It was time for bed and our little family of 4 piled into our family bed made up of two double mattresses laid side by side. Our 2 year old, Sorrael Lyn, nursed herself to sleep while our oldest daughter and my husband went out like a light as soon as they touched the sheets.
About the time Sorrael Lyn slipped off to join her sister in slumber, I felt a light trickle of water fill the sheets underneath me. Now, this is the third time I have experienced my ‘waters breaking’ so I knew right off this was not pee. You can pinch off a stream of pee – but this stream of fluid keeps right on coming no matter the ‘pinching off’ one might attempt.
I slid out of bed, excitedly soaking in the reality that this baby would be born soon. My second daughter had been born only hours after my waters broke, so I fully expected this birth to move fast as well. Although we had already eaten dinner, I immediately fixed another hearty meal and drank a tall glass of water. Having a good reservoir of energy is critical for birth. I then woke my husband and suggested we move our birthing supplies out into the living room. We had intended to birth in our family bedroom, like we did last time. But this time – both of our daughters were asleep in there – so we thought it better to let the girls sleep and relocate to another space.
It was a cold, rainy night and our little wood stove was pouring out warmth. The soft glow of the fire somehow added to the warmth we felt in the air. We quietly moved all of our birth kit supplies out into the living room and I sat down on the couch, ready and waiting for contractions to start. I waited and waited and waited. I finally decided to lay down on the couch and go to sleep, because nothing was happening.
At 3 am I was startled awake by a dream. In the dream I was being chased by my grandmother. She was hobbling towards me, gripping her cane and I was trying to escape. She was not able to go very fast, but neither could I, and she seemed to be gaining on me. In the dream she was very mad at me because she said I was ‘rushing her to die’ … I know! Quite the accusation! … but as I awoke, it was crystal clear what the dream was meant to tell me, as birth is the same thing as death – I was to be gentle with this birth, gently welcome it and not forcefully rush its progression.
As I sat up on the couch, still feeling into the message of the dream, as well as feeling grateful my grandmother was no longer chasing me – I saw a text from my midwife. She was already on her way to our house and would be here within minutes! I had called earlier to tell her my water had broken, but that no contractions had started yet – apparently, she had decided to come on out anyway. She was here for my last birth and knew this could be fast.
I heard a soft cry from the bedroom – it was Sorrael Lyn asking to nurse. She typically wakes up in the middle of the night and nurses a little then drifts back off to sleep. So, I slipped back in the bed to let her nurse. It was not long after that I began to feel more water leaking as soft contractions squeezed my uterus. I was excited to feel some contractions again and this time I felt the desire to sit down in a meditative position on the couch and really feel into each contraction. Although they were very mild and soft – there was a familiarity to them. It is hard to explain, but there is just a difference in the way a birthing contraction feels from the way a preparatory contraction feels – even before they are strong – there is just a difference. I do not think I would have recognized this had it not been for birthing my second daughter at home and having had that opportunity to feel what natural contractions felt like.
So, I sat in silence on the couch, legs crossed, eyes closed, hands on my knees and I simply focused on the Feeling. The waves of contractions were about 5 minutes apart or so and still quite mild. I would feel that familiar feeling begin to move into me and I heard myself, tell myself, to encourage it – to encourage the contraction. So I started saying a rhythmical, soft ‘yes’ in a silent inner voice to cheer the contractions on each time I felt one begin.
As I was silently cheering on my mild contractions, our birthing team was moving in. Our midwife Olivia, was already here and setting up her oxygen tank and slew of supplies she brings with her (she is practically a hospital on wheels, prepared to resuscitate both mother and child if need be) Olivia’s two assistants arrived soon after, as well as a doula in training that we had invited to attend the birth. Before long our modest living room was filled with not only my husband and myself, but 4 other women as well.
As I sat silent on the couch and felt their energy bodies move in, I could feel a tightness try to take over me. I heard my thoughts start to ponder many things – “What if it takes a long time for the baby to be born? I do not want these ladies to have to sit here all day waiting on me. Goodness, I need to speed this up. These contractions are so mild. What if the girls wake up? They will wake up. What if Sorrael Lyn wants to nurse? What if she starts screaming? These contractions feel so shy, I feel shy right now. They are all in here watching me. I feel trapped. The contractions feel so weak. This could take a long while. How long will this take?”
