Lavendilly Story Time: The Ringing Bell

Little Garden FaerieThis is the story of my Little One’s caesarean birth. I wrote this to tell at her 4th birthday party, although I told a simplified version. My Little One sat on her birthday pillow, inside the silk rainbow circle, and I told this story with only a little bell as a prop in the story. At the end I put a rainbow necklace with a bell on it over her head. She felt so special.

THE RINGING BELL

Written by and Copyright to Jennifer McCormack, July 2014

In a little house by a creek there lived a family of fairies. There was Mumma and Daddy fairy, and Brother and Sister fairy. Mumma was a water fairy, Daddy was a wind fairy, Brother was a fire fairy and Sister was a song fairy. They were happy together, each one unique, each one interested in different things, but all living harmoniously together.

One day Mumma thought she heard the jingling of a little bell. It was only faint, but it jingled on and off all day. “Do you hear that?” she asked Daddy. Daddy couldn’t hear it at first, but after a while, if he listened carefully, he could make out the sweet faint jingling sound.

It wasn’t long before Brother and Sister could hear it too, and the sweet jingling, ringing sound grew louder every day. “I know what it is,” said Mumma Fairy, “a new little fairy is going to join our family!”

The whole family heard the jingling sound for many months. Some days it was strong, and some days it was soft. Sometimes they heard it at night, and at other times it woke them up in the morning. “Sweet Little One,” they would say, “when are you coming?”

Day after day the fairy family would make their home ready for their new Little One, and the ringing grew louder and louder! Everyone was very excited.

But one morning Mama Fairy woke up because the jingling sound wasn’t loud. It was very soft, and it didn’t ring very often. As the morning went on, the sound stopped all together. Mumma could feel her Little One in her heart, and deep inside her womb she knew her baby fairy would be coming today, but she couldn’t hear the clear ringing of her Little One’s bell at all! This worried her.

“Oh dear!” thought Mumma Fairy, “I need some help! It’s time for our baby fairy to come, but it seems to have gone away. Come little fairy, come! Wake up Little One!”

They all tried to use their talents to help their Little One come. Mumma the water fairy rocked and danced like the gentle waves of a river. Daddy the wind fairy spoke words of wisdom and bravery, encouraging Little One (and Mumma) to not be afraid. Brother the fire fairy used his fire talent to make their home warm and welcoming. Sister the song fairy sang to their Little One a song of love and joy, calling for the sound of the bell. But no bell could be heard. All was still and quiet.

They needed some more help. Daddy called a Healer Fairy to come and help them call their Little One in.

The Healer Fairy listened to Mumma’s story, and listened carefully for the bell. She put her hands on Mumma Fairy’s belly and gently called out to the Little One:

“Baby Fairy ring your bell, 

Jingle, tinkle, ring it well!

Your birthing day has begun

Come join your family, Little One”

All was still, even their house was quiet, as everyone listened carefully for the ringing, jingling sound. Still the baby fairy’s bell remained silent. The Healer Fairy told Mumma and Daddy that she would need some more help, and they would need to visit the Great Healing Hall because the magic was powerful there, where lots of healer fairies worked together.

Many fairies were already waiting at the Great Healing Hall. They were singing and chanting together, songs of love and birth and healing and the music entered the Healing Hall on sweet drifting strands. Mumma and Daddy Fairy heard their friends sing and felt strong, brave and loved. The many voices making music together was part of the healing magic. The healer fairies gathered around Mumma and Daddy and called to the Little One to ring her bell … and … after a while:

A faint, sweet jingling. There it was! They could all hear it!

The healing fairies rested their wands on Mumma Fairy’s brow and asked her “Are you ready for your Little One to come?” Mumma held Daddy’s hand. She was ready. They were all ready.  It was time and they could hardly wait.

The healing fairies rested their wands upon Mumma Fairy’s heart and asked her “Are you ready to receive your Little One with love and openness, however your Little One arrives?” Mumma Fairy was ready. Her heart was now bursting with the sound of her Little One’s bell. A soft feeling, almost like sleep swept over her as she relaxed, ready to receive.

