November 9, 2009

Day 9 Sacred Space- Rose-a-ma-toes

Rosemary May Raabis is 7 years old today! 7 years ago I gave birth, in my living room, to my third little girl. Chris was there, Ayla and Lily were asleep, it was 4:30 in the morning, quite, serene. I had an unassisted birth, I knew early on in the pregnancy that this one would be born quick, don’t know how I knew, just did. I lived over an hour from a full facility hospital, and really I wouldn’t consider delivering a child in the hospital so this is just justifying. I birth my babies at home. In British Columbia it is illegal for a midwife to attend a home birth so far from a hospital, so a midwife was not an option. Again this is justifying, I didn’t want a midwife, I wanted to do it alone. I trusted my body, my baby, my destiny, my ability, my courage, my innate Priestess nature, I trust birth. So on November 9th, in the wee hours, in less than 45 minutes, my sweet Rosy Posy came into this world, it has been a brighter and happier place ever since. Happy Birthday my sweet little one!


“Do you remember a day which changed your life forever?” is the question in 12 days journal #211

If you want more here is the VERY LONG birth story I wrote a few months after her birth. Funny to read it now, I am surprised by how many things I see differently, almost as surprised as I am by the things that I still see exactly the same. The other thing I am very aware of is how my writing has changed. Windows into the past.

