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Eight

Well first off, I never thought I was gonna be a mom.  I wasn't like, you know, one of those little girls that played with dolls, or could hardly wait for my own.  And then I remember always saying, "Well, maybe in ten years".  So when I was fifteen I was like, "I don't know maybe in ten years," and then when I was twenty I said that.  But when I was 22, I was at my friend's birth, the birth of her daughter, and it was so incredible.  And when that baby looked me in the eyes I just knew that it was like, "Wow, that's maybe one day".  And then when I watched this little girl grow up until she was about three I guess, I thought, "Well, if I could have one like that I would go for it".  So I was in a community starting like the mid-seventies where everybody had their babies at home. Actually, home was in the forest where we didn't have electricity, so there was some really crazy birth stories.  My friend Ruth had both her babies in a teepee, and with her second baby there was probably like 25 people in the teepee.  And she was doing peyote tea enemas because that's how the Native American women were using (it).  That's how peyote was found supposedly, was by this Native American woman in labor and she was guided to this plant by the spirit of the peyote plant.  So peyote as an enema had helped the baby come a lot sooner.  But I wasn't at that birth; I remember I was working that night.  But I had always just been around home birth, and I just assumed that's the way it was.  I also didn't like hospitals, or doctors.  So then I moved to Maui, and again it was a whole home birth kind of place.  The midwife on Maui who had helped catch the most babies, she wound up having nine big kids in her life, so I thought I would have her as a midwife.  But she was gonna be nursing her youngest at that time, and I thought, "I just want all the attention".  So I interviewed all three midwives on Maui; at that time, and actually it still is that midwifery is illegal in Hawaii.  Yeah, I know it's crazy.  But I still knew that I wanted to have him at home.  So I had another good friend, my friend Leilu, who was pregnant at the same time.  She had already had two kids, this was her third, and we were six weeks apart.  Her boy is six weeks older than John.  And it was about seven or eight women that I knew at the same time who were pregnant.  And so anyhow I chose this one midwife, Marie, because she was also a registered nurse and I just felt like that seemed like a really good thing, you know, for my first birth.  She was the one that insisted that I have a doctor backup just in case something happens.  I thought, "Oh yuck".  So I went to this one doctor and as I'm sitting there, waiting to get my blood pressure done, the nurse is answering the phone and scheduling a C-section.  And then she asked me, "I don't know, are you on drugs or something?  You're just like you're really white and pale and you seem really mellow".  And I'm thinking, "Yeah, you're just scheduling C-sections like they're golfing appointments".  So it's like I went to him once, maybe twice, and didn't go back.  And just knew that I had to have my baby at home because that's just such a weird scene.  The general practitioner doctor that I went to, his view was that home birth's okay, but at least have you're first baby in the hospital.  But my bible, at the time, was a book called Spiritual Midwifery.  So Ina May Gaskin was one of the forerunners of the midwifery movement in America.  It was illegal, well it was made illegal around like 1920, and then she had her baby on a school bus and opened the whole Tennessee Farm Clinic where a lot of babies were born.  So I was reading Spiritual Midwifery and it was one of those books that was a little dated, so at the time when things were really flowing in labor people would go, "How psychedelic it is!"  And so my friend Leilu, at one point right before giving birth she goes, "You know it does kind of hurt, don't think that it doesn't".  And I was like, "Oh, well it's going to be really smooth and it's gonna be great," and I was still kind of in la la land in a way.  So anyhow, I was two weeks past my due date and in those days they didn't care a whole lot.  Well, I didn't go to a doctor; I never had an ultrasound, I never went to an MD.  Oh, one cute thing.....I was living in a house with four room mates.  John's dad and I weren't living together at that time, but then we were (going to be) living together and had to find a place to live.  We kept looking and looking, and nothing was working out.  Finally, I went to this one place that this woman had converted from a stable that she built for her daughter's prize Arabian horse to give birth.  She converted it into a cottage and I thought that was where I needed to give birth.  And then I was telling this story to a friend the other day, because somebody was asking, "What is the most unusual place you ever lived?" That wasn't the most unusual place but I did mention it, and he said, "Oh, so you mean you gave birth to a stud" (laughing).  So anyhow I was in this little cottage and I was two and a half weeks late.  And I was huge.  I mean, I remember having little baby clothes that I'd put up against my belly, cuz I was invited to a shower, and I thought, "Well, this baby grew out of this, I'll give this away.  It's no longer a seven pound baby in here".  And in those days, the midwives would palpate you just to get a sense of what the baby felt like, how big.  