For some of you, this post is going to feel really unfair. The magnitude of what happened to me last week has been kept from you, and if you’re reading it here after the fact, then the details might alarm you.
But first, I should say that I’m in no position to give details. The ferocity with which yin and yang has exploded in front of me is so massive, so incomprehensible, I’d be lying if I said I could give it clarity. A fool to say that I can make any sense of the why or what for. Right now I am mostly white knuckling. Keeping it together one moment, and barely hanging on the next. I have shed tears every day: in sorrow, in pain, in exhaustion, and absolute joy.
On Monday, July 9th at 1:17 PM, Lyra Renee Howe slid from my womb and took her first breath. Although she looked nothing like the child who had visited me in my dreams so often throughout the pregnancy, she was indeed a girl. I was stunned by her full head of black hair and her dark, grey eyes. As I stare at her now, a week later, her physical features are so exotic and so stunning, it’s only the muscle memory I have of her leaving my womb and sliding into to the world that actually confirms for me that she is mine. That something so beautiful, so perfectly adorable would come from my genes is something I never imagined. I was prepared for her to have the typical newborn face, the one that only a mother could love, but everyone who sees her is blown away by her looks. I am simultaneously humbled and tickled by this.
The doctor drained my amniotic fluid shortly after 8 AM and I went on to have a swift an intense labor. So much of my memories are of sounds and not sights. Each contraction would hit me intensely, like a wave. I’d shut my eyes and breathe. The contractions drew closer and closer until there was no time to open my eyes in between. There was no time to be aware of anything else. Nothing but the intense work that my baby and I were doing to get her into the world.
Though it wasn’t planned, my mother and mother-in-law were both in the room throughout most of my labor. They were the most natural of doulas, and they took turns rubbing my back and telling me what a great job I was doing. I took comfort in the fact that with these mothers encouraging me on, I was giving birth in the same way women have done for centuries: with the loving care and presence of other women.
But I also had something even more powerful: the strength, guidance, and love of my husband, my coach. There are many reasons why I have fallen deeper in love with my husband throughout the past year-and-a-half. Yet love is such an impotent word. It’s a puny and insignificant word that does nothing to describe how I feel about him today, after what he did for me (and our new family) this week. My husband was absolutely critical to my labor and delivery. It would be a changed world if all children were welcomed by the loving hands of a caring and engaged father.
The birth of Lyra was my dream birth. It was rapid and fierce and required every bit of my strength. I felt powerful and completely in touch with my body as I moved from early to active labor and then collided with all of the self-doubt and intensity that comes with transition. Pushing was by far the most amazing physical sensation I’ve ever experienced. I would honestly take every contraction over again, in order to feel the high of pushing my daughter out, again.
It was a perfect, unmedicated birth and I will forever sing the praises of choosing to deliver this way. In spite of everything that happened to me in the minutes and hours that followed.
(To be continued...)