Erica and Baby Cian

Spiraling Earthside

::Cian Alan Osler- Born at home 01/20/2013 @ 3:24 AM:: 8 LBS:: 21 inches long::

It’s weird to sit here in my sitz bath and write this. I have nowhere to place my journal. My blossoming belly, which acted as a substitute desktop, is gone. So instead, I find myself sitting rather awkwardly, tipped to the side to make use of the tub. My beautiful baby is sleeping peacefully next to me, so now it is time to tell his tale of spiraling earthside.

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I found myself very ripe with my fourth child on January 17th beginning my 42nd week of pregnancy. I was in no rush for my pregnancy to end. I adored my belly knowing this was my last time being with child. However, as any woman who has been pregnant can understand, my body was sore. I decided that if I was going to wait for this little person, who was obviously taking their time, I might as well pamper my self a bit. I figured maybe a gentle nudge couldn’t hurt. So I called my D.O. and had some acupuncture. The relaxing zing of electricity rippling through my body brought a feeling of centeredness. I got up feeling revamped. Refreshed. I posted my usual picture on Facebook, letting all my friends and family know I was still indeed pregnant (once I got to 40 weeks of pregnancy, I posted a picture of me pregnant everyday to let the world know I hadn’t had the baby. It was a magic trick that kept my phone from ringing off the hook!).

The next day, which was Friday, I went in for a calming, reflexology massage. It worked wonders to bring comfort to my very ripe body and eager mind. I didn’t feel like posting another picture of myself this day. I felt as if people were probably getting sick of having me continue to show up in their feed, so I let everyone know that I was still pregnant with the mystery baby and feeling well, but had chosen to stop posting pictures of myself at this point.

The following morning I awoke after a greats night sleep with no rushes; pregnant and round. The boys were quick to head out on the farm to do chores, even Vera went with them. I was left in the quiet, pacing around the house feeling quite restless. I felt the need to do something, but the idea of cleaning another thing made the feeling worse. All of my go-to’s had been checked off the list days, even weeks ago. I had even created some, such as organizing the baby’s clothes by gender! I had checked the baby’s heart rate and spent some time rubbing my belly and talking with my babe. I was thankful that the persistently sore spot on my belly had finally given me some relief. I really wanted to go to Parkersburg to visit their gigantic thrift store, but I knew we had a friend traveling to see us and I really didn’t want to drive the hour drive alone. So I resigned myself to staying home. I was feeling extra sentimental; I decided to use this energy and the quiet time to myself talking to my unborn baby. As I lay in bed I watched my belly and gently rubbed my baby. I noticed practice breathing and used the camera to record the subtle, flutters of my unborn baby practicing taking their first breaths. I was in awe. I took a picture of my imminent belly and felt a flood of words and emotions moving outward. Pulling out my notepad I effortlessly wrote a poem to the tiny being within. I told them how much I loved them, how excited and honored I was to get to be their mama. I apologized once again for being ambivalent during our early weeks together. I reminded them that Aquarius was drawing near and that the day was sunny, warm, and a beautiful day to begin our dance. The dance that would begin our transition from one to two.

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My partner’s mom called shortly after to tell us that her and pop-o were headed to Virginia to enjoy the condo they had rented long ago and that they would see us in a week. I decided that the 50-degree January weather had to be indulged in and began my usual walk up the farm’s largest hill. If not for the warm weather and exercise, maybe, just maybe I’d get some good rushes. I walked and puffed, expelling carbon the way up, feeling the burn in my thighs. I got to the top and the openness was calling to me, so I continued to walk. I talked to our baby as I walked and sent out a few texts to good friends. My friends walked this journey with me and were a continuous flow of goodness and love. A friend responded telling me to pick an activity that I could never finish before the baby would be born and surely the baby would choose to come then. She suggested I try climbing a rope. This gave me a good belly laugh and I thanked her for the smile. As I reached the highest point in our corner of the world, I posted one last picture of myself pregnant and the poem I had wrote several hours earlier. On my return hike down I appreciated the dry ground. When I returned home, my partner asked me if I had any “contraptions,” his usual lingo and great sense of humor. Exasperated I responded with a whiney no. Quickly tears followed. I really didn’t want to have to be the one to initiate birth, but was beginning to feel that this baby wasn’t all that interested in coming out of the womb! I didn’t want to waste all of this patience I had generated and still wind up doing anything that made labor begin. Anything beyond gentle nudges, massages, warm baths, and acupuncture made me feel weepy. I wanted labor to start on its own. I told my partner, I was done. Done doing anything other than just putting my feet up, and come Monday, if still no baby, I would reevaluate the situation. I sat down in the chair, rolled to my left side, and choose to surrender to the knowledge of my baby. They would know when it was time for us to begin our transition.