So I remember it started out with I was really depressed and I thought, "I'm just never gonna have a baby; I'll always be pregnant".  Maybe it's because I didn't finish the baby quilt.  And so I kept working on the baby quilt that I was embroidering for him, but then it's also a real sign of the hormones shifting if you feel depressed.  So then the next day after that, I started feeling what felt like period cramps, but I was also getting really strong nesting instincts.  Like my freezer is packed and I have to get maple syrup from the health food store in Maakalau, and I have to go get this other kind of food from Gonzalez Store to have everything set.  Meanwhile it was like three in the afternoon and I was standing in the checkout line, and I mean I was so ripe.  And one of my friends that I ran into was like, "Wow, I bet you're going to have a great labor, and you're gonna have such a great birth".  And I was thinking, "Yeah any minute now".  So I went home and called the midwives, and John's dad came home; he was teaching then.  So they were like, "Well, it will be a while," and I mean they (the contractions) were really kind of sporadic.  I was in my house; I had an alter on one whole side of the wall that was right across from the bed, we had this huge king size bed.  So I had two midwives.  One was the nurse midwife, who even though it wasn't legal, worked in the hospital, and the other was my friend Lindy, who was a lay midwife. Although she might have been to one or two births on her own, she was an assistant midwife.  And she was a friend from high school, so I had known her since she was fifteen.  She was actually like the younger sister of my best friend when I was in high school.  And so she was there, and she was really supportive.  So they (the contractions) started getting stronger.  Then, they were saying like at ten at night that I hadn't really dilated too much, and that I might as well try to get some rest.  So I tried to go to sleep, but it was too much for me.  It was like I would feel a surge of contraction coming and then, during the resting part in between, my legs were shaking.  Sometimes that happens during labor; it was like my muscles were just quivering.  You know in retrospect, I think that I was kind of scared even though I wouldn't admit it.  But I kept staying with my breath.  I had been doing yoga for actually years before that; I was doing yoga all throughout my pregnancy.  And I was swimming and walking, it was a really healthy lifestyle.  I never had a glitch during pregnancy, like I loved being pregnant.  It was really easy for me, and my body felt totally balanced and healthy.  So then during the night, I would wake up and I wouldn't let John's dad sleep; he kept on trying to go to sleep.  So the midwives wound up coming to sleep over and somewhere like two in the morning they said, "Why don't you just go walk outside".  So walking outside meant I had to go up the steep hill just to get out my door because I was living out in the country.   I remember walking to try to get it going, get things moving.  And that didn't quite work; you know, it's all working, but it was all a slow process.  And then I became timeless, I just had no clue.  I noticed the sun was staring to rise, and I got tired of walking so I was back in the house.  I might have drank some water, but I didn't feel like eating or anything.  I remember them checking me and they said I was five centimeters; this was sometime probably in the early mourning.  My neighbors, also my landlords, were really supportive.  She knew I was probably having my baby.  She was like 64 and her husband was about 80; he was one of the first chiropractors in the country.  So anyhow, then it started getting really intense.  In retrospect of course, I am seeing what that mind body connection is because I really kind of had a feeling that I would be a single parent.  So I feel like that kind of slowed down my labor a little, cuz I just wasn't secure in the relationship.  I remember at one point, like when I was trying to open, the midwives were trying to get me to talk to John's dad, cuz he wasn't a very demonstrative person.  And so I was trying to say, "Just let me know that you're always going to be here," and he was saying like, "Of course".  Anyhow, it was like I was starting to loose energy.  It was somewhere around noon and I was starting to feel like, I used to do drugs recreationally, just get me some drugs.  It was like too much, "I have had enough, I'm tired".  They checked me again, and what they didn't tell me at the time was that I actually closed down to three centimeters (after) I advanced to five.  But they didn't tell me that, and they just said that you need a little more nutrition.  And, "I'm going to give you an IV," and they sent out the lay midwife, my friend Lindy, to go to another mutual friend's house, a nurse, who said she had some muscle relaxants (laughing).  Anyhow, how they were working with me:  I did a couple of enemas and I was sitting on the toilet a lot.  I have some pictures and you can see me having a contraction.  They put all these pillows behind me and it was like totally cozy.  My friend Lindy was the most supportive.  She just kept looking in my eyes and staying with me.  And really being supportive cuz she had had a child also, and she'd been around a lot of births.  Just, we had that old bond.  And I think John's dad was probably a little freaked out because the only other birth that he was at was when he was a cab driver in his twenties and a woman had a baby in the back of the cab.  