I felt a familiar feeling of anxiety wash over me. It surprised me a bit to even feel it. I had no worries about this birth at all. I was excited to get to experience such a gift once again, my last home birth had been otherworldly. And I trusted these people around me, I trusted the Unseen around me, I trusted it all. I was not quite sure why words of doubt would show up in my self talk at such an important time of trust. But they did.
As I felt the constriction move through me, I felt the already sheepish contractions move a bit further away. There was no way they were going to move into me if I allowed myself to remain in this state. So, I made a conscious decision to talk on top of the self talk. I was not polite, I did not wait for it to finish. The fact is, it was rambling on so much, that I doubt it was going to take a breath for me to get in a word edgewise. So I did not wait. I began talking to myself and telling myself that it was so amazing that these wonderful ladies had all traveled here to support me. I told myself that they wanted to be here and that they felt nothing but unconditional loving support of my birth. They were here to offer a sweet, supportive space for me to gently be held in, as I birthed this child. No rushing, no expectations, no judgements – just safe, supportive space.
As these words fell on top of the words I was previously hearing, I heard them both begin to float away and I was left with a simple feeling of peace, support and grace. The same room that had started to feel closed in and small, grew open and wide. I could see the glow of the fire on the other side of my slightly parted eyelids and it felt so sacred. That fire offered a familiarity to us all. Somehow igniting an awareness of some ancestral knowledge of maternal unity.
Now, in my blanket of sacred space held by this powerful group of kind souls, I moved back into Feeling.
The contractions began to slowly strengthen in intensity. I felt the desire to cup my hands in front of myself – as if cradling the head of my unborn child as she would descend through my birth canal. I felt the energy in the palms of my hands, I love to feel my heartbeat as a form of meditation and that is what I felt drawn to do – feel my heartbeat in my hands. I could feel the pulsating, tingling sensation and I felt the energy reaching for itself as my palms faced one another. I had the awareness to add the baby into this energy flow and I consciously visualized the baby being filled with the same pulsating energy as the palms of my hands. I felt an instant connection, like an invisible cord was attached from my hands to my baby – they were pulling one another together. I could truly, physically feel the baby being pulled down, down, down as she reached for my open hands.
The more I consciously focused on feeling, the more the contractions became braver and bolder. And all of a sudden, I realized something. It was something I had never felt with my previous births.
I felt my cervix opening. It happened at the very beginning of each wave of contraction. Between contractions, there is nothing. It is the absence of something – simply nothingness. After the nothingness, I would feel a pulling sensation, an opening, a stretching of my cervix. It did not hurt, it did not feel good either, it felt like – nothing. But somehow at the same time as feeling like nothing, it felt like an opening. There was no doubt in my mind what it was. I would feel this opening and then the energy that caused the opening would move upwards, gradually moving up my uterus, as if my uterus was made up of a stack of rings and the energy would touch one ring at a time, gradually making each one squeeze a bit tighter and a bit tighter until the top ring would squeeze just as tight as it possibly could.
I was instantly fascinated with this awareness and the fascination sent me deeper into the ‘Feeling’ itself. As each contraction moved through me I watched it intently, noticing that that familiar feeling I described above. That feeling that only accompanies birthing contractions, that feeling occurred at the point when the energy was about half way up those ‘stacked rings’ of my uterus. I had this instant awareness of how much I had been missing. I mean, now I could feel my cervix opening, I could feel this energy influencing my body long before the point when it became intense. But before, I had never felt this part. If I could feel this now and yet never have felt it before, how many other things have I been unaware of? How many other things could I become aware of?
How many other ways does the Unseen influence my physical being and I am entirely unaware – but perhaps, if I would consciously focus on Feeling – as I was doing right now, perhaps I could become aware?