My partner offered to take us out to eat and that sounded absolutely lovely. No cooking or cleaning for me, and I got to get out of the house for a little bit. As we were leaving I noticed some gentle practice rushes but they were irregular and mild. We headed to town in the family van and I sat bouncing along rubbing my belly. The kids were pitching the local Mexican place. Anything sounded good to me, so we headed in that direction. Vera, my two year old, was asleep when we arrived, so I scooped her up. I held her up high on my belly and carried her warm, limp body into the restaurant. She didn’t want to sit in her own chair when she woke, so I snuggled her up, as if knowing it would be the last time for a couple of weeks that I would be able to hold her this way. We ate a great meal and I found myself unusually hungry, finishing off my entire meal. We sat and waited for Vera to finish picking at her food, enjoying each other’s company. As the waitress brought us our check, I had a very long contraction that took all of my attention. Vera took the words right out of my mouth as she said, “I want to go home.” I just agreed with her and said, “me too!” Matt, my partner looked at me with wide eyes and said, “really?!” I explained about the rush and said I felt like we should head home, just in case. As we were leaving, I looked up to an older woman smiling at our family. I can remember feeling a wave of warmth from her reassuring gaze. When we reached the van, I had another rush and I began to look at the clock. It was 7:07 pm. For some reason I felt the need to time them. These were feeling different and I figured at some point they had to start and not fade away. On our 30-minute ride home I had rushes every seven minutes apart. They were gentle and mild, but timeable. I sent my midwife, Delphine, a text message telling her that I was headed home to take a bath, but hopefully this was it! By the time we made it home, she had already called twice. She called again as I was just entering the tub. We chatted about how things were and I explained the nature of my contractions. I explained that they were mild and still spaced, but had been consistent for over an hour. I didn’t need anyone just yet. I agreed to let her know when they were coming closer together and promised that I wouldn’t wait too long before I called. I sat in the warm water watching by belly transform with each rush.

After my bath I drank a big glass of water and tucked in my two boys around 8:30pm. I took Vera to bed an hour later. She was tired and being difficult- I felt it would be wise to take some time to rest and see if the rushes were spacing out, so we went to bed together. The rushes were coming every 9-10 minutes apart. They were gentle, but the energy was centered in my cervix now instead of my belly. 40 minutes after laying down with Vera the increasing pressure in my bottom forced me out of bed. It was making me restless, I needed to move. I thought for sure Vera would be asleep by now and made an attempt for the bathroom. Nevertheless her little head popped up like a jack in the box as soon as I moved. I was losing my patience. I got up and tagged Matt, we exchanged a kiss, and he disappeared into the quiet of our room and I took refuge to the comfort of the bathroom. My stool was hard to pass as it had been for the last two weeks due to baby’s head. As I was preparing to get into the shower to wash up and release some tension with the warmth of the water, Teresa called to tell me that she was sick and couldn’t make it. She told me she was very sorry. I assured her that it was 100% ok and that I hoped she felt better soon. I hung up with a heavy heart. It’s not easy to let got of expectations.

The shower definitely helps with that. When I got out of the shower, it was a little after 11pm. I called my midwife to give her an update. “Rushes were on average 7 minutes apart. Teresa couldn’t make it.” She said “I know, I’m pushing.” My mind came racing to a recent dream I had. One that I chalked up to just a weird pregnancy dream. My midwife and I were at an unfamiliar home. She handed me a bundle of papers, wrapped gently in cloth. She told me it was her story and she wanted me to keep it safe. We moved in a flash frame, as dreams often do, to a living room, where we giggled like schoolgirls about being pregnant together. The dream had shaken me. My midwife was in her Crone phase, she couldn’t be pregnant at the same time as me. Now here I stand, in labor and she is telling me she was pushing. I knew in an instant what reality those words carried. Then I hear her calm voice on the other end of the phone and I snap back to the now. “I’ve called Dorothy and I have her ready to come if we need someone fast. I’ll call you back as soon as possible.”

