Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Ocea's Arrival Earthside – A Free(ing)-Birth

A dream begins it all…

“You’re in labour, it’s time…” spoke a voice in my dream, so clear, so sure.
I lay in the black of night, rhythmic breathing to either side of me, so relaxed: half-way between dreams and consciousness.

“Nope, it can’t be time…” I answered in my mind to the voice of my friend. 
But, wait, what was that feeling…in my lower abdomen? That familiar tightening. I remember this – from just over 4 years ago, with the first baby.

The pressure waves felt different to the ‘practice’ Braxton-Hicks waves I’d experienced for the last few weeks – firmer, like they were actually doing something inside me as well as in my stomach muscles.

I swung myself (slowly) out of bed and walked around dazed and sleepy for a while. I checked the time – 1.40 am. The waves kept washing over me. No pattern. No timing. I just rode them. Not long after I thought I should probably wake my husband, Ryan. I remained indecisive, until after I told him. Was still questioning, still thinking perhaps they will go away (like before)? I wandered into the living room, sat on the birth ball and swayed my hips, while Ryan hesitated.

When he did appear, I’d become more decisive and began ordering him around. He began his jobs with the aura of a person unsure if any of his work will really be needed. I questioned whether to begin the rigmarole of heating the birth pool yet (it would take time – living in the bush and only having access to hot water bucketed in from another home). It could be ages before I felt the urge to get in, but then again it could be 5 minutes. I certainly didn’t feel like relaxing in a hot pool just yet! I continued swaying, hip rocking and circling, dancing and pacing around. My mind and body felt so relaxed and ready.

Only the day before I had enjoyed an amazing four person all-over body massage and the luxury of a (cold) ‘Jacuzzi’ from the nearby creek – not knowing just several hours later I would begin my birthing journey. I was so grateful to the women who had organised the mother blessing and helped me to relax that day and I remember thinking, if baby wants to come anytime now I am ready. She must have heard me…

Back in my body, where I remained for the rest of this journey, I began to feel the pace quicken – each opening wave felt more productive. My body moved with them – bending forward over furniture, squatting sometimes, swaying in time to some internal birthing song – which I voiced for a time…

‘I am the blood of the earth,
I am the flow of the spirit,
I am the womb of creation…
My body is the universe.’

These words never were so true! I felt ecstatic for having this song to express my feelings so eloquently.

A grounding mantra…

Not long after this I began to really love the simple act of breathing, deep and long. The sound it made grounded me in the moment. Soon, the word ‘open’ took my attention and continued to do so for quite some time. I loved the feeling of saying it, like a deep moaning mantra.

The sky began its transition to indigo and the thought that I wanted my support person, Rose, popped into my mind. She arrived from the moonlight, eyes bright, excited for the wondrous event to come.

Ryan busied himself with the birth pool while Rose and I rode the waves together. Quietly, she drew my portrait, took photos and filmed me without me really noticing any of it. We chatted about our feelings right then and my bodily sensations. The sky continued to lighten.

Things heat up…

We tried in vain to get hold of friends and family in the UK as I’d finally come to the conclusion the pressure waves weren’t going to fizzle out. Rose slipped my birthing necklace over my head and, reverently, we cut our red threads, with me secretly hoping the other women I love were doing the same at the other side of the world.

Suddenly I felt the urge to feel wetness on my skin, so I got in the birth pool before it was ready. Beautiful – enveloping me with another all-over body massage. Ryan continued to bucket hot water in beside me and I slowly felt the pool heat up – along with the opening sensations. 

The splash every time he poured another bucket in made such a resounding noise in the still of pre-dawn I was sure it would waken daughter number 1, lying only metres away in our family bed.

Fingers of weak sunlight poked through the dusky windows and not long after Nabeela did begin to stir. In my relaxed moments I almost shook her awake myself to tell her the exciting news!

Another expansion wave rolled through me and I relaxed into the warm water. I didn’t feel like dancing anymore.

The funny bit…

Nabeela’s eyelids flickered and Rose quietly whispered to her that the baby was coming. She looked through bleary eyes at the scene – candles flickering all around, Rose and Ryan sitting around the pool, me propped up inside – and Rose’s words finally clicked into place. Her face transformed, suddenly shining like the sun brightening a new day.

Eagerly she whipped off her pyjamas and jumped in with me. She studied my face carefully as I eased myself into another opening wave. Even with my eyes closed I could feel her curiosity. When my mind came back to the outside world I watched her splashing around. She kept surreptitiously trying to see under the water, between my legs – and at once I knew why – she thought the baby was coming – right that instant! I mentioned it to the others and laughter rippled through the peaceful space we had created – it sounded so right.

