Stephanie's FreebirthOct 20, 2021
September, I opened up to receive my fourth baby with my husband. Life was busy, and chaotic, and my fertile window opened and closed without our coming together at all. October and November passed in the same way— always too busy to make love in my fertile time. December came, and I was not going to let this time get away— I wanted a summer baby. We finally connected during my fertile time, and I KNEW as we made love that my baby was sparking into life.
I felt like we were floating in outer space, surrounded by stars, and one of the stars came out of the sky and into my womb. It’s was one of the most intense, ecstatic, interrupted, raw, and real experiences of love making we ever had. I remember the kids banging on our bedroom door repeatedly throughout, and the whole thing completed rather quickly. This theme carried on throughout my whole pregnancy, and eventually manifested in my labor and birth. I chose from the very beginning to consult my own intuition FIRST before any outside opinions. Doing this meant that I was content to just trust my process of either being pregnant or not, and choosing to be ok with either eventuality— even though I really did know I was carrying our baby. I never tested.
I didn’t want to need that kind of visual confirmation from the outside. Every time I had a passing thought of seeking tools like that, I went deeper inside of myself to feel into my thoughts and intuition; and every time, the message came back to continue doing the work and simply BE pregnant. So I did. At some point just before conception, I had gone through the Complete Guide to Freebirth, and immersed myself in an atmosphere of total trust in our bodies. Nothing else can really compare with how that course gave me language to articulate my real and truest conviction about birth. And being a part of the online private membership opened up the PERFECT space to put voice to those articulations throughout my entire pregnancy journey. I walked with the women in that space— holding them, and being held. I forged friendships. I FELT held, heard, seen, and loved. I also called in my local tribe I had worked so hard to build when my third child was a baby. I let them love me, I invited them into my sphere and accepted their offerings of story listening and food and companionship. Loving hands were gently laid on my womb to feel my baby, and words of love and wonder were spoken with trust in my ability to carry and birth my baby. These were my friends, and the power of their support was VITAL to my mental health. This was my “prenatal care”, and I felt SO cared for. That’s the whole point.
Toward the end of my pregnancy, I called them all to gather with me in a park under a small grove of trees, and be with me in companionship to hear me speak my birth vision and to speak their heart to me in turn. It was beautiful and powerful. I remember feeling very polarized— not in a bad way—with my baby the entire pregnancy. It was difficult to articulate, but I kept saying “I feel like I am a tree with roots as deep as my branches are tall, and that my baby is a star in the heavens.” I felt tethered to the earth, and attached to this thing far in the sky. The closer I moved into my birthing time, the shorter the tether became until it felt like the sky and the earth overlapped like the edge of a Venn diagram. I was right in the middle of that overlap. What a trippy place to be!
That least week was so intense. I had carried my previous babies “post dates”, so when I was feeling all kinds of odd emotions at 39 weeks, I thought I was going to spend another month like that. It depressed me— I had been planning to go to the FBS retreat and camp nearby with my husband (I didn’t want to make that drive alone), and I was so annoyed at my inability to pack those few days before we were to leave. I kept wondering why nothing would come together and why I couldn’t focus on solutions. My friend came over that morning to hang out and just hid space for me in trust, while we watched our kiddos play outside together. She left, and that night, another friend came over and massaged me and spoke love and trust to me.
Then I got the call that my aunt was extremely unwell, and in what seemed to be her last hours on earth. My mom had asked if we could come say our goodbyes and hold space while she passed, and I felt so badly that I couldn’t make the drive. I could barely sit for a few seconds from the pressure in my pelvis. It got me wondering how I was supposed to make an eleven hour trip to the campsite, but I brushed it off as just needing rest and it would work itself out. Well, it did.
My body felt indescribably open and shifting; all night on the 25th of August, I paced, breathed, showered, dozed in a knee chest position (it was the only way I could sleep), drank, munched seaweed and nuts, and prayed. When my husband woke up that morning, he found me dozing in the bathtub, torpid and rather blasé. He stood in the doorway studying me, before asking tentatively “Is this the real thing?” I replied, shrugging, “I’ll know when a baby comes out.”
I could tell he wanted me to tell him to go to work or stay home, but I didn’t know what I wanted at that point so I said nothing. He eventually decided to go to work, assuring me he’d keep his phone on. Oh my gosh— when he walked out the door, I felt like the world was imploding upon me. My three older kids annoyed me all morning, and just kept throwing food at them to keep them out of my space. I was so bone tired, and raged at the need for my husband to work on the day I was laboring our baby earthside just so he could afford to take time off afterward.
I also had spectacular moments of high when the energy coasting though my body felt almost visible and I would burst into song or tinker on our piano. I also had many moments of stillness in my spirit, when I would be silent and stare off into space while my kids played around me. When my husband got home from work, he could tell I desired space alone, so he took our children out to fetch food.
