A week has passed since our birth and I have a brief moment to share with you all the arrival of our newborn – ‘baby Arlo’.
He is ever so divine, with his mass of black hair and handsome round face perched upon a very impressive double chin.
As I lean back in bed cuddling him and our chests rise and fall in unison, he snuggles deeply into my neck and I delight in the opportunity of still being able to share with him the same breath.
Ohhh, he smells so delicious!
At 6 days old he still appears to be moving from a hazy in-utero state to realizing he is a baby with “needs”.
Simon, the boys and dear friends have confined me to the second floor of our house denying me entrance into the mayhem of domestic life downstairs in the kitchen/living areas. Allowing me the time to give Arlo my undivided focus for his first few days. Well as undivided as you get with three eager siblings.
While he sleeps I wanted to write down some of my thoughts and reflections while they are still so clear in my heart and mind.
As always, each soul makes a very individual entrance into the world and Arlo’s was very, very stylish and smooth.
Even as my fifth birth, the events unfolded with ample surprises and learning. Arlo politely gave us plenty of warning that he was on his way, with part of my fore-waters breaking at 12:45 pm Tuesday night. Simon and I were unsure how quickly things would progress and in our excitement after about an hour, we found ourselves up and organizing things.
Simon needed to arrange not going into work for the rest of the week and amusingly I found myself sweeping the floor and unpacking the dishwasher in preparation for a homebirth.
With my waters continuing to break (as they say) over the next few hours, both our midwife Jan and my sister Kath arrived at around 4.30am. For those of you who may not have read “Well Adjusted Babies”, Jan has delivered all of our babies and simply knowing she had arrived meant, that unconsciously, I could relax into having our baby.
She checked both baby and I upon arrival and at this point not a lot was happening other than my body was starting to ‘let go’ in preparation for birth.
We all settled back into bed for a few hours and at about 7am the boys were awake and curious about why they had not been told about the slumber party. My sister Kath cleverly engaged them with breakfast, while Simon and I went for a walk to see if we could initiate some consistent contractions. We decided that if the boys wanted to have the whole day off from school then we’d keep them home – after all, this is what family memories are made of!
Our other wonderful midwife Sandra arrived after dropping her children to school and sat with me for a while massaging some acupressure points. I felt so supported and cared for by these women, knowing they would be ready to labour with me. Yet with my birth team gathering, I couldn’t help but feel as if baby and I were holding up the show.
Knowing that was I worried about starting to inconvenience people, intuitively Sandra said she had to run some errands and she’d be back in a few hours, meanwhile Jan reminded me to relax and stop fussing over everyone else’s needs. Jan told me, that even if our birth took another day to fully begin she wouldn’t want to be anywhere else and besides she had plenty of work to do and calls to make. So while Kath took the boys to the park for a play, Simon and I decided on another walk.
Just as we set off down the road, some dear friends arrived at our house at about 11.30am bringing lunch for the birth team. Tiffani would also be with me during the birth, but before her husband left, we asked if he would like to join us for a walk. I can imagine for by-passers this would have been quite a sight. A heavily pregnant woman amidst three good friends, slowly wandering the block. It seemed like every few moments we needed to stop in fits of laughter as I seemed unable to giggle, walk and pre-labour all at the same time.
As always, laughter is a remedy for many things and our baby soon decided to get serious about his entrance into the world. At about 1.30pm my contractions started to take some momentum. Almost instantly they moved from having a moderate cramping style where I could still participate in conversations, to more serious contractions that took my complete focus. I decided that I needed to be totally present to my body, so I moved upstairs for some quiet and the birth team ever so subtly took turns working with me, one-on-one.
For about an hour I worked with my “inner dialogue”, letting go of any fears that had re-surfaced such as, “Oh my God, I remember this!”, quickly reminding myself to surrender to the pain and not run from it. I tried to focus on completely feeling the pain at a physical level and drawing the sensations into my conscious mind, completely immersing myself in the present. After five births, one thing I have learnt is that once my labour truly begins, things seem to move along much more quickly when I completely surrender physically and emotionally. The old saying of, “You can run but you can’t hide” is ever so apt for labour.
