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Esme's Birth

As I begin your birth story, I am taken back, I lose my breath when I think of your entrance. 

It was big. 

Bigger than I could have imagined it to be. I was fully in two worlds at the same time. Saying goodbye to the version of myself I knew so well, to step into the version of myself I have always envisioned.

On 1/28/2024, your due date - your dad, August, and I meandered around the house, doing last minute things, as we do. We hung art, I played your birth playlist, I went for my three mile walk, solo this time, looking at the sky, thinking about the intensity I was about to face, whenever you decided your time was right. 

The previous days were mentally challenging. My mind and body were being asked to trust the process that you had planned. I gave myself over to the universe, knowing there was a plan that I was never aware of, and that it was good, whole, and magical. The universe was aspiring for our own good. We were supported. 

I went for a drive with your brother on the evening of the 28th, the same drive I went on when he was in my belly, the day before he was born. He looked up at the sky, and pointed out the stars, “look, stars, mama” and together we felt small under the big vast darkness that is night. 

On the 29th I woke up after a wonderful night's rest - maybe the best I had had all pregnancy. I made breakfast, and had loose stools - a telltale sign for me that labor is near. Period like cramps began in the morning, but I didn’t give them much attention, as they were gentle and I could do my daily things through them. I did laundry, your brother and I tidied up the house, I continued to snack, and eventually made our way to getting dressed, and into the car. Our mission was birth day cake, and goodness you know we take this seriously. Your flavor was meditated on for days, and we settled on Tulie’s chocolate cake with salted caramel frosting. Two shop visits later and we had secured the flavor August and I had carefully chosen. We intentionally placed your cake on the passenger side floor, and made our way to our next stop - our secret spot - a magical little sanctuary up Millcreek canyon - that August and I visited often while you were growing inside. There was a lot of snow, and we carefully made our way to the river, throwing in rocks, looking up at the sun, and down at the flowing water. I looked at your brother, and knew that something big was happening soon. I truly wasn’t sure how soon. I looked at the sun, knowing I would need its power - and the water, understanding that I would have to flow as easily as it does, rebounding against rocks and sticks, finding its way beautifully, gracefully. As we were walking away from the river, a sweet woman shouted, “Are you ok? If you need anything, just shout!” She must have seen a look on my face, and just knew. We made our way back to the car, and started our way home. 

I started dinner - I knew we would have to eat - easy chicken and sweet potatoes. Put those in the oven. And decided to lay down for a minute. August was playing with his doctor kit on the floor, and started taking care of me, as he had seen our midwives so many times, listening to my belly. He got out the portable ultrasound toy, and checked my belly, I asked what was in there, he said “big woo woo”. It was very funny! I laughed, rested for a moment. My body and mind were slowing down, I was diving internally. 

I got up to get dinner out of the oven. August was at his stool next to the island, I took the pan out of the oven, stood up, leaned against the island for a second to catch my breath, and my water broke. It was a big gush - I immediately said “My water broke” . I grabbed my phone, texted dad, told him “Come home now, my water broke.” (4:49 pm) I made my way to the bathtub to take off my pants. I texted Sheryl and Nicole, “My water just broke, I’m losing my mucus plug as I text you.” I had 2-3 contractions in the tub, they were one on top of the other. I quickly put on my laboring bra, pulled back my hair, looked in the mirror at myself and thought “this is going to happen really fast” - I knew I was about to do something very big. I had talked to dad on the phone, thank goodness he was on his way home. He arrived, and got things set up, lighting candles, putting Belle downstairs, making sure I had water to drink, he fed me applesauce, and helped me with contractions - stood by my side, told me words I needed to hear “You got this” “You’re doing so well” “August, the baby is coming” “We love you mama”. I could hear August running around the house - sheer excitement! The baby was coming! “Baby coming” he shouted, as he pranced from room to room. Sheryl called me prior to dad getting home, and said she was on her way - she just needed to hear me have one contraction and knew she needed to hurry. At 5:25 pm, Nicole arrived. She was the best first person to be there, she set up for photos, and her presence was calming and assuring. 

I labored in the tub, the water was warm and nurturing. I was at ease in between contractions. There were many emotions. Happy, excited, terrified of the intensity that was to come, peace in my ability to ground. Contractions were getting more and more intense, and were getting closer together. I remember holding the side of the tub, letting my body float in the water, breathing deeply. Making ohhhhh sounds. Dad and August came to the side of the tub, held my hand, told me I was doing wonderfully, that I was strong. I could feel you were descending fast. I allowed myself to relax between contractions. Contractions were strong, yet manageable in the water. I looked up at the sky, summoning the strength I had prepared us for. Dad stayed next to us the whole time, and August came in and out of the bathroom, he welcomed the birth workers as they arrived, telling them that “baby is coming!”. 

