WARNING! this post contains graphic descriptions of labor and childbirth. you’ve been warned 🙂
greetings – again i had reservations about creating this post. the story that i am going to tell does not have a whole lot to do with the familyoga experience – except that it is the birth story of one of our familyoga beauties. but, after much consideration…..i decided, what the heck! it’s my/our blog….and if i want to tell a birth story – then, i will. and….one of the things i love most in this world is a good birth story. i like to tap into the primal nature of woman – to experience, through story, what she felt, what she saw, what she heard, what she believed about herself (her abilities/her limitations), what she thought about as she journeyed through this amazing rite of passage in a woman’s life. i wanna hear the guts and the glory of it all – the blood, sweat and tears. bring it!
this is not a la-di-da, candles, soft music, my husband’s gentle caress, kinda birth story. this is an OH SHIT kinda birth story. one in which…..things could have, and almost did go very very wrong. this birth challenged everything that i thought i knew about myself. this birth challenged every notion i had about my connection to the divine. this birth gifted me with strength and faith to last through this lifetime and beyond. in going to the absolute limits of what a woman is capable of…..i stepped across a threshold, with grace.
this is sasha bear’s birth story.
i have easy pregnancies. i won’t go into a lot of detail about this pregnancy because it would be boring. the only remarkable thing i remember is that i gained 60 pounds – i had a nice, big, round booty and large, full breasts that brett and i both admired. i was ripe and juicy….like a mango. and oh yes we had a lot of sex during this pregnancy….like one, two or three times a day sex – yup, maybe that is why our sasha is such a sensual person.
anyhow, we lived in tucson arizona during this pregnancy. at the time, i worked part-time at a really cool day program for developmentally-disabled adults. the program uses animals, primarily horses, to reinforce socialization skills and improve gross and fine motor skills. i also practiced yoga. brett was working at the tucson cooperative warehouse which is the natural foods distributor for the southwest u.s.a. we already had little isabel, who was almost 3 years old at the time of sasha’s birth. we lived in a cozy house on a quietish alley about 2 miles from downtown tucson, 1 mile from the university of arizona campus.
for the pregnancy and childbirth, we had the midwife dream team. seriously! 3 women, dear friends, walked this journey with us. d’ana was one of the midwives – she was and is a beloved friend of ours (isabel’s middle name is d’ana). she was our midwife for isabel’s delivery as well. she and brett have a deep soul connection. she has 4 kids of her own….and was pregnant with her 5th at the time of sasha’s birth. she is a medicine woman, who loves to laugh. she has had a lot of heartache in her life, and is wise beyond her years, probably because of it. sharon was our second midwife. she has 4 kids as well. her children were teenagers back then. so i looked up to her as a role model and mentor. she too is a healer. she would tell us that when she was a child walking in the forest (she lived in rural idaho, oregon and washington), plants would talk to her. they would tell her what they could be used for – medicines or dyes or food. she listened…..and learned more and more and more – and today is the most knowledgeable person about plants and herbs, that i have ever met. she taught me so much, and it’s only a tiny fraction of what she knows. the third midwife is fravarti. she is a gem. she too, is a mama of four – and her children were also teens at that time. fravarti has mastered the art and science of homeopathy. she has patients all over the world who consult her in person or by phone for help with healing. she has a strong connection to angels, was/is a practicing sufi and is considered a medical intuitive. so…..i was in good hands. the best.
these women had decades of experience helping women to birth babies at home, in birth centers and hospitals. they had with them the necessary equipment to handle all sorts of variations and/or complications. i completely trusted my midwifery team and their abilities and wisdom.
june 8, 2001, i was 4 days overdue. my parents had been in town for the week…hoping to meet their new grandchild. alas, we said goodbye to them the evening of june 8th – for they were leaving for phoenix in the morning to fly back to indy. i went to bed at about 11:30pm that night…..and woke up a couple of hours later to pee. after i peed, i felt a whoosh – my water bag had broken. so, i called the midwives. they would come over soon. i called my parents. they came to pick up isabel and take her back to their hotel room. my water bag had certainly broken….but nothing else was happening yet, no contractions, nothing. so, i sat and waited – walked around and waited. the midwives arrived and we waited.
