These are my first thoughts put to paper with a beautifully-perfect 7-pound-and-some-ounces baby attached to me, sucking at my breast. As I sleepily search for words to write to accompany the photographs I took last week when the entire family was in town to meet Sequoia, my sweet 11 day old son, I can not help but pause frequently and stare at the perfection feeding from my body’s milk. Every little sound makes my heart melt. Every movement a source of pride to my soul. Every inhale and exhale a source of peace for me. I feel so beyond blessed.
We had all been anxiously waiting: Five days had to pass beyond his supposed due-date before he began his grand entrance! My mother and sister had flown in to help Alok and me, and they began to worry he wouldn’t come before they had to return home, a disappointing proposition, but we can’t time such arrivals, can we? Hundreds of people were praying and giving me amazing herbal remedies to get my cervix to efface and to help contractions begin. I even danced at 10 months and four days bulging at my own Friday night dance class that was being subbed by my dear friend. It was juicy! I gently danced with my enormous belly and at the end of class I asked all the dancers and drummers to encircle me and Baby to send inviting energy to my Boy. I asked the group to hold in their mind’s eye one thing that they absolutely loved about this Planet. Finally, I asked them to tell him it’s safe out here and that he was surrounded by love. Would you believe it, he listened: that very night, I went into gentle labor. With grace, my son Sequoia was born 2 days later on 2.12.12 at 3:49pm on a peaceful and perfect Sonoran desert Sunday…
Sunday morning my contractions were 8 minutes apart and quite startling to say the least. I made no rush to get to the birth center. I showered for the last time with my endearing and enormously ripe belly, climbed into a white dress, put on my handmade jade earrings and asked my mom to make breakfast. In between contractions, I ate local eggs with local spinach scrambled into deliciousness. I sipped perfect coffee. I lit some candles. I danced. And in my own time, At 10am, I told Alok that I was indeed ready to go to the birth center.
There were no cars on the road. The sun was shinning and the air was cool. On the ride, Alok and I discussed our baby’s name and laughed about how strangely perfect the day was. I gripped the leather seats during contractions as they increased in intensity. Auspiciously, we calmly arrived at the birth center just as another baby was being born! We were shown to our sweet, private room which had a four-post wooden queen-sized bed and a cavernous birth tub, put on soft music, lit candles again and took out my drum from the Taos Pueblo. The midwife came in, checked me and supportively told me I was already 6cm dilated! I danced again.
I moved about the room in an improvised choreography of positions. No machines were attached to me and only my family was around plus my dear friend Kacey, the midwife and the nurse. Alok and I even went for a stroll outside in the middle of my labor! I squatted on the bed, danced on the floor, got in and out of the tub’s warm water. As the contractions got more intense, my sensitive and gorgeous partner Alok guided me through affirmations: ”Say it, Jade: Tell me you can DO THIS!” he would compassionately command and I would repeat. When my wails would ascend to the sky, he helped guide them back to a low, belly rumble. He held out his arms for me to grasp and cried when I cried. He reminded me how strong I am, how beautiful this journey was.
I began to become so utterly exhausted as I entered active labor. Thoughts of emergency birth stories that I had heard over the last 10 months whirled in my head and fear knocked at the door to my heart: I wondered if I could do it without some sort of intervention. The sensation of the contractions were like nothing else I had ever experienced and I still can not find words to describe them. I had been in labor for 4 hours at the birth center when the midwife checked me again: I had progressed to 8cm dilated! The contractions intensified yet again signaling transition and ‘bearing down’. I squatted on the edge of the bed, I lay on my side with my left leg up and my foot pressing into Alok’s arm. I was overtaken by a snake-like undulation and a deep uncontrollable urge to expel my bowels. Sequoia’s head had begun to crown!
I looked at Alok and without words we knew we should get back into the water for this dance’s finale. We climbed into the tub and Alok got behind me in the water. My family circled us and were “ohmmmm”-ing to help my wailing stay low. My water, intact until now, finally broke and with the very next contraction, Sequoia Narayan Appadurai danced his way into this world with one final undulation of my uterus. Magic. He came out of the water in a flash and was crying immediately. As soon as Sequoia was put onto my chest, he lifted his sweet newborn head and looked me right in the eye, silently choosing to connect visually with his mother. His head was perfectly round, his eyes were a deep sea blue and he had soft night-black hair all over his head. He was perfect. My life has not been the same since that moment. I have become quiet and am at a loss for words. My reclusiveness has multiplied and I spend my days staring at this little creature that did not exist physically 11 months ago. My passion is now feeding him, smelling him, asking him about the mystical magic of being innately inter-connected to that which I cannot see….
Beautiful friends Tara and Jaimie took my placenta, dried it and made pills with it for me to take as a post pardom herbal remedy. I take them every day. I am amazed, still, by the outpouring of love and support I have been gifted thru this entire pregnancy and birth experience. I am not sure how I got so blessed. I am not sure when I became so free. I do know, however, that without all the hundreds of emails, without the $5000 that was raised by my community for Sequoia and I’s first month together, I could not do this. It take a village: to raise a child AND to support new parents… Thank you, My Sweet Village…
And so now as I finish up these words, he has fallen asleep on my lap. I am in tremendous awe of my body: innately creating and birthing life all by herself and now producing food for this new two legged. My female body gave birth to a perfect male human and I finally understand: Goddesses REALLY ARE everywhere… I ask you, dear reader, will you go hug a mother today and honor her…
Here is a series of photographs we took last week when Alok’s dad, his dad’s beautiful wife and my family, aka “Sequoia’s Maidens” were in town. Everyone has left now and it’s just the three of us plus Guapo, my 12 year old Golden retriever. It’s quiet in our beautiful home in the Barrio Metalico. The Desert Spring light is flooding in form the south glass door. Our gardens are coming to life, our rainwater cistern is full. The only music is Sequoia’s ocasional cry when he wants more milk…. We are beyond blessed.