We’re you born on a Farm…I mean a barn?!
Yes, yes I was!
One year ago today our sweet Merry B Bird was born! I know every parent says it, but it’s hard to believe its been a year already. Her pregnancy took us out to Tennessee for the birth. Why did we drive cross country to have a baby? Well, we were already living in the bus and as it turns out, a generation before us a group of corgis women did the exact same thing; travel cross country in school buses and absolutely ratified the way women give birth in America. The Farm as they call it, is America’s longest running intentional living community that mostly serves to train midwives and protect the sanctity of birth. We arrived on The Farm about a month before Miriam was born to settle in and develop a relationship with the woman who was to be my midwife. We actually parked our bus a few paces away from her front door and shared daily interaction with her. She is a lovely woman and a wealth of birth knowledge. She and her husband were some of the founding members of this community and it was so neat to talk to someone in that generational community above us about seeking out a different way of life and going against the grain so to speak. Not only did they understand, but they did it and they have about 50 years of life on us!
Ok, so the birth: This was my first labor that started in the middle of the day and that was new for me. I had been having some prodromal labor a few days prior so I knew I was getting close, but I wasn’t holding my breath that something would happen. I also wasn’t thinking that today would be the day because all of my other labors started in the middle of the night. I went over in the morning to chat with Pamela, my midwife and express some frustration that nothing was happening. A couple nights prior I thought I was going into labor but it petered out and I was just getting antsy. She suggested that I get someone to watch the kids and that Rob and I take a long walk and see if something gets going. I was skeptical because as I mentioned before none of my labors got going during the day. But none-the-less how are you going to argue with someone who has 50+ years of birth experience? We called a girl we had met during our time on The Farm and asked her if she would come stay with the kids while we went out for a walk. We walked through the meadow which was just bursting with life; flowers and butterflies were all singing and dancing with life as we walked down to the swimming hole. In hindsight I should have known I was going into labor because the world takes on a rosy hue for me when I am preparing to bring a baby into the world and this afternoon was no different. We sat at the swimming hole and chatted for a bit then we decided to walk to the Farm Store and treat ourselves to some yummy vegan cookies they sell there. We decided to sneak past the bus and go into the birth cabin so we could continue our little date. Once in the cabin Rob made us some coffee to go with our cookies and we went out to the wrap around porch that over looked the forest. I opted to stay standing and sway my hips back and forth. Movement was the only thing that felt right. Pamela came to check in on us and asked is I wanted her to stay with me but it didn’t feel right yet to break the sacredness of it just being Rob and I so I told her I’d let her know when I needed her. We laughed, drank coffee and chatted for awhile. It was during this time I was beginning to own that I *might* just be starting labor. At that realization I wept (remember I said everything takes a rosy hue?) because my experience was just so gentle, peaceful and private. Rob and I went out for another walk, this time up and down one of the steepest hills on The Farm and this hill was known to put women into labor. I charged up and down it like a woman on a mission! Still my contractions were pretty manageable and I was still not sure when things would pick up.
I tend to loose a good amount of blood postpartum so the deal I had with my midwife was that if I’d let her put in a hep loc I could deliver in the tub. It all had to do with her comfort level of being able to give me pit if need be and also, as she explained it it’s harder to gauge blood loss when a woman is in a tub of water. Having already had a water birth and knowing how awesome they are I connected to the hep loc. When she came over to put it in we still chatted easily and I told her I didn’t think this baby was coming anytime soon. She just smiled and listened to me. Rod and I went back out for another walk and the contractions were getting closer by that point. When we came back to report to her their spacing she again asked if I wanted her to gather her team and I still said that I didn’t think it was time yet. She asked if a contraction was coming and I said yes and she just watched me through one. After it was over she smiled again and said, “wow, you really felt that one, hu? I think that one took you to a 5 or a 6” I asked how she knew that and she had the best response, “I’ve been doing this for a long time” Isn’t she awesome?! She said to wait there in the birth cabin and she was going to call the other midwife and the student midwife. This was around 5:00pm.
When they arrived it was like a little party. The tub was set up in the middle of the living room and the kitchen table was right next to the tub. The midwives chatted casually around the table while I labored in the tub. Pamela asked the student midwife who wrote the textbook she was reading and was able to give personal insight to the author, talking about when she met the author. I’m telling you, this midwife is like the grandmother of midwives! Between contraction I asked them how they came to The Farm and about the early days of midwifery. Seeing them all sitting around and having this transference of knowledge around me was very powerful and made me feel connected in a universal way to the mothers who had gone before me and will follow me in the years to come. I cried again at the realization of how full circle all this was, the student, the teacher and I the keeper of this knowledge tucked within my DNA and Pache Mama dancing with me through the wave of contractions. after I had this phycadellic moment i shifted again and became suddenly more serious and said something to the extent that this needed to be spead along. Pamela suggested I get out of the tub and move to the shower. I got out of the tub and on my way to the shower had a massive contractaion and headed straight to the bed. I told everyone the baby was coming and flung myself on the bed. This was in a matter of minutes that I was in the tub having this surreal moment to getting very serious about this baby coming. I barked at Rob to catch the baby. My body did the pushing for me and this little life began to emerge. As she was crowning there was quite the interest in her but I was in the zone. I knew there was something interesting happening because Rob looked at me smiling and suggested I feel her. She emerged a second later in her amniotic sack! It was the coolest thing!! the midwives peeled the sack off of her like cellophane. I reached down to bring her to my chest and Rob told me she was a girl and I burst out into tears I was so happy. I was hoping she would be a girl and it was the best surprise ever!
Our three older kids were in the bus watching a movie and after some of the necessary post partume clean up we had them come over to meet their new sister. The midwives stayed with us for a bit longer monitoring me and the baby. I was GBS positive this time around and thankfully routine antibiotics isn’t The Farm’s standard so I did some pre labor treatments of garlic oil and probiotics. My midwife told me what to look for to see if the baby was effected by it at all, but because she was born in the amniotic sack she was fine, but we still needed to keep an eye on her.
After the midwives left Rob made up a bed for our older two kids in the living room of this tiny cabin and we snuggled into bed with our toddler and newborn and listened to the summer rain and the sounds of the woods coming alive. My description just doesn’t do it justice. It was so magical and the perfect place and way to add a new person to our family.