This is part two to a five part series. Read part one here.
These four parts are [unedited] excerpts from my book being published this fall. My book is about varying forms of loss + giving them space; uncovering the gifts of grief and fullness to life.
Our birth experience is one of my greatest losses and I am learning how to give it space in my life. It is sacred, it is vulnerable, it is hidden. I experience triggers and PTSD. It isn't fun, but I am not going to pretend it is something it isn't: I'm not going to pretend like I am okay with how our birth unfolded.
Until today, this story has been kept quiet and hidden; it's raw. It has been one year. My book is overflowing with vulnerable stories and raw emotion...so I figured sharing this raw story would continue to prepare me for the launch of my book.
I write + share to give myself a voice, but also to give others a voice. Loss has a way of making us lonely; I hope to create spaces for connection and community. You are not alone.
The long night’s darkness shifted. The sun slowly sprang into the horizon, casting a sweet hue of pink and orange across the earth. Wednesday arrived hours ago, June 1st was upon us. The twelfth hour of active labor came to a close. My birth team agreed: June 1st was a great day to have a baby.
June 1st was a perfect birthday, easy to remember, foolproof.
“I don’t know guys; I may not deliver him today! What if I keep you here all week?” I ask Julia in between contractions, partly joking but partly serious.
Julia smiled, “I already had my 50+ hour labor this year, don’t worry. I only get one of those a year.”
Everyone laughed, June 1st was the day we would meet this little man.
Our night was long but I was refreshed. We passed 15 hours of active labor: I felt I was made for this. I hoped for a biological baby to experience the miracle of pregnancy and then conquer labor.
We knew this baby's name, but had yet to share it with the world. It's scary claiming names so definitively.
“Do you have a name?” My friend Angie asked; she had my camera. “It’s okay if you’re not telling anyone.”
“Ira. Ira Anthony.” I say smiling.
Relief washed over me as I talked to Ira by name, asking him to keep my body working, telling him we were ready to greet him face to face, flesh to flesh.
My contractions slowed around 10 am: a sign of transition, my body preparing to push and deliver this bundle of fresh flesh, this Ira boy.
The cascade of emotions geared up. Julia had me exit the birthing tub to walk around, eat a little snack, drink some water. Get ready.
Too many hours passed, my contractions irregular and unpredictable. I felt knocked off balance and out of control. This revealed to me how tired I was.
But, determined to deliver this baby at home, we checked his heart: not in distress.
My body was not in distress. My confidence about birthing this baby in our home remained, despite my lack of blood thinners. I imagined his birth here before we made the duplex ours. There was zero need or urgency to transfer to the hospital. Despite my exhaustion, I felt strong.
Ten am turned into 11:00 a.m. and then into 12:00 p.m. Suddenly it was Wednesday afternoon and the irregularity of my contractions weren't correcting.
My body was not doing what it should have been doing, it was proving itself to be difficult and stubborn as it always had. But I am strong.
I had all the confidence in the world that I can do this. I would have my victoriously glorious moment of meeting Ira, flesh to flesh after the fight of labor.
The sun fell abruptly. Wednesday June first neared its close.
I lay on my bed while my cervix is checked. My body wasn't opening further. Ira’s swollen head challenged finding his position.
Was he still asynclitic? Had my water broken? It was all a mystery.
Loren danced antsy.
Julia presents a few options to us: attempt to break my water with the chance of a prolapsed cord; leave my water unbroken and go to the hospital for pitocin to awake my contractions; continue laboring at home with irregular contractions unsure when or if they will pick up, making note it had been over two days since my last blood thinner injection.
Waiting at home was my first choice, but everyone else seemed to see my contractions were not becoming regular despite everything we attempted. I could tell Loren wanted to go to the hospital.
Transferring made me wary. Not yet. Our entire pregnancy I had held my expectations loosely in an open hand, knowing transferring was quite possible because of my blood disorders. But because my contractions are irregular? Because my body is being stubborn? Without any distress?
These were not at all the reasons I foresaw a transfer possibility. The idea of transferring always surrounded clotting, placenta abruption, or me hemorrhaging.
Birthing Ira in the comfort of our home with Sage present and near me was my perfect birth. I hoped the birth of our family of four would happen together.
I wanted the food I purchased, my bed and shower. I wanted to be home. I didn’t want to leave Sage. Transferring was not in the attachment-bonding options I gave us or planned.
Around 10:00 p.m. Wednesday we decided transferring was best with hope of pitocin kicking my body back into gear.
After accepting our reality through deep breathing, I clung to the piece of our birth story meaning the most to me: the magical meeting moment, flesh on flesh, swollen screaming baby on my bare skinned chest, tears in everyone’s eyes.
We wouldn’t be at home in the birthing tub, but we were soon meeting Ira as he gasped for air.
I would encounter the moment of victory. I would still conquer delivery. I would still experience the beauty of birth, the releasing of a baby’s body through mine. What a privileged gift.
A few phone calls later, Grandma arrived to care for Sage. I cried as I kissed him goodbye.
Breathing through contractions I pack our bags, unsure what to take, and load up for the 15 minute drive.
Irregularly but painfully, I contract the entire drive to the hospital. We park, I slowly wobble my way into the emergency entrance pausing for contractions, and we check into the Oregon Health & Science University Hospital [OHSU]: the best hospital in Oregon.