The aches started around 3am again, just like last time. It was your due date, the day that supposedly was 10 months from when you were conceived. But baby’s never come on their due date… I got into the bath to relieve the pressure and your big brother joined me at the early hour of 5am. We talked about what was happening to my body, and he said, “I think the baby’s coming today mama, I think he’s coming”
The pains came and went like waves washing over me all morning long. My birthday was in two days and so I had planned a birthday brunch with my best friend that morning. Cause what’s better than a 40 week pregnant mama getting to nosh down on some great food with her bestie. But you, you had other plans, you asked for my attention all through that meal. I on the other hand swayed back and forth uncomfortably while trying to carry on a conversation, in complete denial that you would actually come to me today. Both your brother and sister were far past their due date, and so how could I believe that today would be the day.
Our plan was to go to the cranberry festival and though it was a drive through traffic to the next town, in one of the most energy packed places around, I insisted we go. By the time we got there I could barely look at any of the vendors as I focused on my breath and hip circles to ease the discomfort as you moved down. I still feel the intense excitement and joy in my heart as I write this and remember the miraculous feeling of the sensation I experienced that day with you making your way into our life.
We knew you were a boy. We knew because I was convinced you were a girl from the moment I conceived you, and I had dreams of you and your sister playing together. I was so convinced that I had to find out, and when I was wrong, I grieved your gender and the dream of sisters, to make way for a dream of brothers and the new formation of the siblings you would all be. Little did I know your sister and you would be tied at the hip. That she would nurture you and care for you, and you would adore her and yearn for her connection. Little did I know the full joy and gift that you would be.
As we drove home from the cranberry festival I could barely stand to sit on the seat of the car. Contractions had increased and yet still I denied that today could be the day. We sat down to eat and the hard surface of the chair was too much for me to bear, I moved to the birthing ball to eat my dinner but soon was laid over the top of it in an effort to open up more space inside of me for you. After calling our doula friend she suggested I take a shower. While in there, the pressure mounted and now I was shaking, shaking like I did right before your sister came earth side. This terrified me and we called our midwife for direction, only to learn that none of the 5 midwifes I had been seeing would be available - it was just you and me babe. Yes your dad and our doula were there holding us up, but really, it was just you and me babe.
In terror, pain, confusion and despair I remember literally crawling out of the shower and up the hard wooden stairs to the door. Your brother put his hand on my head and said, “It’s gonna be ok mom, it’s just the baby coming”. I saw the tenderness in the eyes of your dad, I looked to the other side of room where your auntie looked on in stillness, love and compassion, and the gentle strong energy of our doula friend led me assuredly out the door.
When we got to the hospital, they did not believe I was in labour and I was frightened to let the nurse check me. I just wanted to go back to that space before the fear, where we could sway and rock in harmony together to allow you to come down. The midwife arrived, a face foreign to me, yet so soft and attentive, I had to choose to trust her. We were 5 centimetres dilated by this point and quickly we were brought into a room. The sweet relief of knowing we were left alone to work this through and that your were not ready to fall out of me immediately.
We got into the shower and daddy soothed my belly with water and I moved from the shower, to the ball to standing over those hours. At one point when the shaking returned, our doula friend stood with me and held my hands to move into the natural shake of my body. Many, many times through your labour, fear and helplessness visited me. It reminded me of the past three births of your siblings and deeper still, of the fears of my childhood. Many many times the fear increased the pain and I wanted to run, and numb and escape the body memory that was visiting me. But instead I moved in, I moved down, I literally planted my feet firmly to the earth and leaned deeper into the sensation and I chose to trust. I chose to trust the new life that had been forming for 10 months, and the new life that was being cultivated within my own soul. That this time, I didn’t need to run, that this time I could hold both joy and pain.
Shortly before you were born I sat on the ball with my head hung over the bed while your dad tried to help me regain energy by feeding me a popsicle. I remember and can still feel it now the sensation sent vibrating through my thighs and the way my whole body screamed NO in that moment. It felt as if I was standing on the brink of life and death, and I had a choice. Could I choose to hold you in, I contemplated for a moment wondering if I didn’t have to let you come. I had a choice to choose life, though I was terrified, I had to release and let you come. I remember reaching into my soul and with gentle compassion saying to myself, just as your older brother had said to me just hours ago, “It’s ok Danielle, you have to let him come, it’s time”.
So I choose to surrender, to let go and move in. I crawled up on the bed and without turning around we pushed and you crowned, and I stopped to feel the glory of the pain when you made your way earth side. And little did I know with your birth I would be reborn. Little did I know that this would become my BIRTH DAY too. Little did I know this was just the beginning of me being reborn, again and again and again.
I learned that day that physical birth is one form of birth, one form of choosing and moving towards life in all it’s fullness. I had a choice that day to move towards life too. And I think we often have this choice in the midst of our pain and our fear to choose life, to fully embody life. I will write part 2 of my journey in the near future. But for today it is my baby’s birthday and I am forever grateful that with the gift of his life, he brought the opportunity of hope for me to be reborn with him.
With love and grace,
Danielle Braun-Kauffman MAMFT, RCC