I consider sacred space and ritual to be a time between times, and a world between worlds. Kind of like the the Wood Between Worlds in The Magician’s Nephew.
That’s what labor was for me.
It was the most pain I’ve ever been in: back labor is a bitch. Contractions started feeling like the worst menstrual cramps on steroids shortly before I began leaking amniotic fluid at 2:30am, but they swiftly enveloped my lower back and sleep really didn’t happen at all. I attempted to distract myself with Two Towers at a more reasonable hour and made it to Helm’s Deep when I had to switch over to an Enya playlist for something more relaxing.
My midwife and birth team were amazing. Everything is both a blur and lasted forever that day, and I couldn’t have done it without my birth team, my partner, my mother, or my sister. I couldn’t tell you who all did what, except based on pictures that I have.
I didn’t get the water birth I’d hoped for. I did spend time laboring in the pool and am ridiculously grateful for that. When I got in, I said something to the effect of “maybe I won’t die after all.” It did help me relax (though not dull the pain) enough to get little cat naps in, which my body needed. But, the fear of it slowing things down when I started pushing (reason is not necessarily strong with me when I labor, it would seem) kept me from going back into it.
I am so grateful for the options I had: ball, pool, walking, birth stool, shower, etc. I’m fairly certain I used almost everything, and I would have told you beforehand that the birth stool at least was unnecessary.
The day both took forever and flew by. I had no conception of time during the day. At one point I realized it had gotten dark, and I wasn’t really sure when that happened. I did start to notice that they had lit candles all around me as the room darkened, however, and I am glad that I had my fire there.
So many times I felt like giving up. I wanted it to stop and go back and not continue, but, I knew I didn’t have a choice. At one point I did break down and ask my midwife if there was anything I could do for my back pain, and the herbs she gave me seemed to satisfy me enough.
I did try very hard to not say “no” during labor, to keep my pitch low (personal goal of not sounding like a Nazgul was met), to not cry, and to not say “I can’t.” There were tears, and I did say “no” and “I can’t do this” a handful of times, but, for the most part, I think I was successful with maintaining at least a semblance of positivity. I was convinced, though, at several parts, that it wasn’t working and the baby wasn’t going to come out, but, again, reason wasn’t always prevailing. 😉
I managed not to panic when I heard my midwife ask for the neonatal kit, and I kept my focus on doing exactly what I was told. Which was good: baby appreciated switching positions. They talked me into reaching down and feeling the head before it came out, and apparently that was enough to convince me that I actually *could* push the baby out, and we got down to business, and I didn’t tear. Kid came out sideways, too.
It took a little bit to ground after, as I lay on my living room floor with my head in my partner’s lap and our child on my chest. I kept saying, half in shock, half in awe, “I have a baby”, and even questioned it a little with an air of “how did I do this?”
2:30am to 9:11pm isn’t bad. The rest of the night flew by: it took 2 more hours before my dad arrived (he drove to VA from ME), but I don’t know what really happened during that time, other than at some point I delivered my placenta, then had the cord cut, and then made it into bed (which was far comfier than my floor).
I’ve always loved sacred space and ritual, but, I think that labor has increased my appreciation and understanding for the concept of timelessness.
We are star stuff, and it was magic, and I am a warrior.