I was 32 when we finally became pregnant with our first child. The journey was a year and a half long and was that first crack in the doorway that would open my world to my true life purpose. My fertility story is one in of itself, but suffice it to say that it was my first taste of how the body, mind and spirit are all intricately connected. I had an energetic block that needed to be released in order for my body to be receptive to pregnancy. But it was all on an unconscious level.
When I did get pregnant, I knew it right away, no tests needed! My pregnancy was easy, peaceful and exciting. We even took an overseas trip to Europe when I was about 30 weeks along. From the very beginning I knew that I wanted a home birth. I inherently have distrusted the modern Western medical approach (thanks to my mother’s love of plants, herbs and all things “hippie” herself). We found the one practicing home birth midwife that I’d ever heard of. On our first visit she asked why I wanted a home birth. I was a little dumbfounded… “I don’t know. I like organic gardening…?” I just knew, and I had no fear or reservations about it. And while I knew that my mother and my mother-in-law did have reservations, they kindly kept most of it to themselves. I think I have a way, when I know what I want, that my confidence assures everyone else. I think that’s the way it should be.
It was in the heat of a Southern July morning when my water broke. A big mess on the front porch but unmistakable. For a lot of people (about 10% of labors start with water breaking first) this situation starts the cascade of interventions. (An OB wants to get labor going as quickly as possible which includes synthetic drugs and often leads to the “emergency” C-section.) But a home birth midwife approaches things differently. We spent a lot of the day walking, waiting. Excited and probably a bit nervous, wondering when it was going to get going.
Well nothing happened that first day. There was no sign of meconium or stress. Contractions were light and long in between. Eventually the midwife suggested that we use some Blue Cohosh and Black Cohosh which we were able to get from the local co-op. It was a long day, so we were advised to try to get some sleep. I think we did get some.
In the morning, with things still moving slowly we used those herb tinctures. I WAS having contractions but they still weren’t the kind that would progress my labor very well. I was hesitant to use the herbs because I knew it meant this was going to get real! And it did, but not in a way that I couldn’t handle.
The windows were open (I think everyone but me was sweltering). I rocked on the birth ball. I made laps around the house. I was in my element and in my abode and I felt safe. I was happy to finally get in the birth tub to relieve some of my back pain/back labor. The midwives sat in the room with me, knitting, reading their magazines. Someone commented about Prince George who was born a week before, but seeing that it interrupted my concentration went back to their quiet observation.
I was in and out of the birth tub, cooling off, moving around. At one point when I was probably in transition, while I was in the tub I had a momentary glimpse. I saw a vision of a man that looked like my dad (the Jewish nose) but had the curly hair of my husband. It was like a dream that didn’t make it to my conscious mind in that moment. I was getting tired, especially of the labor just going on and on!
I really wanted to have the urge to push. Eventually the midwife checked me and gave me permission to start a little pushing. We moved out of the tub and onto our bed.
I pushed. And pushed. And moved. And pushed. And changed position. And pushed. For about 3 hours. Afterward the midwife commended me on being willing to do anything she suggested. I thought, she knew best!
Finally, the midwife said, ”why don’t you go to the bathroom. And I’ll give you some privacy.” I thought that was hilarious because I’d had my legs spread eagle to her for hours already! Why would I need privacy? So I got up and walked to the bathroom.
But I didn’t make it to the toilet. I got to the sink and paused for a strong contraction. I grabbed the edge of the sink and let out a primal sound and then yelled, without conscious thought, “the baby’s coming!” I did think to myself, I wonder if the neighbors can hear me. My husband said “tear that sink off the wall.” I must have been pretty fierce.
I felt the ring of fire and let our another wild sound. And then again, without conscious thought, I announced “its a boy!” (we had decided to not find out the sex of the baby before he was born). Sure enough, I looked down and saw out come a head full of dark hair and the scrotum. The midwife passed him through to me, I stood upright and walked back to the bed. (The sensation of the umbilical cord still connecting us through my vagina was a strange one while walking.)
It would be easy to end the story here, with the crescendo moment. The moment of bliss. But it is also a moment of death (of the maiden, the childless couple, the woman I was before this event) and transformation and for me, confusion.
All my pregnancy I was hoping for a girl. I had only sisters and had no idea what I would do with a boy!! Plus, we had only picked out girls’ names that I liked: Frankie or Chandra. What cool, earthy names. The only idea we had for a boy was James which was totally not like the progressive people that my husband and I are. James was a family name, but not one I was excited about.
So as we sat at the edge of my bed, holding my new baby boy, the midwife asked what his name was. I didn’t answer but my husband said “James.”
Trauma is defined as anything that is too much, too fast or too soon. I was blessed to have an un-traumatic birth filled with love and support. But there was just that one moment that I look back at and wish I would have had an extra moment to say, “we don’t know yet.” It felt like there was imprint on us as a dyad that was a tiny bit of me rejecting something about him.
Birth is an imprint. This is how it works that the astrology of the moment of birth is the imprint from which we will live out our karmas in this life. What I learned many years later, after I discovered the depth and insight of the natal chart, is that maybe it wasn’t me imprinting on him. It was the other way around. And has been all of our lives.