“My lover Chris and I have three perfect girls together, Ayla who is 7, Lilith who is 4, and Rosemary who is nearly 3 months. Our birth experiences have run the gamut! Here is the story of how we came to know the true bliss of unhindered birth, how I learned to have faith in my Divinely inspired creation and my ability to carry my Divinely created miracles.... my babies.
Ayla was born in hospital, I was 21. My husband was PETRIFIED of birth. He comes from a medically oriented family, his mother is a nurse, his father a doc-worshipping hypochondriac. Sadly he was not at Ayla's birth. He was convinced that either me or our baby would die in labour. I did have a birth "coach" but she was ridiculously unprepared and more of a hindrance than a help. Ayla's birth began with broken waters, and progressed easily. I was handling things well until I was given a shot of Morphine. I had asked my labour support for something to help with pain. Instead of suggesting natural methods that we had discussed and were written in my birth plan, which DISTINCLY stated NO DRUGS, my birth support asked for the nurse for Demerol. I was given Morphine. I did not even know I was given a drug until it made me sick. About an hour later I was then given Oxytocin against my expressed will, I said I did not want it, the nurse told me I had “no choice” and put a needle in my IV. Not long after that I was pronounced "done" and coached to push for over 4 hours. It was very degrading, I felt confused and disrespected. Thankfully it all was forgotten the moment my baby was put into my arms, forgotten least for the time being. My sweet Ayla Gabrielle, the one who blessed me and made me a mama for the first time, was here. That night in the hospital I just kept staring at her in her bassinet. I couldn’t believe she was actually mine, that I got to keep her! I took her out of that nasty plastic thing and though it was against “hospital policy” I took her to bed with me. We snuggled and nursed, then fell asleep together… and all was right in the world.
As the weeks passed I looked back on her birth. Her debut to this world was not the sacred event I had imagined. I knew that something had been taken from us. Something was missing... reverence, awe and respect, yes these things were missing. I swore to myself that I would find a better way next time.
Whether there was going to be a next time was up for debate. Chris was dead set against more children and it seemed most often to come down to his feelings about birth. As my wounds healed I confronted Chris with my feelings of abandon. I felt as though he had not been there to protect us. After much soul searching he came to realise it was not birth he was afraid of at all, rather it was the way birth was dealt with, like it was an illness. When I first suggested home birth I was incredibly surprised. I did I not come up against resistance, as I had expected, in fact he embraced the idea! Even better he was suddenly insistent that Ayla needed a sibling. So it was decided we would have another baby and she would be born at home. I was pregnant within the month.
Lily's birth was attended by midwives, Barbara Scriver and Noreen Walker. When we chose them we must have had an angel smiling down on us. We were still pretty naive and uneducated, we assumed that a midwife was a midwife was a midwife, we had no idea that they varied in their beliefs and practices. Turns out we got the best in the province. They were extremely hands off, and had no issues with US making the decisions at our birth. They sensed that Chris and I wanted to be alone during labour, gave my mother-in-law heck when she decided to cook bacon during transition (can you imagine?! especially considering we were vegetarian at the time! ) and basically just let us be. When I decided to get in the pool, they just sat silently by, doing nothing, no checking dilation, no talking, no making suggestions just trusting me, my body, my baby. My wonderful Lilith Rain, was born in the water at home, as her sister and daddy looked on. Barbara and Noreen treated us all with love and respect. I was the first to touch Lily and she nursed right away, no fussing with the placenta or cord, they knew that could all wait. I had had a baby and this time my dignity was left intact. Having a baby at home was so much more natural. That night I went to sleep in my own bed with my sweet new baby, my Ayla and my wonderful husband….and all was right in the world.
In March 2002 I was ecstatic to realise I was again growing a new little being in my belly. A few days later we also found out we had finally received the transfer to BC that we had been desperately waiting on for five long years. Life was good!!! Everyone kept pestering me about finding a midwife, I patiently told them we would figure it out once we got to BC. We left our home in Alberta in August and started a new chapter of our lives.
I felt no rush to find a midwife, despite the constant questions about who was going to attend and when I was going to get prenatal care. It occurred to me that I had been doing this myself. Watching my diet and dealing with any problem that came along. I knew I was doing just fine. I felt a comforting peace that everything would work out as it should, as it was meant to. This is when I began seriously considering unassisted birth. When I brought up unassisted birth with Chris, I was once again blown away. He didn't react at all, it was as though he always expected us to do this together, like there was no other way. It is an unspeakable sense of pride, that my husband trusts me so completely. There is no greater love than to hold the life of your partners child in your womb and know that her trusts you unconditionally. We made a pact in love to see this through, just the two of us. Chris was unshakably confident about the whole thing, as was I, but I admit I was feeling the pressure from everyone around me.
So in October when I heard Gloria Lemay (a new name to me at the time) was coming to a town near by to give a talk I figured I would go see her. I was excited to meet some like-minded people and hopefully find some other homeschooling families. The truth of the matter was, I was going there MAINLY to find the name of a Vancouver area midwife so I could drop that name next time I was being pestered. It is quite ironic that what I found out at this meeting was that I could actually not LEGALLY have a midwife at my home birth even if I had wanted one. Here I had come from conservative Alberta to liberal BC where I believed homebirth would be accepted and supported to find out that regulation had tied the hands of those of us who want a better birth.
After the meeting I decided it was time to take responsibility for my own birth in more ways than just birthing, I stopped lying. When someone asked I would simply say, "We will do what we need to do to have our baby safely at home."- a response just cryptic and confident enough to leave people with the idea that this was my birth, that I would decide what was best for me and my baby, whatever that decision might be. Amazingly enough people left us alone.
