Friday, February 17, 2012

Raven Brings The Light

By April West © 2012

Before reading April's birth story, she asks that you take a brief moment to read a little of her son Fox's story here.



It's hard to write about the birth of my daughter without first talking about the death of my son. Our little Fox Elijah was born October 20th 2010 at 3:43 am. He was amazing and looked exactly like his father and took to nursing like a champ. We were all so in love. 7 days later our perfect little son died in his sleep. It was awful. I thought for sure I would die too, but somehow I was still living. It was really hard to be a mother who had no living children. I didn't want my child free life back. This was a time in my life that I wanted to be spending taking care of my babies and watching them grow.

4 months and 3 cycles later we conceived on our first try. I had gotten two negative pregnancy tests but still no period so I gave another one a try, not expecting much. And it was positive!!! I twirled around with the cat and called Morgan who was loading equipment for a show with his band. Not knowing if anyone was in earshot I told him in code, "I aced my test!" to which he replied "We did it, Mama!" and broke off to go around a corner and do a happy dance. We were going to keep it a secret for awhile but my mom whispered it into my dying grandfathers ear and he apparently mustered up the strength to tell everyone. I'll take it that means he was happy. His last words to me were, "Take care, Dear."

The pregnancy was healthy and we were thrilled, but were still very much grieving our son and still are today. We were able to barter with an amazing and kind traditional midwife and plan a homebirth.

It was hard times, I won't lie. For a long time I wasn't sure we would have a home to have a homebirth in. But I was so happy to be growing a sweet baby that we persevered through all the crap.

I was worried about picking another baby name so soon and then one night I had a dream. I was in a strange place and I knew there were babies there because I could feel it. There was a woman and she knew everything about this place but didn't want to tell me anything. My baby was there and she didn't want me to know, but I did. So I asked her, "What is that baby's name?" and she told me the baby was named Raven. I woke up and said to Morgan, "I think I know the baby's name, I think someone just gave it to me in my dream." He asked what it was, so I told him. "That's it," he said, and we went back to sleep. I named Fox because of my love of foxes and tricksters. I think the trickster has much subversive potential. When I woke up I asked him, "What role do ravens play in folklore?" "They are tricksters, of course." And I knew it was right.

Our "due date" came and went. I was so antsy and bored! I'd been having braxton hicks on and off for awhile. Two days later we came home from a long day. Ina May Gaskin had been in town and we were at an event in her honor until late. And then we had sex. When it was over Morgan fell asleep while I started an hour long contraction. Not even a warm bath stopped it. Excitedly, I started walking around my house in circles. Happy with every contraction in hopes that it was real labor. After about an hour of this I called our midwife. She told me to eat something and she would be over to check on me soon.

I tried waking Morgan multiple times as follows:
Me: "Morgan, wake up! I might be in labor!"
Morgan: "What?! Oh no!" and then he would fall back asleep.

Our midwife arrived. We talked and I asked what she thought was going on. "I think you are going to have your baby soon," she told me, and I preceded to call my mom and the rest of the people who were coming to the birth. Our midwife said we needed to start the tub right away so I shouted at Morgan to wake up and get started. Upon waking and hearing I was in labor he responded, "Why didn't you wake me up earlier?" which I thought was really, really funny.

Soon the house was filling with people, but I remained in my room with Morgan and our cat and occasionally my mom. Contractions came and went. I sipped rasberry leaf tea and talked with them, but wanted complete silence during my contractions. I texted my father that I was in labor. He called back a hour or so later multiple times leaving messages for me to call him back. I walked downstairs to find my mom, "Call my father and tell him to stop calling - I'm in labor and don't want to be on the phone!" I was annoyed but I also thought it was funny. My call records show this was around 5:30 am.