The healing fairies rested their wands at Mumma Fairy’s womb and asked her “Are you ready to open the door, to help your Little One come through?” Mumma Fairy was ready. She put her hands on her womb and listened for the ringing, jingling bell. She could hear it and feel it growing stronger. She whispered the Healing Fairy’s special words to the Little One over and over:

“Baby Fairy ring your bell, 

Jingle, tinkle, ring it well!

Your birthing day has begun

Come join your family, Little One”

The fairies outside the Great Healing Hall kept singing and chanting. Daddy Fairy and Mumma Fairy held each other, and held their breath with anticipation. They could hardly wait to meet their Little One. The healing fairies drew a line with fairy magic across Mumma Fairy’s womb with their wands, and a door opened. From this door came a bridge of rainbow light – and a loud clear ringing sound filled the room as a little baby Rainbow fairy came through the door, lifted over the bridge of coloured light, helped by the healing fairies, landing snuggly in Mumma Fairy’s arms. Their Little One was perfectly well, perfect in every way, and slept in Mumma’s arms safe and sound, ringing gently as she breathed.

The healing fairies waved their wands again and as the door in Mumma’s womb was magically closed, the bridge of rainbow light disappeared. All was still, all was quiet, and cloaked in peace. Only the sound of singing from the fairies outside of the Great Healing Hall drifted in through the windows. Everyone smiled.

Brother and Sister Fairy were delighted to meet their sister, Little Rainbow Fairy , and they took turns holding her and talking to her. Brother Fairy warmed her and Sister Fairy sang to her.

“You silly little fairy,” crooned Mumma,” We were worried about you, and here you are, perfect in every way. If this is the way you come into our family, I can see that you will have plenty more adventures, and come out of them just fine every time.”

And do you know, that’s exactly what happened. Four years have passed, and the Little Rainbow Fairy still wakes up every day, ringing and jingling happily, finding adventure every where she looks.

* * *

She was a plannedLittle One's Birthday Ceremony. LH home birth, but it seems our Little One had something else in mind. In the end we went to hospital because our baby was very quiet and still, with a faint heart beat. It just so happened that on this same day many of my friends and community were outside the hospital attending a rally in support of the re-opening of the Gold Coast Hospital Birth Centre. They were singing and chanting together and I could hear them from my room. It gave me great comfort to know they were outside while I was inside with my husband and our two wonderful midwives, who were really looking after me. Caesarean was exactly what we were trying to avoid, but in this case I felt supported in the decision to go ahead.

In the end our Little One was perfectly fine, the little cheeky little thing. A picture of perfect baby health. We have just celebrated her fourth birthday and she has grown into a bright, cheery and chatty little thing – always ready for the adventure each day brings.

I thought that I had already processed her birth, and found myself ok with how it unfolded, despite our worry about her at the time, and my very ordinary recovery after surgery … but writing this story brought me more joy on another level, and I found a new kind of acceptance and peace with my experience. I hope, if you have experienced an unplanned cesarean, that you find some solace and beauty in my story too.

You may be interested to read more about my reflections of this experience:

A Mother Blessed – a poem about my unplanned caesarean birth (this one!)

Cold Birth: Reclaiming my Labour – my immediate reflections about this birth and my thoughts about what it was like to give birth without labour.

xx Jennifer

My Book: A Mother Blessed

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I’ve been wanting to do this for years and years! Ever since my first baby turned one, and I wrote a poem for him that my friends turned into a song – and my good friend Deirdrie Cullen took such touching and breathtaking photographs – I’ve been wanting to combine my writing and the photos into a book that celebrates birth.

I’ve had some fun playing with Blurb.com to put the book together. There are a few photo-book programs available now and I have found it MUCH better than scrapbooking! All the photos of my family are going in to photo-books now. You receive a professionally bound book and it feels so awesome to hold this in your hands and know that you created this wonderful thing. I took photos of a book that my son and his school friend made together and turned that into a book for them too. Published authors at 8 years of age! He was so proud of himself.