As I pondered this, the contractions continued to strengthen. They reached a point where my whole body felt taken over and I felt a bit like a rag doll being tossed about an ocean wave. –
In my second birth I had rocked back and forth on a birthing ball (well it was actually a horse ball – but same difference right?) This physical motion had enabled me to ride those waves of contractions with practically no discomfort at all. As I felt my little body being taken over from the inside out, I thought perhaps I would like to ride this birth out, in the same way as before – so in the little window of ‘nothingness’ between contractions – I slid on top of the ball and started rocking. I rode out two contractions up there and it did lessen the intensity big time, but for some reason it felt blatantly wrong to be on that ball in that moment. It felt like I was avoiding something, somehow backing out on the exact lesson I was meant to learn in this birth. And so, during the next window of ‘nothingness’ – I slid back onto the couch and back into my position of ‘Still’ and immediately began focusing on Feeling once again.
I sat and I felt. The contractions became so powerful. I was well past needing to encourage them on. They were fully HERE and now all I could do was to Feel them.
Just as I had heard myself, tell myself, to say ‘yes’ earlier to encourage the contractions – I now heard myself, tell myself, to say ‘Feel’ to remind myself to keep Feeling. No matter how overpowering my insides felt, I must Feel each moment. So I chanted a silent – ‘Feel Feel Feel’
It had not been long after I moved off the ball and to the couch that our oldest daughter awoke and came into the living room… and only 10 minutes or so after that, our younger daughter awoke as well. Now – my girls are no bashful, quiet, prime and proper princesses. They both boldly share their bright spirit with this world, so I was not sure just how long they could stand to be silent in this space.
But they were amazingly soft and silent – and they did not have to wait long.
Actually, it was when I realized that they were both awake that I knew the baby would be born soon. It was a bit like watching a perfect play, yet you are not only watching the play, you are the one writing the play. And you are not only writing the play, you are also playing the part of the main character. It was like I just knew that – of course it will be this perfect – of course they will wake up and minutes later watch their sister being born – of course that will happen.
Of course I knew that and did not know it at exactly the same time. Of course.
It was all just perfect. The camera was ready, the fire was blazing, the girls were awake, the contractions were powerful. And all of a sudden, I felt the need to – Leave.
In that tiny window of nothingness, between the powerhouse of contractions that one could have never imagined could have started out being called ‘shy’, I jumped up and walked down the hall to the bathroom. The tiny bathroom where I sat on the edge of the toilet that I had for some reason, unbeknown to anyone – cleaned just hours ago, not long after my water broke. As I walked in the door, I hit the lights, creating complete darkness, with only the slight glow of the moonlight peering through the window.
I sat on the edge of the toilet and felt the most intense contraction yet. My quiet self talk of ‘Feel Feel Feel’ immediately jumped through my throat and out of my mouth as I heard myself saying ‘FEEL FEEL FEEL’ out loud in a rhythmical chant.
And then I felt her. All of a sudden, her head had filled the passage of my cervix and she was entering the birth canal. I was equally in shock that this was actually happening and completely expecting it at the same time. I had certainly not consciously intended to run away from the warm fire and camera and couch to birth in the tiny dark bathroom of our tiny home, but apparently that is exactly what I intended to do, it must have been – because I was sure doing it.
I did not have time to tell anyone what was happening and had I tried I would have pulled myself out of the trance I was in of ‘Feel Feel Feel’ – but I did not need to say anything for them to know.
Olivia, my dear friend and midwife has assisted in over 2000 births. She knew. She had followed me down the hall and was respectfully waiting outside the door as she called to my husband to come join me. We had shared our wishes with her that we hoped my husband and I could ‘catch’ the baby ourselves this time. So when she knew the baby was moving down the birth canal, she sent Mike in, instead of stepping in herself.
I was deep in my trance, and out of the corner of my eye, back-lit by moonlight, I saw a figure appear in the doorway. I felt a smile move through me as I realized it was my husband.
How could this be so perfect I thought? The baby is about to be born and here he has shown up at the perfect time. It was just he and I in that moment. He and I and our baby that was gradually making her way through my birth canal.
