“It is said that woman in labour leave their bodies … they travel to the stars to collect the souls of their babies, and return to this world together”.Anonymous
This week on #BirthStories, we feature Melissa’s account of her beautiful homebirth of baby Jonah. Stay tuned for part 2 next week!
MELISSA | THE DEATH OF A MAIDEN & THE BIRTH OF A MOTHER & HER CHILD
I left this world to birth our son. My water broke at noon the day before he was born. I didn’t know if he’d come that day or several days later, and I wasn’t feeling any movement or contractions, so my husband, Joe, and I ate lunch at the park in the rain while my waters poured out of me onto a towel – our last outing before we became a family of three. Around 8:00 pm, I wondered if what I was feeling was contractions. It went from an innocent, “Is this a contraction?” to full on, hands-and-knees, active labor where I was barely verbal. Joe and my sister, Carly, were by my side the entire time, encouraging my guttural moans and holding me close. When our birth doula arrived, she was steady and confident, supporting me in my desire to labor in the water (bathtub, shower, then birth tub) and helping Joe.
I labored into the night, wailing and moaning. I had 7 hours of excruciating surges ahead of me, but I didn’t know that. All I knew was that my body was leading the way. I resisted a lot, I let go of a ton, I stood in my own way and then swiftly had to get out of it with pure will and strength from somewhere down deep. I was taken to a veiled land of primal instinct and desperate determination. I could hear people and sometimes see them but only through a fog. My sister said that when she looked into my eyes, I wasn’t there. The me she knew was suspended elsewhere for this time, and the me with the strength and instinct of an animal came alive. You could say I was more “me” than ever — completely naked of any ego, insecurity, self consciousness – entirely raw. Stripped down to my essence and meeting my greatest challenge and my most soul-fulfilling joy, experiencing one of the most rewarding and body-wrenching things a human body can – the death of a maiden and the birth of a mother and her child. I was swept away by the waves and intensity, giving myself up to both the unknown and the primal knowing.
About four hours into labor, my midwives arrived after hearing how close and intense the contractions were, encouraging me to say YES to the surges, helping me see them as pure life force moving within me. After a couple hours laboring in the birth tub, the urge to push came on strongly, and I followed it. The pushing was primal, all encompassing, satisfying, and purging. I could feel Jonah’s head pulse into my hand, his wet hair soft in my fingers. After 30 minutes, Jonah shot out (head and body at once!) in the birth tub in our bedroom after “just” 7 hours of sudden and intense active labor that went from zero to 100 within minutes. I was in shock. My first words to him were, “Hi. I’m your mama,” and everything else faded into the background.