The Birth of Chloë

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Note:  My apologies for the white text background.  I have tried to the point of tears (hey, I'm pregnant) and it will not go away.

Thanks goes out to Emma Kwasnica for sharing with us the amazing story of Chloë's birth.  Chloë was born at home in October of 2009 under a full moon.

Finally ! At 42 completed weeks of pregnancy, and after a week of prodromal labour, I was OVERJOYED to have contractions for which I actually needed to lean on the table and breathe through (they were immediately regular, too - every two to three minutes right from the get-go). They began at about 10:45 pm, Saturday night.  I sent out the "IT'S ON !" e-mail to close friends and family in between two hard contractions, shortly after mum took this picture of me (because I said to her "Quick ! please take one last pic of my pregnant self !"). I also phoned Sinclair (my primary midwife) at this time, and believe it or not, told her she might even be able to go back to sleep for a bit... !?!? Yes, days of pre-labour will do this to you, ie., cause you to be in complete denial when it actually does happen, and even when everyone else around you knows it's the real deal. 

After I called my midwife and Minerva (my good friend and photographer for the birth) to let them know this was really it, I headed straight to the bedroom with Seb to begin working through hard contractions. I took a few - maybe two ? - kneeling on the floor and leaning onto the bed before I said to Seb, "Oh, Gods... this isn't going to cut it. Fill the tub - NOW !" I staggered into the bathroom once he'd got the tub filling (it's a nice big, deep soaker tub - the one in the background of all my 'pregnant belly weekly update' photos), and I took a few contractions seated on the toilet. As much as I hated going through contractions on the toilet for both of my other births, and as much as I feared the violent intensity of the position, I ultimately knew that it would help me to meet my baby sooner. With Seb in front of me, my arms thrown around his neck for dear life, we worked through several back-to-back rushes like this, just until the bath was full. And they were intense. Such power forcing my yoni open ! I almost uttered those famous words (I CAN'T DO THIS !), but I knew the bath was almost full, and we managed to get through three or four like that (and I am convinced now that the majority of dilation happened on the toilet). So into the bath I tumbled and oh ! what sweet relief to feel the warm water on my belly. I find it interesting now that I remained forward-leaning for the entire duration of my labour, but was blissfully unaware that Chloë was heading out of my womb "sunny side up", or posterior. Remembering, of course, that this labour for me was such a whirlwind, and that not even an hour and a half passed between that first real contraction and the birth of my baby.

I am not sure if it was the warmth of the water around me, or the relief of being off the toilet, but the next contractions that I experienced - leaning forward onto the edge of the bath, knees spread as wide open as the walls of the tub would allow - well... they were, indeed, orgasmic. And so the great myth is confirmed ! I was able to relax right down into myself, and the position I was in only encouraged this kind of pleasurable feeling, as it just so happened to be our preferred position for sex over the last months of pregnancy. I allowed myself to open completely to the tightenings and pressure going on inside me, and moaned loudly and deeply through each one (Seb says I was actually chanting "open, open, open" with every contraction, and he says it certainly sounded like I was heading towards orgasm by the intensity of my vocalizations...). For the record, I don't think I could have climaxed, ie., had a full-blown orgasm at any point during my labour, although the contractions I experienced at this point in the tub (and whilst pushing later on....) absolutely did provoke sexual, sensual and pleasurable sensations within me. Could they have brought me to full-on orgasm ? I'm not certain, but oh, how I would love to find out, to push that boundary, and get the chance to give birth just one last time in order to know for sure ! And needless to say, if I wasn't a birth junkie before, I sure as hell am one now.  *grin*

The contractions continued to get stronger, but it felt good. I was in control and I was staying on top of them. I felt strong and powerful and soft and open all at once. Seb was in and out of the bathroom and bedroom now (stepping out on to the back deck to snap a photo of the incredible full moon we had that night), and I reckon that I slipped off at this point into Labourland - a place where I didn't need him anymore, and one where I couldn't take him, either. Physiology had taken over. Each contraction required more focus than the last, and I realised after the fact that my body had started pushing a little with each of them. That's when my water broke. And I said aloud (because in my haze I wasn't sure) : "Something just gushed out of me.... it was more than just 'bloody show'.... oh, it's the water bag... I just broke my water, Seb". All very matter of fact. No panic. But what a bizarre sensation to feel such a strong gush of fluid exploding out of my vagina while submerged in the water; I remember feeling vaguely disappointed that none of my babies would be born in the caul (with both of my other births I had asked to have my bag of water broken for me at 9-10 cm, and I was not in the water at the time).

