My “due date” was officially November 19th but Khéna knew when he would be ready. My pregnancy was completely unassisted but I was charting so I knew my dates. I had of course false labour for weeks, and with the SPD and not being able to sleep I was very tired of being pregnant. The week before he was born was full of these false starts. He twisted and turned inside of me but wasn’t engaged at all… during the day, evening and night of the 27th of November, the contractions were different though. They woke me up but they were far apart or came in spurts. I thought that it was the start… I also had a bit of mucous and I was a bit more dilated and during the night he had made his way back into the optimal LOA position and I was feeling a lot more pressure on my cervix.
So when Simon offered to stay home from work I was completely open to it. However, soon after I got up the contractions subsided again.
I felt discouraged, I felt bad that I had made Simon stay home again. I was tired of the false starts.
There was a strange atmosphere around the day however. At 7:40 am the phone rang, a good friend of ours wanting to know how we were. My mom then called. At about 2pm we all were in the living room and I decided to try to nurse Colin down for his nap and watch a bit of TV. Nursing Colin brought on a contraction and I had to go pee and Colin was squirmy and not sleepy so I sent him off to play and ran to the bathroom. While in the bathroom there was a knock at the door. Simon’s dad and grandmother stopped by on the way back from the local hospital to see Simon’s great aunt. It was a big surprise since they do not come out here often.
We all sat down and talked and the contractions kept coming at about 6-7 min intervals. Simon’s grandmother looked at me each time as she knew that something was happening, the wisdom of age and of being there herself many times, many years before. With the contractions came pressure. They were not painful per say but were uncomfortable. I could talk through them but I had to lift myself a bit off the chair with each one because of the pressure on my cervix and pelvic floor. She asked if they should leave but I didn’t want to be impolite and besides, it was probably just another false start. About 3-4 contractions later she turned to her son, Simon’s father, and said that they should better leave so that I felt free to walk around. It was just about 3:30 when they left and I walked around, sat down, went on the computer and wondered if it was the real thing and wondered if I should fill up the pool.
I decided that it would be a good idea and if ever it was just another false alarm then I would at least be comfortable in the warm water. Simon cleaned up the living room, and changed some things around and by about 5pm the water started to enter the pool. I changed position often, the pressure that came with each contraction was starting to become hard to deal with. In my head however, I was not yet sure it was it but I couldn’t wait to hop into the pool. By the time that there was enough water in the pool the hot water had run out but though it was not warm enough yet I couldn’t wait and hopped in while Simon started to boil water to heat the pool up more.
Simon gave the boys their desert, put on a movie that we had bought for the occasion, took a picture and then sat down at the computer to write this.
“The contractions have been getting stronger and stronger ever since the middle of the afternoon. I recognize the expression on Melissa’s face when she gets them; she looks far away, deep down in the far away depths of her own body & psyche. Right here and now; carpe diem; no way around it. It’s the look that means she’s really in labour now; it surely isn’t a false alarm.
She’s in the pool now, in the middle of the living room, and I closed the blinds and turned off the phones. Shut off against the world. I’m boiling pot after pot of water to make the water just right”
I was expecting the contractions to stop at that point but instead, they kept on coming. I took them on one at a time and tried to distract myself with the new movie that the boys were watching. Soon though, I couldn’t handle the noise of the movie anymore. It was distracting but I didn’t need to be distracted anymore. I needed to go inside myself at that point and I asked Simon to set the movie up downstairs. He did so and then came back with an offer to put music on and I decided that Nick Cave’s Album “Boatman’s Call” was the exact environment that I needed at the time. He also brought me a bit of skullcap which I took eagerly.
It was about 6:40 pm by then, the contractions were taking up all of my attention and I needed to change position often in the pool. Breathing though them was no longer enough and now I needed to moan and growl. I found positions that worked for a few contractions and eagerly awaited each pot of hot water that Simon brought. The water temperature was good and the water was keeping warm in the birthing pool but the extra hot water each time just felt great for the next contraction. I floated in the water, kneeled, laid on my side and just let the contractions come.