I immediately felt a huge wave of heavy sadness. I felt overwhelmed and alone. I came out and told Matt that Delphine might not be coming, but before the words could be finished I began to cry. Matt, with his tender hands wrapped me in his strength and tried to reassure me that it would all be okay. “She’ll more than likely make it babe, it’ll be ok.” I felt concerned. I had never even met Dorothy. I wanted my Midwife. I hadn’t even thought about Delphine not being present, and now that I was faced by that possibility, I realized just how much I wanted her to be there. I had a good cry, got it all out. I calmed myself down by reminding myself, more than once, that birth always happens as it should. I sat on the couch with Matt and an icy glass of water, working my way through the reality that the two women I had planned on being at my birth from the very beginning would not be coming. Its interesting the lessons we get in the midst of great transformations.

As my rushes got closer to every 5 minutes, I decided now was a good time to call Angeleena, my younger sister who was to be our helper and photographer. She answered the phone and I could tell that she was not at home. She instantly sounded worried, “You’re not in labor are you?” I told her that I was, and she said she had been drinking. I made it clear to her not to drive down and that I loved her.

I had to pee, again. As I peed I had a good rush. I sat and rocked on the toilet, breathing deep. The visual sign of fresh blood gave me a rush of adrenaline for I could finally commit to the fact that this was it, our baby was really coming now. I came out with a smile. I told Matt, “We are having a baby!” He looked at me with a funny look, “I know babe.” He probably thought I was crazy. Why else would we be setting up the birth pool.

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I sent my midwife a text: “Bloody show. Ctx still 6-7 min. Hope you can make it. Love you.” I decided to call Anne now. I knew we would need her soon. I called twice but did not get an answer. I left a message telling her it was time and that I would call back in a few minutes. As I got off the phone, Matt was pacing. “Please call Pia babe, I would feel better knowing that she is at least on her way.” I knew this information would bring him great peace, so I called Pia. Pia is a SoulSisterMamaMidwife that I met during my midwifery schooling at Sacred Mountain. It was close to 12:30. When she answered the call, I was relieved just by the sound of her voice. Pia was almost to ST RT 33 and would be to our home soon. I told her about the nature of my labor so far and she shared with me that today was her Grandma’s 92nd Birthday- that made me smile. I got off the phone and started another rush, noting that they were closer to 4.5 minutes apart. Matt was happy to know that Pia was close. Anne had beeped in during my phone call with Pia, so I returned her call to confirm that we were ready for her to come. I passed the phone to Matt to center myself for another wave. Their rhythm was increasing.

My mind kept floating back to Delphine. I hadn’t gotten a text back, so I figured I would call one last time, knowing I was about to get busy. On the other end of the line answered Karen’s sweet voice. She told me that Del was starting an IV, mom was bleeding, and Delphine would call me back. I knew in that moment that my midwife would not be making it to my last birthing experience. I blew that extreme sadness away with the knowing intuition that she was where she needed to be. Matt and I finished readying the birth supplies. I made up the birth tray just as I would if I was attending a birth with Del as the apprentice. I set all the towels and wash clothes out in order on the kitchen table. Took note that the placenta bowl and trash bags were out, and placed Matt’s “oh shit” handle, the instructions on what to do if the baby comes before the midwife, trusting that I would be able to walk him through it if it was needed. Matt had Sean Hayes’ Lunar Lust playing- the perfect music to listen to- he just knew what to pick. We walked the house together, our last minutes alone during our labor. This sweet time of labor was everything I had mourned for since my last three-hour birthing experience. That time was delicious, I was in no rush. Matt was attentive and loving, standing behind me with endurance and strength. He would encircle my body with strong arms. Safety at its best.

