The Healing Power of Love

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The HeartSpace midwives were honored to greet a very special little soul yesterday.  Baby girl Fallon joined her beautiful family after her mom worked with grace and amazing strength through labor.

Fallon has already given and received the gift of love many times over.  She is named after a person who has impacted her parents very deeply on their healing journey over the last year.  Her very existence is testament to the power of love to heal every body, every day.   Her mother’s commitment to herself and her baby through her choices surrounding Fallon’s birth have been yet another step on the road to healing mind, spirit and body.

Fallon reminds us once again why birth matters.  She is the embodiment of peace.  We have no doubt that she will continue to bring that peace and joy to her family as she grows into the ability to express the strength, compassion, and love of her namesake.  We are grateful to have met Fallon and her family as they joined the HeartSpace circle.  Thank you all!

A Birth Story From Dad’s Perspective

2am.  January 9th, 2012.  “Dale”  “Yes honey?”  “Can you fill up the birth tub?”  “Sure.”  It’s funny the things you think you will never be asked to do by your wife.  I knew that one day the little person she had carried around for months would arrive but until that day came, I had no concrete conceptualization of what the day would be like.  That is NOT my style.  I buy a board game: I read instructions.  I like projects: I know when they start and I can tell when I am done.  I run races: I know when they start, I know the route, I know when I am done.  So after filling up a birth tub at 2am on a cold January night and then having nothing happen, I didn’t know what to do next.

My wife’s a little better at improvising.  She came up with a list of things to do during the day.  We spent a few hours doing errands.  I was never so happy to be running errands.  It took my mind off the unknown.  When we returned home, it wasn’t long before my wife asked me to make dinner.  It was 3:30pm.  I knew she knew something was up.  Never mind she was having regular contractions, she wanted to have a good meal before it was too late.

There is an app for everything.  Apparently, there is an app for timing your contractions.  My wife was timing her contractions with the help of her cell phone.  She had made several calls to our midwives.  They were on their way to our house and for the second time in 24 hours, I was filling up the birth tub.  This time I knew it was for real.  There were still a lot of unknowns but I knew this was the real thing.

I left the details of my wife’s birth plan up to her.  There is no place for a man to be telling a woman what she can or can’t have when it comes to her birth.  She spent upwards of 12 hours over several days getting her birth room ready.  I helped her with hanging things on the walls and doing other “man-stuff”.  I knew that she knew what she needed to make her comfortable and make her experience special.  As the members of the birth crew arrived, consisting of midwives, doulas, friends, our other 2 children and a videographer, the setting my wife had created made an impression on them all.

I was doing my best to be out of the way and involved at the same time.  My wife had been having fairly strong, regular contractions for a few hours.  The members of her birth crew were all chosen after careful consideration.  My wife’s latent knowledge of economics helped her select these special people.  They each filled a role better than any other person could; comparative advantage in action.  Most surprisingly was the role our daughter played.  There are days when I wonder if my step-daughter will ever “get it”.  Seeing how our 9 year old played a role so vital, second only to the midwives, answered that question.

My wife was worried about how I would feel about seeing her in pain.  I knew the pain was part of the process.  I also knew that the birth process is not linear.  At one point, my wife was really struggling both physically and mentally.  Up to that point, I was not nervous or scared.  My wife made a decision to ask everyone to go into another room so she could concentrate on herself and her birth process.  Now, 15 feet away and only able to hear what was going on, my brain went to a scary place.  I was okay seeing my wife in pain.  Hearing my wife in pain was most uncomfortable.  Worst case scenarios flashed through my mind every time I heard my wife express pain.  What-if scenarios I never imagined could flash through my brain began to seem completely plausible.  So much remained unknown.

I will never forget the instant Maureen called me (and only me) aside and said that my wife had progressed to a point that she was ready to push.  So many unknowns became knowns.  I knew my wife was going to be okay.  I knew the baby was head down.  I knew the baby was ready to meet his family.  I knew Lily was going to need me to give her encouragement and strength for what lay ahead.  I knew my life was soon to be forever changed.

12:20 AM, January 10, 2012. My wife had been pushing for about 30 minutes.  I don’t think Lily noticed the midwives prepping for what they would need the instant our baby had been fully birthed.  Out of the corner of my eye I saw them getting blankets, scissors, stethoscopes, clamps and other items ready.  I was in the birth tub with my wife and with every push I knew she was getting closer to the end.  I was so impressed by her physical abilities.  I could feel her body tense up as she pushed.   She just about crushed my rib cage on more than one occasion.  I remember my wife reaching down and feeling our baby’s head.  Just a few pushes I thought and we would be face to face with our little one.

