I was less impatient with the waiting time for Sister-Bug. I knew from experience that I would miss the fluttery baby kicks, even as I loved holding my newborn. My due date came and went and I barely noticed. We were looking for a house to buy, a nicely diverting task but one we were not having much luck with. Finally we found a house we could envision our kids growing up in. We decided to put in an offer and that evening some contractions kicked in. My sister and Brothers came over for a game of Apples-to-Apples. We played and laughed, but the contractions never changed to the real thing. We kept waiting.
|Brother-Bug trying to convince the baby to come out and meet him.|
Brother-Bug was impatient - with the house hunting, with waiting for the baby, with the increasingly snappish Mama... Our midwife assured us that everything was fine and the baby would come in its own time. However, somewhere in the back of my mind I could feel something holding me up. I was ready. The baby was ready. Something was in the way. I was up in the middle of the night, journaling. The offer we had put on the house had stalled - it was a reserve offer, second in line, and looked unlikely - so I was writing about that process. Finally it hit me
I am an introvert and a very home-oriented person. I love to simply be at home. The stress of looking for a new home was confusing my body. Here I was in the house we had lived in for 5 years, where I had given birth to Brother-Bug, but every other day I was looking for a new home. This key component of what makes me feel happy and safe was is flux. My brain didn't know where home was, so my body didn't want to give birth not know where we might end up. I woke Pap-Bug up, sobbing. We talked it out, I cried it out, and we emailed our realtor. Looking for a house was too much right now and we would be in touch when we felt it was a better time. We went back to bed and I slept the first night of truly deep sleep I had experienced in weeks. I slept the next night too.
At my last prenatal we found the baby face-out - a hard way to have a baby, so the midwife and I tried to move it into a face-in position. Nope. That baby flipped right back to sunny-side-up. We sighed and prepared for a posterior labor.
On the Spring Equinox, my sister came over to give me a massage. She hit the labor stimulating points on my legs. It was a gorgeous and warm day and I got my massage in the backyard under the apple tree. But no resultant labor. Baby stayed, happily kicking and hanging out face-out. We put ourselves to bed. I sat up reading. Twenty pages, or so, from the end of my book the first real contraction washed through me. I noted the time (10:45) and kept reading. As I finished and closed my book, another contraction. I gritted my teeth through it, not quite ready to wake Brother-Bug. I woke up Papa-Bug, we talked a little, another contraction. On the fourth contraction I couldn't grit my teeth any longer. Even though I tried to be a little quiet, my roar woke up Brother-Bug. He was confused at first, then wary, finally excited. The baby was finally coming!! He called his God-Mommies, who lived right across the street at the time, and they came over. We called my sister and our midwife. Papa-Bug got the birth sheets on the bed and people began to assemble.
Papa-Bug was singing "You Turn Me Right Round" to convince the baby to shift from face up to face down. He ended up getting that song stuck in my head for most of the labor. I hated it at the time, but now it has made that song strangely special to me.
When the midwife checked the baby between contractions, we were relieved to find that it had turned itself face down and was ready to go. I'm pretty sure the turn happened long before Papa-Bug annoyed me with '80s dance music. Like my labor with Brother-Bug I roared through each contraction and tried to rest in the brief spells between.
The difference I noticed between my first labor and this second labor was that I wasn't scared. I knew what was coming and I knew that my body could do it. With Brother-Bug I had to work hard to trust that my body knew what it was doing and that I would be okay. This time I had that experience and could let go much deeper into each contraction, because I had come through this already. I knew it was hard.
Brother-Bug was unsure. He stayed close to his God-Mommies, even going across the street to play in a quieter space for much of the labor. Our midwife explained what was going on and everyone (apparently including me) was loving and supportive of his feelings and the space he needed to take. At one point he fulfilled his personal labor mission and brought me some juice with a bendy straw. He helped. He felt proud.
As with Brother-Bug's birth, I rocked on my hands and knees, roaring through contraction after contraction. It had been a hot night for the end of March and we had our window open. We woke the neighbors. And between each contaction I could hear the spring frogs singing out back. It was a very magical sound, and now every time we hear those frogs we know that Sister-Bug's birthday is near and we remember the night she was born. (I wrote a Cowbird Story about it...)
Finally things began to intensify - as though they weren't intense enough already. I stopped listening to the frogs, or paying attention to much of anything. The breaks between contractions were no longer lengthy enough to pull my focus away from the work I was doing. I could feel the baby coming, and coming fast. It was faster than I was comfortable with. My sister remembers seeing the baby moving downward, sending a slow wave down my spine. As that baby moved faster than my body could go, before I was ready to push, my sister saw me stretch during contractions from my hands and knees into a full and straight plank, holding the baby back just a little longer. I don't remember doing that action, but I do remember the feeling of "Not Yet BABY!" and doing what I could to slow down just a little bit.
Papa-Bug called across the street and asked Brother-Bug to come back, since we knew he wanted to be there right away when the baby came. His Godmommies hustled him home and they sat just outside our bedroom, watching.
My midwife watched me and leaned over me after a contraction. She said "I'm watching your body and it looks to me like you are being called to catch this baby yourself." I looked at her, probably with confusion. "I want to hold you up on your next contractions so you can deliver your baby." I nodded, and she and Papa-Bug helped me up into a squat, supporting me under my arms and around my back. Another contraction crashed through me and I just about knocked both of them over getting back to my hands and knees. They decided to leave me be and watch me do it my way.
Another contraction; maybe two or three more... I couldn't say. And the baby was crowning. I lurched up onto my knees and used my hands to help the head through my birth canal, creating muscle support where I needed it. In one mighty push this baby was born, into my own hands, from head to toe.
This was the most amazing, Godly, awe inspring moment of my life.
At that moment it was just me and this baby. Everyone else felt so distant. I said, "You are my baby and I caught you my own self." I was shaking with Exhaustion and Grace.
Focus returned around me, people slid back into view. We looked and found we had a girl. We brought Brother-Bug onto the bed to meet his sister. As with his birth, we were wrapped in blankets and left in candlelight for a while. We marveled at our new baby, her perfect fingers and tiny nose. As always, I was confused by the little fingernails - they are so tiny and perfect and complete on a newborn and they seems...out of place...somehow.
Eventually the midwife and my sister came back in. We delivered the placenta, and I nursed our new one. As I wrote in my post about tandem nursing, Brother-Bug curled up on my other side, nursing the right while his new sister nursed the left, and wrapped his arm around her tiny body. It was a perfect moment. After nursing, I handed the baby to Papa-Bug and my sister took me to the bathroom where she helped me into the shower and washed the birth mess off me. Looking back on two births and forward to another one, I think this is my favorite ritual I have with my sister. There is something deeply sacred about this, and I don't know if I would want anyone else's help. After my shower we tucked into bed with clean sheets and a fresh baby.
Sister-Bug arrived at 3:15 in the morning. Somewhere around 5:00, my sister took Brother-Bug off to cuddle with her and have a special "sleepover", while Papa-Bug and I settled down with Sister-Bug for a few hours of sleep.
Blissful, birthed, and so content.