~The Freebirth of Roland Antonio ~
June 28, 2018
Roland is my third child, second born at home with only my partner and other children present. Every birth is different, every birth reveals lessons in life and helps us become wiser as a result.
My first birth was traumatic, but it lead me to seek out a better way, to find my power, to a new passion, to birth my way. I tell my oldest it was meant to be, that she helped lead me to family birth so that her sibling’s would have peaceful births; she loves this idea.
My second birth was simple in a powerful way, it healed the pain of my first in its simplicity. It connected me to my mind, body and soul. No mess, no drama, simply perfect and as it needed to be to heal me and show my partner what birth truly can be.
I knew my third birth would be its own. I had ideas of what I wanted while at the same time knowing I also had to respect how my baby would choose to be born. Mostly it was little details, which I gradually had to come to terms with letting go. My home would never be perfectly organized, my baby wanted me on my hands and knees so catching him and guiding him out wasn't going to happen, and I knew I would be okay letting go of these little details because the bigger things were perfect and unexpected.
I also feel this birth had to be more intense. I was having these thoughts of not wanting to go through labor again (only 17 months after my last). I had this strange anxiety at times and looking back maybe it was my minds way of preparing for a different experience, a long more intense experience. At the same time I would find the thoughts silly, because as intense as it can be I didn’t fear birth in the least. So I worked through my anxiety by flowing with the idea of what an intense experience might look like, asking myself…where could this be coming from, letting my thoughts take me where I needed to be. Finding peace before our birth dance took place.
While I worked on finding peace mentally I was also struggling with some serious physical discomfort the last few months of pregnancy. Based on how hard it was to hear baby’s heartbeat, the fact I could hear the placenta and the light movements I felt, I was pretty sure my placenta was Anterior (in front of my uterus) and my baby was hanging way back. Way back and obstructing my bladder making it hard to pee even though I always had to pee. So I spent a lot of time on the potty working my urine out; basically I was doing potty yoga because I knew the release was important for avoiding a UTI. I worked to avoid the pelvic pain I had last time with exercise but my hips still ached a bit (I think it had a lot to do with the old bed we had). On top of all that I was having pretty uncomfortable contractions for about a month or two prior to actual labor starting (nursing my one year old didn’t help!). Even with all the discomfort I still wanted at least one more week to finish my last art class and a bit more time to tidy up the house. BUT…
Labor began October 6th (the morning after my birthday and the Full Harvest Moon!). I dropped my oldest off at school that morning without any signs of labor. Upon arriving at home things began. Having had contractions once in a while for a month or two I thought nothing of it. However, I soon realized they were coming more frequently and I couldn't get comfortable. As my partner prepared for work I prepared a bath in an attempt to relax and calm the contractions. The bath was nice but my uterus continued to do its thing. I told myself, surely they would stop...I needed more time...I was going to clean the house really well that day, but they kept coming. My youngest soon woke up and was being surprisingly calm and sweet. I sent my partner a text letting him know he may need to come home soon. I quickly realized things were not going to slow down and that I needed him to help with our daughter who was becoming clingier as time went on. I told him things could go fast since this was my third labor, but you really never know.
On his way home he picked up a few things from the store for my labor-aid drinks and snacks and headed home. As the surges were getting more intense my one year old wanted me. She was getting the yogurt I tried to distract her with everywhere. We hopped into the shower so I could relax a bit until Daddy arrived to help.
When my partner arrived things were still mild but gradually picking up. I gave him a few instructions of what needed to be done...pool set up, labor-aids mixed, cloth pined up on the sides of the porch to block the neighbors view. He flew into action and I entered labor land. I made myself a little nest with a comforter, some towels, and my goddess pillow on the bedroom floor while I waited for him to make our back porch a bit more private. I grabbed my camera because I really wanted to get some of this labor recorded! As I waited I also tried my birth ball, which I loved during my last labor but not so much this time. My baby needed me to be on my hands and knees so that is how I labored. As soon as the last cloth went up on the porch I entered my birthing space, placed my Rose of Jericho on a table, lit some candles (even though it was morning I still liked the feel and look of them in the tin can luminaires I made), placed some of my birth art I created during pregnancy around and labored as my partner prepared my drinks and my daughter did her toddler things. The world around me began to melt away.
As the time went by things weren't too intense. I moved around laboring, still finding hands and knees best. Eventually I told my partner I would like him to get my oldest daughter from school. She was sleeping during my last labor and I really wanted her to witness what labor and birth are really like. While he was getting her I felt the need to squat and release some things. The best thing I could think of was to use the toddler potty to get a good squat going on. When I was done I noticed my mucous plug had come out which was a nice sign of things progressing (Boy was it sticky!).
My daughters and partner arrived home as I continued to labor. I labored outside of the pool to see how I would cope and then labored in the pool without water for a bit since the floor was cushioned. I didn't want to fill the pool too soon but I eventually craved the warm water. So we began filling the pool with hot water using a hose hooked up to the washer pipe. Sweet relief washed over me as my body slipped into the warmth and comfort of the pool.
My oldest thought things should move along more quickly. I had a feeling the baby would take his time but I wasn't sure how long that would be. I tried music for a bit though I was pretty sure I wouldn't like it. And I was right...as soon as a song came on that was slightly annoying the music went off. I have wanted silence in all my births especially during contractions. I had to remind my daughter of this a few times. She was understandably excited and I didn't mind her expressing herself. I was just glad she would get to witness this labor and birth. I have talked to her about birth and showed her videos for years now but nothing compares to being in it. My youngest wanted in and out of the pool and there were a few times I needed my partner to take her away but I wouldn't change a thing about it because we also laughed and I could feel their love and anticipation. I loved having my family around me as I labored and birthed our newest addition.
