Holding onto the edge of the hospital bed, I release low and guttural groans as I drop deeper into my physical body. I have been preparing for this moment for the last nine months, and now that it’s here, I am trying to catch my breath. There is no pause, no break, no moment to process what is happening, just instinctual movements and full body sensations. My lower back feels as if it is shattering into a million little pieces, and my hips are certainly breaking wide open. Sweat is running down my face; even though my eyes are closed, I can feel the vibration from the fluorescent lights up above. My daughter is engaged and ready to pass through the birth canal, but I am clinging to the edge of resistance. For me, labor felt like a life-changing and perspective-altering psychedelic trip, a trip that undoubtedly changed the course of my life. The birth of a baby means the death of a former self.
Although I was an incredibly nurturing person growing up, I never wanted children. I thought I would grow-up to be a sweet mixture of “the crazy cat lady” and “the coolest aunt ever.” I spent my early twenties working hard (and impulsively) to create dopamine while running from internal wounds caused by my parents’ divorce and my short-lived stay at a cult. I was independent, selfish, in a deep state of avoidance, and would follow wherever the wind wanted to take me. Eventually, that breeze sent me (and my partner at the time) from Jacksonville, Florida, to Portland, Oregon. I didn’t know it then, but that move signified a massive turning point in my life. Our relationship was toxic for everyone involved, and the move only amplified this destructive path. But sure enough, six months later, I found myself staring through tears at my nude body in the mirror while I saw a faint line form on a pregnancy test.
Nine months of pregnancy felt similar to what I would imagine a slow-motion catapult into the journey of metamorphosis would feel like. My body, perspective, relationship, and mindset were going through intense transformations, preparing for what was to come. Looking at the life stages of a butterfly, it’s evident that the creature experiences rapid growth while inside the chrysalis. But what actually happens inside the pupa’s skin, also known as a cocoon, is the larval tissue turns to goo before reorganizing to become something new. That’s what pregnancy felt like to me. I was wandering down this path of unknowns and intuitively trusting my body’s instincts to guide me into motherhood. I was turning into sticky, slimy, undefined goo.
I opted for minimum prenatal care, denying most of the suggested screenings and tests. At twenty weeks, the ultrasound technician revealed that I was growing a baby girl, and this was the only time I chose to see the tiny human living inside my womb. Under the care of a midwifery team, my belly took the shape of a watermelon and I carried my daughter until her due date, September 6, 2018. My mother flew into Portland that day; even though I had previously wished the baby would come before the due date, I was relieved to have my mother (and her wisdom) alongside me in the final moments. It was as if my body was waiting for her arrival to feel safe enough to surrender. And after settling in, she said what any wise mother would say, “Let’s walk this baby out of you.”
Four miles through the winding and steep trails/steps of the arboretum, located in the heart of Portland, knocked me off my feet. By the end of our hike, I was leaning on the trunk of a mossy tree, trying to breathe through a contraction. The process was beginning, and I felt a sense of calmness rush through my body as the day progressed. Contractions were intensifying but still sporadic enough for us to carry out the evening including dinner and a movie. With hesitation, giddy fear, and a glimmer of hope, I said, “Maybe we should get to bed early, just in case it ends up being a long night.” And within three hours of falling asleep, I was woken up with the sudden urge to urinate. When I sat down to relieve myself, a sudden gush of liquid was released, and the shock from a sharp contraction radiated through my entire body as I let out an audible gasp, followed by a long, deep moan. That’s when the transcendental shift occurred; I was no longer navigating life in the physical realm. Dropping deeper into my body, I was ready to retrieve my daughter.
Out here in the dry salt flats of Nevada, time stands still. The air is thick and dust filled. I draw a line on the windshield of my car in the exact same spot everyday to watch how many layers of dust settle here. A lingering stench of what I would imagine a bag of…
Rapid Rebirth pt. 3
My daughter, Liana, arrived at 2:54 in the morning, on September 7, 2018, less than three hours from the start of contractions. According to the American Pregnancy Association, rapid labor is characterized by labor that can last as little as three hours, also known as precipitous labor. I had never heard of this term prior…
Rapid Rebirth pt. 2
“Matt, Matt, wake up. I think something’s happening,” I whispered as I hunched my nude body over the side of our bed. I was dropping in and out of reality, and riding this new awareness of sensation. I felt bones shifting, muscles contracting, and electrical impulses dancing up and down my spine. This shockwave was…
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