(by Arielle Carrillo, about the birth of Dagony Wisdom, 10.30.08)
The stress was on. My due date for my third child was here and gone. This was my third attempt at an out-of-hospital birth. I was only a day 'over due', but the anxiety was almost palpable. The last time a due date was near, my little girl stopped moving. The strong boy in my belly let me know he was still there, but I was waiting impatiently to hold him and watch his little body breathe. My blessed midwife understood my fears; she was there when Tanwen’s lifeless little body was born. Harmony sent me to Deanine, who gave me a wonderful, soothing acupuncture treatment. Exactly twenty-four hours later, and after another visit to Harmony, my long-awaited labor started. Harmony told me I was five centimeters at the visit. We live two hours away, so she advised us not to go home, but to stay with our friends in Sarasota. “When it happens, it’s going to happen fast,” she said. It was early labor, so we just let the day unfold.
My mother was with us, so we decided to go to G-Wiz. Tully, our then three year old, was happy to play with Gramma while Cesar and I walked around the museum and theatre. It was beautiful to feel the breeze from the Gulf on my face and hold my love’s hand. He was rock steady through my emotional storm, and though he was anxious as well, he never added to my distress. “This time will be different,” he assured me. We walked for an hour or so and then hit Tijuana Flats for some lunch before my non-stress test at the hospital. Cesar stayed to finish eating, while my mom and I went for the test. It was comical. Every other time I had been there, they happily informed me when I was contracting. Those were Braxton-Hicks, this time was real. I told them I was in early labor and they didn’t believe me. “You aren’t contracting,” they said puzzled. I smiled to myself and took a nap while listening to my little boy’s rhythmic heartbeat.
When the test was over, we went to Arlington Park. Tully played and I leaned over the picnic table, rocking my hips back and forth. Watching my first born play and feeling my body slowly unfold for my second was like the most beautiful dream. Nothing could go wrong this day. ‘This is different,’ I thought, ‘it feels electric’. My big mama body was humming with power and life. The ice cream from Big Olaf’s was like the icing on the cake of those early hours. I wanted to rest, so we went back to Liz and Shane’s house.
At around 5 o’clock, the labor got serious. It was on and I was ready. However, Rosemary Birthing Home was already welcoming someone else into this world. There was room, but I wasn’t excited about laboring through someone else’s birth. I wanted this birth to be small and close. I said we would wait our turn. When Cesar checked me, we decided that maybe we didn’t have that kind of time. He went downstairs and came back up to me. In that time, I had gone from car-ready to tub-ready and told him I wasn’t going anywhere and would someone please fill up Liz’s big tub downstairs? While walking downstairs, I felt like I was holding the baby in. I was so happy to get in that warm water and let go of my cervix. Harmony was right. It was happening fast. Would she even make it? Did I want help? Another rush of energy and I was rolling my forehead on the edge of the tub so that I wouldn’t push. Cesar was right, this was very different. I wanted to be alone.
Suzanne arrived about thirty minutes before Harmony. My mom was relieved. I was oblivious. I was busy tossing my head from side to side and blowing like a horse to keep from pushing. Harmony was called and she handed over the post partum baton from the other birth to another midwife and headed my way. Suzanne quietly gave me Harmony’s whereabouts on the road; Booker Middle school. ‘Booker,’ I thought, ‘B-O-O-K-E-R.’ I spelled names in time with the rocking of my head on the side of the tub. My best friend, Jackie had arrived at some point and the beautiful mamas who attended my blessing way were sending me all their love and energy. I could feel it in the peace that surrounded me.
Harmony arrived and calmly set up. She came in and asked me in her wonderful, grounding voice, “How you doing?” I told her that I was REALLY ready to push. She checked me and told me that I could whenever I was ready. I almost laughed. I had been ready for nine months to push this precious baby out! I gave a big push and the waters broke and splashed Jackie. I would have laughed so hard had I seen that, but I was focused as I had never been focused before. Harmony says that she told me to slow down and Cesar told me the same. I didn’t hear them. Harmony muscled my hand away from where it was braced on the side of the tub so that I could feel my baby’s little head. I don’t remember that. I remember yelling, “Please come out! Please come out!” each time I pushed. Then I remember the relief as his little body slid free of mine. I grabbed him from whoever was holding him and pulled him to my chest. Relief so profound that it stole my breath washed over me. Now for the part that I was so scared of, yet so anxious for. I looked down and watched as my sweet little baby open his mouth and took in his first breath. I had been waiting for over two years to see that. He was here, just as he was supposed to be and I am whole again.