The Touch of Life

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The Birth Story of Beckham:

Wendy is one of my closest and dearest friends. Her birth was one of the most powerful experiences of my life. I was so honored to be asked to film. So this is my story as a friend and not professional.

I also encourage you to read Wendy's own account of the experience

Beckham's Story
In the quiet early morning of September 16th, I got a call from Laurel to let me know Wendy was in labor. I quickly got up, gathered the food (I catered like it was a party!) and drove to Wendy’s home. It’s amazing how fast you can get through town at 2 am. The early morning hours of labor were fun. We laughed and ate and enjoyed Wendy’s company. Wendy was energetic and downright gorgeous!

At around 5 am, we all made little blanket nests around the house and settled down for some rest. I didn’t sleep a wink! So after about an hour of this silly rest business, I went into Wendy’s room and crawled into bed next to her where Laurel had been. I stroked Wendy’s hair, spoke to her and held her hand during surges. Her body had given her a break to sleep, but she was still contracting. She drifted in and out of sleep as the house began to awake and bustle with activity. Her kids were beyond delighted to find the table full of goodies and the 36 different kinds of candy bars and junk food I had brought. They don’t normally get these things, so they looked at the table with great reverence and amazement. I invited them to have a treat, but they insisted on eating something healthy before indulging. (Such good kids!) So after eating one grape and an almond, Zoe helped herself to the BBQ chips to top off her breakfast.

During the day Wendy used the birth ball, dancing, the toilet, the arms of Dave, the bed and the birth tub.

There was a time when Wendy wanted not to be touched. We sat around in a circle watching and loving Wendy from what felt like so far away. Richelle (her midwife) began singing a song and we all joined in. We sang in rounds and in harmony. Well, they sang. Tears were streaming down my face, and I was struggling to keep my camera focused through the tears.

I have never seen such an incredible father. I am going to attempt to explain the magic that happened. Wendy had so much support from friends, family, doulas and midwives that it may have seemed easy for Dave to sit back and let others support his wife. No no no. He did not. To process all of the emotions Wendy was feeling (processing her past traumatic births and other pain, and the pain and exhaustion of this birth), took an immense amount of energy. The women surrounded Wendy. We touched her, kissed her, massaged her, and our tears wetted her shoulders as we held her through her surges. We pushed her to heal, to willingly surrender to her body and kept her safe and comfortable so she could work. The more we gave her of our strength, the more Dave stood as her rock. He whispered in her ear and delicately kissed her ear. He supported all of her weight as she leaned on him and gave everything she had to the surges. He never left her side and was completely present. Wendy couldn’t have done what she did without the support from both sides.

I was there with her the entire day. I was in the group of women surrounding her. I took breaks only to take the shots you will see in her film. Wendy’s labor became my own journey as well. There was a time in the mid-afternoon when I held Wendy’s face gently and stroked her hair. I was only inches from her beautiful eyes as I whispered to her things that I knew she needed to hear. I told her how powerful she was. How gorgeous she was. I told her how from the depths of my soul I wanted to take some of her pain. I literally tried to take on her pain. My head and heart felt like they were exploding as I tried to physically absorb her pain. I held her as tight as I could as hot tears streamed down our faces pressed together. Despite my love, words and tears, she was utterly alone. No one could save her.

My heart ached as I told her this. “You’re alone, Wendy. You’ll never be more alone than you are now. Only you can do this.” She found her power while in my arms and became a birthing warrior. No longer a victim of the pain of the present and trauma of the past, she rose up and told her body and the labor to be done. Done.

I put on her birth song and she sang and lunged and danced and held Dave and pushed and opened and pushed…

…and Beckham…. came! When Beckham was crowning, the midwife could tell he was distressed. And as he was born, his cord snapped.

he cheers and giggles of excitement gave way to a stressed silence as the midwife immediately started resuscitation right on Wendy’s chest to assist him in breathing. The cord was too short and had snapped. It pulled the placenta from the uterine wall as he was born. While I filmed this precious new life struggling to take his first breath, the strength and power of his daddy surrounded him. Dave spoke to his son. Told him how much he loved him and told him to breathe. The first time his eyes fluttered open, Dave’s sobs of relief were the only sound to be heard.

Wendy hemorrhaged badly as a result of the placental detaching too early. She lay on the couch coming in and out of consciousness but doing everything she could to stay alert for Beckham. As a result of the resuscitation, air had been pushed into his digestive system and he was very uncomfortable. They took him to the hospital to check him, and they confirmed what we already knew. He had some fluid in his lungs and air in his digestive system. They said he was fine, but they wanted to monitor him in the hospital overnight. In this situation, Wendy would not have been able to be admitted with him. Despite her exhaustion and blood loss, she stayed awake all night and held, nursed and soothed her screaming baby.

After being awake with her for 24 hours, I went home and struggled to sleep.

This is a film unlike any other I have ever done nor expect to do. Wendy sacrificed everything save her life for her little boy. She allowed her body to sob and rock as she worked through her past pain and cried in our arms as her wounds slowly healed. She surrendered completely to the waves of power that took her breath away and threw her to her knees. She allowed us the honor of supporting her and loving her so deeply I never thought possible. The intimacy between her and Dave was so sacred and beautiful, I almost dared not film it.

I always try to do my best, but this film comes from deeper in my heart than I ever thought I would go. Wendy, I love you. I’m so proud of you. And I will never ever forget your journey.
~Sarah, owner TOL