This blog post is a bit different. Instead of writing about our wool pillows, our toddler pillows, or some health related topic concerning artificial pillows we wanted to share a bit about the birth of our second child.
We had Fredrik (our first) a year and a half ago in the hospital but with midwives. The experience of seeing Fredrik for the first time was beautiful, but the hospital experience of LED lighting, sterile walls and gloves, and a complete lack of control over the situation seemed un-human. I find it strange that we have gotten so far removed from our intuition that we treat birth as a medical condition. I could go into the details of why I don’t think the hospital is the best place to have a healthy baby, but I’d rather focus on the beauty of what took place on the early morning of Friday, August 25th.
It was roughly 3:20 in the morning when Sierra nudged me and told me she was having contractions. We sent the midwife a text and she replied that she was getting ready and to try and get some rest. Personally, I thought going back to sleep seemed like a great idea as well. For Sierra, however, sleep was the last thing she could do.
Strong contractions would come and I would press on her lower back for around 30 seconds during them. This method is called “counter-pressure” and helps relieve some pain. I started to think that these contractions were different than when Sierra labored with Fredrik. Usually, there are early labor contractions that aren’t as intense and are much more spread out. With these, though, they were coming every few minutes and were intense.
We had planned for Sierra to give birth in our deep soaker tub. I had spent the evenings of the last week working to finish the tile around the set-in tub. Because we built our own home, we have a few things that just never got finished. I worked on The Woolshire during the day and worked on the tub late evenings until it was complete. The tub was now surrounded by natural stone, beeswax candles, and some summer flowers in a glass vase. Sierra ran the water and climbed in, all while still having strong labor pains.
The water was warm, the candles were lit, and everything was ready to go. It was around 4:40 when Sierra said, “I feel the head.” I thought this couldn’t be possible. Fredrik was born hours and hours after labor. She had just been in labor for less than two hours. I tried to calm her down and told her that the midwife would be with us soon. “She’s not going to make it, Chase. I’m having this baby right now!” she said through the pain. I looked down through the water and could see the crown of the baby's head.
My heart froze in my chest. I hadn’t prepared for anything like this to happen. Not wanting to put my fears onto Sierra I told her that everything was going to be okay, and although I was nervous, I believed it too. She pushed a long and intense push and the baby’s head emerged into this world. It was there, halfway between this realm and the other, poetically hanging in the balance.
Although our space was only lit by candlelight, everything seemed good. No tearing, no blood, just the head of a little baby. With joy, I exclaimed to Sierra, “You did it! The hardest part is over. The head is out!” I told Sierra to push again when she felt ready. With a huge sigh of relief, Sierra pushed again and out came the baby in its entirety.
In the most surreal moment I’ve ever had, I held the baby in my hands and put her to Sierra’s chest. At first, I didn’t see any movement. The umbilical cord running from baby back into mom was pulsing, the last of her connection to the womb. My heart jolted with joy when I saw her little fingers move. I told Sierra, “I see her fingers moving!” Just then, with her first taste of air, she coughed and then cried. The anxiety shed from our bodies in that moment felt tangible.
There she was, a brand new baby resting in the arms of her mother. It was just a few minutes ago that it was just Sierra and I there in the flesh. I cannot help but relate the story from the gospel. Before the disciples knew that the Christ had resurrected, they hid themselves behind locked doors when Christ came and stood in their midst exclaiming, “Peace be unto you” (John 20:19). It was behind shut doors that it was two of us, and then seemingly out of nowhere, there were three of us.
I cannot tell you of my absolute joy. My heart wept tears of thanksgiving and gratitude.
A couple minutes later the placenta came and the tub filled with blood. Thankfully the midwives came just a few minutes later and were able to do everything else that needed to be done. Imagine Fredrik’s confusion when he was awoken at five in the morning and saw his mother in the tub, two strange women doing things around her, and a brand new baby fresh from the womb.
We cut the cord and helped Sierra out of the tub. The baby nursed shortly after and everyone crawled back into bed. Everything went exactly as it was meant to go.
Isla Maeve was born 7 pounds, 13 ounces. She’s beautiful and stares you deep in the eye with her gray-blue eyes. She came into this world in the stillness of the morning in the most incredible way.
Now that it has been a few days I look back and think of what took place in our upstairs bathroom. There’s something so mystical about birth and death - the passing from one world to the next. Encountering either puts everything in its right place and orients the heart to what truly matters.
All our love,
The Woolshire Family