This book, “A Mother Blessed” contains a collection of my poetry about birth, put together with some amazing photos and images of my fibre art. You’ll have seen some of it here on this blog over the years. I think my favourite one so far is “The Wise One”. There is also (of course) “A Mother Blessed”, a poem about a birth that didn’t go the way I thought it would. The whole experience of birth, mothering and watching my children grow has been very humbling and this book is an expression of that experience.

I am so grateful to everyone who gave me information and support along the way, to help me birth well – no matter how the birth evolved in the end. So grateful that I will donate 100% of the sales from this book to Homebirth Queensland until Christmas time. It is truly a lovely gift for any mother, and if you know someone who is birthing soon, or who is still in the midst of wonder in this experience (as I am still -eight years later!) you may like to share this book with them. You can view a preview of the book, and purchase it here at this link: http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/3719062. The book is available for sale as a pdf, softcover and hardcover so there are a few available options there. Please share, and help an organisation that supports so many women to birth with wisdom and support.

Cold Birth: Reclaiming my labour

Oh yes! This is another 2:00 AM missive from Lavendilly House, and this time I am being kept company by a tiny little girl who should be asleep  … as should I … so we are wrapped in a dressing gown and I am typing with one hand, very slowly.

We really have been blessed with a rather divine little person in baby Linden. Well, partly blessed because all newborns are a blessing, and partly she is so divine because we have allowed it to happen. That is something I am proud of. All our choices during pregnancy, birth and post partum have given her the best transition into this world that we could provide, under the circumstances, and she is happily basking (and growing!) in the glow of pure love and admiration from the whole family and community. Similarly, our whole family has been receiving love and support from everywhere: offers of meals, groceries, gifts of baby things and loaned family heirlooms, offers to help clean, do school pick-ups, keep me company … the meals we have enjoyed thoroughly, and I am hoping the other offers will still be around after David goes back to work in a week’s time … that is when I’ll need them most.

For now I am cocooned in my bedroom, cradled in the support of my husband, who is really taking care of me. However I am also sore, my wound is swollen, I’m bored and frustrated that I can’t participate actively in our family life. I am not used to lying still and doing nothing, and I am starting to succumb to my emotions.

An emotional abyss can be a deep one. I can certainly see how easy it is for people who are at their emotional end to just make the decision to let go and keep falling. AH! I know you must all be thinking this sounds rather unusual of me – having such sad thoughts. Well I am in a bit of a post-birth hormonal soup right now, that is one thing, and then the healing from my caesarean is another – plus the adjustment into life with a newborn and two other young children each at their own distinct stage of development,  AND now I am beginning to grieve for my lost labour too … and with nothing else to do except lay in bed and think about things that I’d rather be doing if I were not laying in bed, it is hardly surprising that I am indulging in a bit of sadness.

I have had three different births now: a long labour (transfer to hospital and caesarean), a short labour (natural home birth) and NO LABOUR (transfer to hospital and caesarean). A caesarean without labour is a cold birth. I never realised until it happened to me, that this is the case. Rosella’s birth totally opened my whole being to the immense power behind the experience of birth. Sure it hurt like hell and frightened me into insanity, but I did it. I did it by myself and it was a rush that still stays with me. After such a birth the feelings of hurt melt away in the rush, and sanity doesn’t seem important when you are high on happy hormones. I am so glad that I have had that experience.

Even after Kaelan’s birth, one that ended in a way I hadn’t planned for, I was not upset by the caesarean, in fact on the whole it was quite a good experience, and I healed remarkably quickly, both physically and emotionally. I actually felt no pain at all after the surgery. Really! Nothing. I went home the next day, rested for two weeks and resumed life the week after. I am sure that the experience of labour, during which those healing hormones were activated, had a lot to do with it.

This time, however, I am taking longer to heal.

I know, I know! It has only been two weeks. Yes! I also know things are different now that I also have an active family with two other little ones … but it is more than that. It has been super bizarre, very surreal to just be wheeled into theatre, take the needles, be unzipped, then have my baby handed to me and zipped back up again like this sort of thing happens to me every day.

