BIRTH TALES – STORIES OF AMAZING BIRTHS
Told by Mothers, Fathers, Midwives, Apprentices, Doulas, Nurses & Others
THE BIRTH TALES:
by Lisa Lim, Mother
“Wouldn’t it be lovely if all women could labor outside on the streets freely, if we all considered it an honor to come across a laboring woman, considered it a blessing, a good omen”. And I thought how wonderful it would be to consider all of this normal. Where a woman’s pain wasn’t hidden, but was moving, breathing within the community. Not hidden behind medical walls.” – Lisa Lim
Once we began walking, I remember passing the hedge and talking about going to the movies. Shelly was trying to distract me. We both had seen “Practical Magic” the day before. What would we see? I could only go if I promised not to make too much noise. She was teasing me and I enjoyed it. I had another contraction and I reached out and held onto her. My arm across her shoulders. I could feel her upper back. She was wearing a tank top and sweats. Glass, we all had sunglasses and Anna was holding my water bottle. I was keenly aware of my surroundings. It was a beautiful day. The sky was blue, the breeze was refreshing and alive. There were birds and lawnmowers. The Saturday energy of relaxed chores. People working without a structured boss. We walked and with each contraction I would gently squeeze Shelly. We turned onto Montana and continued to talk about past lives, but the talk and surroundings were fading. I was fading into myself, and I needed all of them for support. It was then that Shelly suggested turning around and I was very relieved. And just as I turned back onto Centinela I truly fell into labor. It was a downward force that pulled me to the center of the earth. A drawing down that took my legs with it. I grabbed for Steve’s hand and fell into the three of them, howling back into the world as if to remind them, me, not to get lost. To yell, to howl, to scream so that everyone could find me. To descend but leave notice. We walked on.
Only flashes come back to me. Someone on the hill throwing out the trash. Two men coming out of a garage. A car driving past. The very long way back to my house, which at this point could be no more than a block. Shelly musing “Wouldn’t it be lovely if all women could labor outside on the streets freely, if we all considered it an honor to come across a laboring woman, considered it a blessing, a good omen”. And I thought how wonderful it would be to
consider all of this normal. Where a woman’s pain wasn’t hidden, but was moving, breathing within the community. Not hidden behind medical walls. These thoughts were floating through my head, but at the same time how the hell was I going to make it across the street and the last block. I remember saying to Steve “Get the fucking car” as I collapsed into his arms once again. I was being sucked into the very ground. To stay up and moving – how? And before I fell again I was flinging off my shoes and walking across the cool, wet grass of our lawn. My front porch. The railing. Squeezing the wooden frame and howling deep so they could find me. Then there was Davi’s beautiful face, comforting music, broken light. Home. My bed. But no, “Lisa, pee first”. I ripped off my dress as I moved down the hall. I had to concentrate. I no longer really remembered how to pee. I sat there hoping it would fall out. I
wanted to lie down. To sleep. To stop. Next the cool pillows were beneath my head, the soft flannel. Beautiful yellow lilies. The purple grapes on the blanket. Michael Stillwater’s music gently breaking through. I just wanted to rest, to sleep. “Please Shelly, I want to sleep, I need a rest”. Her hand pressed against my thigh, pushed my hair across my face. “Rest now.” And I did. I don’t know how long, but long enough to let the panic subside. To let in silly thoughts. “Lisa, you are a stupid woman. You could be at the hospital getting really good drugs.” It passed. “Where’s Eliot? Please call.”
My back. My front. It hurt. The baby was moving through me and I was spreading out across the room. I was being pulled in every direction. Stretching up, and down, sideways, long ways and it hurt. The pain of opposing tension. The force of pulling apart. Being stretched thin and the bliss of snapping back to fullness. The quiet fullness between contractions when the baby and I were still one, rocking and waiting to pull again.
Shelly was holding my lower back and Davi was anchoring my feet. I didn’t want to fly away. Not now. I wanted to follow the suction downward. They would find me. I was hollering loud enough. Davi had my feet. I was safe. Stephen was there too. I could fall into his eyes also. Sink deep down into love.
