A Poem: Conversation in a birthing bath with Ibu Robin

You can also listen to Robyn describe her birth experience in the podcast, Birth as the Power to Heal

“In this podcast, a mother describes her first birth at a hospital in New Zealand, followed by her second birth nearly 10 years later at the Bumi Sehat Clinic in Bali, Indonesia with midwife Ibu Robin Lim. In this story, we learn that when a woman gives birth in an atmosphere where she feels loved and supported, birth can be, not just a beautiful and magical event, but that it also has the power to heal.”

Conversation in a birthing bath with Ibu Robin

Written by Robyn Yudana Wellwood

I sat in a water birthing pool into the night

Flowers and oils floated on the water and a small torch light shone through the darkness

It was dark, it was dark, it was so dark

I could hear

I could hear everything for miles around me

 

I could hear the midwives talking in a low voice

Check the water temperature

It’s too warm

It should be 38 degrees only.

Dilation normal

 

I can hear the frogs outside singing in unison with my breathing

My son giving me wise words and counting in my breathing

My husband holding my hand

While I crush his fingers until they turn purple and almost break

He can feel

And then I tell him to multiply it by 10

And he’ll know how painful birth is.

 

 

I am centered

Connected to the universe around me.

You come in

Cool down the water pretty much straight away

Turn to me and we start musing between labour pain.

“Make as much noise as you like,” you say.

“I’m sure your neighbors love you,” I answer.

“Yeah, we used to have the neighbor throw stones on the roof during birthing but he did it to one of the Cok dads in here and got told off, so he never did it again.”

You smile at the memory

I want to giggle so I do

I want to yell a little bit while the pain kicks in so I do.

And then I’m overwhelmed by everything.

I just need time by myself.

“Can I have a little bit of time by myself?

You know, to have a pee?” I ask.

“Sure. It’s totally up to you what you want,” you turn to the midwives and everyone leaves

I simply cannot believe how easy it is to ask

I can’t believe I’m the master of my own birth

I can’t believe I’m alone

I’m alone

Giving birth

On an island called Bali.

I kind of smile to myself.

“What the fuck?” I wonder to myself.

I have a pee.

Then faster labour convulsions kick in.

“You OK in there?” you are calling.

Slowly you come in the door.

Suddenly the pain is so intense I think I’m going to actually rise up and scrape the ceiling with my head.

I just need that water  –

Both calming and anaesthetizing at the same time

I scramble for the water

It’s probably not the most elegant sight and thank God nobody else is there to see it

But we kind of laugh

About the amazing quality of water

During birth

How on earth

I ever got through my first birth

Without water.

 

 

Time to call in the troops.  The baby is close.

My 10 year old son counts me in

“Breathe mum, hold for 3 and breathe out.”

He’s like a rock.

He steps into big shoes as he counts me through.

I look at him

Right at him

And I know he’s becoming a beautiful man

With a wisdom beyond his years.

He looks right back at me

And keeps counting in

My breathing.

“Fully dilated, don’t push too hard,” you say.

Actually, I’d quite like to stop.

I want to stop now.

This is too much

I really can’t do this

I ask if I can change my mind

I’m hoping that it’s going to be as easy as asking everyone to leave the room

What was I thinking?

Did I really think I could do this at 40?

How truly ridiculous is this?

What was I thinking…

I start up and you laugh gently

A low, fun laugh

Like you know that I know

It’s all kind of taking the piss out of the situation to try to deal with pain

Real pain

Not just breaking your arm pain

Or smacking out a tooth pain

Really, really cut and twist in multiple, salted wounds pain and then pouring vinegar in there too and jabbing 20 more times as hard as is humanly possible.

“You’re actually there already. Just one final push…”

You gently laugh again.

“But actually I can’t.

I just can’t.

I can’t

I can’t

Look at me?

Look at the size of my vagina in comparison to the baby’s head

I’m sorry but it’s just not possible.”

Another skin tearing push comes and I yell again.

“Yeah well, millions of millions of women are with you on this one over millions of years,” you point out.

“I’m sorry I just give in,

I can’t,”

I moan.

You are laughing now, “You would be surprised how many women say the same thing

But I’m telling you,

I can see the crown of your baby’s head.

One more push.”

 

So then

So then you offer to speed it up

By pulling back some unpronounceable flap of skin that lives down there.

As you do this it’s so painful it’s like,

It’s actually like having my tongue pulled out of my mouth as hard as possible

And nailing it to the table

And we all stop that one

 

So then

So then

We wait

And just before dawn my daughter starts to arrive.

Every doula, every midwife starts a Balinese prayer

Chanting in unison

My son and husband chant too

The energy in the room jumps ten fold

I am honoured

Like I have never

Ever

In my life been honoured.

As I give the last

push

We are honoured.

My memories of pain

They float and evaporate into dust

 

My daughter arrives

In a double flip and is pulled up onto my chest.

She latches on and I feel such a highly elated sense of success

That can’t be measured in any bounded sense of success

I feel a goddess form of success

 

I feel honoured by the humanity that lies in gentle births

I feel deeply healed and changed in every way

My unforgiving world

That hard, brittle anger that the world is a horrible place for women

Floats and evaporates into dust

Because I was honoured through birth as a woman.

Thank you deeply for your patience, deep love and wonderful sense of humour Robin.

 

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