Sheryl arrived at 5:30 pm, and looked me in the eyes, told me everything looked great, and helped me cool down the tub water just a smidge. Things picked up quickly. Our birth playlist was playing, and I allowed the songs to carry me. I came to my knees in the tub eventually. I felt I could start to move you down the birth canal better that way. I passed some stool. I was in control of my pushes this time - fully aware of what I was doing. With every contraction, I slowly began to gently push, knowing that this was happening quickly, yet in disbelief at the same time. I kept looking around at the women there, asking “is this really happening?” Nicole, Sheryl, Jane, Lauren, Rachel, and Savanah were all there to support us. Seeing Rachel and Lauren in the doorway made all of the difference to me. Their presence was calming, they believed fully in us (everyone did - but them especially), and recognized us in our power (6:00 pm). 

I tried to get comfortable enough to continue moving you down, I went from on my shins, to hovering, to on my shins (6:14 pm). You descended quickly, and all of a sudden there was a ring of fire.  I looked at your dad, and the women attending and said “I don’t want to do this” (6:29 pm) - I knew the most intense part was right around the corner - this was the way I’ve always imagined you being born, at home, surrounded by love and support. I was afraid of the intensity of it all, I knew how big it was, how transformative and alive I would feel. I knew how big I was, how life-changing my power was, and yet I was afraid of it at the same time. Your dad said “You can do this” - Nicole said “Come on Lauren, you’re doing it” - Rachel and Lauren said “Yes you do, Yes you can”. I closed my eyes, tears flowing. I knew I could, and I wanted to. I made the most primal noise, from the depths of my being, I connected to the strength of your great grandmother, as she was with me during your birth, a beam of light from the heavens, connected to my forehead. I beard down, and so beautifully, in my power, birthed your head. It was bliss, ecstasy, elation. My body showered in a euphoria I had never experienced before. Your cord was wrapped around your neck three times, and Sheryl told me I needed to push. I took a moment, gathering the delight, let myself sit in it for another moment, beared down a second time, and your body was born. Your dad caught you, all 7 pounds, 5 ounces of you (6:35 pm). You cried immediately. Your cord was also around your body once. I swiftly reached for your from your dad, and held you, rotated you one direction, and Sheryl unwrapped your cord in the opposite direction. It was a quick birth, you needed one bulb suction, I reached for you from Sheryl, held you in my hands, and smiled at you - cheek to cheek - I was (and always will be) so proud of you. For that time it was just you and I. There you were. You were and are made of moonbeams. My girl. My Esme. 

I had a little gush of blood in the tub, and was moved out of the tub, and slowly made our way to our bed. I laid down, and was given pitocin in my leg for the bleeding. I was told that since birth was so quick, I was hemorrhaging a little, and that was normal. After I birthed the placenta, I was given misoprostol, as I was still bleeding a little bit. Jane massaged the arch of my feet as I birthed the placenta. She saw me in all of my effort right then, and I will never forget it. The placenta was birthed, everything looked great. You latched at 7:14 pm. 

I held you up, looked at your dad, as he explained, “It’s a girl!” I broke down into tears. I had a gut feeling. Your pregnancy was different from your brothers. I had done much internal work with you in utero. I just felt you and I had a story to write together - as mother and daughter.

Your dad and brother cut the cord together. It was very special. I was provided an IV bag, to help with blood loss, and the medication. Your vitals were wonderful, and had an APGAR of 10 at 3 minutes after birth. I didn’t need any sutures. We did a beautifully, perfect job! I couldn’t have asked for more. We were tucked in after a meal. I looked at your dad and said “I can't believe I just did that. I'm so glad we were able to do this at home". I was so grateful he trusted the process of birth. I am so grateful I knew we could do it this way, the way I always knew you would be born.

In the days after your birth, I was in awe of the bliss I had experienced. Your birth was so intense, so fast. I was in two worlds at once, able to communicate clearly to the people in the room, and yet dive into a third dimension at the same time. It wasn’t until I let myself fully cross over, no longer on this plane any longer, that I connected to the blissful ecstasy that was you being born. I felt completely in my power, held, and deeply loved. I felt cherished by your dad and brother. I remember looking at the heavens while you left my body and felt like a phoenix rising. 

Your birth reawakened me to my strength, my knowing.

You are here to share your magic, your strength, and deep understanding with the world. Never forget the symbol of illumination that you are to all. 

I love you, with all of my being. You are our beloved. 

Welcome, Esme Antoinette Radcliffe. May you always know your power.

Photos by: Nicole Hamic

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