I knew it was about time for my youngest to have a nap. I attempted to lay down with here for a moment but that just wasn't going to work. Things would get way too intense trying to lay down and nurse her (I was able to nurse her through much of early labor). Eventually the girls went to watch a movie and nap. I did feel more relaxed during that time and continued to labor in the pool as that is where I felt best. I mostly labored on my hand and knees, sometimes I would feel like laying on my side and sometimes I would stand to stretch and sway, working my baby down nice a slow as he needed. I haven't read anything about it making a difference so I do not know for sure if my anterior placenta played any part in his slow decent and position not being "optimal". But I do know this is how my baby needed things to be. I moved around a lot, I rocked, I swayed, got on hands and knees, I squatted and labored over the edge of the pool and on my knees. I moved around the pool as my body and baby guided me to do.
It was a warm October day with scattered showers sweetening the air as my baby and I danced him into the world. For the first time in any of my labors I felt the need to eat. My partner brought me some yogurt and mango…I think because I was in labor it seemed like the best, sweetest yogurt and mango I ever had. In labor the world melts away while at the same time one is more connected to it than ever.
At one point I asked my partner to stand in front of me so I could hold onto him. This only lasted a moment as I needed to get back on my hands and knees, but I remember holding him and as I pulled myself up to his chest I breathed his sent in knowing it would give me a bit more of that oxytocin rush.
This was a long labor and I could tell those around me were pretty bored. I told them they could do other things as this is just the nature of labor. I have plenty to keep me occupied while they can only wait. Many things were different for me in this labor. I began to feel the need to rub my abdomen with each contraction. It felt so good and I wondered why I hadn't touched myself like this sooner or in my other labors. I continued to rub and move around as labor progressed. As it became more intense I found myself humming. I have always found humming comforting though I hadn't really done it in some time. I found myself wondering what my partner must be thinking and quickly thought to myself that I couldn't care less as it felt so good, so right and I laughed at the thought. As I labored I hummed, the pitch and speed changing with the intensity of each contraction, I would rub my abdomen, stand and sway, it was incredibly powerful. I felt connected to the universe in a way I have never felt before, tears began to well up in my eyes (as they are now remembering this). This was a first for me in labor (I have read of others beginning to sob at some point). It was the most amazing feeling and I knew it would soon be time for my baby to emerge. I don't know how long this went on as there is no sense of time in birth land. Soon my sounds had to change, moans, groans, some shrikes, OH Yeah’s, baby babies, Ah’s, expletives and more. This was my most vocal labor yet. I didn't let the fact that I was out on my screened in porch stop me. I needed to make these sounds and that was all that mattered in the moment.
I was ready to birth this baby and he was ready to be born. I kept moving from my knees to hands and knees. I reached down and could feel his head in the sack bulging by the opening of my yoni. I had a feeling he would come this way. This was the first time my waters had not released before the birth. I was working hard all day and I was ready to meet my son. I was eager but kept reminding myself to take it slow and breathe. I felt his head move down and back up...I loved feeling him so clearly as I had not done so with my others. I feel like I was much more connected to my body this birth. I pushed to relive the pressure but not too much too fast...I felt such control that I didn't feel with the others. I cursed at the pressure from the sack still being intact and stated "So that is why they break the sack!" But I hardly noticed when his head came through. I leaned forward to my hands and knees, his head emerging as I move. I ask my partner where we are and I am a little surprised to hear him say the head is out. He goes to support and guide baby out...but I think he is pulling…he was not (women often feel that sensation at this point). I feel my baby coming but then I suddenly felt like everything was backing up inside of me. I say "what is that?"…the best way I can describe it is as if a water balloon was stuck at the opening of my vagina. Now, I believe it was baby’s arms and/or amniotic fluid from my waters staying intact until the last moment, as it seems he did not turn properly for whatever reason. I can't be positive what caused the lack of corkscrewing out as babies normally do, but I am quite sure this is why I tore a bit. (It was uncomfortable but not incredibly painful, I feel this is important to say because so many women are scared of tearing. It also hasn't been painful as it heals and it is healing quite well with rest and a few natural remedies.) I knew I tore as soon as I had my baby in my arms and I say so. In the moment I wasn't concerned with any of that.
As soon as baby was out I flipped around so fast I hardly knew I did it. As I turned and saw my partner holding our baby out toward me, the first thing I noticed was that baby was indeed a boy as I felt all along. Part of me couldn’t imagine having a boy. I say "give him to me" and "I knew it!" I bring him to my chest and he lets out one little cry, I celebrate how cheesy/vernix covered he is. I love vernix, it has to be the softest thing on earth! It was such an amazing moment, such relief after a long intense labor, so different from my last two.
With my second birth the water stayed clear until I moved to the bath tub to bring my placenta earth side. This time the water immediately turned reddish brown. I knew this was normal and assured my family I felt fine. I knew it was because the placenta wasn't far behind little dude. The inner sack/amnion came out with his head. I felt the need to move once again to my bath tub to birth the placenta. It came quick, as soon as I got into a squat to see where it was it was ready to come. I looked it over, my partner got a bowl to place it in, and baby and I went to bed for a rest after a long day. My mother serendipitously showed up at this point and was able to take my two older kids.
While lying in bed with a delicious post-birth meal my partner eventually came to cut the white cord. Roland was born at 6:30 PM and we did not cut the cord until about 9:30 PM (nothing like your regulated delayed cord cutting). With the girls gone we were able to get a good night’s rest. Just me, my partner and our new little dude. He really looked like a little dude too, sideburns and all! A perfect end to a perfectly intense, powerful, spiritual, yet simple birth. Just as it needed to be.