A bright idea popped into Nabeela’s head, “Can I have the snorkel and mask?” she asked. Wearing it, Nabeela began her fruitless effort to snorkel for babies! I explained to her that baby wasn’t coming quite yet – my body was still opening. She nodded seriously, looked me in the eyes and then continued to splash around – if it wasn’t happening yet she would make the most of the giant bath! I chuckled to myself.

Needing peace…      
It wasn’t long before a change took place inside me – I began to feel irritated and over-whelmed by the people in the room (even though there were only 3!), the water felt too hot, I couldn’t get comfortable no matter what position I was in. I tried to relax and centre myself using the hypnosis techniques I’d learnt during pregnancy, but the energy of my expansion waves were more than I could cope with in the current situation. I held myself in check enough to ask nicely, ‘Why don’t you go get breakfast?’ Ryan understood and they all left quickly.

With my birthing day hypnosis track playing, I lay in bed on my side, a leg perched on a huge pile of cushions – so I could feel ‘open’.

I relaxed into the hypnosis. It allowed me to feel into the sensations. When they intensified I relaxed further into them – surrendering completely to what my body needed to do. It felt good and difficult at the same time. I groaned, long and loud “Ooooopen!”

An indeterminate amount of time later Ryan, Nabeela and Rose arrived back – I sighed with relief as only moments before it had come to me that if they didn’t come now they might miss it!

Deeply relaxed bodily, my mind began to shout at me, “Get up! Things are changing and this doesn’t feel right anymore!” I needed to be upright and in the water. I groaned to Ryan, just about managing to say his name, rather than incomprehensible grunts. He appeared instantly with a question on his lips.

I answered, “Get me up – Ooooopen” – moaning through another wave – this one a titan. I was riding in the sky above everything.

I hobbled up with Ryan’s assistance. It felt horrible as all I needed then was weightlessness. I hung off him for a couple of pressure waves between walking to the pool, shouting ‘open’ unreservedly and groaning beautifully.

Somehow I was in the water and, oh, it felt right. Ryan got in with me and I had a vague awareness of Nabeela saying something about telling my friend (and a spiritual midwife) the baby was coming. I doubt I acknowledged her.


I felt restless and overwhelmed. I couldn’t find a position that felt right and I struggled through some more waves feeling uncomfortable and telling Ryan it was too hard. I lay on my back for one pressure wave and it felt so wrong I shouted “No!”  Ryan helped me move with urgency, as the waves were coming one on top of another now. A forward reclining position and leaning against the side of the pool seemed to be where I needed to be, so I went with that, but something still didn’t feel quite right. I settled into the pressure waves more easily. The overwhelming feeling subsided although the intensity, the energy of the waves was still high. I felt like a conduit for a bolt of lightning, ripping through my body from head to womb.

 I felt the urge to check myself, to see where my body was at. This was unplanned. I’d always wanted to let the journey unfold with no interference, to trust my body, but in that moment it was a compulsion and I went with it. I wasn’t fully dilated, but that didn’t matter – getting to feel my body that was what was important: the soft, smooth tissue of my cervix, the yielding of the water bag, thick and slippery and the baby’s head! I pressed gently on my waters and beneath felt the hardness of a head. Oh, yes that was what this journey was all about – I’d almost forgotten.

The penultimate moment…

I needed to fine-tune my position, as it didn’t feel quite right yet. Ryan helped me to shuffle my feet further apart into a semi-squat, whilst still in the water, reclining forward. This was finally right! I was in my birth position and I felt enormous relief as my body settled there for the final part of the birthing journey.
Perhaps minutes (or maybe seconds) later an almighty wave – beginning at my head and pulsating down my body – convulsed through me. It shook a deep, primal groan from me. I felt a pop and release. “The waters broke,” I cried. I felt between my legs again and knew she was close. I could feel that the birth tunnel now held a baby and in a moment the baby would be in my arms.

Sure enough, another pulsing wave shuddered through me and I groaned again, without restraint. The baby’s head popped into my waiting hand. There was an eternal moment here where Ryan and I held this almost born child – hovering between two worlds – we gasped in awe. “The head,” I remember breathing in the stillness.

The moment did end, in the excitement of another wave. The baby’s head was born. Ryan held it tenderly, waiting. Another titanic convulsion shook my body and I felt the slippery release of the baby’s body.

The release of one world and the grasp of a new one…

I gasped as the intensity of the waves abruptly ended. In the quiet of new life I asked a (slightly silly) question – “Is the baby out?” Yes, yes she was!

