Freya Wren’s Birth Story
My first labor pains began around midnight. They were intense enough to wake me from sleep, and I could not bear to lay on my back when they came. I tried being on my hands and knees in the bed for awhile. Then I felt so restless, I decided to sit out on the front porch and try to enjoy the night sky. I rolled my yoga ball to the front porch and looked at the stars for a little bit. The cool air was calming, but the waves were getting more intense.
I called the Midwife and gave her a heads up, these contractions felt different than Braxton Hicks. I felt all the pressure low, in my back and hips. I had also been texting with my midwife friend, Colleen. She encouraged me to rest on my side through them, for 30 minutes, and then call her back. By that point, the waves were intense enough that I could not lie down or stay still through them. Once Colleen heard that, she said she was on her way over.
After contracting for a while, I woke Dave and asked him to time my contractions. At that point, they were about 5 minutes apart, lasting at least a minute. Dave ran a warm bath for me in our garden tub and lit some candles. The warm water was welcoming and relaxing. After a while, the water cooled and I got out to walk around again. I started getting impatient to be checked. I paced the house and peeked out of the windows, hoping to see some headlights coming down the driveway.
Colleen and Ashley arrived at the house. When I answered the door, the first thing I said to her was, “I know you’re my friend, but I need you to put your hand in my vagina, and tell me how progressed I am.” She laughed and agreed to check me. I was 6 centimeters dilated, 90% effaced, and baby was at zero station. Colleen went ahead and called my midwife and the birth photographer, while I showed Ashley how to set up the birth space. We started playing my labor music mix. I had set up the playlist months ago, and used it in much of my labor prep. Sometimes, you just need Ingrid Michealson to remind you to “Keep Breathing.”
I was coping well with my contractions, but I was getting a little short with people. I believe I recall telling Colleen, no one was allowed to be funny but me, after she cracked a joke about Calliou. Each time a contraction came on, I would bend over the bed or drop to all fours. Dave, Ashley, and Colleen took turns giving me counter pressure on my lower back while I breathed through the sensation. At one point, while on my hands and knees, the song “Luckiest” by Ben Folds, came on. I quietly sang along to it, while working through the surge. I felt so lucky/blessed to be in labor with this baby I had longed for, for years. At some point during a rough contraction, Zelda, my pug, ran into the room and her high energy set me off completely. I growled for someone to remove her from my sight and make sure she didn’t come back. Dave quickly removed the pug, for her own safety.
Lynne and Angie, the midwives, arrived at my home a little after 4 o’clock in the morning. Time was passing quickly for me – I was in my own headspace, concentrating on what I was doing. I asked Lynne to check me. She did and told me I was completely dilated “with a small lip” completely effaced, and baby was low. The pressure I was feeling to push was from a bulgy bag of waters. As soon as I stood up from the bed, my membranes ruptured in a spectacular fashion, with a loud gush and fluid all over my dress and carpet! Dave came back into our bedroom and asked if my water broke. He had heard it from the other room. I was feeling very pushy at that point. I pulled my dress off and climbed into the pool, naked. Modesty was out the window! Dave retrieved my bathing suit top and tied it on me. I laid in the pool of warm water, as it was filling, and concentrated on my labor surges. I remembered what Ina May said about tight lips, so I blew raspberries to keep my lips loose. I tried to rest and relax through the sensations, but I gave a little push whenever I had the urge. Since I was feeling pushy, I instructed Dave to play Freya’s special song on repeat. (“A Thousand Years” by Christina Perri was the song I played throughout my pregnancy. Each time I heard it, I thought about how I ached to get pregnant, our journey to conceive from a reverse vasectomy, and Freya’s birth. I felt like that song was written for me and her.) I expected a couple of quick pushes and she would be out, but things were moving slower.
At some point, my midwives suggested I sit on the toilet for a couple of contractions. I gladly got up and went into the bathroom for awhile. Dave sat with me in the dark bathroom and we talked in between contractions. Each contraction, I would push when I felt the urge. When I wasn’t contracting, we would say sweet things to each other and he would encourage me. He whispered our anchor word, which always made me laugh. I could hear my song playing on repeat. Dave laughed when I said, “If they didn’t know this song before, they will after this birth.” (the song had been on repeat for over an hour) I may have been in “laborland”, but I still retained my sense of humor.
