let go,
guided to the toilet
Jan hugs me
I’m whimpering like a little girl
“I’m afraid of tearing” I cry
Jan cradles me
“It’s not like the other time Jess.” she whispers
I release fear, surrender, sigh relief, lower my shoulders
filling the place where fear lived.
Jan says “If you tear, I can fix it.”
Legs like Jello, lay down side-lying on bed.
Focus narrows, only shapes
Lucky supports my right leg
Jan supports my perineum
Dan holds my hands and my head
Mary takes pictures
Harder than ever before
“I can do this. I can do this.”
head emerging, sliding back in
“Hold it there Jess.”
“Okay” I say
Next power surge
Push Push Push
“That’s the way Jess”
Surrender, let go
So close to holding our girl
Holding her here, cradling her head
“I see hair! I see a nose!”
Feeling arms and legs
“Jess your baby is here!”
I hold Aramae,
looking into her little grayish blue eyes
sweet love into the world
We did it.
Thank you for choosing us sweet girl.
We love you beyond the stars
beyond all boundaries
space and time
nuzzling, suckling, nursing
looking into her eyes
knowing my voice
turning to Dan’s voice
LOVE fills the room
happy midwives, parents, grandparents
Pop comes in
after listening on the couch
She’s out with us in the world.
Welcome Aramae Olivia Herro.
10:55 pm, April 25, 2006