She was waiting for us
We started calling for her on our first night together. Just a few hours after we met on a dance floor, I blurted out “None of us is ever going to find anyone better. I’m going to have to birth you a child”. “Yes you will”, he said, “this is for life”. This was and is the kind of love that demands embodiment. We got engaged five days later.
Two miscarriages later she came to us. By that time we had only been together for 2 ½ menstrual cycles, so we really got to know each other via her. Knowing what we know now, we understand why she chose us.
My first child was born at home. It was a slow process with a bunch of annoying elements that begged a do-over. Basically, this time I wanted to give birth alone in a wardrobe like a cat, maybe with some additional making out. Lovemark had experienced 3 regular hospital births, so I really wanted for him to live something else with me.
Being a doula, I taught him all about Orgasmic Birth, made him watch The Business of Being Born and so on. We wanted to film all of it, play our pre-made playlist and most of all be alone in the birthing process. We were so excited, and had already booked the midwives for the homebirth.
There goes the birth plan!
At the routine ultrasound at 20 weeks, the nurse informed us that our little girl’s stomach was on the wrong side. The diagnosis was heterotaxy, a syndrome where there’s unusual placement of organs. How much disturbance this causes for the individual varies greatly, but the biggest and most immediate risk was that our child might have a severe heart defect, or a very compromised immune system. The remainder of the pregnancy was to be a blur of sonograms and worry – and we could forget about the home birth!
Even though it was a shock, in a way we weren’t surprised. We had talked a lot about who was coming to us when we had the miscarriages, and we knew it would be an unusual child because our relationship can bear that. We were to be tested, and our love for her and each other was going to endure whatever was coming.
In terms of her health, we wouldn’t know for sure how bad it was until after birth, so we kept scanning and reading to see what challenges were ahead. Eventually, the doctors deemed her heart fit for vaginal delivery, which was a huge relief.
We quickly realized that the best we could do for her was to completely saturate her in oxytocin. Laugh, sing, dance and make love to make blood, hormones and nutrition flow and circulate. So that’s what we did. Whatever her condition was, we wanted to consciously optimize it by drenching her in love.
The first time I gave birth it took 3 days of pretty active labor, and by the last centimeter I got stuck with a hard cervix for hours. I had to push by sheer will, without any real urges to do so, while the midwife pushed the turtle neck of my cervix over the baby’s head. Afterward I realized that there were too many people influencing me during that birth, and not all the vibes were good.
The main differences between then and now, apart from this being a healthy relationship, was 1. This was not just my second, but the fifth child in our family, and 2. I would have to go to hospital, and know when to leave home. Despite having assisted a number of births, the whole concept of changing location while in labor felt daunting.
The mucus plug loosened on a Thursday night, 2 weeks before her due date. 4 days (!) of irregular contractions and dripping water followed. All the kids were with us that weekend, and despite Lovemark basically doing all the housework and parenting, it stressed me out. When I was awake the rushes felt futile, and when I rested they just stopped.
By Monday, we were finally able to send all the kids off to family, which was a relief since I was so frustrated and pain affected that I couldn’t be civil anymore. Half an hour after the last one was dropped off I was squat-dancing and deep moaning in the kitchen.
We tried to eat a little and rest for a while, and downloaded an app to time the contractions. After just 3 of them it yelled “GO IN!”, as they were about a minute apart already. “It can’t be that urgent”, I said and took to the bathroom, lit a candle and started singing to really get into it. 10 minutes later he found me projectile vomiting over the bathtub with my waters splashing all over the floor. “That’s it, we’re going”, he said and left to get the car.
There goes the birth plan, again
At around 1 o’clock in the morning I literally crawled into the foyer of the hospital. We were admitted to a room with dimmed lights and a midwife who took her time going through our birth letter, letting us know she really wanted to respect it (it mostly consisted of No’s). But the CTG was worrying and given our daughter’s condition, the interventions began anyway. For 5 months we had been prepared for disaster, so we couldn’t really resist monitoring when it actually seemed like she was in danger.
They examined me and told me that I was only 2cms open. “What?! These are transition pains!” I yelled in disbelief. “Yeah, well at least you’re effaced…”, the midwife said in a pitiful tone. I was yet to learn that that softness was the ticket.
The doctor was called, and I had to agree to that awful fetal monitoring screw being attached to my baby’s head. 3 times I was put on my back for examinations involving scraping her scalp, which was pure torture. The contractions were violent and unrelenting, barely giving me time to breathe in between. Lovemark, still wearing his hat, massaged me as much and as hard as he was able, but all of our good vibes-gear was left in the bag. My strategy to stay in my body was to close my eyes and sing long notes, loud enough to drown out all the wires, people, speculums and lights. He tells me I was pretty rude to everyone too, but that I can’t remember…
That escalated quickly
About 2 hours after arrival, I was 4 centimeters open. I remember thinking “Oh God no, another few hours of this will kill me”. I had finally been freed from the CTG machine and was standing alone in the bathroom, hot showering my belly, trying my hardest to just be inside the sensations and not panic. Use the force, use the force… Just when I started to feel like I was progressing, the door swung open and I was ordered out of my little shower-cave because the baby apparently was VERY stressed. The obstetrician wanted to inject my uterus with water, in case the cord was squeezed. That’s where I drew the line and stopped the cascade.
I told the midwife that the contractions were starting to “rage”, like I was a tube getting squeezed, and if I could just be left alone it would probably go fast. I didn’t feel like my baby was in trouble, I felt like she wanted to get out. Did they want her out, or did they want to get me through another painful intervention? Thankfully, she got the message. “Alright, but you have to get on all fours, because that’s the position she seems to be doing best in. And hey, if you want to push, do it.”. Push from 4 centimeters? Madness, I thought, but at that point I happily did anything to make it all be over.
Orgasmic, after all
During the pregnancy I had learned to squirt, which was a whole new type of orgasm for me. Having practiced extensively how to ejaculate far and wide, I had really gotten a grip on those muscles. Now feeling a real pushing urge for the first time in my life, I realized that this was my chance to take control of this birth. So I pushed with all that good muscle, and let go in the orgasmic finale of a pregnancy that after all was steeped in pleasure.
“Yep,” said the midwife, “Dad, you can come around here and catch, ‘cause we see the head.” What? Already?! I pushed again, and Lovemark’s hands were full of goo. Third push, a mere 20 minutes after that 4 centimeter check, and she was out.
Turns out all that dancing and smooching we did in the days prior had ripened me perfectly. It was all labor, even when we thought it wasn’t. Centimeters didn’t matter, because I was soft and the baby knew what she was doing.
She came, took to the breast and surprised everyone with her vitality. No heart problems, full apgar scores, the fattest umbilical cord the midwife had ever seen. And I didn’t even tear.
Her first month in life was laden with a thousand examinations that broke our heart but made us religious. Her inner organs are all jumbled, she has multiple spleens and a small heart defect, but she is strong and healthy. A one in a million miracle child.
The birth of our love child turned out to be a testament to love. We trusted our baby, she trusted me, and luckily we got a midwife who trusted us both. That alone made what could have been a chaotic and fearful hospital birth, where nearly all my wishes were thrown out the window, into a dignified and strengthening experience that we can all be proud of.