By about 7:00pm the contractions were one on top of the other. I felt like jumping out of my skin. My brain was separated into two voices: One that that was in the moment and was panicking and wanted to jump out the window and the other that knew that everything was normal and never let the other lose control. I reached inside to see how things were and if I could feel the head and was discouraged for a second when I couldn’t feel it. Then I felt something in a place that I didn’t expect and then realized that the head was right there but just not where I thought it would be, he was closer than I thought. I felt the edge of the cervix and knew that it wouldn’t be too long.
With the next contraction I tried to push a bit and it felt so good. At that moment I got a break. I was able to talk and regroup a bit. I told Simon to give Colin his bath. I let the contractions keep on coming and asked Simon to get the bed ready in case I wanted to try braving the contractions on dry land and then told Simon that I had felt the head when he passed by.
The contractions kept on coming and my moans and growls were no longer good enough and now a louder voice escaped my body at the peak of each contraction.
At 7:35 I felt the need to push a bit and when I did my water broke… I felt relief again and for a minute or two and again I was given a break. I asked Simon to pour hot water on my back. When my body went back into action it was the end, I felt out of control, a massive cramp struck the muscles in my side, my mind shifted from the contraction to the cramp. The contraction went away and I was able to change position to get rid of the cramp and then the next contraction hit. I was in control again and I felt that unmistakable need to push, waves came over my body, I knew that it was the end, I called out to Simon, each wave brought the head closer and closer, my body pushed and I helped it but it knew exactly what to do without my help. I said to tell Xavier as the head emerged. The contraction then stopped and I waited for the next while I stroked his head, the next contraction came and he stayed put while I pushed. Simon suggested to kneel but my body decided to go on all fours and he came out. As I turned back around Simon was pulling him out of the water and announced that he was a boy, we got the cord unwrapped from around his neck and waited for him to breathe. He was quiet, his body was a beautiful pink but his head was still purple. I patted his back and tried a few different positions and then a sense of calm came over me. I knew he was OK. He opened one eye a bit, looked at me, whimpered, and then closed it again. He was sleeping. I asked Simon to bring me another towel since the first towel that I had had made its way to the bottom of the pool. While he was getting the towel I felt the placenta pool up around my cervix, I gave one slight push and it just flowed out into the pool water. It was 7:45 and I was holding my third son. He was nameless but I was in love.
Simon took a few pictures while the boys met their new brother. The first words to come out of Colin’s mouth were “Baby! He’s so cute”. I asked Simon to bring me a bit of Shepherd’s Purse tincture as I couldn’t see how much blood was in the pool and then asked him to bring me the bowl for the placenta.
We wrapped our beautiful new baby up in a warm towel in his father’s arms and juggled both the baby and the bowl with the Placenta. I got out of the pool and we all went to the bedroom to welcome the new baby more comfortably. The boys welcomed him and kissed him, and then Simon went off with Xavier to give him his bath while I made a call to my mom.
We then took pictures, he nursed for his first time and we all breathed him in a little. Simon then brought the boys to the living room where Colin fell asleep within minutes. Xavier stayed up a bit longer and asked questions about the placenta and umbilical cord that was still attached, he then followed Simon into the living room and he to fell asleep.
Simon and I then spent a few minutes recapping the events of the evening and admired our third son and finally gave him his name. Khéna was not a name that we had really contemplated but it was on one of the lists that Simon had made. While looking at each name on the lists it stood out in a way that it had not before. It fit. It is a South-American name that means “little flute of the Indes” and it is pronounced “Kay-na”.
About 4 hours after he was born, we cut his cord. It was thin, though the placenta was healthy and big. We put him in a shirt and a dry warm blanket and he slept.
Khéna was born at about 7:45 pm November 28th 2006. Two days later, he was weighed in at 9lbs 8 oz, 20 ½ inches long with a 37 cm head circumference.