On the a Friday morning, after I had been having predormal labour for over two months, I lost my mucous plug. We were at the library, the girls were enjoying story time. We walked home around noon, I with my little secret. When we got home I cuddled up to Chris in bed and told him he should call in to work and say he might not be going in tonight. This was about the fourth time he had received these instructions. We went shopping for groceries, went for a walk, watched movies with the girls, all the while trying to figure out if this was the real thing. Every time I would walk they would go away, exactly like the predormal labour I had been having for months. If I laid down to relax they would resume, not strong or regular but they were there, now if only we knew if they were going anywhere!
We put the kids to bed, and I had a bath... still no sign that tonight was any different. Yet I just had a feeling in my heart, that although physically these were no different than the predormal "gettin-mamas-uterus-ready" rushes that I had already experienced, that somehow there was a difference. I had been convinced from the start that all this “practice” was making my uterus so efficient that this baby would be born very quickly. My others had been born after gradual, fairly long labours and it seemed unlikely, but there was just this feeling...I knew, just knew this would be different. I got out of the bath feeling a little frustrated. We decided we would watch a movie, if nothing happened we would just go off to bed and reconfirm our convictions that "things would happen when and how they were meant to" (my endless mantra through all these weeks of predormal labour). The movie ended and we went to bed... sigh.
I woke up at 3:18 annoyed by my full bladder, went pee. Awoke again at 3:38 thinking "how can I have to pee again I just went?!?!". The realisation slowly crept in, it was not a full bladder that was annoying me, it was BONA FIDE contractions!! I lay in bed a few minutes longer a little nervous, very excited...within a day I would be holding my baby! I figured I would labour on my own for an hour or so letting Chris catch some rest. Before I could finish this thought the next contraction engulfed my body. By the time it was over I knew there was little time to waste. I woke Chris and gave him clear concise instructions "It is time. I am going to wait until the next contraction is over, then in the lull between I am going to move to the futon in the Living room. Bring me pillows and a blanket, bolster me so I am comfortable in a side lying position. Then fill the pool". It is still amazing to me how in control and concise I was. Even more amazing was that I woke Chris out of a dead sleep yet he followed my instructions to a T!!
The world disappeared while I lie on the futon. I was vaguely aware that Chris was getting things ready but mostly I was just inside myself, I was the world. The contractions were unlike any I have ever felt. It was as though my womb was a finely honed instrument. It contracted with enormous strength, was highly efficient and I was opening right up effortlessly. All I had to do was relax, have faith and let my body do what it was designed to do. My contractions were very intense, but not painful. I did feel pain during one contraction, but only because I suddenly became afraid. I pushed the fear from my heart and it was like I was having an orgasm, an intense mind-boggling orgasm. I had read about pain free labour, and was actually experiencing it. I believe the key to experiencing pain free labour is to push all fear from your heart.
Chris came to tell me the pool was mostly full, that he would add cool water when I was ready to get in. I said "NOW, I have to get in now". I waited for a lull in contractions. As I got up I felt a gush as my fore-waters broke. I wondered if it was the hindbag but since my belly still felt full and there was not much fluid I decided it was not. I took off my nightgown and got in the pool. The first contraction in the pool was spent sitting. Every labour I sit through one contraction and it has always been awful! I tried to lie on my side, but the pool was too small. I was deciding whether to get out while leaning over the pool when the next contraction hit me like a brick!! There was intense pressure in my vagina and at the time I did not reconcile what it was. Seems silly now, I mean of course it was the baby moving down, but at the time I had not been in labour no more than an 45 minutes, I had had maybe 6-7 could she be coming already?! I felt my waters pop at the end of this second contraction in the pool. There was quite a break in between the next one. This was good because though physically I was doing splendidly, my mind was having hard time catching up. In this lull the thought began to sneak into my mind that if I had to do this for as long as I did with the girls I could not keep up! It was then took control! I was not going to do this to myself. I am strong, I am PERFECTLY designed, I am a womyn! I started chanting to myself "I can do this! I can do this! I can do this!" Chris was a little bewildered at this point, he was not scared or worried he was just having a hard time reading my cues. This was because he too thought there was much time to go yet. I looked at him dead in the eyes, this was the first time I had connected with the outside world since I got out of bed. I said to him, "I can do this right!?!". He saw what I was looking for, that I needed a connection with him, "YES YES, you can do this" With this I grabbed his hands and the next intense contraction was there...BOOM! As it began I had an enormous epiphany, a sense of relief and disbelief. The pressure was due to the fact that she was crowning!! Any pain I felt was from clamping myself shut to hold her back...she was coming out like a rocket!! I started to chant "gotta relax, don't want to tear, gotta relax, gotta relax". I was gripping Chris' hands, and bit it to try and release some of the intensity. It was not intensity in the way of pain, it was more the enormity of the situation, it was so surreal! I remember talking just before both Lily and Ayla crowned. This time it was so primal! All I was doing was birthing…I felt the power of the Creator channeling through me, this was AMAZING! It was after this contraction that I finally was able to convey to Chris how quickly things were going. He admitted later that when I was speaking of tearing he thought it was a little premature, but at the same time trusted me so said nothing. The lull this time was very short. I was breathless and could not speak. The next contraction began and just as I felt it was about to peak, out popped a little head, effortlessly. I had only had 4 contraction since I entered the pool. I couldn't believe it, it had only just begun and now I was a contraction away from it being over. I actually felt a little cheated, there was no time to revel in the moment! Still breathless, I muttered "There's a ...there's a". "There's a what sweetie" Chris asked patiently, lovingly. I kept motioning to my rear and he lets go of one hand to move to my rear to see what I was trying to tell him. I finally was able to say, "There is a head". He says "A head?"...then there was this pause and I could actually feel his revelation dawning. It was priceless when he suddenly exclaims "There's a head!!!!...... AND IT HAS LIPS!!" I will remember these words forever, for their comical irreverence at this sacred moment.
