4.12.15

THE BIRTH OF ALBY FOX

"The wise woman knows instinctively that in order to truly realise herself, she must be still. She must give up things that no longer evolve her by first identifying what they are. She realises that the ultimate human joy we seek, can only be found in the full acceptance of who we really are and not in the masks we’ve created to define ourselves. When she is fully present and can see her true self clearly, she realises that the very need for joy dissolves along with the need to resist pain. She replaces them with humility, for she now trusts the natural flow of life. She becomes one with all. It is in this very moment that she is transformed. It is in that state of awareness that she expands and contracts and breathes life into her thoughts. She now knows that those thoughts become her reality. She has always known. For she is the sage, the doula, the medicine woman, the witch doctor, the fortune teller, the wisdom keeper, the healer" ~ Erykah Badi
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At 42+4 weeks (18 days passed our estimated 'due date' of February 14th), the inconsistency yet intensity of my very first contractions in the evening of March 4th, brought with them such sweet, sweet relief - our son had finally decided it was his time to cross the threshold into the world and be welcomed into his second home - the home outside of his womb cocoon.

For days, potentially weeks, my body had been preparing for this very moment. At already 4-5cm dilated three days prior to birth, yet with no definitive signs of labour, sunshine hours were spent bathing with Sage in salty ocean rock pools, while nights entailed swaying and breathing through a series of increasingly strengthening waves which had always dissipated by morning light. Despite being at peace with the wait, and trusting in the harmonisation between my body and my baby, it was also a somewhat lonesome time. Nights were especially tiresome with consistent tightenings impossible to ignore, leaving me exhausted by dawn. 

Each visit to my obstetrician ended with the comment "make an appointment to see me in a week/three days/tomorrow - not that I think you'll make it..." however, each and every time I made it - still very much pregnant. My mind remained strong and focused, knowing the labyrinth of labour and birth was surely imminent, but I also held such a strong desire for someone - anyone, to relate to my journey... for a kindred who had also traversed this path of extreme 'overdueness'.

Our midwifery team, with whom we had built such a strong connection with throughout both of our pregnancies, were sadly not available during this time. One had contracted glandular fever and the other was on leave - understandably expecting we would have delivered by this point. I felt incredibly anxious by the thought of arriving at the hospital in heavy labour, not knowing who our support team would be. We made contact with our home birth midwives, whom we had also seen numerous times throughout my pregnancy (but who were also unavailable due to attending a family member’s birth on the mainland) and pleaded with them for a recommendation. They instantly aligned us with Alison, an extraordinary midwife, who graciously agreed to attend our birth and advocate our natural intentions for the remainder of the pregnancy.

Induction was imminent, but without good reason, our obstetrician held no satisfactory answers to our questioning of "why?", aside from surpassing the 42 week ‘limit’. After much reading and research, we were certainly not naive to the risks that can be associated with a longer gestational period, however, we felt they alone were not reason enough to interfere with the natural synchronization already occurring between myself and our baby. I was already dilating, I was experiencing strong nightly surges and I was still feeling his frequent movements, so we could see no viable reason to commence with a, potentially avoidable, cascade of intervention, post-induction. The natural world, after all, pays no consideration to the illusion of time.



Despite making our intentions clear, we were scheduled to arrive at the hospital each morning for my waters to be artificially released, and on each of those days, we simply didn't arrive. Earnest phone calls from the medical team ensued but with Alison as our unwavering voice of support, regular foetal and placental monitoring was settled upon instead, with neither ever revealing reason for concern. We focussed on natural remedies known to assist the commencement of labour – diffusing, bathing in and massage using clary sage oil (mixed with a carrier), taking 5W herbal supplements, drinking raspberry leaf tea, massaging acupressure points on the hands, feet and legs, and walking on undulating surfaces (ie. in the gutter – one foot high, one foot low – oh so glamorous!). Each evening I would prepare my mind by falling asleep to the meditative visualisations of Calm Birthunconsciously absorbing their powerful birthing affirmations as I slumbered.        
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As darkness drew on the evening of March 4th, my parents arrived at our home to care for a sleeping Sage - all had a sense that tonight would be Alby's homecoming, with those intermittent, but incredibly strong waves, proving this to be true. I walked our hall alone by candlelight, pausing beside door frames and walls every so often, to sway through each surge. As in our labour with Sage, our intention was to remain within the comforting surrounds of our nest for as long as we could. I focussed my thoughts on breathing Alby down; on managing each contraction, just one at a time. Between capturing images, snippets of video and busily packing the car, Si's words of encouragement rang in my mind; ever the unwavering pillar of strength and support.