It happened the way it needed to happened, and I wouldn’t change it because this is Linden’s journey too, but I can’t seem to move past it. It will sound strange to those who have not had a baby, or who did not experience a wonderful birth, but I was really looking forward to going into labour!! I was a self-professed birthing junkie (something I think I am cured of now!) and I really was ready to leap into the arms of the Great Mother and let her carry me through to my next transformation as a mother-of-three.

When I recorded Kaelan and Rosella’s birth stories I wrote:

Every birth changes you: Kaelan’s brought me down to earth and into reality. His birth and the subsequent years of infancy taught me faith and strength and endurance. These were qualities I needed for Rosella’s birth, which sent me forth as warrior maiden. Through both I have learned about how to trust, but that seems like a life-long lesson that I need to learn again and again, although I am improving! I wonder what quality my third birth will give me?

I am not sure yet what qualities Linden’s birth has given me, but I think that is the key to this: labour is the transition from one life to a new one. By participating in the transition you are rewarded with a gift that will help you unfold in your new life – however by not participating in labour I feel like I have received a present in the post: one that I did nothing to earn and one that customs had already unwrapped before they gave it to me. Definitely I am delighted! What a surprise! But I was looking forward to doing the unwrapping and discovering myself.

So this is where I am at with my thoughts about birth right now: when I mentioned in an earlier post that I would have more processing to do, this is the start of it, and while I am bored with having to rest to heal, and frustrated with not being able to participate in family life, I am very aware that this time has been given to me to help me make this transition. I am having my labour NOW, because this is HARD! I think it is much easier to get labour over and done with BEFORE the baby arrives!!

And now, having sifted through my thoughts, and arriving at something that pleases me, I have a little one who thinks she is hungry again (she couldn’t be!). I feel much better now that I’ve realised I’m still in transition … I’ll come back to these thoughts later.

Almost a Lotus Birth!

Yesterday’s birth story post was the short version. For those who know me, you won’t be surprised to hear that I have a lot more to say about it!! I’ll probably add more in installments because it is cold out here where the computer is – and I am supposed to be in bed!

First of all – I very nearly got my Lotus Birth. I asked for that when I agreed to the cesarean, and to my surprise the obstetrician said ‘yes we can do that.’ I was so surprised I thought I didn’t hear her answer me, so I asked again in a different way and she said ‘yes’ again. Well there was a little glimmer of hope that I salvage something of my birthing dreams. It seems times have changed – when I had my first born by cesarean and we asked to keep the placenta, the nurses wrinkled their noses and said “We don’t do usually do that, it is a bio-hazard. It is dead meat. We throw it out.” But my husband insisted and it was handed to him like it was a bucket of poo. I have no idea how they would manage a lotus birth in hospital – I’ll bet there would be lots of protocol involved – and I wasn’t about to ask, just happy to accept the gift.

As it happened though, it wasn’t to be – the head surgeon thought that Linden had shown too many signs of distress and wasn’t prepared to risk anything that might lead to infection. That was disappointing, but a very sensible reason not to go ahead with it, so that was that. In the end I am glad that we didn’t lotus birth. It wouldn’t have been the same as lotus-birthing in the dreamy space created at home … and I just couldn’t imagine how I would have managed baby and placenta and my wound from the surgery all at once. I was also in a pretty foggy place with all the pain killers, so it really was nice just to be able to lie there in bed with nothing to focus on except getting some good breastfeeding going.

Breastfeeding has been a journey over the years- with each of my babies breastfeeding hasn’t been easy for me at first, and to be honest, in the last months of pregancy the thought of breastfeeding would be the only thing that I would feel tension or anxiety about. Labour? Bring it on! Breastfeeding? Proceed with caution …

Kaelan shredded my nipples through poor attachment and Rosella did the same – to the point where I would start crying half an hour BEFORE the feed, just from anticipating the pain. I was begging my midwife to let me express and bottle feed her. We discovered soon after (fortunately not much later!) that she had a tongue-tie, which is a little flap of skin that anchors the tongue to the bottom of the mouth, stopping babies from latching on and feeding correctly, and all the pain vanished as soon as that was snipped. Well, not overnight – but after my nipples recovered all was good. I breastfed both of them for 2 years no problems.