It was then that I reached down and felt my cervix. I could feel it was really soft and stretchy around the head (what a trip for a future midwife to feel her own cervix as her very first palpation of a cervix in labour !). I was probably 8 cm dilated, or so, but I knew something didn't quite add up, as the head was not well applied, kind of coming at the cervix on a funny angle... but again, no true realisation that she could be posterior, just that the head at my fingertips did not seem to be coming straight on to my cervix.... how weird it was for the midwife in me to be still vaguely trying to assess things at this point, while ME, the birthing woman, was actually, literally, on another planet entirely. I totally get what Michel Odent says about stimulating the neo-cortex of a labouring woman, and why it's not a good idea, and why in some cases (as it was here in mine), it just won't bestimulated ! It was as if I couldn't get my 'birthing woman' head out of the fog to realise what my fingers were trying to tell the midwife in me. In any case, and in typical fashion once the waters are broken, the intensity of the contractions, the pain, the grunting and 'pushiness' (oh, all that pushiness ! another sign that I missed that should have told me she was posterior) - it all picked up after that, and the sensual, orgasmic nature of the beast had all but disappeared. Several more contractions, and I remember trying to prepare myself for the hardest part of labour, saying to myself at this point to be strong, stay open, that it's almost over, but not yet, NOT YET.... when before I knew it, the time between contractions increased, the intensity of them tapered, and then right out of the blue, and completely unexpectedly, I was having what many call the "rest and be thankful" stage. I was incredulous. I had gotten through transition, and didn't even know it, and was now saying to myself, "This can't be !? Am I resting and being thankful ? ALREADY ?" And that's when I realised my midwife had arrived, and was busy in the bedroom getting her supplies ready. "Sinclair, I think I'm pushing." "Ok," she says, "not a problem, I'll be right there." And right then I knew I wanted to get out and continue pushing on the bed. I had my first contraction since the restful phase, and I thought I'd try out the pushing a bit, so I just added slightly to the physiologic pushing my body was doing already, and it felt right. Excellent. No vaginal exam necessary (not that Sinclair had even offered); I knew I was fully dilated, and now it was time for the bone-stretching work of the second stage to begin.

I will admit to a little fear at this point (Right. Who's kidding who ? I was scared shitless), as two and a half years earlier, Sophie (9 lbs 3 oz) had been born with a nucchal arm (her arm up alongside her face). The pelvis-splitting pain of pushing during that birth will forever haunt me, and apparently the memory of it hadn't left the recesses of even my primal brain, as the fear was most definitely within me in that moment, as I looked ahead to what pushing might bring. . .

Before the next contraction began, and without a word to Seb or Sinclair, I got out of the tub and bee-lined for my bed. Straight onto my hands and knees, and buried my head into the pile of pillows and the bean bag chair at the head of the bed. More testing out of the waters, by me consciously adding a little bit to the next pushing contraction, and I felt confident I could now push as little or as much as I needed to, and began the task of figuring out the whole pushing thing all over again. Push too little with the contraction, and it hurt... push too much, and it hurt. I was into the swing of things soon enough, though, and quickly got the hang of it. With the confidence that my body was on track and doing what it needed to do, the fear had melted away. I relaxed deeply once again, and those sensuous, orgasmic feelings came rushing right back --how wonderful ! Oh, pushing felt AMAZING ! Well, as long as no one touched my lower back, that is. I winced in pain and cried out several times for them NOT TO TOUCH MY BACK (still no clue that she was posterior, of course).

I really need to say that I just loved the silence in the room while I was pushing. I am so grateful to Seb and Sinclair (and to Minerva, who was so supremely discreet - just as I knew she would be) for respecting me, my wishes, enough to just let me do what I needed to do, and to support me through it... in silence. What a gift. I was able to tune right into my body and I experienced an entirely physiologic pushing stage as a result. And that perfect silence was only broken by Sinclair, when she joyfully announced "I can see the head now, Emma. She's got lots of hair !"

To view the rest of this amazing story complete with some incredible images, and some info on placenta encapsulation, CLICK HERE.


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