The evening before my daughter was born, I attended my mom Tina’s Birthing Class, feeling a sense of calm anticipation as I had been feeling some strange lower back pain all day. She mentioned that my face looked different – often a sign that Baby’s almost ready to make an appearance. My contractions started shortly after class, mostly an aching in my lower back every forty minutes or so and continued throughout the night.
The next morning, we, my (now) husband Jerome, and boys Ben Isaiah (4) and Julian (2 1/2) went to Colleen’s for breakfast, then headed to Mana to stock up for after the birth. At one point, there was a large, loud man that kept seeming to get in my way. Tina called when we were still in the store. I told her about the contractions, which were getting stronger, but said I wasn’t sure if this was really “IT”. Then I told her about the loud guy and that I wanted to punch him in the face, something she knew was out of character for me. Her response was, “I’m pretty sure you’re in labor, Nara.”
We left the store and drove the back roads of Haiku until my toddlers fell asleep and dropped them off at Tina’s at 2:20pm. We then headed home to pack. My boys were born in my mother’s house and my daughter would be as well.
The contractions kicked up in power and frequency as soon as my “Mommy” brain was allowed to shut off, jumping from 10 minutes apart to 2-3 minutes apart. At 4:00pm Tina said it was time to come over, so I drove the three miles to her house while Jerome followed in the truck with the supplies and birthing tub.
My Aunty Kadi was called in (my other Midwife) and my best friend Terese, who would film the birth and help with the boys. I labored at the kitchen counter, swaying my hips to bring baby down while Tina rubbed my back and Jerome inflated the birthing tub. The boys woke up to help. Their sweetly excited exclamations of, “Our baby sister is coming!” was beautiful to hear.
I’ve always welcomed contractions, knowing their purpose, knowing their power, knowing the stronger they are, the sooner my baby will be in my arms. I also know they bring us to the most primal parts of ourselves and that giving birth is an incredible, soul shattering experience. I remembered Tina had said of labor, “It’s only energy.” With that realization, my perception of pain changed. The contractions became something else, something I could breathe through, though my body shook.
We moved to the bathroom, the birthing tub full, wedged between the vanity and maroon claw foot tub. Starting to feel weight in my pelvis, and my daughter moving her head near my cervix, Kadi applied pressure to my lower back. My little one kicked in response. There was nothing frantic in her movements, just a beautiful reminder that we were doing this together.
Moving into the birthing tub, my boys climbed in too. But the warm water and their excitement seemed to slow progression. Tina had everyone clear out except for Jerome and ran water in her tub so the boys could splash in their own space. My Ben Isaiah was born in that tub, as was my brother Damien. Those few peaceful moments allowed me to focus, to give myself permission to open, to push.
Just two contractions and everyone was back in the room. Tina checked me and confirmed baby was coming. One push and the water bag emerged. Suddenly, three pairs of hands were lifting my hips to see. Then they released me back to the water. I placed both hands on myself; giving counter pressure to the head I could feel crowning. Tina reminded me to “pant her out” so I wouldn’t tear. I expected to feel her or Kadi’s hands when the head emerged, but they held the wisdom of hundreds of births and simply watched instead. Another push…
“Take your baby, Jerome,” Tina said. We greeted our Ella together, under the water, wiping her off a bit before bringing her up for her first breath of air. She was so calm and aware! I suctioned her with my mouth and when Jerome spoke to her, she turned her head to stare at him. Our Ella. Born March 19, 2009 at 5:43pm.
Image Credit: Nara Boone