A week ago, when I met Brenda at the beach at sunset, she told me in a low voice that she had been having a large amount of clear discharge before and during her yoga class. My internal alarm bells went off. Brenda was still two days away from reaching week 36 of her pregnancy and we were facing the possibility that Brenda’s waters had broken…
When this reality was confirmed by the gynaecologist, we had to begin to accept the hard reality of the situation we found ourselves in: Brenda would not be able to give birth at home as she had not reached week 37 of her pregnancy, (when a baby doesn’t reach 37 weeks in the womb, there exists a possible risk that the baby’s lungs are not ready for the outside world). Also, as more time passed with a broken amniotic sac, the danger for the baby of infection increased. We also knew that if we presented ourselves and our situation at the hospital, Brenda would have been immediately induced with artificial oxytocin, which then usually triggers a chain reaction of medical interventions that were far from the natural birth we had been wishing for….
With all these facts going around in our heads, we had to accept new realities and take decisions quickly. So within a couple of hours after some lunch at home and a nap for Brenda, we arrived to the conclusion that the best scenario would be that Brenda would go into labour naturally that same afternoon so that she could dilate as much as possible at home and go into hospital for the second stage of labour,, therefore avoiding the artificial birth inducement.
With this in mind, Marta, the midwife from Mujeres Sabias that was going to be with us for the home birth, came home at around 4 in the afternoon and inserted four acupuncture needles in Brenda. This technique brings about very mild contractions while the needles are in. The hope was that once the needles were removed, the contractions would continue and Brenda would go into labour.
Before leaving, the midwife told us that in order for the contractions to continue and grow, it was important to have orgasms and stimulate the nipples as much as possible so that more and more oxytocin (the birth hormone) would be released. In that moment I felt that the chances of Brenda going into labour that same afternoon were slim, but of course we were going to give it all we had to try to make it happen….
And so we did. And little by little the doors of a magical and wild world opened up in front of my very eyes. In a tiny room in our house, with the lights down low, Brenda’s body began to respond to the call. With great calm and love, with much nipple stimulation, the waves of contractions began to grow, the pain and the intensity increasing, and the possibility of a natural birth becoming more and more real.
Our two older children awoke from their siesta and with great gentleness I told them what was happening and brought them to be minded by our neighbour and friend Marie Helene.
Six hours after the acupuncture, Brenda continued having continuous contractions, each time with growing intensity. When Marta the midwife came back at 10 that night she told us that Brenda was still in early labour, these were still preliminary contractions. Contractions should last longer, be more intense and more regular to be considered full labour and therefore be unstoppable, Brenda should be looking for the waves and the pain. Marta gave Brenda homeopathy to help with the process and she gave me a bottle of sage oil to massage Brendaś back and breasts. She left again and told us she would be back in three hours.
So we kept going, traveling into the night and into the unknown. Brenda vomited violently in a couple of contractions that she had while lying on her side. In her 1 am visit, the midwife encouraged Brenda to go for the contractions in this way, lying on her side, looking for more pain and getting through her fears, even if it meant vomiting each time.
In that moment Brenda jumped into untamed wildness, listening to the chaos music from the dance sessions she facilitates, SOLTAR Y SOÑAR, she entered into a kind of a trance, and being by her side, was like being in that wild place with her…. her voice and her body expressed the intensity of the pain as it reached higher and higher levels, her body held onto mine, squeezing, pushing, holding, leaning…. I felt so much admiration, so much love and so much magic in that time that I am finding it hard to find the right words to really transmit what those hours felt like…..it was like being in a timeless place, in the purest state of aliveness, smelling from right up close to me the animal that we all are in essence.
At three in the morning Marta came back and saw that without a doubt Brenda was now in full labour, we didn’t have much time, we had to go to hospital. Suitcase, bags, identification papers, let’s go!. In the car, Brenda still had really strong contractions and cried out while she adopted mammal positions in the passenger seat beside me. I felt as if I was in a film as we walked across the hospital car park, having to stop every few steps while she had a contraction.
We got to the hospital at around four in the morning, with a woman in labour, in trance, full of her own homemade oxytocin and full of courage to give birth to our baby. It was exactly 12 hours after the acupuncture. Lennon was close. My heart was beating fast. Brenda was fully dilated to 10 cms.
What happened after this I don’t want to write about in the same post. The hospital. How does a birthing animal feel inside our aseptic, cold and rigid hospitals?
In the next post I will share the second part of Lennon’s birth. In this post I leave you with the magic and the power of each woman to call on her own oxytocin, the hormone of labour, the hormone of love, with calm and tranquility, in dim-light, with warmth, and with love…..