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Pia arrived sometime between 12:30 and 1AM. Her smile and presence in or home were very welcome. I felt bathed in love as she hugged me and expressed her joy at being present. I felt myself sink deeper into relaxation with her being at our home, partly due to seeing the peace it brought Matt and knowing that someone I trusted dearly was here with us. Pia quickly began her duties to the sacredness and safety of birth. She checked the baby and me, scribbling her labor notes on little yellow sticky notes since my chart was with my midwife. She took over the timing of rushes, which was nice because I had already begun to forget to pay attention. At this point I was still mobile and talkative, but was beginning to stop and rock with the rushes. As Pia’s presence brought me deeper relaxation, the rushes began to feel different and quickly began rolling in every 3 minutes. Anne arrived about 15-20 minutes after Pia and came in with a smile and food. I received a big hug from my heart mom and she quickly and quietly made herself a part of the room. Matt asked if I was ready to fill the pool and at that I time I was not. However, within 20 minutes I felt it was time. My rushes seemed to be inching closer together and I knew it would take some time to get the pool filled. Pia and I alternated checking the temp of the water and as the water filled the pool, I stripped down and climbed in. The water is sensational. It wraps around my body, creating a warm silky embrace as it takes away the weight of my body. I assume a hands and knees position, allowing my ripe belly to hang in the warm water and I breathe through a rush. I turn over to sit, exclaiming how much I love the water. I quickly need to go back to hands and knees to breathe through another rush. I ask Matt when its over to begin the recording, it was time to begin the video of labor. As he comes downstairs he switches the song to play, To Be Born, as I listen to the melodic voice, so many emotions come flooding over me, it is almost time for our baby to be born. The rushes begin to change in energy and my song begins. I must “sing” through each breath to keep the intensity of my rushes painless- if I stopped making the low, long, steady song- it all felt so much more intense. Vera, our daughter woke up, but Matt easily got her back to sleep. I quickly fell into labor land, hearing the words of encouragement and support that seemed to be miles from me. It felt nice to hear their loving words, but conversation was over. I can remember hearing Matt say “Geez babe, what’d you do, go back and take hynpobirthing with out me?” It made me smile. The rushes were coming more quickly now, rolling in with the rhythm of ocean waves. They were lasting a good eight long breaths. Singing my birth song helped keep my breaths slow and steady. Keeping my voice low directed my energy and baby downward.

Cass, my eldest child, was the first to wake up. He stuck his head out sleepily and looked out. I smiled and let his know he was welcome to come out. I asked him if I woke him. “No, I had a dream that woke me, but then I heard singing and thought you and Matt were watching Opera.” We all giggled at this. My body was beginning to push involuntarily as I breathed out. I could feel the baby entering my pelvis and the energy of the rushes began to change. I let everyone know that the rushes were now different. Pia confirmed stating, “That was a good one, are you pushing now?” “No that is my body,” I reply. The phone rang in the middle of my next rush, but I stayed focused. I heard Matt and Pia disappear into the laundry room and I knew Delphine wasn’t coming. When they returned to the room I asked if the mom was OK and they reassured me that she was. The phone rang a few minutes later and I heard Matt-giving directions.

I continued my work of singing baby down. I knew I was hitting transition as a wave rushed through me and I felt that familiar sense of warmth, nausea, and, adrenaline. I can remember thinking it won’t be long now. My rushes grew in intensity.

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Hands were always present, steadying me with love. Hands to hold, to wipe the sweat from my brow, on my back tying me quietly to this realm. My     support team understood the quest I was undertaking and held my space with touch.

My singing grew louder as my rushes built to their crescendo. Forest, my second born, woke up during this time and looked out, slightly shocked that there were people in his living room. We all welcomed him out. I was sure to speak directly to him and let him know I was okay and that we were having the baby. At this time, my rushes were taking all of my attention. I slipped away into a space of intuitive knowing and being. I continued to breathe my baby down. After another rush, I knew they were changing again. I checked myself and didn’t make it to the second knuckle before I felt the baby’s head. “I feel baby’s head,” I excitedly informed everyone. I showed Pia on my finger where baby was. I knew I could begin adding energy to the work my body was already doing- I changed my song to match the energy of my uterus and focused on bringing my baby down and into the light. Matt had changed the music to Mickey Hart’s Music to be Born By. I could feel my body working in perfect coordination. I loved my uterus. My noises went from singing to low grunting. I felt primal and strong. After several rushes, I heard the door open. As one rush ended I looked over to see a smiling face. It was Dorothy. She was kneeling and quietly assessing the space. She was quiet and calm, I smiled and went back to my body. The rushes were so intense and my pushing switched to some closed mouth efforts. The rushes were taking over my whole body. Energy rushed down, down, down. The weight of the baby hung heavy, filling the bowl of my pelvis. I could hear myself saying my usual, “I need the baby out now.” I began to wonder why the baby wasn’t crowing. Pressure from within. Baby’s head propping my pelvis apart. I asked out loud, “why no crowning?” Pia’s sweet voice echoed back, “Honey, I know you are comfortable..” and I knew exactly what she was saying. I pushed back into a froggy/squatting position.

