A Second Blessing

Your first baby’s birth a year and a half ago, was fresh in my memory when you called me to let me it was starting the same way it had before – with a trickling of water at 3 a.m.. This time, though, it soon became apparent it wouldn’t take as long as it did the first time.

I waited with, quiet excitement, for the call that would bring me to your side. It wasn’t long before it came. You were headed to the birth center. I met you there shortly afterward, and you were truly in ‘birthing time’. Jackie had just finished checking your cervix and listening to baby and you were about to start another contraction. As it slowly built in intensity, you struggled to find a good place to work through its rhythms. At first you wanted to sit on the edge of the bath, but quickly hopped onto all fours. With confusion in your voice, you stated, “I don’t know what to do”.

I could hear exasperation and knew that this birthing time would be vastly different from your prior one. I think D and Jackie felt it as well and we all adjusted our support to evolve with this new birthing time. D held you, rocking you in his embrace between contractions, and you leaned, moaned, shimmied, and crawled during your contractions.

I reminded you to become loose and limp with your contractions, relaxing through them. You became limp and loose as only a stomping, swaying, powerfully birthing woman can. I reminded you that "God wouldn't give you more than you can bear", and you believed it, though you were 'scared'. As the swells came closer together, and after one particularly unhappy trip to the toilet, Jackie offered the bath.

I began running the water, added a drop of lavender, and ‘lit’ some candles around the edges. You sank into the water with such abandon and freedom. You tried managing a contraction or two on your side, but quickly found all-fours was preferred. D and I alternated giving you encouragement and a soothing hand to the brow, and massaging your lower back while protecting your space to move through your birthing waves in whatever way you needed.

As your labor changed, so did you. Jackie set up camp on the couch, while D opened his binder of music and donned his guitar. Katie arrived and, with D at the head of the tub, and Katie and I beside it, you sank beneath the drumming waves of your birthing time.

D began his offering of beautiful worship music, while Katie and I offered soft harmonies to accompany his rich tenor. Between contractions you reclined against the tub, with your eyes closed, smiling, sometimes softly crying, while your sweet and soft alto joined in. During contractions, you dipped lower in the water, bent your knees, and continued your song until, at the height of the birthing wave, you pressed your legs outward into the water, reached for my hand or the handle of the tub, and allowed your cadence to crescendo from one of quiet thankfulness to resonant appeal.

And then your labor shifted again. Moving from your womb to your pelvis, your sounds grew, echoing with wisdom. It was nearing time to bring your baby into the world. You moved to the birthing stool, where you worked through a few waves. You noted it didn’t feel ‘right’, and moved to the floor, working in a deep squat. When that, too, didn’t feel right, you moved back to the stool.

There, you became the primal birthing being that so many women before you had become, teeming with passion and plea, effort and embodiment. As we began to see your baby make her way lower, I offered the reminder that you had asked me to prenatally, ‘did you want to return to the water’. Emphatically, you said it didn’t feel right, but that you didn’t want to stay on the stool. Katie asked if you wanted to try the bed, and you did.

Soon, we could see your baby moving earth-side, and, as your baby slipped from your body, you reached down to pull her from your body, exclaiming, “My baby! I love you! I love you so much!” And, instantly, the holy space pivoted from prayer and petition to one of praise and fulfillment. The room slowed; in tearful welcome, you and D moved in toward your second born, completing the family circle. Jackie, Katie, and I moved to the peripheral and watched as your sweet family became acquainted with one another.

Later, we had the chance to look at your placenta. Your baby was miraculous, indeed! A battledore, velamentous, furcateinsertion of the cord into the placenta!

As I left your room that early morn, I couldn’t help but think as I gazed up into the heavens, “With the Lord’s help I have brought forth a man’s child!” (Genesis 4:1). As Eve, Rachel, Leah, and so many other’s had before you, you proclaimed your praise at the moment of birth in joy and ecstasy! L, you are blessed!

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