Soon after, I got into the tub. It felt great. I focused through the contractions. Still wanting silence. Every sound or change disrupted me and felt like an assault. Morgan and my mother took turns handing me a cool rag during contractions and taking it back when they were over. And then the contractions began getting harder. I was vocalizing and rocking back and forth through them. It was so intense, but it still felt doable. I thought I had a ways to go and they were going to get much worse. And then it felt impossible. I came to a point where I knew what I was doing was the hardest thing in the world. My midwife told me that she thought I was going to have my baby very soon. I checked myself between contractions and didn't feel a head. Then I stood up. I felt her head crowning. I reached down to feel it and my water broke in my hand. I intuitively bent over and let her move through. It didn't hurt at all. I didn't push one bit. I felt her moving through me. My midwife told me to slow down, so I tried. She had her hand by her face and my midwife tried to guide it out, but it was blocked by her other arm crossed over it at the elbow. She reached inside and untangled her arms. I could feel that too. And then she came out all of the way. 6:43am. As soon as she was out I turned around. Bringing my leg over the cord and grabbing my daughter and bringing her to my chest. Her arms were straight up. She had the most vernix anyone in attendence had ever seen. I had to peel it off so she could open her eyes. Morgan got into the tub with us. I stood up and delivered the placenta into a bowl. We marveled at our girl. She looked so much like her brother but with a smaller mouth and nose. Same flared nostrils and full clara bow lips, but smaller.

It was beautiful and amazing. It was the kind of birth I had read about, but didn't think I'd ever have. About 6 hours between the first contraction and the birth, walking around the house and chatting until the last hour. She opened her dark eyes and looked at us so serious and intense. She was the exact same weight and length as her brother: 8 pounds, 4 ounces, 20 3/4 inches. I never needed to ice my bottom or use the herbal compresses that were made. I felt great. We are so happy that she is here! We love her so, so much. In attendance were: My partner Morgan, our midwife, Rebecca Polston, two other assisting midwives, my mother, my friend Jill, our doula and our cat. Thank you to everyone who helped us along the way!



Editor's Note: April did not ask for any help in her new journey with her daughter, but as she mentioned in her birth story, there were times when she did not know if she'd even have a house to bring her baby into. Times have been really tough on April, Morgan and their family, and we would truly love to help them out, just a little, if we are able. If you would like to give this sweet momma a small "Congratulations!" gift, it would be put to very good use, and will truly touch their lives in meaningful ways. You can use this link to do so. And, on her behalf, thank you. ❤



8 comments:

  1. Fox was so blessed to have you as his momma, April. And now Raven is going to grow up with the best family she could have selected! What a beautiful birth story. Thank you for sharing it with us. ❤

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  2. Oh Congratulations! I remember when you lost your sweet little Fox, my heart ached for you and your husband. I didn't know you were expecting again! And her name is just beautiful. Welcome to the world sweet baby Raven!
    -Nicole

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  3. I've avoided reading Fox's story until now. It is so difficult for me to even read about the loss of a child.. I truly cannot imagine having to go through that. But then I read this story. Her birth weight/height gave me the chills. I'm sure your daughter will never replace your son, but I hope she fills your lives with so much love.

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  4. My first thought on seeing their sweet after photos was about all that vernix. Wow!

    Fox and Raven, I love the synchronicity with their names. So sweet! I'm sure she will hear the story of her brother in her life and carry his memory with her.

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  5. Congrats momma and daddy! Your little girl has a guardian angel watching over her.

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  6. I remember reading about Fox. <3 I'm so happy that Raven has come to fill your empty arms. <3

    On a side note: When I read the title for the blog, I thought the baby's name was: "Raven Brings The Light"... I thought to myself, "What a kick-ass Native name!!" (Reminded me of Moses Brings Plenty, who is a Native model.) But, then I read more and saw that the middle name is Audrey... which I like very well too. :)
    Congrats to you all!! Blessings!!

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  7. What a beautiful story. I have too have an angel son (stillborn), then had boy girl twins. My daughter's name is also Raven. My twins are 10 now, I hope your Raven brings you as much love, joy and adventure as mine. Congratulations. I am sure Fox is smiling down on you all.

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