It was 3:23 am on Tuesday 9 July 2013, one week before the due date of our baby. I had been awake for some time. At that moment, I felt the third wave of contractions move across my lower abdomen, legs and body with gentle rhythmic pain. The feeling was delicious, like ocean waves – gradually getting larger and longer. I knew this was it. My mother and father were in the air from the USA, speeding on their way to see us, expecting to get here before the baby would. But the baby had different ideas. I had a small conversation with the person inside. “Really?” I said. “You want today to be the day?” More contractions confirmed it. I said silently to him: “OK, I’m all in – I’m ready to do this thing with you, little one.” I thought I’d wait until about 6am to wake Arden and call our midwife, but Arden woke at about 4:45 am. He rolled over towards me with loving eyes as he does each morning, and said, “How are you feeling today?” I said, “I think I’m in early labour.” We kissed with delight and excitement. “How wonderful!”
We both got up and showered together, the contractions kept coming and we were full of great joy, knowing we had finally arrived at the day we would welcome our baby into the world. By 6am, we had assembled all the last minute things into our hospital bag, and I was experiencing very strong contractions, that lasted between 45 and 55 seconds, about one every 4 minutes. I called the midwife, Matty, and she said “Let me know when they last about a minute and I’ll come to you.” I was equal to the pain of the contractions now – essentially by kneeling on the floor, leaning my forehead on my arms on the seat of the sofa and doing nice big circles with my hips, breathing deeply, and moaning as I breathed out. In yoga class, Jo taught us how longer out-breaths could occur by using our voice, and it was working well.
Our midwife arrived at about 7am, and found me to be 3cm dilated. She said, “Things are progressing perfectly. They will probably progress at about 1cm per hour. You’ll see your baby around lunch time.” I was amazed. I thought it would take a lot longer! “You can go to the hospital now, or wait until a bit later here at home, if you prefer.” I wanted to go to the hospital and get the travelling out of the way. Contractions in the back seat of the car proved to be an extremely challenging experience, although Arden navigated the traffic to North Shore hospital brilliantly. I felt very relieved when we arrived as I knew this was where the baby would be born and I could focus completely on the love I felt in my body and the job ahead. I felt nausea. I vomited, simply allowing my body to react to the pain. I had eaten nothing and it did not matter. I stood at the end of the bed, and when a contraction would come, I would bend over and grasp the end of the bed with both hands, rotating my hips. The midwife advised me to breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth. She suggested I focus my energy on my breath rather than my voice in the out-breath. “Blow it away,” she said. I did. It helped. Arden massaged my lower back. It felt wonderful. I leaned on him and felt so much love for him and for the baby and so much gratitude for the experience. I was surprised at how quickly time passed. I was living so much within my body and within each individual moment, just one contraction at a time that time did not exist for me. I used the moments between contractions to breathe peacefully and to lean on Arden.
When contractions got more of an edge, we went to a room with a hot pool that the midwife had prepared. It felt splendid and helped the contractions a great deal. I could kneel or lie back, and Arden was with me. There were twinkly lights in the ceiling, it was warm and all other lights were low. I felt the romance of the setting; Arden looked so very handsome and I felt so in love. He was so strong and so calm and so loving and so present to me, letting me hold his hands and arms with my hands tightly when I was in pain. After each contraction, I would tell him I loved him, and he would say with gentleness and love in his eyes, “I love you so much. You are doing a wonderful job. You are so amazing.” After a time, I wanted to stand up again, and to be dry. We went back into the other room, and upon inspection, I was 9.5 cm dilated. I was so surprised! I didn’t think it would happen so fast! “You are almost there!” said the mid-wife. “You are almost there!” said Arden. “You are doing a wonderful job!”
I got up onto the bed and first knelt, and then squatted there for a time, with the back of the bed tilted upright behind me for support. Arden kept close to me and continued to massage me with healing and generous touch, which was very powerful and helpful. Before long the contractions were incredibly intense. I had reached transition. This was more pain than I had ever experienced, and yet I felt very safe and very ok, because I trusted my body completely. I knew that it knew precisely what to do. It had the evolutionary memory of millennia of women before me. I knew I was strong and that the Holy Spirit was present at this moment too, along with Arden’s great love for me and our great love for the baby. I also knew that the baby and I were still in partnership for this day and for this very momentous part of our journey.
Matty advised me that now, with each contraction, it was time to push. She said: “Do you feel pressure in your bottom now? With this contraction, we will get three strong breaths in. With each out-breath, you will need to push out.” At first, I cried out with the pain while I pushed out. But Matty suggested that I focus carefully and channel all of that intense energy of my voice, going upwards, instead to go downwards in to the lower part of my body – into the pushing itself. I did. I could feel it working. Then, with each out-breath, as I pushed, she would coach me through it, saying “keep pushing, keep pushing, keep pushing” in quick succession as I reached the end of my breath. I was finding breath and powerful spirit from all sorts of corners in my lungs in order to keep pushing out with each out-breath. In between, I would tell Arden how much I loved him and he kept on saying calmly and with great conviction, “I love you too. You are wonderful! You are doing an amazing job!” The amniotic sac began to bulge, and there was a brief discussion of whether to pierce it in order to speed things along. On the very next contraction, it broke on its own.
Matty then said, “I can see baby’s head.” I was so filled with joy. Matty asked if I wanted to see it too. I said no, as I was very focused on what was happening inside me with each moment. I was surrendering to the pain, and yet I felt incredibly empowered by that very surrender. I wondered how many more contractions it would take to see my son. I figured there would be still a long road ahead and was steeling myself for a very difficult path. At one point, I was aware the baby’s head was being squeezed rather too much and I knew I wanted to really push on the next contraction to get him out of there. I was nearing the end of my energy reserves, and – just then – I felt the baby kick inside me, up towards my lungs. His message to me was clear, “I’m here and I’m seriously ready to get out! I’ll help you!” I thought, “Oh yes – we are a team!” I said silently to him. “I’m here for you and I’m going to do my part, little one! I’m all in!” With the next contraction and the biggest breath I could find, I pushed with all my might, and all at once, baby was there! I felt every universe came together into oneness at that moment. He was covered in delicious and shiny pinks, reds and blues from being inside me, and they put him right on my chest instantly. I was so full of ecstatic joy! It was the most brilliant experience of my whole life. The cycle of life took hold of me and baby and Arden in this incredible sacred moment. I said to Arden “Wow! He’s perfect!” I was incredulous and in awe. “Absolutely perfect! What a miracle! I’m so in love!”
Epilogue: The time of birth was 1:35pm, after ~10 hours of labour, and I had had no pain killers or other interventions. Aldwyn was incredibly alert right from the start and I could feel his wisdom, strength and creative energy. A few minutes later, we were able to see the placenta. The midwife held it up, declared it to be showing all signs of excellent health and even gave us a tour of its many wonders, including the amniotic sac that had held Aldwyn. We cheered for it with gusto and for all of its good work over the past 9 months. Hooray 43-yr-old body! Hooray placenta! Hooray for yoga and breathing and active surrender to the natural beauty of ‘what is’! I am so grateful to my husband Arden, to our midwife Matty and to Jo Hogan and the Bella Mama yoga class for sharing, teaching and supporting me so much. With unbridled joy and affection we celebrate every moment now with our newborn son.