i don’t remember what time my contractions started….i’m guessing it was around 3am. as an aside – from here on out, this experience is fuzzy in my mind – i was walking a labyrinth between birth and death – my body, mind and spirit were floating in the ethers. so, i apologize if i can’t remember certain important details or medical terminology as they might pertain to this birth.
here goes…soon enough,the contractions suddenly started fast and hard. the midwives began to fill the tub that d’ana had brought from her home, now situated in our living room. tub is not the proper word for what this was….ummm it was a water trough for livestock (the ranch where d’ana lived had horses). it was huge. it was as big as a 4- 6 person hot tub. i could stretch all the way out and swim in this thing. it was awesome. as soon as the tub was full, i got in.
at this point, intense contractions were happening one right after another. i was in a zone – not knowing anything that was going on around me. i was connecting with my ancestors, with women the world over….who have done this very thing. i drew strength from the fact that millions of women have birthed babies. and everything was getting more and more intense…..there was no rest between contractions. i was in an ungodly amount of pain. so, i began to wail and weep. i wailed and wept for women – for all that we have been through – the pain, the loss, the suffering. i wept for children – children who had been abandoned, unwanted, abused. i wept for mother earth herself – for all the ways that we have degraded and violated her.
i could not hear anything that the midwives or brett was saying to me. i know they were advising and reassuring me – “lisa, try this position. drink some water.” all i remember was wailing and singing my sorrow and pain. and in return, making a deep connection to all who suffer.
while still in the tub, i became aware of the urge to “push.” so, i did. i pushed and pushed. i cried and breathed and pushed…..for a long time.
it was now early morning, the sun had risen. the midwives suggested that i get out of the tub. i agreed and welcomed a change of scenery and circumstances. brett helped me stand and step out of the tub and steady myself. i saw a wave of concern wash over the midwives’ faces. i knew the reason for the concern….but said nothing. meconium had dripped out of me…..the baby’s first poo…..a sign of fetal distress.
so, i was wrapped in towels and blankets. the midwives became serious. “lisa, we know you saw the meconium. and we need you to understand that this baby needs to be born soon. you have to push this baby out.” i heard this….i knew all of this. but, i felt helpless. i had been pushing – pushing my guts out – pushing with every ounce of my being. what more could i do?
we all moved into our bedroom – and grace descended upon us. brett and the women encircled me. brett bowed his head….wordlessly praying. and fravarti, i swear that woman was speaking in tongues….sharon, d’ana maintained eye contact with me – being direct, giving me instructions. their quiet confidence helped me to maintain contact with myself and my baby. and brett and fravarti’s invocation of the divine helped us to feel connected to an abundant source of strength, growth and surrender.
sharon cleared items off of my nightstand, a large sturdy, wooden table….and she sat on it. i sat on her lap, right on the tops of her thighs. she spread her knees. i spread mine and i pushed some more. d’ana and fravarti squatted down in front of my open thighs. i stayed in this position longer (thank you sharon!), and pushed harder…..and finally progress…..d’ana and fravarti can see the baby’s head coming. at this point, we kinda skip over the baby’s head crowning – and i just push with everything i’ve got. and she is born – not slow and steady….head emerging first, then shoulders, torso and legs. sasha was born with ferocity. we saw her face right away because she was posterior. and she was huge. she looked like a 3 month old baby. a big big baby – and one of the reasons why we nicknamed her “bear.”
she was covered in meconium – from head to toe – but her lips were pinched shut….which was a good sign. one of the concerns when meconium is present is that the baby may have aspirated on it. sasha’s coloring was good though. she was pink all over. the midwives listened to her lungs with a stethoscope and they sounded clear. they listened again – still clear. we rejoiced. i eased back into my bed, and the baby was laid on my chest and wiped clean. i had lost a lot of blood. it was splattered on the wall and puddled on the floor. it was gruesome. no one in the room could quite believe how big sasha looked – and this was made clear when she weighed in at 10 pounds 3 ounces. once it was evident that sasha was a healthy newborn – all attention turned to me, as the women monitored my blood loss and my vital signs.
to be continued…..in the next post – which i will hopefully publish later on today. namaste!