After a good long time on the toilet, I returned to the freshly warmed pool. Dave sat near me, held my hands during contractions, and kissed my head sweetly. I got up on my knees and faced towards Dave. During one especially strong contraction, I told Dave that I wanted to bite him so badly at that moment, but I would not do it. He laughed and said, “thank you.” A little bit later, I remembered that I wanted to take another page from Ina May’s book- we had soft, sweet, deep kiss. I could feel my oxytocin flowing so greatly, afterwards, I had very intense contraction.
Every so often, I would reach down and feel how close Freya was to being born. It was really encouraging when I could feel the difference, and tell that her head was getting closer. Every time I felt like saying “no”, I would instead say, “low”, like, “low baby low” in the deepest voice I could.
Occasionally, I would tell myself to “let her be down there” and what I was feeling was normal. I laid back in the pool, and after my contraction ended, I looked up at Dave and smiled as I said, “soon we are going to meet our baby girl!”
After the birth, my midwife told me I said the word, “acynclinic” (which means crooked), and though I had no memory of that, I recalled that I was having an uneven pain in my hips and bottom. Even though I was completely in my zone, I realized that she was coming down a little uneven. Around that time, Colleen whispered in my ear, “Get out of your head. Stop midwifing yourself.” Then she went back to the living room to chat with my midwife, while I relaxed in the pool.
Once my noises changed, we knew it was time for Freya to make her entrance. Lynne quickly tried to put on a pair of gloves as I felt Freya crowning. I protected my top part and asked Lynne to protect my bottom. I remember saying, “This is the part I’m scared about, I need support.” While Lynne was protecting my bottom, I was protecting the top and helping flex her head. Once her head was born, I said to Dave, “Come on Daddy! Reach down and grab your girl!” At which point, Dave handed the video camera to Velouria ( both Aurora and Velouria were woken up sometime when I was feeling pushy, so they could witness this last part of labor and the birth) and I, along with Lynne and Dave, lifted Freya out of the water and onto my chest. In that moment, the pain disappeared and all I could focus on was Freya. It felt like Christmas, my wedding day, and all of my happiest days mixed into one!! I kissed her cheeks and and rubbed her back. I lifted her, so I could see her face, and told her, “it’s time for you to breathe now,” just like in a dream I once had!
Lynne told us that Freya was born with her hand up near her head. No wonder I was having that uneven feeling and I pushed for so long. (I pushed whenever I felt the urge from around 4:30 am until she was born at 6:08 am) Lynne offered to cut the umbilical cord while I was in the pool, but I said I wanted to keep her attached for awhile. The water in the birth pool was so clean! No blood or anything, just cheesy baby vernix floating around us. We stayed in the water for a bit. Dave and I kissed and cried together. I poured warm water over her little body, as we enjoyed our first moments of skin-to-skin contact.
“Holy Fuck! We did it!!”
I don’t know if it was the oxytocin high, or what, but when it was time to deliver the placenta , I practically hopped out of the pool and got into my bed. I asked the midwife if I had tore, she said, “If you didn’t have this cord hanging out of you, I wouldn’t be able to tell you just gave birth. No swelling or tearing!” Huzzah! That made all the time spent pushing at my own pace, so worth it. Even with her hand up by her head, it was such a peaceful entrance earthside. Feeling empowered and blissful, I had no problem getting myself into a squat position to help with the placenta. It took a little while to birth, but that was because it had a battledore insertion. I made a placenta print on a piece of canvas, and we took a picture of Freya still connected to her placenta with a heart shaped cord.
After that, I let Dave cut the cord and we snuggled down into bed to get acquainted with our girl. I nursed her for the first time in our family bed. The girls climbed up on the bed to talk about seeing their sister be born, and to get a better look at her. I am so glad I shared my birth experience with them. It was not a scary thing, rather a beautiful and intense moment. The midwives did a quick newborn exam and gave me back my girl. We had a quick mimosa toast, and then the photographer and midwives left. Dave made me breakfast and we snuggled down in our nest before visitors started to show up.
A couple of days later, when Grandpa Mel and Grandma Karen were visiting, we planted her placenta under a camellia tree for her. It will bloom around the time she is 2 months old, and every winter after that. <3
This is the first in our new Punky Moms birth story series and we are grateful to be sharing these stories with readers like you. Care to share your birth story and help a fellow mama know what to expect? We would be honored if you would consider sharing yours with us. Send us an email and say hello.
Jackie has been a member of the Punky Moms community for a long time. She also wrote about Goddesses for us last year and we have featured her husband Dave’s picture on our Punk is Dad Father’s Day mix.
Photos by Jennifer Causey Photo