You are hereZella's Birth
by MacKenzie Christy
I had been told early on in my formidable years that due to excessive birth control and a medication overdose, I was never going to be able to conceive. My experience of giving birth reflected the belief that it would not be possible for me to have a baby. In fact, I never fully believed that I could give birth until I was holding my little seven pound baby in my arms and declared, “I just had a baby!”
My decision to give birth at home began with a discussion I had with several midwives. It was then that I realized I was in for the hardest work I'd ever do. I was told that I would also experience moments in childbirth that I could reflect on and learn from for the rest of my life.
For over two weeks, I pressured the midwives to do something that would encourage the baby to come out. At the time, by medical standards, my baby was past the due date. We were living at 9500 feet above sea level and an hour away from the nearest hospital. I had difficulty acknowledging my emotions of fear and disbelief that I had even conceived in the first place. I feel thankful that the midwives had the ability to “see” what I still needed to process emotionally.
With a house full of people that I had invited to the birth, I wept at the arrival of my mother who thought that my baby had already been born. The length of waiting had piqued the interest of countless townspeople, and the pressure on me to perform felt overwhelming. I feel now that I did not go into labor sooner because I feared dying, of having a boy, and of losing control. I never feared the pain of birthing or wondered if birth worked. I only feared surrendering to the birth process and my resulting motherhood.
Finally, labor began. When transition hit me full force, I looked to the midwife for comfort. She embodied the mother figure that I felt I needed, while my own mother sat squeamishly in the corner with her head turned, gasping with each contraction. I was so blessed that my mother was present. It was a gift to show her that birth works and that she has always been the inspiration for me to be a mother.
I remember exclaiming to the midwife, “I am so afraid to die and to become a mother!” Once I saw the midwife's confidence in me and my ability to be the mother my baby needed, I was able to relax and even enjoy transition, despite the posterior presentation of the baby and its resultant thrusting against my hips. I let out howls that the neighbors might later have asked about. I imagined them saying, “Did you hear those coyotes the other night?”
Caught by her father, with the umbilical cord wrapped, her fists at her ears and face gazing up at the stars, Zella was born. The midwives told me later, “You are the reason women become midwives.”
Before Zella's birth, I was afraid of my body and fearful of my ability to surrender to the birth. I was surrounded by people in the community who did not support me and my decisions, and some, that once it was all over, still could not believe that Zella was not actually born in a hospital. I believe that if I had gone to a hospital to give birth, these fears would have led to complications that would have required interventions. At home, I received the support I needed and my fears were recognized and honored by the midwives so that Zella's birth could unfold naturally.
After the birth, one of the midwives and my man shared a ceremonial cigar on our porch. At dawn an owl landed on the railing in front of them. I feel that Zella is my little owl who has brought me to know the wisdom within myself. She has given me that night to reflect on so that I can gain more clarity each day. I remember that I can. I am. I am capable!