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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Itzix: an Unassisted Birth Story

Reading birth stories helped prepare me for my births.  As touching as they were, I longed for a compilation of birth stories by those who shared similar social and cultural experiences, values, and history.  This is a call out to mothers of color: Please share your birth stories with one another.  Narratives help us heal, teach empathy, and serve as education.  If you are a mom of color, please take the time to share your experiences in giving birth by posting, even if only a link, a word, picture, or a brief comment.  Soon we will have our book.  This is the first part of two in birthing our second child.  
Parte uno
Part one

February 19, 2011 
Chicome Itzcuintli
         I wake up next to my husband around 8:30am. My two year old son had spent another night with my mom. I'm having slight contractions, so i jot it down in my birth journal, knowing that this would be the day that, you, my precious stone of jade, would come into this world. My contractions are 3 or 4 minutes apart, and i feel uterine cramping in my lower pelvic area. The quiet room is still. I hold my breath, and thrust my arms in joy, allowing my nesting instinct to take over. I tidy up the house and make myself a breakfast fit for a fat queen. Since my husband is asleep from a long night, i video tape bits and pieces in between contractions. The more i squat down to clean and bend over, the stronger the contraction. I welcome the contractions, knowing that you are one sensation closer to being in my arms.

          I lay down beside my husband. Mother nature gives me a break while i lay down and we nap side by side. After a couple of hours, I wake up with INTENSE downward pressure. My hemorrhoids burn and are causing more discomfort than my actual labor pains. SHOOT... I never picked up that witch hazel!

"Sherm, you need to wake up... I'm in labor."

For the next four hours, I wait for him to "situate" the birth pool. I hop in the shower to alleviate some burning and I hear my son's voice.

"Sherm, Sherm, Who's there?" I shout from inside the shower.
He tells me my mom is dropping off Akinyemi.

"Well tell her to take him back! I'm in labor." I walk out of the shower to find my son in his high chair, and a new box of toy cars.
Overbearing Grandma comes in handy I think, as i gobble down a large plate of spaghetti... Akinyemi is glad to leave with grandma, but one of the perks of being a community organizer, is having a busy home.
I sit by the kitchen window massacring my food, when i see Edgar's stupid Che Guevara hat and glasses peer into my window. I'm pretty pissed, but I don't want labor to stall like last night when Sherman and I argued over making tea too slowly.

"What do you want, fool? I'm in labor!"  I shout through the window.
"Oh, what the fuck, fool, I thought you'd already be pushing and shit" He imitates a woman screaming and cursing Sherman.
"Sherm! Edgar's here! Sherm!"
He comes in from hooking up the hoses in the garage and assures me the pool is almost ready.
Laying down in my bed, I side-lie and breath, feeling my bottom stretch open.

In the birth pool, an hour before giving birth.
Stepping into the birth pool is ecstasy.  Sherm shows off his two pressure hoses.  I'm slightly disappointed the "midwives' epidural" doesn't alleviate all of my pain.  Night falls on the city of Compton and my doula arrives.  Martha is my close friend and new doula, but she is calm, hands-off, and has keen instincts.  I try not to critique her doula approach.  Stay focused.  Forget her burrito breath, we all get hungry.  She sticks to my birth plan and gives me my special teas, drinks and juices.  My husband is in the garage, catching up with her husband.  I get tired of laboring without him and send for him.  Right away my contractions kick in.  Whew!

"That tea WORKED, huh Martha?" I surprisingly remarked.
"Yeah...fast.  Where do you feel the contractions?" She decides to time a few again.

I grunt and feel like I should stand.  Daddy keeps telling me it's too hot in the house with the heater and pool, complaining that he's uncomfortable.

"DON'T COMPLAIN" Sherman knows I mean it and doesn't reply.

He helps me get out of our Eco Birth Pool in a Box into my large, luxurious bath towel.  We lay in bed for a little bit listening to native tunes.  We cuddle, kiss and have an intense erotic moment before falling asleep.  I switch sides and call for Martha to massage me with some lavender essential oil and shea butter.

"You're opening up" Martha says in her usual nonchalant voice.

"No shit, that's why it hurts", I think to myself.

Too late to go over birth affirmations. I feel cramping in that same localized pelvic area and my whole pelvis shifts to accommodate you, my precious stone of jade.  Naturally my breathing pattern changes to a faster, more shallow grunt.
A little dizzy and disoriented, I stand on the bed.

"You're leaking"one of them says with concern.

I saw my waters rupture earlier that afternoon and realize I'm not looking at the remaining liquid.  Dark red spots of blood splattered the chux pad.  I didn't want to transfer to a hospital, so Martha calls a midwife friend. Stuck in limbo for a minute, I give myself permission to let go and push once I hear the fateful words:

"It's fine, she says, the baby's coming soon."

I collapse, back first into Marthas arms and grunted. After the intense moment ends, I lean into my husband the same way.  I feel him struggle to keep balanced.  Immense comfort and pleasure overcome me knowing that he is physically exerting himself with me.  My primal grunt is so loud that I don't realize the deep place it is coming from.  Sherm asks me to change position.

"No, hold me!" I demand, feeling another rush about to overcome me.

I submit to the animal in me and we roar, dangling and squatting- fully supported by my rock, my man.  My doula helps instruct Sherman, so that he holds me more comfortably, and after that third push, I feel burning.  I touch my perineum and free myself from my husband's arms.

"What's wrong?", he confusedly asks as I laugh in amazement, mouth and eyes wide open.
"Nothing, she can feel his head!" my doula replied because I wouldn't.
"He is here!" I thought to myself and paused in amazement.

Overcome by peace, I cherished the last moments of you, Itzix Chicome Itzcuintli, in my womb.  I touched your wrinkly head and my thin perineum with my cupped hand and positioned myself slowly into a one-legged half squat.

Sherm laughs and shouts:

"I see his face! Whoa...I see his eyes! hahaha".

While Sherman's amazement of your head creeping out of my vagina sets in, you rotate.
All of the births I've ever seen flash before my eyes in an instant- and I have a vision of you splashing out.  Just then, you squish out with a burst of water into Dada's hands.  You slip, face first into the world, purple and still.  Daddy picks you up and hands him to me while I come back into my head and surroundings.

My husband, usually mellow, warns me anxiously:  "He has the cord wrapped around his neck! He's not breathing!  He's NOT BREATHING!"

I feel disoriented, in the clouds, yet ultra calm.  Doula instincts kicking in, I reassure dad and unwrap your cord.  As I stimulate you to breathe, I notice you have a little bit of meconium in your fresh baby anus. Your breathing is slow, quiet, and calm.  Finally, you give a little cry and I rub into your skin the little vernix you have left on your birth day.

"It's a BOY!" my doula announces, we knew it all along.
"Oh I LOVE you, baby! It's 9:55pm" Martha proclaims.

My brother walks in with bright red hair, looking stressed out.  We cover you up, make sure you're warm and still breathing.  We fall in love. We are calm. tired. ecstatic.  You quickly bob over to my breast and latch all by yourself. You are so wise, my little Itzix.

Seconds after birth, photo by our doula.
Borgia Codex, Tlazolteotl gives birth (I also birthed in this position)

1 comment:

  1. wow this is one of the most touching, raw, moving and heart felt stories i have ever read hermana! Thank you for sharing and encouraging that that knowledge be shared for the future of our gente!