I didn’t get a glimpse of our baby until he was swooped out of the water and placed on my wife’s chest.  I was informed, rather comically, by my wife that it was a boy.  Another unknown, known.  As I peeked around my wife’s neck to get a look at him, he was already looking up at mama with a look that is now quite familiar.  I remember touching his tiny hands.  I remember kissing my wife on the cheek.  I recall her saying to him “We did it.”  They had indeed done it.  They had made me happier than I have ever been.

My wife, baby, and I eventually managed our way out of the birth tub.  I won’t forget the first time I held my little boy.  He was so calm.  He was so small.  He had black hair!!!!  He looked like mom.  He has a look that I saw the first time I held him that I still see every so often.  I bet I will see it as he grows into a man.  I know that no matter how old he gets, when I see that look, I will think back to his first hours on earth and recall with great happiness the journey he and his mother took and those first moments in my arms.

Introducing Caona, Our First HeartSpace Baby

The Birth Story

Taína was working hard to get labor going for about a week, doing everything from chiropractic to massage to prenatal yoga and acupuncture. On April 11th Taína had a midwifery appointment and after a good conversation with her midwife, decided it was time to let go and let  the baby decide when she wanted to come into the world. Taina felt a sense of relief. But she still had a chiropractic appointment, prenatal yoga class and pregnancy massage lined up for the day. As the late afternoon came, she felt a little different, but stayed in the mindset of letting go.However, a conversation with her sister that evening changed things a bit. The day before, Taína’s sister Ayana had given birth to her son Amani Angel in Binghamton, NY. The sisters were excited because Taína was also showing signs of going into labor soon. On the evening of April 11th Taína was listening to her sister tell her birth story and at one point they began to laugh very hard!  Taína thought to herself, “This laughter is going to make me go into labor”. Afterwards she fell asleep, and woke up feeling strong contractions. When she stood up, her water broke, and she knew it was time.Taína and Gaetano went up to their nest in their bedroom. Candle light from the altars lit the room as a bright half moon lit the sky. The space was serene and already full of Love.They called their birthing team: midwives Maureen and Heidi of Heartspace Midwifery, Leah, Laura and Vicky. The team arrived from various places and unique situations perfectly on time as Taína’s labor progressed into the night. The team prepared the room by filling the pool, cleansing the room with incense, and creating an attentive presence.  Each person was asked to play a special role, Leah holding the spiritual space with prayer and direct encouragement, Laura taking care of logistical needs and timing the contractions, Vicky documenting with video and photos, and of course, Heidi and Maureen spinning midwifery magic around Taina. Gaetano stayed by Taina’s side for the entire 8 hours of labor.  The only time he stepped away was when Taína asked him to play her flamenco on the guitar, helping to center her as she progressed in the labor.Taína was in the pool beginning to push when Gaetano noticed a glistening on the water and recognized it as the light of the moon reflecting into the pool. It was clear the moment was sacred. When Taina doubted herself or expressed fear the birth team encouraged her with words and touch to keep going. At one point she looked up and realized that she was completely circled in love, with Leah holding her left hand, Laura hold her right hand, Gaetano holding her shoulders, Heidi and Maureen behind her and Vicky standing close by. She felt supported enough to keep pushing in her most difficult moment.

Held by this circle, on her knees in the water, Taina gave one final push. In one fluid motion Heidi and Maureen caught the baby and passed her through Taina’s legs. Taina brought her out of the water and and onto her body. Gaetano and Taina embraced each other and Caona with deep Love and relief. Caona Assunta was born at 6:20 am as the sun rose in the sky, visible in the windows behind her. It was as if God had turned on the light, and she was here.

Gaetano cut the chord and took the baby as Taina was brought to the bed. He placed Caona on her chest and she immediately suckled on the breast. Later that morning Yabisi arrived, took his clothes off and hopped into bed with the rest of his family. Caona was home.

The Meaning of Her Name

Caona is short for Anacaona which means “Golden Flower” in Taino, the native language of Puerto Rico. It is also the name of a well known Caciqua or Taino chieftess who was known for her Areítos or poetry prayer ceremonies and died as a warrior for peace. Assunta is the name of Gaetano’s grandmother and means the Assumption of the Virgin Mary into heaven.

Gratitude
We are so thankful to all of the people that helped us to have a healthy pregnancy, labor and birth. Most importantly, we thank our midwives Maureen and Heidi for caring for us from beginning to end with so much Wisdom and Love. We are grateful to: our parents Carolyn and Mario for being our 24/7 support throughout this process; Laura, Leah and Vicky for their birth support; Betsy, Erin and Kristen of the Family Life Center for their education and physical support; and of course all of our family and friends for your Love and Prayers.
Love Taina, Gaetano, Yabisi and Caona