So this time I wanted to get it right – and it hasn’t been too bad. Apparently tongue-ties are a family thing, and it was not a surprise to discover that Linden had one too. That has been promptly snipped and we are feeding well, although I am still coping with my other problem: milk.

I make lots of it! Lavendilly House is the place to come if you want some raw milk! Two days ago my boobs were each as big as my own head! Um, yes, it WAS very funny … but not very comfortable. They are now at a more manageable size and Linden, needless to say, is well hydrated! Rosella is gulping down the overflow that I have to express, just so I don’t explode (or get mastitis) to the point where she is now asking me to express for her when she is thirsty! I forgot that it was only 6 months ago that she was still breastfeeding. Kaelan, not surprsingly is not interested, but is fascinated about my ‘wound’.

For him, the whole process is very curious. Baby was supposed to come from my yoni, but she came from my tummy instead. I’ve made sure they’ve both seen everything, and I’ve answered all their questions as appropriately as I can.

For now, I am enjoying my time in bed: Mornings are time to have great talks with Kaelan about this and that, and once he’s at school Rosella pops in for cuddles and a play with Linden. I love this time to sit and just be available for them. Rosella is having a few transitional/2-year-old challenges, so the more cuddles the better.

Next post is going to be about ‘bedside manners’ by medical staff. I have more than a few words to say about that!!!

Welcome home Linden :)

The little one has arrived – in a manner that quite surprised us all … the cheeky little thing!

After all these months of dreaming and writing and preparing for my second home birth, it didn’t happen. In fact I had a bit of anti-home birth … in fact I didn’t even go into labour at all!!  I knew this labour would be completely different from my other two, but I was at least expecting labour as part of the birth! But there you go – that just reinforces what I’ve known all along: you’ve got to be prepared for anything.

So what happened? My waters broke early in the morning, but with no contractions so I went back to sleep – or tried to … I was a little excited 🙂 Once I woke up I texted my midwife, then when she came over we noticed the fluid was looking a bit green, and after a moment’s thought, she recommended that we go to hospital for monitoring. Green amniotic fluid suggests meconium (baby’s first poo), and if baby has pooed in the womb then that is considered a sign of distress.

So after arranging care for the children off we went, where I met what seemed like a stream of people all intent on telling me the same thing in as many different ways as they could. We tried to start labour, but still nothing was happening, except that when I moved about baby’s heart rate dropped … which wasn’t good.

So then there was really no other choice to make: cesarean it would be. Of course I was disappointed, but I felt fully informed, I had asked the questions I wanted answers to, I had my husband with me and my support team (midwife and lovely student midwife), and down below in the street outside were about 400 women, many them my friends, rallying for the Gold Coast Birth Centre. I could hear them chanting and it felt like they were there for me! (good on you girls!!)

I took a moment to adjust my thinking and in we went. Yeah I know … I make it sound like an easy emotional process … it was something I’ve tucked away for later processing I think, but I don’t regret the birth for a moment – who wouldn’t rather have a happy, safely birthed baby?

The thing is, our little one emerged with a perfect heart rate, perfect breathing, perfect colouring, perfect little cry, perfect everything … not remotely distressed apart from the obvious shock of being pulled out into the light by strange hands.

And there she was .. another daughter! I think that was probably the biggest surprise of all! While I have never felt any ‘vibes’ at all about who might be in there, I really did feel a moment of “OH! You are a girl!” when she was presented to me – and then “OH! You have hair! And it is black!” and then she snuggled in and I was lost in baby land. My husband was so moved and he was choking on his words. All we could do was laugh and hold hands, and touch her.

She is a darling. Here she is, adored by the whole family, a little girl with a big name:

Linden Lucille Marie