Tuesday, January 1

A Tantric Birth Story

Baby Devin Echo McClure was born 7 Lbs. 12. Oz. 21 inches long on 1/13/07

It's impossible to describe a birth contraction to someone who's never had one. The closest thing I could compare it to is an orgasm, except instead of producing pleasure, the sensation is anywhere between a light fluttering and an excruciating seizure that lasts from 20 seconds to a couple of minutes. And then it's gone. The pressure disappears and it's like, what the hell just happened? My first contractions came before winter solstice and continued inconsistently for over a month. We called them "surges" and had many sleepless nights of "practice" labor. When I was nearly 43 weeks pregnant the midwife at the birthcenter encouraged us to consider natural methods of induction, so that she wouldn't have to transfer us to the hospital where the mainstream medical protocol is to administer heavy pharmaceuticals or surgery to late term women. But the night before my scheduled acupuncture appointment, I had a lucid and disturbing dream: Someone was trying to pierce my nipple and the baby kicked so hard you could see it's little leg kicking at the walls of my womb, from the inside. When lying on the treatment table, I re-told my dream to my acupuncturist, Jess, and she agreed "this kid does not want to be rushed." So instead of inducing, she referred me to a homebirth midwife who'd allow me to wait until the baby was ready. Michael and I had about 3 days to turn our home into a free standing birth center complete with plastic sheets, rubber gloves and a warm hot tub.
On Friday Jan. 12th 2007 we finally called Jess to come and hang out with us while I labored on the couch. When Jess arrived she informed us that it was a record-breaking cold winter night and decided to drive back home to retrieve extra space heaters. When Michael plugged them into the wall, they overwhelmed our old circuitry and caused power outages. I lay on my back clenching my fists and counting my breaths while Michael rushed around the house flipping power switches and hanging blankets over doorways for extra insulation. I went thru my 'hypnobirthing" script by visualizing a smooth easy 3-hour birth. But the surges came like painful pulses from outer space. The sensation was otherworldly, and when they were consistently 3 minutes apart for over 2 hours we called the midwife. By the time the birth team arrived, I was spontaneously chanting Om with every exhalation, and when that got old, I used other mantras like Open, Om Mani Pad Me Hum, and Sat Nam.
I labored on the couch, the toilet, the hot tub, but according to the midwifes, the anterior lip of my cervix still had to melt away before I could push. I wanted relief, I wanted to run, I wanted drugs, I wanted to chew on a nearby tree-trunk. Finally, my midwife followed me to the bathroom to have a chat...births usually stalls because of fear, she asked, "What are you afraid of?" I searched my soul and told her that I felt like an animal. My pain-body was so overwhelming I couldn't access my spiritual guidance. She asked me what I needed: to chant, to dance, to read scripture? Perhaps I have a picture of a guru or some other spiritual symbol that would help me. But a tantrikas strength comes from within, and I knew only direct experience was going get me through this. I kneeled down off the toilet, took her hands in mine and prayed. "I'm ready now," I said, then marched into my bedroom to puke my guts out.
When I opened my eyes, I saw the divine looking back at me. There were five goddesses in the room in addition to Michael, and with each surge they chanted: Down, Down, Down Devin Down. They were a chorus of temple priestesses while Michael's deep voice anchored me as it calmly coached me to breath down through my yoni. I was high from the endorphins, serotonin and oxytocin. I was high on Love. Michael said my eyes were big and wild like a feral cat with a bird in her mouth. Each surge came like a transcendent wave of light. I followed my inhalation up, out my forehead and used tantric cobra breath to bring my awareness back down to my yoni. I left my body. My mission: to stretch out into the world of spirit and bring my son safely down into the world of form. I changed positions from spread eagle on my side, to squatting, to the birthing chair, to slow dancing, to straddling Michael's lap.
After two hours of these gymnastics, when Devin's maleable head started to crown, I squatted against Jess's knees so that Michael would be free to catch him. The last thought that went through my mind before breathing Devin out was, I'm going to bring down Michael's son. I heard someone say "Your baby is here." And other excited voices celebrating as if they were at the end of a long tunnel. "Slow. Be Careful. He's cord-wrapped." I could hear the midwife coaching Michael on how to unwrap the cord--twice around his neck and once around his abdomen. Then somebody placed him on my belly. I heard him sneeze, he coughed out the amniotic fluid and then cried. My baby was crying. I looked around the room and found eyes, but otherwise I only saw little points of light.
I looked down and made out the back of my baby's head. His hair seemed sticky and black. "Can you turn him so I can look into his eyes?" I asked. And Michael gently rotated his little body. As soon as he looked up, he latched on to my breast and started sucking. Whoa. Now I could see again. His sucking pulled me back into my body. I was holding his head to my breast and experiencing his intense thirst for life. My baby boy is born. I looked at Michael and felt the most amazing feeling of all: the placenta started slipping slowly down my womb, and softly out between my legs. It felt divine, like God was licking me clean.
In that moment, all the pain was washed away, and I was suspended in pleasure. The birth was complete. After the Midwives inspected the afterbirth, I asked for privacy so my new family could have a sacred moment of communion before we cut the cord. Thus, after 21 hours of laboring on the coldest night of the year, Devin Echo McClure was born. Kamala Devi is the author of Don't Drink the Punch if you're interested in purchasing your copy go to: www.Partnerplayshop.com