I heard Rose utter that the baby was a girl. With that surprising news I propelled my body around. Her cord appeared quite short however, so I stopped half-way. Ryan picked her up from the weightlessness of the water and realised the cord was wrapped reasonably tight around her neck, hence the short cord. His urgent hands untangled her and helped disentangle my legs too. In another movement I was around the other way and this new tiny being was free to breathe her first breaths in my arms.

Her first squelchy sounding breaths apparently urged me to get out from the water, as I found myself standing up. I must have intuitively known the mucus needed to come out and she was too slippery in the water to do it safely (in my eyes).

The unexpected movement upwards forced some cries from her, but we were quickly in bed surrounded by the rest of the family with Rose above taking photos. After Ryan sucked the mucus from her mouth and nose, she quickly settled on the soft pillow of my belly and we left her to crawl up to my breast. She latched on, but it felt uncomfortable, so I hoisted her to my side. We both lay tummy to tummy for her first precious milky connection with me. She looked into my eyes, causing my heart to engulf my chest, choking me with the awesomeness of her.

The placenta came around half an hour later – one wave and I felt the blobby, squelchy mass slither out. It forced another relieved groan from me. We didn’t cut the cord as we planned on a lotus birth, so we plopped the placenta into a bowl beside us (she didn’t end up having a lotus birth as things didn’t go according to plan here! The humidity and heat meant the placenta degenerated very quickly and after 1 day was already very smelly. We decided to cut the cord after much agonising thought. It seemed like the right thing to do and Ocea settled down comfortably afterwards.)

 The birthing journey was over and another journey was beginning – I stared into this new child’s eyes as we lay touching and she learned about this new world we shared.

She was here! Born one day before her ‘official’ due date at around 9am, after a 7.5 hour ‘labour’. We spent long moments staring into her eyes – drinking her in, grinning at her lucidity and softening with her peace. We had no name for her yet as her sex had been a surprise (I’d convinced myself early on in the pregnancy she was a ‘he’ and we had called her ‘he’ from the beginning). It didn’t matter. We would find a name that fit her.

An explanation…

In the hours that followed Ryan explained something to me that gave me the reason for the intensity of my pressure waves and the urge to find that perfect position. Ocea was born brow first and facing the same way as me (unlike most babies who are born facing mother’s bottom). He had got quite a shock on feeling her face with his fingers as she emerged!

I felt relief on hearing this as the intensity almost defeated me during that difficult transitional period just before she was born. I felt that my body almost couldn’t handle the energy coursing through it. But it could, and it did and although I didn’t quite get the completely peaceful, relaxed birth I’d worked towards, this birth was perfect the way it went. It taught me so much and has given me complete trust in my intuition – without that her birth could have ended very differently.  

The entire journey, from conception to birth tried to teach me surrender and how to let go of control. I may not have learned these lessons fully, but it has certainly got me well on the way.

I will always look back on the birth of Ocea Storm with awe and confidence. The energy I contained in my body during her birthing is testament to the power women are given and can hold within them during birth. 

The first few weeks…

The lucidity and peace of my soul during the first days of Ocea’s life earthside had me walking tall and feeling as strong as a herd of horses. This feeling still remains within my core – It colours each day and has increased my confidence in all aspects of my life.

My body feels different –just two weeks after birthing it was almost back to its pre-pregnancy state, my lochia stopped at 3 weeks and was much lighter than my first birthing, my vulva and vagina feel and look normal, with no pain.

The haze and tiredness I lived in after my first birthing journey couldn’t be more opposing to the freeing birth I had the second time. Instead I felt grounded, my energy levels soared and I felt happy. I’ve been able and willing, this time, to honour my need to be alone with my immediate family, staying close to home and enjoying each new day and the changes they bring to the entire family, particularly the newest being – Ocea. 
Ocea shows such life too. In those first days she drank in her surroundings and her new experiences with the thirst of a camel. No one who looked into her ocean deep eyes could tear themselves away from her soulful magnetism. 

Healing old wounds…

Her peace pervaded us all, including her older sister who seemed to heal from her own birth. She hasn’t asked us about her hospital birth since Ocea was born, when previously she would often ask me about it.

We have all healed from Nabeela’s birth. Although not traumatic in the everyday sense, Ryan and I held within her birth space, fear and tension and a need to protect ourselves and Nabeela from the strangers who were supposed to be supporting us. This all accumulated into a psychologically traumatic event, presumably for all three of us, which we failed to acknowledge properly until we experienced what a truly peaceful and loving birth can be.


I am truly grateful that we got to experience a birth like that as a family, together.

Thank you to all the women who reinforced my belief in freebirthing – the writers and the friends.

Thank you Nabeela – you set us on this path when you chose to come into our lives. 

Thank you Ocea – you gave us all the experience, you gave us the bliss of the gentle way to birth and be born. 

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