So anyhow, I hadn't known that I had closed down and Lindy went out to get the muscle relaxants.  Marie, the nurse midwife gave me an IV, she said this would give me some energy; it was called a calcium reemer.  The calcium would help relax me.  I mean, with the breathing stuff I was pretty focused, but it was still taking a while, and I kept thinking like, "When does it get psychedelic?  Are we there yet?  I know its going to get psychedelic".  So after the IV and I was laying there, I went from three to ten centimeters in about an hour.  I remember it was so intense that I had no time to think anymore.  I remember I was just shaking my head back and forth. Although there's a picture of me doing that, but there's also a picture of me smiling a few different times.  I just remember thinking that this is psychedelic.  It was like I was looking at the altar and I felt all the angels singing.  I had even gotten one or two phone calls because everybody knew I was in labor.  One of the reasons was because Lindy had an eight year old son and she dropped him off at what's called the Bonsai House.  So there were probably like five or six people that lived there and one of her friends would baby sit her son.  Then one of the guys who lived there, who was this like total networker, he was on his way to California getting on a plane the next day.  It was like he tells everybody everything, so everybody knew I was in labor.  So when I was going through that three to ten centimeters, back to back, barely a rest in between, I just felt so connected and it was an incredibly spiritual feeling.  It was like I really felt that limbo place between life or death.  And I knew it could go either way for either of us, me or the baby, and it was all okay cuz it just felt so connected with all of life.  One of the things I remember now that helped me open up was, when I was in this place I call kind of psychedelic - a kind of expanded awareness, I was thinking of all the women on the planet who were giving birth at that time.  And then, I was connecting it with all the women who had ever given birth.  And then, I kept forgiving and opening up and loving. I kept wanting to open up my heart to all the women that I ever knew who ever had a baby; it was like, if they went through this, they are totally awesome.  So I remember just feeling like this baby wants me to just be more in love in my heart for him to come out. So the more I kept feeling that open hearted love place, then I just kept opening and opening.  And then, my friend Lindy made it back just when the baby was crowning.  So there was a few things going on with the birth, that we didn't know.  The midwife had given me a pictocin drip in the IV.  She didn't tell me, and she didn't tell her assistant because it was illegal; she basically stole it from the hospital.  We didn't find out until like three months later, and the lay midwife was upset because she felt like she could have even missed the whole birth.  By the time she came back, she didn't need to give me the muscle relaxants.  And again, you are just so in the flow that I didn't realize that he had shoulder dystocia, which means that he had big shoulders and they got caught behind the pubic bone.  But the midwife just kind of reached her hand up inside of me, she said it was almost up to her elbow, to unhook his shoulder.  I had no idea, but I know that he came out with a nose bleed, so they got a little nervous and just wanted him out cuz they didn't know what was going on.  And true to form, when he finally did come out they plopped him on my belly and he looked like a beached whale.  He was big; he was nine pounds four ounces.  I was looking at him and he was exhausted.  It altogether might have been a 23 hour labor, although the way they count it, (as starting) maybe when you are four to five centimeters, an 18 hour labor.  But in those days, the midwife had told me before hand that usually her first births were like 24 hours.  So it was kind of like what was in the air at that time.  Anyhow, I had a few stitches.  I didn't feel myself tear or anything.  The placenta came out like a football, just flying out; I had like blood on the rocking chair.  The Hawaiian ritual is that you save the umbilical cord.  You dry it out, you wind it up, and make it into a bracelet.  It's like a talus and healing thing for the baby.  Although, because we lived in the islands and we didn't dry it out right, it got moldy so we had to throw it out.  I had a good friend come over the next day, she had been married to a butcher for a while, so she cut the placenta part of it in half and fried up half of it.  It tastes like liver.  I was kind of vegetarian before that and we all realized that it's the only organ meat that you don't have to kill to eat.  And, it has all the iron in it, so it replenishes your iron.  The other half we saved.  John's dad went out to Hawna, this place that he used to live in a really sacred part of the island, and he buried the placenta under a coconut tree by the ocean.  So right after he was born, I think he might have even been too tired to nurse right away, John's dad took him and put him in a little baby bath.  Washed him off and then they brought him back to me, after I got stitched up and cleaned up, and he started nursing.  And that was John's first day on this planet.  It was truly one of the most amazing spiritual experiences of my life.  I felt that "high" for almost a week afterward.....until the laundry piled up!  But parenting has always been part of my spiritual path, I learned how not to make a separation.