Saturday, 12 April 2008

The Birth of a Tree

This time five years ago, I was in labour. I'd been having strong contractions all the night before, and by morning, things seemed to be really happening.

We were camping at a rainbow gathering in our tipi in a little patch of fairy forest on our friend's land in the Chapada Diamantina, in Bahia, Brazil. The spring had dried up, so we had to walk about a kilometre to get water, and I decided, that the best thing would be to stay active during the labour, as much as possible.

So I went for a hike up to the tap to do laundry. Stopping every ten minutes or so to breathe through a contraction, I got all the laundry hand-washed. I came back to camp and made pancakes.

By evening, the contractions were coming very strong, every five minutes and I was leaking amniotic fluid. We settled in to birth a baby :)

Only it got cold, and started raining. I had bad diarrhoea and vomiting, I couldn't relax, with a posterior baby and no trained or experienced assistance.

At sunset the next day, 24 hours later, I was still having contractions every five minutes. like clockwork. And terrible back pain. When I realised it was getting dark, and therefore a full day had passed, I told myself that the next contraction would come in four minutes. then three, and two and then a baby.

So naturally, the next contraction came in four minutes. after about an hour, they were down to three minutes, but then they became irregular. It went on like that through the night.

With the dawn, I was sure the baby would come, but instead, I fell asleep, exhausted after 2 days of labour and no food due to nausea. The contractions stopped, for 3 hours; nothing.

No one around knew that this is normal, and my friends got me up from my sleep and got me walking around in the freezing morning air, trying to get the labour "started" again. Of course, it did start eventually; a very hard transition. I was in so much pain, and in the end, after a few more hours, we decided to go to the hospital - I'd been in labour for almost 60 hours.

So into the car we piled, a bunch of hippies, and started off down the bumpy dirt road to town. It was about a half hour drive, but it took much longer, what with stalling the car in the creek crossing, and stopping for contractions.

When we got just to the edge of the village, I had one strong contraction that felt different. I felt the baby rotate and descend. We stopped the car, just on the edge of the village soccer field, and, squatting in the mud and rain, I pushed out a perfect, healthy Littletree :D

She was breathing fine, and it all seemed okay, so we drove back up the hill again, hospital forgotten (well, we stopped at a friend's house for a hot shower and some mango juice on the way!)

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  1. Aww a huge happy birthday to littletree and a happy birthing anniversary to you. Ishtar

  2. What an amazing story! Happy birthday, Littletree!

  3. What an amazing experience... not surrounded by sterile and business like hospital staff, but friends and loved ones supporting you all of the way. It must have been quite a memorable experience for them too. Happy Birthday Littletree x x

  4. Oh my! 60 hours of labor!! But how polite of LT to come before you made it to the hospital! :-) Happy Birthday to her and Birthingday to you!! xoxo

  5. Amazing...I have tears in my eyes especially at the pictures. Happy 5th birthday little one!

  6. Happy Birthday LittleTree!

    I have never heard a storey like that in my life! Awesome!

  7. Oh yes!

    How absolutely joyous!!

    Birth as it should be!!

    Happy Birth Day to Little Tree and Mama.

  8. I've been reading your blog for a while now, and I want to comment here on what an amazing birth story this is! I love it. Happy birthday, Littletree!

  9. You are very lucky that you and the baby survived.
    I would have been scared to death.
    Your daughter has her father's eyes.

  10. thanks for the lovely comments, everyone :)

    I don't find our 'survival' lucky at all. Birth is a normal, natural process that is not to be feared.
    Statistically, one is more likely to suffer morbidity or mortality in the hospital.

  11. beautiful!! Happy birthday to both of you!!

  12. Happy belated Birth Day and happy birthday Littletree.... lovely!
    She probably got the hurry up with the talk of hospital :D

  13. I loved reading that. Thanks so much for sharing. The people walking down the other side of the street under the umbrella are such a neat detail in the photos.

    Happy birthday to Littletree. Five year old! :)

  14. wow, I never noticed the people walking with an umbrella before :) I guess it shows that it was raining, which you can't really see from the pic.

    Funnily enough, a few of the old village women came out to see what was going on, and they were totally unphased about the birth happening naturally right in front of their houses. what freaked them out was that I have a piercing LOL
    they were very interested in the non-cutting of the umbilical cord as well, but seemed happy with my explanation that its better for the baby to leave the placenta on.

  15. Beautiful story and photos :) And belated happy birthday to Littletree :)

  16. Awesome story! That was one close call for a hospital birth! :S
    Happy Birthday to your little (big) tree. ;)

  17. I came for a little inspiration, you did not disappoint. Thank you for sharing this. I am waiting and waiting and wanting so badly to bring this person into the world on my own terms.


Thanks for your lovely words, witty banter and entertaining discussion :)