As baby and I connected in the intensity of our situation, my “willingness” was renewed and my mantra shifted to, “Let’s do this little-one!”
I soon found that my mind was unraveling and returning to my true centre. A place that can only be described as knowing and trusting that there was indeed a presence holding me. Perhaps it was Abe, perhaps it was Spirit, my fantasy is that it was both. Something much larger than myself, offering me a deep sense of peace and reminding me that all I needed to do was to be present to my baby, my body, and let go.
As I started to feel nauseous, I moved to the shower. There I knelt crouched over a medi-ball, with the nurturing warmth of the water relaxing my body and Simon holding my hands in silence.
My sister had the boys down stairs busily making a birthday cake and I could see Tiffani and our midwives in another room, peacefully waiting for me to ask for anything. Occasionally I would register that someone had asked me question yet I was completely unable to answer them.
Just after 3pm I was suddenly tired of the shower and stood with a sudden urge to push. At this point Jan and Simon quickly ushered me into the bedroom and as the pressure and weight of the baby’s head was heavy in my groin, Jan suggested I lean over the bean bags in the area we had prepared for the birth. I was only partially aware at this point that Kath and the boys had also entered into the room; everyone was so quiet and peaceful.
With about another 5 contractions, baby Arlo was born ten days early, at a very healthy nine pounds. As he lay between my legs squawking at the world, I lent forward to soothe him and kiss him. Oblivious to everyone, I welcomed him wholeheartedly, “Mummy’s here my darling, Mummy’s here.” My baby had arrived safely and completely, and as he reached up and touched my face, his eyes locked hold of mine from that very first moment.
As I sat back cradling Arlo to my chest, I realised that all my big boys had been there the whole time, right beside me. I looked beyond their beaming smiles, into their eyes and saw the complete “wonder at life” so refreshingly anchored. Their pride and utter excitement had left them speechless, as one by one, they lent down to kiss me.
Fortunately the placenta came away very easily this time, and even though Arlo had an enormous head size of 38.5cms, with the skill of our midwives coaching me, we had no perineal tearing.
As the team moved me into bed, Simon and all three boys readied themselves to hold baby Arlo by whipping off their shirts to cuddle him skin to skin. This type of bonding sensation -being skin to skin for a newborn, is so nurturing and very, very powerful. Tear’s of delight filled Jan’s eyes as she gushed, “Oh…Look…. at all my babies together, skin to skin, how beautiful!”
The following hour was stylishly filled with freshly made birthday cake accompanied by “Happy Birthday” played on the guitar by Wilem.
Arlo seemed delighted with the celebrations, and Jan joked that Arlo was so big that had he gone full-term, the extra ten days, he would have entered the world with a backpack!.
As I lay back in bed, I felt weary and relieved, I guess that’s only natural when you loose 5 kg’s or 12 pounds in 15 minutes! Above all else though, I felt radiant. Like the cat who’d stolen the cream!. There at the end of my bed were all my gorgeous boys.
As they cuddled Arlo and smothered him with kisses, they retold each other the highlights of the birth. Even at three year’s old, Quin seemed wide-eyed with awe and proudly told everyone, “I saw the bubba’s scrunched up hair!”
With Nelson sitting close to me I could hear him whispering into Arlo’s ear, “I’m going to love you so much, and teach you things, and look out for you.” As I breathed in all of their tender, raw emotions my heart felt so full, so overwhelmingly full.
I looked at my dear friends and family gathered in our bedroom and a wave of gratitude swept through me. For the first time, I felt a sense of completion with my capacity to bring “life” into the world, secretly I knew I had given birth for the very last time. I felt an undeniable sense of satisfaction and completion.
I connected again with Abe and thanked him and spirit for once more, guiding and protecting us all.
I really am very, very blessed.