Archer Fikus Birth Story
If you asked me two years ago about having another baby, I’d tell you I was making plans to have my tubes tied. Literally. Like researching options, making phone calls, and I had it set in my mind that any more biological children were out of the question. Two bright, beautiful, sweet, and sometimes fiery daughters were all that my head, heart, and patience could handle! Plus, I was on my own. Single mama.
Just when I thought I had it all planned out, the Universe threw me a curveball … in the form of a man! A strong, motivated, loving, generous, passionate, and creative man who actually fell in love with ME, and all of my dysfunctional glory! Falling in love changed my entire perspective on what I thought would have been the course for the rest of my life. It opened my heart and created more space to fill. I could listen better, nurture more patiently, take time to honor myself, my daughters, and my partner. I could actually hear my own thoughts for the first time in what seemed like forever, and what I heard told me to stay open, and to see with my heart…
After weeks of ‘warming up’, regular contractions began in the early morning. I was able to sleep, but while floating in the world between sleep and wakefulness I was aware they were occurring. I was even dreaming of waves rushing the shore as I breathed deeply through them. I woke Kev around 6am, and we filled the tub. We were having this baby!
Contractions remained 20 minutes apart throughout the morning and I called Brandi at 9am to let her know the happenings! The girls awoke, and we began our day. We ran some errands, picked up some groceries, and upon returning home I decided to take a nap.
Everything slowed down. I rested, called Brandi, and tried not to get discouraged. He was already past his ‘due date’, and I had to calm my spinning head when thoughts of induction crept in. I shifted my focus, and in my mind’s eye, hovered above my sweet little home where I could see my family giving birth together.
I woke around 2pm, and contractions started back up. My excitement returned! The girls kept checking in with me as they noticed I would have to sway and breathe a little more deeply through the rushes. I would gently remind Adeline to use her quiet voice when she needed to talk to me, sometimes just plain out shhhhsh-ing her and waving my hand to indicate she needed to leave me alone. It was as if noise made the sensations a little more intense. And now looking back, I know that taking my focus off of the pain was worse then just diving right into it.
I stayed peacefully busy making quinoa and fruit salad, harvesting greens to put in a giant pot of miso soup, thawing some breads I made weeks earlier, taking a long shower, and resting in between! Brandi gave me a call around 4pm, and I let her know that contractions were back to 15-20 minutes apart. I labored through a lovely protein packed dinner that Kev made sure to cook on the camp stove so that our house wouldn’t smell of fish for the rest of my labor and birth! He really was a super star during this whole day- taking good care of the girls (which meant keeping them out of my hair)! Knowing what a personal experience this was, he was sure to allow me my space to labor as I needed, checking in with me frequently! He listened to my cues, and rubbed my back when I signaled that a contraction was coming. I would just say ‘okay’, or ‘another one’, and when it was really tough I would just raise my hand! He would drop whatever it was that he was doing and run to my side to squeeze my hips and put pressure on my lower back.
At 7:30pm he made another call to Brandi. Contractions were between six and 10 minutes apart, very strong, and lasting 30 seconds or so. She told us to call when we were ready for them to come or when contractions were five minutes apart.
Shortly after 10pm, Kev made the call. I was weepy, and laboring on my yoga ball at the kitchen table where I hadn’t moved from much since dinner! I was sure to rest my eyes and mind between each contraction in order to save my energy for what was to come. It felt so good to bounce gently, and shake my thighs while holding on for dear life to the table!
Laura showed up first, just before 11 (I only know times from this point on thanks to the labor notes. Time did not exists for me at this point). In everyday life she struck me as jovial, with ample amounts of positive energy! In this moment, she was warm and tender, coming to my side with a sweet hug and a mama’s loving reassurance. She took Isabella under her wing, giving her little tasks, and lots of love and support! Bella was curious and hadn’t been able to sleep through the noise I was making. I’m sure she was a little worried as well, but she remained stoic.
After a few contractions Laura offered to check my progress as she noticed that the noises I was making sounded like I was getting close to pushing. I was almost completely dilated with just a tiny bit of cervix left to move out of the way. This was such glorious news! Brandi arrived just after 11pm. I labored deeply for about an hour more, and then moved into the birth tub, floating away into birthing oblivion. I could squat, and hang myself over the side of the tub without feeling so much weight on my hips and legs.
This time Brandi offered to check me, and that little lip of cervix was swollen. I felt a bit deflated. My body felt like pushing, but she informed me that it was not yet time. She suggested rapid breathing, and I shook my head ‘NO’ like crazy and just started blowing through loose lips making this ridiculous horse imitation! I didn’t care at that point! In fact, the ladies told me I was doing great, so I just kept on going! It kept me from pushing.