During that hiatus from the noise, I walked outside in my robe and bare feet, to connect with the earth again. I walked to our huge oak tree, placed my hands on it, looked up into the swaying branches, and said “I am grounded and safe. My roots go deep. No wind of my own rushes can blow me down. I am Birth. I own this.” I inhaled slowly the scent of rain and felt the drops plip plip plip on my tired face, like a caress. My energy was renewed and walked back into my nest to continue my birthing process.
I paced more, I sang, I ate, I drank, I played a few dissonant random notes on the piano... I slept, I bathed, I breathed. I tried watching a show but quickly turned it off. I tried playing music but it was too linear. My husband returned with my children after what felt like several hours, and he had food for me which I nibbled at but couldn’t finish. The radius of my movement throughout the house became smaller and smaller the more I labored, and soon I found myself staying in my bedroom. We attempted a half assed bedtime, but it quickly dissolved into the kids just hanging out in our room jumping on the bed and running around playing.
My husband thought this would annoy me (it totally would have, most days), but I actually loved it. Their energy helped me retain my trust in the normalcy of birth. It reminded me of this baby’s conception— kids banging on the door, talking loudly, interrupting, asking a million questions, being energetic. It was chaos. But, simple chaos that comes with a full life and messy relationships. It was beautiful in the way their presence honored my ability to birth— they were free to be themselves, just like I was free to be what I needed to be.
There were no airs being put on, no assumptions were being made about me, no assertions into my space by people wanting control. They were beautifully curious and wild and trusting. I was naked and roaring and snarling and loving and laughing and raging and weeping and shattered and powerful. Eventually, my husband led them up to our attic where the tv is, and they watched a movie. This was when I dug deep and my entire Self immersed into a wildness I can’t even fully recall. I remember snippets... A steady groaning and wailing for a while; saying phrases that brought me comfort; weeping and settling into my body’s energy that felt so overwhelming— I let it overwhelm me and didn’t seek a way out of that. I focused in on one of my affirmations that was a picture of a tree, with the words “I am Strong; Powerful”. I repeated it over and over again, with a steady beat in my head like a lamb skin drum. For a long time, this was my space. Soon the words slurred and disappeared and only the rhythm was left in my voice. Transition followed. I hollered for my husband to come because I needed him, but he didn’t hear me being upstairs with the kids. So I found my phone and called him. He came down, and our 2yo daughter followed. I told him I needed him, so he started squeezing my hips like I’d needed last two babies’ births. I made him stop and go get my fan because I was hot. While he was gone, i felt like I needed water so I moved to the shower, which my daughter followed me into. As I stepped in, I felt another huge sensation mounting, and exclaimed “shitshitshitshitshit!” And I did, in the shower, and my daughter started screaming “Aaaa yucky!! You pooped!!!” and my husband stood in the doorway laughing. And I laughed and my daughter laughed.
I just shrugged and turned on the shower so I could get relief, and my husband cleaned me up. I moved back to the bedroom and Aria went back upstairs. I turned off the fan because I didn’t want baby to get blasted with cold air right upon emergence (especially if they were breech). I moaned that it was intense and my back hurt, so my husband went to resume hip squeezes, to which I snapped “DON'T TOUCH ME!” Fan on, face right in front breathing deeply. Fan off, as I crawl and snark and circle my nest of towels on the floor. I complained “I’m so hot!!”
My husband walked to the kitchen to fetch a cool cloth for my neck. In those few seconds (maybe half a minute, if that), I felt such a powerful urge forcing me to bear down and my body pushed out my baby in one go. My husband ran back in saying, “He’s here??! Babe! You did it! You’re so amazing!!!” It sounded really far away in my head, and I wasn’t seeing anything (I don’t know if my eyes were closed or not). I just rested in my low kneeling squat, baby on the floor between my legs where he’d landed (my torso was really close to the floor when he emerged), and I continued breathing. I remember being in a darkness for what felt like an age, and all the sounds felt echoey around me like I was hearing them from a distance. I heard my husband’s voice say gently, “Your baby is looking for you.” His voice was my lantern in the darkness I needed to come back, and I did. I focused in on my baby who was lying between my knees, slid on hand under his torso studying his amazing little screaming self, then I scooped him up and held him close to my chest to smell him.
The floodgates opened and the ecstasy of purest love burst forth from our bond. I wept with joy while my children witnessed and my husband snapped photos to capture this moment. After a few moments, I moved to our mattress and laid down half on half off to relieve the ache in my arms. Babe’s cord was rather short and it was uncomfortable to hold him so low on my torso waiting for the placenta to come.
I was able to nurse him while lying down sideways, and I did so until I felt that familiar pressure of the placenta sitting on my perineum. This was the first time I’d been able to enjoy owning my placenta birth, and I was thrilled to push it out onto the towel where my baby had lain just a few minutes before. My husband fetched the ice cream bucket for the placenta, and I had him hold our baby while I showered. I shakily wobbled to the bathroom, rinsed off, and brushed my teeth— saying “I did it. I. Did it.” the whole time. I crawled into bed, and my husband put our baby into my arms and covered us up. My 2yo daughter laid down behind me as per usual, and my husband tucked our two older sons into bed. He brought me a glass of water, and we all were cozy in bed.
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