I was gently rubbing her little head, thinking how tiny it was and how much hair my new sweet one had. There are no words to describe the feeling of touching your baby while they are still inside you. The anticipation of meeting them, the sadness that you will never feel them inside your belly again. Any mother who has experienced this knows…it is indescribable. I expected her body to be born on it’s own with the next contraction but when it came she only moved down slightly. I was a little puzzled, here everything had happened so quickly when I hadn't expected it to, now when I was expecting things to move they were slowing down. As the next contraction began I felt around her neck for the cord and found a single loop. I knew that this was probably fine but decided I would push her out. I did and this was the only time during the entire labour that I actually "pushed" in the conventional sense. She came out easily, and Chris caught her. I flipped over and took her from him, she began to whimper but not cry. She was pink, perfect, and a miracle.... our third amazing girl Rosemary May...born unhindered. All up I had 12-13 contraction from the time I actually knew this was "it" to when she was there in my arms. Fast doesn't even describe it! The first thing I said was “get the girls”, they were suppose to watch their baby be born and they had missed the whole thing. Chris went into our room to try and wake them, it was 4:36am. The whole thing took less than an hour. This was when I checked and found that we had another girl, something I had always known in my heart. Chris came right back out but without the girls, they would not wake up. When I told dad he had another girl, he began to cry, "How am I so lucky... wow... three perfect girls". He told me later that there was no honour greater in his life than being the very first to lay eyes on his baby daughter.
I sent Chris back to the room, I really wanted the girls to see their sister when she was brand new. Chris came out with Lily, she just stared in disbelief, then came round to touch her, to see if she was real. A few minutes later she went to get Ayla, who later told me that she thought that Lily was trying to trick her. Ayla it was when she looked at the clock that she though “why would Lily be tricking me at 5 in the morning?”. She stumbled sleepily into the living room. They were both a little upset because we had promised them they could be there but it had all happened so quickly, there was no time to get them. Lily said it was OK, as long as they can be there next time... LOL... always thinking ahead. We all sat on the futon, marveling at this new little critter. It is hard once they actually arrive to come to terms with the fact that they will be with you until they grow up, seems such a HUGE change and it happens in an instant. I was having a hard time getting comfortable, I had nothing to lean against and I was tired, I needed to rest. So I lay down on the futon and nursed Rose. The girls were so excited they kept getting in the way of me latching her on. I asked Chris to put them back to bed. It was nice to have this time alone with my new little one, we nursed and as she stared up at me I promised to take good care of her.
With all of my births I have always forgotten about the placenta, you get so wrapped up in the rapture and bliss of the moment that you forget there is still work to be done. It does not take long though for your uterus to remind you though. I began to get annoying contractions from the placenta. At first I though about waiting for Chris, but I knew he would have his hands full putting the girls to bed. I got up to knees, put my hand over my vaginal opening and bore down. It came easily, when it was all out I put it in a bowl beside the bed. Strange how empowering it is to do a simple task like deliver your own placenta. It was very primal yet simple, it certainly makes you realise how we as a race have complicated our lives.
I could hear chatter from the bedroom. It was obvious that there was no way those little girls were going back to bed. I called them all back out again to help with the cutting of the cord. They were fascinated with the placenta, for the first time during the whole ordeal Chris looked a little squeamish! We tied her cord off with a little hemp-braided necklace that I had made for her. Both Lily and Ayla had a matching one, which they wore. Dad cut her cord. She was now her own little person. Only 38 weeks and 6 days earlier she was merely two cells that came together in love, now she was a fully functioning little being...amazing! Chris took us into the bedroom to tucked us in. He kissed me, told me how proud he was of us both, then went out to the living room to sleep with the girls while they watched videos. I snuggled with my new baby girl, we nursed until we fell asleep......and all was right in the world.
To the critics, neigh says and general disbeliveers I say “It was a good thing we were prepared to do this alone! If we would have attempted to make it to hospital Rosy would have been born on the sea to sky highway. Certainly not an optimal place to deliver! Had we have found a midwife who would have risked her career and maybe even freedom to come to our birth there is no way she would have made it in time.” Truth be told though this is not actually what I believe. I believe that I have much more control over my birth than this. Had I have had to make it to a hospital, I would have. If I felt I had to wait for midwives to arrive to deliver me, I would have waited. But I didn’t have to birth my baby on anyone else’s schedule, I was able to do it the way that was best for us, safest for us. I am not a slave to a process in which I have no control. I believe that we have a great deal of power to decide our own births. My birth happened the way it did because I simply knew it would. I know that I have the ability to give birth without complication and that if one does arise I will be able to INSTINCTUALLY handle it better than anyone, my Creator gave me this ability. I just have to have faith, tune in, listen and act, not wait around for someone else to save me or deliver me, my baby and I will do this just fine on our own.
Both Chris and I have come a long way in seven years with regards to our beliefs about birth. I am very proud of him and have a sneaking suspicion he is proud of me too…life is wonderful!“


  1. You need to put a warning at the start to get something to blow your nose with!
    How I love you my friend and so appreciate putting the truth out there.
    (and I am so thankful that our Creator protected my ignorant self - and although was in a hospital - had beautiful, natural births - how much more cheated I would feel had I not!)

  2. Such an amazing birth story, Bernice! And happiest of birthdays to little Rosemary! :-)