At 10pm, we made the decision to drive to my parents’ home - a five minute journey from the hospital, as opposed to the twenty minute drive from our home. Incredibly (and thankfully), I didn't experience a single contraction in the car, yet upon arrival to my childhood abode, waves became a sporadic 2-4 minutes apart, and were gaining in their ferocity.



Heat from a warmed wheat bag brought much comfort, as did the knowing that with the passing of each surge, it was one I never had to experience again. At 11pm, after an hour of regular, strengthening waves, we made our way to the hospital - stopping the car and contracting by the dim glow of the street lights, every few minutes, along the way.

Walking down the familiar halls of the maternity ward toward the delivery suite brought with it a culmination of anticipation and exhilaration... setting foot into the delivery room meant entering as parents of one, yet leaving as parents of two. 

The midwife on duty immediately commenced an internal examination and foetal monitoring. Despite being 4-5cm for days prior, she declared I was still only at 5. My heart sank a little, after hours’ worth of painful surges had seemingly resulted in no progress, yet I knew how quickly dilation and birthing could occur given a mindset wholly focussed on surrendering - both inwards and outwards. She phoned Alison, who was a 40 minute drive away from the hospital, and apart from checking the foetal heartbeat and claiming every so often that she would “break my waters after this next contraction” she mainly let us be (and thankfully never did release my waters). 



Surges were now almost back to back with less than a minute between each to catch my breath in preparation for the next. After vomiting, I entered an inward, hypnotic state, pacing the room like a lioness and predominantly keeping my eyes firmly closed as I felt our baby moving further and further down. As each wave began to build, my instinctual reaction was to grit my teeth and tense my mouth as a way to bear the pain, however I quickly reverted to a blowing, outward breath, keeping my mouth and throat (and therefore the other openings of my body) as loose as possible.

The pain was becoming immense - moreso than I remember feeling during my labour with Sage. Exhausted, I felt I was losing control of my centeredness and my mind started to flash with self-doubt and thoughts of “I'm not sure I can do this…" which, of course meant delivery was imminent. My vocalisations became primal groans and it was impossible not to bear down during the climax of each surge. Only a little over an hour had passed since my 5cm check and my body was now in transition.



Alison arrived and I felt a great sense of relief in her presence. With the bath fully run, she suggested I now enter the water for my final minutes of labour. As I was kneeling and leaning over the bath edge for my first contractions in the pool, she then encouraged me to turn around and lay back, hoping to prevent the intense downward pressure which may result in tearing as I had with Sage. It took a moment for my mind and body to let go of the position I felt instinctually comfortable in, but once I surrendered to her wisdom, Alby began to reveal himself.



There are no words that can adequately describe the all encompassing pain and the transformative power that engulfed me within that crowning moment - that sacred time when our babe was between womb and world that seemed to last both an eternity and a second. After a few immense surges and warrior-ess calls, his head was released from my body. I became instantly coherent with the relief that the most difficult part was complete. As I lay resting, biding our time for the next wave to bring our baby to shore, I felt the satisfying release of his waters finally dispersing. Si and Alison exclaimed as they watched the caul peel back over his head before his body swam into the world. Alison passed our son into my awaiting hands and I drew him to my chest, breathing every ounce of him in. It was now 12.40am on March 5th - three and a half hours after our first notable surge.




His skin was clean and glowing, clear of any magical vernix, revealing his extended time on the inside (he later peeled beyond belief!). Initially groaning and very groggy, quite a few minutes passed before we heard his first cry resound into the night. We soon left the bath and made our way to the bed for Alison to examine me and prepare for the birthing of the placenta. At first she thought I would again need stitching, but said that she would check back after some of the immediate swelling had subsided - later revealing a small tear, but one that would thankfully heal on its own with the assistance of some natural remedies. 

As with Sage, we declined the post-birth vitamin k injection for Alby, and opted for a physiologically managed third stage of labour for myself - preferring to expel our baby's life source when my body felt it was naturally time. The cord was clamped and cut by Si once all of the nutrients from the placenta had been fully utilised and transferred to Alby's body, and it was delivered 40 minutes later. 


My worries of an initially painful breastfeeding journey soon subsided as Alby latched on beautifully and fed, skin-to-skin, for more than two hours. Weighing afterwards revealed our delicious boy to be nine pound, three and a half ounces (4.1kg) with a length of 52cm and head circumference of 35.5cm. At 3.30am, Si and I lay together in the delivery suite with our precious son by our side, catching a few hours rest before making an early morning journey home for Sage to meet her little brother for the very first time. And in that moment, my heart spoke a thousand silent words as tears filled my eyes. Never had I experienced such unfathomable love.




Sweet Alby, ever since you arrived, all of our dreams were suddenly manifested in our arms and our wild love story with you began.

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