Our newest little babe arrived a few months ago, just minutes before Valentine’s Day ended.
His arrival signalled a shift in me that I was unprepared for. Yet, looking back, I can see that his entire gestation was a season of enlightenment that was dawning in my heart, only to be accented by an entirely new birth experience.
Of our ten previous children, Ben had caught two speedy arrivals before the midwives came. I looked back on these as my favourite births. No strangers, no loud, careless conversations, no bright lights or medical junk… just Ben and I in our bedroom participating in the unfoldment of life together.
Leading up the birth of baby number 11, I skipped the ultrasound for the first time. (It’s unbelievable that I never thought to research the negative effects of ultrasounds before now, but there you have it – always growing.) Even though I had no idea regarding the date of my last period, I had a strong inner sense about when baby would arrive. The midwife thought otherwise, but I kept my opinion to myself.
During the last months of my pregnancy, I experienced a quiet sense of increasing anxiety. As I pressed in to explore it, I realized I was not afraid of potential pain, and I was confident in a peaceful outcome, but I was fearful of what I can only think to call: exposure.
It’s the part I have disliked about most of my labours – the intimacy of birthing violated by (well meaning) strangers (midwives) who sometimes talk too loud, who put their “practice” above my intuition, and often seemed to erase the spirit of my birth atmosphere with their presence, views and assumptions. (I did have one stellar midwife, but still felt awkward about opening myself up so intimately to anyone.)
Each of these women were incredibly competent and well-meaning in their service, but I felt as if their presence was blocking me from entering a more spiritual birthing experience.
I brought up the idea with Ben: would he consider aiding me in delivering the baby, intentionally not calling the midwife?
We both just let the idea sit for a while. At this time I became acutely aware of how fear had been guiding my thinking, as if the presence of a midwife would determine a particular outcome.
What if following my inner peace trumped medical convention? How would this change my labour experience? What about risk? Where was I seeing the power in this situation? As well, what about the risk of not knowing what an intentional free birth could be? I strongly sensed God directing my inner process. I pondered a lot of questions until I came to the still space in my heart where I knew my course. Ben was a gentle and willing helper.
Not long later, birth day arrived.
Just when I sensed my belly had fully ripened, my body turned to labour, and the waves began. It was late, and our other children were all sleeping. Our room was darkened with the cheery glow of twinkle lights: a soft warmth lit our yellow bedroom. Ben prepared the bed and lit candles. Then he went to sleep, as I desired to be alone in the presence of God in my labouring.
I mostly walked and sang and breathed, tucked into the bathroom off my room to meditate in the stillness of the dark night. A candle kept me company; I listened to a little music. I talked to baby and anticipated the wonder of this little life soon to be in my arms. I was so very happy – ecstatic almost – to be alone, yet not alone, with my Creator and my child.
Nearing the end of my labour, I joined Ben by the bed and he helped to prop me, so I could rest upright on my knees. Though the labour was smooth and relatively painless, there emerged a deep body pain in the end that drew me out into a hollow desert of desperation, as I began to sense the baby wasn’t ready to come out, though I knew it was time. For a couple of minutes, I was so parched, so bewildered, so overcome with pain I felt delirious with fear.
But then, in an instant, something cut through the weariness and I became fearless. I can only describe it as Infinite Love. All of a sudden, I had this wild grit at my disposal that knew this act of sacrifice in my body would change the world. I had no more fear of pain, no worry about a negative outcome, just an awareness that heaven was shaking down through me and I had but to surrender.
I remember a delicious sort of joy thrilled through me as I realized that I was participating in something ultimate, an act so profoundly free: free from trauma, medical entanglements, disharmonious opinions; and free towards intimacy, beauty, and power.
Baby was a wee bit tangled in the cord, which Ben worked to undo, and baby unfolded and was put into my arms.
In that moment, I only seemed to recall a video I’d seen about a mother elephant vigorously awakening her newborn to it’s first outside breath. She was so aggressive, it was shocking.
Baby was quiet on his entry, so I rubbed his little back, as he lay on my chest skin to skin, and welcomed him with warmth, vigour and hearty intention. He awoke to his new reality and his lungs brought forth sound!
Glory washed over me.
All was well.
I nursed, and bathed, and cuddled into bed with my new treasure: Keats Freeman. “Keats” is an old English word that means Shepherd. This boy in my arms is a Shepherd of Free Men.
Little did I know he would Shepherd me into new freedom as well.
The entire rest of the night was washed with a bliss I cannot explain. I had stepped through fear into a realm of joy that was completely new to me. Something shifted in the atmosphere, and I know looking back, that I was born anew through this experience.
This life, this free birth, was a defining moment in my journey to discovering the deep waters inside of me where love and power dwell.