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A Spiritually Enlightening Online Magazine. Sept. Theme: "Sexuality" Volume 1 Issue 6 ISSN# 1708-3265

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A Leap of Faith
by Chelsa Roy

I didn't start out to birth my daughter naturally.

Oh, I thought I did. I wanted no part of hospitals; I would give birth in a birth centre. There would be no ultrasound, no drugs, no monitors, no forced position. Most importantly, there would be an authority; I could avoid responsibility. My entire birth plan consisted of no's, fears and what-ifs.

Except this birth would be a lotus birth. "Lotus birth" simply means the infant's umbilical cord is never cut - and my instinct said that this baby needed her placenta. I can't say why. I was aware of many studies detailing the benefits of delayed clamping but not one proving the benefits of not cutting at all. But I do not believe that just because the cord has stopped pulsating, the baby receives no further benefits from the placenta. Cutting it felt like a violation of her person, her psyche, her comfort, her trust.

But there was a snag. The Birth Centre required that all infants born there see a paediatrician within 24 hours of birth and none of the doctors I called were willing to see a lotus-birthed baby. Following the advice of my midwife, I called the paediatrician associated with the Birth Centre.

His reaction was immediate and vehement. There would be no lotus births at the Birth Centre, no matter which paediatrician saw the baby, or he would withdraw his support and shut the centre down. He feared an attached placenta would be a conduit for deadly infection.

I was angry. This doctor had made a decision for every doctor in the area! Worse, many I spoke to, including people who know, felt that, if I were to have a lotus birth at home, CPS (Child Protective Services) would take all my kids.

I decided I needed to convince the doctor that lotus birth is safe. I ran to the Internet and emailed several prominent home/lotus birth advocates. I asked only for information; I wanted to know if there were any midwives or birth centres who attended lotus births, so I could ask them how many of their babies had developed infections. What I received were a great many letters of support and information on delayed cutting. These letters meant a lot to me.

Should I stay home and have a lotus birth or go to the Birth Centre and let them cut the cord? I wavered. Not yet ready to let go and trust, I was handing my power out to anyone who would take it, some of whom were as fear-filled as I.

And then the universe stepped in and our computer crashed. Suddenly I could not go to my online friends or the people I had emailed for advice. But I didn't see this as the opportunity it was. Feeling unsupported, I decided to go to the Birth Centre.

So often we hide behind the minutia of life, to keep from taking responsibility for our own journey. So did I, throwing myself into the details of my eldest daughter's birthday party to keep myself from noticing that I had chosen based; not on what was best, but on avoiding responsibility.

The universe knew better. It was time for me to learn what I was capable of. And so the first twinge of labour occurred at 1:00 in the morning as I sat in a quietly-lit room, cutting party decorations while my family slept. I ignored it. So much to do. So much not to think about.

I was hanging my cut outs half an hour later when the next small twinge occurred. I stood by my living room window, the wind gently blowing the lacework of bare tree limbs against the sky. The wind moved through me and I could hear the trees whispering and I almost understood. But I shoved it aside and went on with my work.

At 2:00, the wind blew harder and the trees ceased whispering, speaking louder to get my attention. My baby added her voice as the first contraction rippled through me. I began to open up and realized this was the start of labour. Still, I continued my preparations for the party.

The next contraction didn't come for another 30 minutes. I was barely at the beginning of labour. Plenty of time to have the party and get to the Birth Centre, where somebody else would take the responsibility and I could rant uselessly later about "their" authority and how "they" had "forced" me to do what I did not want and knew to be wrong.

I stared quietly at the trees, hearing myself, hearing them, and hearing my baby for the first time. Love. Responsibility. I began to hang streamers now for two birthdays and felt myself grow stronger as my fear melted. The trees quieted down.

This was what the child had been waiting for, the knowledge that I would keep her safe. I was on the floor in a small circle of light, painting small cardboard circles gold as treasure for the party, when the first real contraction hit. I tried to stand, but couldn't. The clock said 3 am.

Another came and another, back to back - and I managed to crawl up the stairs to the bathroom. The contractions were so intense, I found my mind getting in the way of the birth. I couldn't breathe. I wanted to be in water, but the contractions were constant now, with no let up, and I couldn't reach the taps. I closed my eyes and relaxed into the rhythm, accepting; as my body and spirit opened up to this child I loved so much. I started to breathe again.

My mind now in the flow of the birth with my body, I began to use the peaks to call my husband's name. He didn't respond.

I was on my own. Instead of being afraid, I felt stronger than I ever had before. I could do it. I was doing it. My trust in my baby, the universe and myself was absolute at that moment, and as I relaxed completely, I experienced the most incredible contraction, as if the whole house contracted with me. My water broke.

A cry of, 'Oh my god!' from the bedroom and my husband was standing there. I asked for a drink of water and, not thinking clearly, he ran to the kitchen to get it.

My contractions increased in tempo and I chanted with them, "Baby, I love you…"

Suddenly, every muscle in my body contracted at once and I gave a mighty push. The baby's head, which hadn't even been in the birth canal until now, came thrusting out as I scrambled to get my pants down.

My husband catapulted into the room and caught her as she slithered out. "It's a girl!" he whispered and passed her to me. The three of us sat there, blinking, bewildered, besotted, waiting for the placenta. The clock said 3:14 am. My oldest daughter joined us, awestruck, and stroked her new sister's skin.

When the placenta was born it was beautiful and healthy and we rinsed it gently. Wrapped in a diaper, it was carefully tucked into the baby's outfit and she held it in her tiny, perfect arms. The girls and I tumbled, exhausted, into bed; and cuddled up next to their little brother, who had slept through it all.

The next morning my son stared, amazed. For weeks he did not understand that the baby in my belly was the same one who was in the bed with us. We sat and talked and told the baby all about us and learned about her. When the midwives came, I told them they were welcome as friends but had to leave if they intended to cut the cord. The universe and the baby had made their wishes clear.

Sometimes we wandered downstairs. There was no structure to our days. Our little bird was alert and vigorous and, always, she held or patted her placenta. The party guests showed up, bringing tons of food and love, but did not stay long.

On the morning of the third day, I noticed the baby was not hugging her placenta. Unwrapping it for the last time, I discovered that it had gently detached from her while she slept. It is now wrapped and in our freezer, waiting to be planted when we have a home. I'd like to plant red raspberry on top of it, so that it might nourish other children.

It's absurd. The most natural, primal thing that has ever happened to me occurred on a cold, tiled bathroom floor in a modern row house on the edge of town.

We named the baby Tzipporah Faith. Tzipporah is the Hebrew word for bird. Her name is our hope for her. May she soar like a bird, with a strong faith in her self, her deity and the universe… all of which I am still struggling to learn.

Chelsa Roy currently resides in Wilmington, De. where she home schools her four children and serves as Director of the Monkey Academy.

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