I felt her head move down further, it was deeply intense, so much more intense than what I had felt with my last birth. The feeling was so powerful I could have wanted to run from it, but I was fully committed to Feel Feel Feel – whether my conscious mind was brave enough to decide to Feel Feel Feel did not matter at this point, we were committed, we were doing this thing, together.
‘We’ being ‘myself’ that was doing the doing and ‘myself’ that was doing the guiding and ‘myself’ that was doing the experiencing – ‘We’ were all doing this thing – together.
I continued in this trance state of chanting Feel Feel Feel – until all of a sudden – I said Stop.
Time took a breath, the hands of the clock stuck and in that moment and time stood still. I could feel the baby wait, her head fully surrounded by my birth canal, just before she fully crowned, she waited. And as she waited, as time stood still, I felt the world open for her. I felt my skin stretch a bit more than I thought it could, I felt this doorway open a bit wider and I felt space being created for this Being to move into.
And then, I said Feel, and everything began again.
Feel Feel Feel. And she fully crowned.
Feel Feel Feel as I held her Daddy’s hand in my left and cupped her head in my right.
Feel Feel Feel as she slid further down and I felt her tiny little ear slip across my fingers.
Feel Feel Feel. (My husband later told me that my voice did not sound like me as I chanted)
Her head was fully out and I expected the rest of her little body to slip out like a wet fish, but it did not. Olivia was already aware and had slipped over and reached in to slide one of the baby’s shoulders back just a bit – so that then she could slip right on out – which she did.
As I pulled her up to my chest she began breathing right away. I looked up and saw two huge sets of bright eyes looking back at me, both of my daughters had seen their baby sister being born. Both of our daughters had watched their daddy and mama bring a brand new creation into this world in the safety of our home sweet home.
What empowerment, what deep knowing, what an imprint of trust to place within their hearts. I so desired to give them this gift and I was so deeply grateful that ‘We’ did.
I was filled with awe as my husband and oldest daughter cut the cord, after it had finished its last pump and this new life was now breathing air gifted by the trees. She was so alert, so fully ‘here’.
It was around 6:30 am, roughly 3 hours since I was awoken from my dream of my grandmother chasing me. The sun was peaking over the treetops and my husband and I sat on the couch, watching this new form of life, all morning long.
My husband shared with me that as his hand was on her head and she was being born, he had an instant flash of awareness. He said it was kind of like when someone describes their life flashing before their eyes – but this was not past experiences, this was future. He said that every dream, every desire flashed before him all at once, as if it had already happened. He said he had this awareness that there was all the time in the world, that there was no need to rush, that it would all come true in the time that it is meant to.
I wrote this poem not long after the birth of our third daughter, Mira Sol, and it feels right to share it here …
‘How brave you must be, to jump head first into this world of make believe.
How wonderful this world of make believe must be, for you to choose to take this leap once again.’
How must it feel to Know that you are an immortal, timeless and a unique signature of all that Is, has been and ever will be.
To Know that you have complete Freedom to create anything you wish. To Be anything you desire. To Shape this malleable world into any form that speaks to your heart.
How must it feel to Know all of this.
And then …
How must it feel to Know
You must Forget.
To Know that in order to take shape in this unique life of Form.
You must first forget that you are Formless.
That you must enter a tiny, weak, vulnerable vessel and surrender your Self to some Domestic mode of operation.
Surrender your Knowing to an Unknowing, as one version of infinite versions of Domestication is placed upon you.
Knowing this Domestication will become your own operating system to see, express and shape your world.
Knowing that you can alter this Domestication in any way you wish.
Knowing that you will Forget that you have this ability.
Knowing that there will be pain that accompanies this Forgotten Knowing.
Knowing that this pain is meant to guide you, not harm you.
Knowing that you will Forget this.
Knowing that you can remember what you have Forgotten.
Knowing that you can only remember, if you first Forget.
Knowing you must Forget.
How brave you must be, to jump head first into this world of make believe.
How wonderful this world of make believe must be, for you to choose to take this leap once again.
A world worthy of forgetting yourSelf.
So that you can receive the Gift of opening your Self.
One Present moment at a make believe Time.
How Brave we all must be.
– From my heart to your’s – Mary Miller Jordan