Six weeks ago our daughter Ema Onawa was born. These first weeks with her have been blissful as we have been enjoying and relishing in every moment, first smiles, first cries, first cuddles, all of it spectacular. We are just now slowly exiting the baby bubble and the fog that comes along with having a newborn. Onawa was born at home September 8th 2011 at 11:34 p.m. Surrounded by family and friends our baby girl was welcomed into our home and on to this magical place we call Earth with peace, warmth and love.
My labor started on the morning of the 8th, I went about my day taking care of Owen and tidying up the house not exactly sure if that day would ultimitely be our childs birthday or not. I did however ask Sal to stay home from work as my contractions were strong and regular enough for me to think it might be time for us to meet out baby sooner rather than later. As the day went on my contractions stayed quite regular, about 10-15 minutes apart and strong enough that I would take pause when feeling one come on. I stayed in touch with my birth team throughout the day, letting them know how I was feeling. Around 6 p.m. I was starting to think this birth was going to be the same story as with Owen, long and in need of help to get moving. It had almost been 12 hours of pre labor and although I was feeling fine I was getting scared that I would have a repeat of Owen’s birth story. And so I decided to ask my friend Marika over. Extremely knowlegable about birth, as well as a strong, supportive woman and a close friend I knew she was the perfect support person for my labor. When Marika arrived at my house I was upstairs in the bath. With the bussiness of the day and taking care of a toddler I was feeling that maybe I was stuck in early labor because I was not focused and so I decided to take some much needed time alone. Surround by the aromas of birthing oils and candlelight I started to look inward, letting myself surrender to the birthing process, asking it to come to me, and focusing on my strengh as a women and my abilities to birth from within. I was glad for this time alone to welcome birth, I told my little one I was ready to meet him or her, ( as we did not find out our baby’s gender) that we would together have a peaceful and safe birthing journey. After being in the bath for about 60 minutes I decided I was feeling a bit too relaxed and that I was ready to start feeling these contactions stronger. I was ready to meet my baby and I wanted it to happen before the night was through.
Marika and I headed into Owen’s bedroom to have her feel the baby’s position and to practice some reflexology on my feet. Marika suggested we call our friend Jessica over for some labor inducive acupuncture and I completely agreed that that would be a good idea. Jessica arrived around 8 p.m. and got me set up with some needles. All the while Sal and Owen were by my side. When I would have a contraction Owen would come to me, embrassing me tightly. I could tell he wasn’t scared for me but genuinely feeling compassion for me and giving me his support. I could feel his love for me radiating out of his body on to mine. Love is such a powerful thing, and birth has shown me that like no other experience in life. When held by Owen I hardly felt the pain of my contractions at all, and as the night progessed and the intensity of my contractions hightened Sal was nessasary for me to get through. I needed his love and pressence that night like I needed air to breath.
Once all the needles were in place Jessica let me know she would now simply tweak them a little to get my labor coming on stronger. Immediately I received the strongest contraction I had felt all day and from that one out they kept coming 4 minutes apart. If anyone ever needed living proof that acupuncture can work this was it! By this time it was 8:30 p.m. and time for our little Owen to go to bed. His Nana and Lito came to pick him up. I was sad to have him go and sad that he would miss out on this experience, however he needed his rest and looking back on it now I wonder if I truly could have let myself progress into the heart of labor with him present.
With labor now fully active Marika phoned for Roxanne (our midwife) to come over. By 9 p.m. Rox had arrived with her daughter as her birth assistant. My birth team had meanwhile set up the rest of the house for birth. The lights were dimmed, candles lit, peaceful music put on and our bedroom ready for birthing. Rox checked me and I was dilated to 5 centimeters, this made me so happy, I knew I would be soon meeting my baby. My friend Rebecca arrived shortly after this as she was to take photos of the birth. I was in the middle of a strong contraction when she arrived but as soon as I got a break I took time to say hello. My whole birth team was now present and their love and positive energy was helping me through this beautiful journey.