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More rushes. Roaring baby down. I could feel baby coming. I put my hand down to feel baby crowning. I pushed the pressure from the baby’s head away from the front. I visualized my opening yoni as my fingers could feel the bulging sac of waters. “I need the baby out now, I want the baby out now!” The head moves out, another rush, no baby. Another rush and my fingers feel the bag of waters pop, but the baby didn’t slide out as I was expecting. “Why isn’t baby coming?”, I asked. I was assured by those around me, “You are alright, Erica. You go this.” As another rushed passed and the intense experience of a baby half born and half unborn hung over me, it felt like minutes had passed. I asked again why baby wasn’t coming. Pia checked, “A nuchal.” I thought hand but it was a cord. She worked to loosen it but I felt myself tear and a shoulder pop free, quickly followed by the slippery body.

I received my baby into my arms, unwrapped the cord one time from his chest, and pulled the warm body up and out of the water, bringing this new life to my already overflowing heart. I rubbed my new baby, greeting their chunkiness with love, affection, and smiles. “Who are you?”, I mused, curious about whom this little person was. I rubbed and kissed my baby over and over. Dorothy ran her fingers up the spine and out yelped a lusty cry. This little baby was perfection. Big full lips, my nose, daddy’s chin, and a head full of translucent hair. I took my time absorbing every detail of my baby. I still did not know if we had a boy or a girl. This baby had my complete attention. There was no one else but us. I talked to our baby and began to pat the tiny butt in my hands, when I patted our boy! We had a boy! I love that I felt this with my hands before I knew with my eyes.

My little Cian Alan Osler came earthside at 3:20AM, 01/20/2013, just past the Aquarian sun. His birth was absolute perfection. We birthed together in a balanced state of dancing, trusting, and, knowing. My intuition, listening to my body, led me to be just exactly as I needed to birth my baby into our lives. My support circle was everything I needed them to be. My partner was, loving, plugged in, in tune, and just amazing. Not meeting Dorothy prior to my birth didn’t matter. She was wonderful. She entered our home quietly and held our space. She ended up using her hands to take beautiful pictures of my birth. I wasn’t even aware she was photographing until he was born. She stood back and supported me while I birthed my baby. Pia took remarkable care of me, monitoring my baby and supporting me both spiritually and physically. Anne was everything I needed her to be. She was attentive, loving, and present. She watched over the boys, giving them a comforting place with which to witness the birth of their brother. Cassady, my amazing 12 year old watched the birth of our newest family member boldly and calmly. He managed to give me an amazing gift, the recording of the last three minutes of the birth. Our recording failed to record past the first 10 minutes of the whole labor. Our birth was family centered and led entirely my motherbaby.

I only mourn now that Delphine and Teresa could not be present. I know I did not “need” them, but I wanted them there more than ever. I feel that the story is open ended. I saw Delphine on Friday and we were both so excited for my impending birth. As I left our final prenatal visit of this pregnancy, she said, “I have so enjoyed your pregnancy.” I too, thoroughly enjoyed my regency, all the way to the last drop, 42 and 3. I found so much beauty and knowledge during those many weeks of pregnancy and the birthing experience was the perfect culmination of such an amazing journey. Now that my pregnancy is over, sadness twinges at the thought of my empty womb, but happiness rages at the fullness of life and love in my arms and family. I know we have chosen to end my child bearing years here and I must mourn that babies that I didn’t have, the closing of my womb to bearing life, and the end of my pregnancy care from my mentor and midwife. I know in time these thoughts will fade as new memories of this precious new life rush in. I mention this part of the closing circle, because I feel that all to often, postpartum blues arise do to our cultures unwillingness to create the space for women to have a moment of sadness after the birth of their baby. All to often, women feel guilty for their sense of mourning, but it is a part of the transition. We must walk through our grief of the experiences we didn’t have to fully appreciate the beauty we do have.

Post Script-

My son is now 12 months old. 23 pounds of giggles and toddles. I share our story on the anniversary of his birth. I have never publically shared a birth story before. I feel compelled to do so now. I took the last 365 days weighing the pros and cons of doing so, and feel strongly that the sharing of good birth stories is pivotal to changing the culture of birth from one that is centered on fear to one that embraces the sacredness of birth. My five of my birthing experiences have been life changing. I thank all four of my living children and our spirit baby for the beautiful lessons of love, compassion, and strength.

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One thought on “Erica and Baby Cian

  1. This is the most beautiful and empowering (not to mention well-written) birth story I have ever ready. As someone who is currently pregnant and simultaneously studying to be a childbirth educator/postpartum doula, I would like to thank you for sharing this. I hope to pass this on to my future students and fellow mamas who hope to have a natural birth experience. You have a beautiful family and such an inspirational way of telling stories. Thank you again, and trust that by sharing your story you certainly are helping to change the culture of birth.

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