Before my sister left after being with us for a week and a half, she left this note pounded onto our “office” wall. It’s evidence of events surrounding Poa’s birth.
I spent 9 months looking forward to knowing my babe would be born in a barn. It took only 45 hours of labor before I decided that maybe, just maybe, that wasn’t actually going to happen. And when I made that decision, I also decided to be completely at peace with it.
Contractions started Monday afternoon, October 1. They became consistent around 10pm that night. By 2am, I was punching my husband in the side to get up and go through it all with me. By 9am when Heidi our midwife arrived, I was dilated to 6cm. We were making steady progress. At 1pm, Heidi changed her clothes, directed my sis and Josh to start filling the birth tub, and began laying out any and all birthing tools and materials. We were getting close and I couldn’t even begin to comprehend the levity of that reality.
Rebekah disappeared for a bit to get some fresh air. We heard some banging on the far side of the barn and I wondered to myself what in the world that crazy sister of mine might be doing. A couple minutes or moments later, Rebekah came through the door… and the banging didn’t stop. In between contractions I raced over to peer behind the tarp that separates our living space from our shop space and saw leaping flames coming from the far wall. My sister scampered around looking for fire extinguishers, and Josh frantically began directing me to start hooking hoses up to each other as he attempts to smother the flames. I remember thinking to myself, “Huh. I sort of feel like I can’t do that right now. My abdomen is pounding and there’s a baby knocking on my cervix.” Thankfully Heidi had the sensibility to figure out where the hoses were and how to help get water onto the fire.
Meanwhile, I stepped outside, rhythmically breathing, listening for the baby that was ready for some proper introductions, plotting what I would do if no one noticed that a baby was emerging into the world while they fought a fire. By 4pm all related to the fire was calm, I was in the birth tub, and Heidi warned that the contractions were only going to get more intense and closer together. Okay. I’m ready. Let’s do this. My brain had entered into that labor mode of self-cheering, foggy with my surroundings, but able to so clearly hear my body’s directives.
Tuesday evening, after hours of denial, I admitted that my contractions had all but ceased. Time kept ticking and my body had seemed to sense a need for flight. My baby was in hold mode. We tried to work with any wave of light contraction that approached. Poa had begun her journey, and I could even feel her head, but there were no contractions to clench the process and keep any sort of momentum going. I was tired. My birth team was exhausted. At 1am my water broke and nothing changed. It was time for a nap.
Each time I tried to rest, mediocre contractions would creep up. I couldn’t rest. Josh and I decided to go for a walk to visit the horses, thinking some fresh air might release my brain and my body. We climbed repeatedly up and down ladders to the roof. I lunged. I drank a gallon of espresso. Nothing was working. By 1pm on Wednesday, after being awake for 56 hours, I was ready for my body to cave. Even if contractions were to start back up, I no longer had the confidence that my energy would sustain. We huddled. Our consensus was to make the 96 mile drive to the hospital in Laramie, planning to take medication to restart contractions.
The doctor on duty had other plans for us. As I sat on that hospital bed, head to head with my husband, I felt like the joy of childbirth had become morose. After a 9 month journey of preparation and many hours of owning the process of that birth, I had reached the lowest point I had emotionally or physically ever been. Entering the hospital, we were swarmed with a sense of emergency and out of control sensations. My clothes were literally stripped from my body, plastic bracelets were secured onto my wrist, machines were chained around my middle. It seemed as though our words were not being heard. I was told multiple times that I shouldn’t care more about the process than the outcome- meaning, I was selfishly choosing to want to naturally birth my child rather than surgically remove her from my uterus at her expense. I was criminal. Yet I trusted what my body was capable of and truly believed that the fear imbued in the fire had shuttled my body into fight or flight mode. I arrived at the hospital believing that I owned that birth and was capable of giving the best for my baby. A mere five minutes after arriving I realized that the labor and delivery floor was owned by that doctor, and my body was no longer of my jurisdiction. After a grueling decision-making process, I was required to sign paperwork stating that I chose to go against the doctor’s recommendations and was willing to take responsibility for a host of nightmarish possibilities.
Hearing my baby’s steady heartbeat, seeing the support of my family and midwife, and knowing the nurse on duty was steadfastly ready to back our decision, we were ready to meet Poa. And we did, at 12:24am Thursday morning.
She came with little fanfare, perfectly colored, screaming at full throttle, and ready to eat. The relief was unbelievable. The union wasn’t something I could grasp right away. All I knew was that we had a new arrival to our family and she was ours to meet, cherish, and basically keep alive. What an amazing addition to our world she already is… thank you for being patient and resilient, Poa Sage.