Labor was really starting to pick up now, I was trying different positions, vocalizing throughout my contractions and needing Sal’s touch every moment of it. His presence was calm and so supportive, exactly what I needed him to be. As the contractions got stronger I kept waiting to fall into some foggy laborland where I would be sort of lost within myself but rather I found myself extremely alert and the most present I have ever felt in my life. Between contractions I was able to stay connected to what was happening around me and when another contraction would come I would completely let it wash over me, never resisting but rather becoming one with the sensation.
Suddenly my body was sweating profusely, I was so hot and decided it was time to remove all layers. My body began shaking out of my control and I finally hit a point in my labor where I was telling everyone around me I couldn’t do it anymore, I told Rox if it got any harder I wouldn’t be able to do it anymore. This was a sure sign that I was in transition. Rox asked to check my cervix again, I was at 8 centimeters and this felt very disappointing to me as I thought hours had gone by but little did I know it had only been about one hour since she had last checked me. My labor was moving fast, I however wasn’t aware of that. Not too long after this I started feeling the urge to push. I was sitting up on the bed leaning back into Sal, not at all how I had envisioned birthing but actually so perfect. I could lean back into him when I needed rest and push into his arms for strength when I needed to push. It was with this part of my labor that I realized how much I truly did not experience pushing with Owen’s birth. My epidural had worn off by the time I was pushing him out but wow that could not compare to what I was now feeling.
I found pushing to be a much more interactive part of labor, you have to give it all the strength you can muster, you have to make yourself experience pain like no other, it’s a choice I find you have to make, not something that just takes you over. Whereas with contractions you just let them wash over you and you go along for the ride. I found myself holding back when pushing because as soon as the pain would get unbearable I would stop or not give it as much power. I finally had to come to terms with myself that if I wanted to meet my baby I would have to feel the worst pain I have ever known. I started telling myself, “burning!”, ” I want this to burn” while pushing as I knew that would mean my baby was crowning. I was starting to get very impatient to meet this little one, I had waited 9 months to meet this little being inside of me and I didn’t want to wait anymore. I needed to hold my baby, I needed to give him or her some big kisses. I screamed a few “get this baby out”, “OUT!!!”, “I want my baby!” a few times, the people living in the townhouse next to us must have had an entertaining night for sure. Soon our baby’s head was crowning and once out I still had to push like crazy, no sliding out after the head for this gal, this was one BIG baby! Finally My work paid off and Rox placed her on to my bare chest. I looked down to my baby and couldn’t stop exclaiming “I love you, I love you so much!”. Hypnotized by my baby I never even thought to check for gender, Sal finally asked if we could find out, what a trooper for waiting so long to ask. A little girl! We couldn’t have been happier. She started inching her way to my breast and did a great job latching right on. Our little girl was so alert, with eyes wide open, a few people in the room commented on how wide awake she was and that was when I knew her name would have to symbolize this and also my birth experience of being so utterly present the entire time. We later decided on Ema; meaning embracing everything and Onawa; meaning wide awake, the perfect description of her being and my birth experience.
About an hour after her birth, after sheets had been changed, our baby girl weighed, food consumed I started feeling intense contractions again. I had been feeling some pretty gnarly after pains but this was different I knew something wasn’t right. As soon as I let Rox know how I was feeling she also knew something was wrong. I was hemorrhaging, my uterus had filled with blood cloths from the wound site left behind by my placenta. Rox gave me a shot of pitocin and began to palpate my stomach, helping to push out the blood clots. I lost about 5 cups of blood and was wiped out at the end out this. I just kept thinking how unfair this was. That I had gone through all that work to meet by baby and that now I was too exhausted and in pain to just simply enjoy her. But it is because of my daughter that I was able to stay conscious and to co-operate with what Rox wanted me to do. And even after experiencing this part to my birth experience I would still describe my whole experience to be beautiful, empowering and extraordinary. The people that were present were everything I needed them to be and will forever reside in my memory of that day. This birth was also everything I needed it to be, healing, empowering and of course a gift; gifting my husband and I with the most precious and perfect baby we could ever want.