Eliot came in bearing roses. Three beautiful roses. What if men always came bearing roses. There would be no war, the fear could not take hold. The smell of roses. Remedies under my tongue. I would be all right. Where was Aimee? “Call Aimee” Everyone shifts their attention. I am alone. “555-1212” I blast again. I had blown up a few moments earlier when the disc changed from my birthing music to African dance music. Not the heavens now. I am in the earth. Toiling. I want to hear the river flowing, the wind, the earth. All weather. Ice splitting. Mother earth moving. No time for flying now.
Stephen looked into my eyes. Trying to find me. His words seemed slow and syrupy, “I am going out for evening primrose”, “No” I order back, clutching on to my counterweight. “You can’t go, I think the baby is here.”
Shelly had checked me when we returned from the walk. I was hovering around 7 cm. Where was I now? Fear kept invading. I was afraid. Then I looked into Shelly’s eyes. She had been there. She had also been sucked into the earth and had returned. I could fall too. I would come back. I wanted to not waste a single second of a contraction being afraid. Shelly whispers, “Lisa, remember making love, how you got this baby inside of you, now make love to this child. Love your baby out. There is only one safe place – your heart.” Stephen put his hand between my breasts, held onto my heart tightly – down I went again. Then I felt a transfer of energy. For the first time
something was moving up and out. I wanted to get below it. Hell, I was below it. Now I wanted to lift, to push, to raise my baby up high. It was time to push. “Lisa, how do you want to do this? Your side? Sitting?” Shelly didn’t offer me squatting. Good thing we would find out moments later. I think the little one would have come too fast. Bursting out, taking me too. I thought side, no, no, sitting. Shelly made sure someone was holding my feet. Stephen was massaging my belly. Anna was caressing my thoughts with her gentle whispering. I was totally embraced. Then I felt the head. A tiny bit of hair. I wish I had lingered there longer, but there was work to be done. Me, always efficient at the cost of experiencing the moment sometimes.
Up, up, up I was now feeling. I was deep under this child and we were rising. I felt the head between my legs. The full, tight stuck feeling and then one howling push and the baby was free. I was aware of being comfortably around his neck. I could actually feel him moving inside of me. It was very sensual and exciting, but he didn’t want to stay. He didn’t want to linger, he wanted out. I was so open that I touched my very edges, and just as I was about to fall off of myself, he fell out. I was in empty space. I felt so empty. For a second I am lost. All this effort, concentration, focus and now nothing. I am not being sucked down. There is no one to push up. No heaven, no earth. Then I see Shelly’s arms pushing my little one towards me. “Lisa, hold your baby.” And I am back. This wonderful wet, warm breathing baby brings me back home.
Everything moves quickly now. There are tears in everyone’s eyes. Anna is holding the camera. Eliot is embracing Stephen. Davi is laughing. Then I am reflecting. I now remember Shelly saying “Davi Kaur these cloths are not hot enough.” Davi remarking on how there wasn’t time for the crock pot to heat up. Everyone laughing when I shouted out Aimee’s phone number. Eliot responding to Shelly when asked if he had delivered babies before “Yes, but not in this consciousness.”
I deliver the placenta. We cut the cord. I receive a single stitch. I breast-feed. The midwives move about working efficiently. The storm has passed and now we clean up. But oh how good everything feels. Back to earthly movements and chores. I get up and am escorted to the shower. Eliot passes the soap. Shelly combs my hair. I am back in bed and my little man lies naked across my chest. Isadora arrives, “Mummy, he has a penis. He’s a boy.” The look of all the faces around my bed. Eddy, Constanza, Stephen, Tony, Davi, Anna, Aimee. Eliot has left. Shelly cleans and gently checks our little boy. He sucks my finger for comfort and cries when I complain about my back. Aimee massages it. Then slowly everyone leaves. All of us open, happy and free in this moment of birth.
I am so tired. It is dark out now and the candles in my room throw off a comforting light. I pass my son over to Constanza and fall into a deep sleep. When I wake up a few hours have passed. The house is very quiet. I look at the clock, it is past eleven. I shuffle out of bed and I hear them first. I pause to listen. Stephen is singing to our little boy. I want to touch them. Be close. I sit on the sofa as close as I can get. They smell so good. I check on Isadora. She looks as always like an angel. I fall asleep this night, and now there really is three of us in the bed. Kai breathes on his own between Stephen and I. Life begins again for all of us.
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