Somewhere around this time, Ananda appeared, waited for me to open my eyes, and gave me a sweet ‘hello’. She gave me some arnica to help with the swelling. Meanwhile, Kev hovered above me, waiting for my arms to reach up to him at the onset of a new contraction. He held me up semi-suspended with my top half out of the water, and bottom half floating. I could hear in his breathing that he was working almost as hard as I was!
Contractions were close and hard, and the ladies reminded me to quiet myself as each one subsided. I was waiting as patiently as possible for the go ahead to push. Rapid breathing came out of nowhere. It just took over as my body really had the urge to start pushing. No one ever tells you how to refrain from allowing your body to do what it needs to do during labor. All the reading, and exercise, and yoga in the world cannot help you to STOP having a baby! This was the hardest thing I’d ever done. Forget the contractions. They were like a cake walk compared to this breathing bulls**t.
At this point I was frustrated, tired, and just ready to meet my little guy. I wanted him here, and safe, and in my arms. I HAD to push! Now Brandi, normally very soft spoken, gentle, and super sweet, became firm – she looked me dead in the eye and told me that I didn’t have any other choice but to breathe through until the lip was softened and she could just push it up over baby’s head. I lost focus a few times and started to push, but Kev brought me back by breathing with me.
Together we all decided that rupturing my membranes would be helpful to get baby to descend, now that the lip had softened. During my next contraction, Brandi pushed the cervix, and ten minutes later I was in primal push mode! Baby’s heart rate was dropping a little, and it was suggested that I get out of the tub to try some other positions that baby liked. HOLY S**T … climbing out of the tub was like what climbing Everest must feel like – nearly impossible! I could barely catch my breath, and my body was not my own. I crawled to the couch for the next contraction, and then walked slowly to the bedroom, climbed up into bed, and rested with my back against Kev’s chest in a semi reclined position.
Adeline woke now, and both girls were standing together at the foot of the bed waiting with anticipation in each others arms. I remember being very aware of everyone there with me, and I would open my eyes every once and a while to check the vibe of the room. It was one of those times when I could understand what was happening just by looking in their eyes.
Everything was as it should be. I was surrounded by my people – the ones I love the most. And I had these incredibly attentive, magical, and powerful women holding my hands, and offering theirs to gently guide this baby into the world! They were my head when I couldn’t think, and my voice when I was mute. They were my backbone when my body wanted to collapse in exhaustion. All of them. Each and every one of them.
Our hearts were growing and growing with each moment of each contraction. I could see Isabella squeeze Adeline tighter and tighter as I pushed harder and harder, while my husband held me closer and closer. It was happening!!! Archer was being born! I reached down to feel his head, and at last I knew that I had turned the corner of complete pain and despair to utter relief and abundant joy! I just needed to gently push his shoulders out and I would enter the other side … that blissful place only a birthing mother can know.
While my body was on fire, my heart was swimming in the coolest, most purifying waters of the Universe! I looked up to see my daughters – each having their own unique experience. Archer was placed on my chest at 1:17am, and they climbed into bed with us; Adeline with her arms outstretched to hold this baby, and Isabella moved to sobbing tears as she nestled in my arms. And there was my amazing husband crying with relief and joy – his arms around us all.
We snuggled together in bed inspecting our precious boy. He was quiet, and alert, and glistening. He made just enough noise to get cleared out, and didn’t need any suctioning. Laura suggested laying him head-down across my belly where he coughed a little and had a few sneezes! I lifted him back up and he squished his face into my breast and rooted around making sweet snarfy sounds, trying to get a nipple in his mouth! My adrenaline was rushing and although I was sore, I was all warm and fuzzy at the same time! What a glorious and unusual sensation.
I pushed out the placenta, and it rested in a bowl in the bed with us – the cord no longer pulsing – about 40 minutes. Brandi suggested I try to pee, which terrified me, but I pounded water to fill my bladder anyway. Ananda helped me to the bathroom where I rinsed quickly, peed, and got back in bed. The girls went off to sleep, with only a minor meltdown from Adeline! Baby began nursing, and we were all warm and tucked in.
The ladies gave us our space to rest after warming some soup and bread. I was starving! They came in every few minutes to check our vitals – so sweet and attentive! They hugged us goodbye, and left us just before 5am. Sharing the intimacy of birth helped form a bond like no other. They are my sisters now, and hold a very special place in my heart!
If you asked me today about having another baby, I’d tell you ‘my heart is open … and listening’!