A Birth Story
One year ago today I had the most profound experience of my life yet. My husband and I welcomed our third child on our terms. You can call it many ways, a homebirth, a water birth, a birth with power from within – but when it comes down to the basics, we birthed our third child the way we wanted to, without rules, regulations, excessive monitoring or instilled fear of our choices. WE took charge of this process and the result was magical.
It was such a profound experience that for a long time it was hard for me to put it into words entirely. I didn’t just want to call it a home birth. When I became pregnant I took charge of my life, my body, and my pregnancy. I made all the decisions about my body, I consulted a doctor when I needed, and decided to opt out of testing that I didn’t feel appropriate. Upon my own research we decided to tell the people who would lend encouragement and didn’t give space to other people’s fear about the process of birth.
Our Birth Story
If it weren’t for reading several birth stories that women shared from around the world I am sure that I wouldn’t have been able to take this journey to a powerful birth experience that made me feel in charge. So first Thank you, Danke, Mahalo to all women sharing their birth experiences in writing, video, and imaging all over the web and in person. Your words, no matter if they are of joy, fear, rage, birth rape or the unimaginable experience, are heard and give powerful direction to women all over world reclaiming their birth right.
I wanted to touch on a few things leading up to our birth like my model of care, self-care practices, intuition and the weeks leading up to the birth as I think that the combination of all these things allowed me to birth our baby the way we did. Through my research I noticed that with every birth the pregnant woman has a story to tell that unfolds alongside pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum period. I hope you have time to read everything, but if you don’t switch to the headline BIRTH STORY.
The combination of a supportive midwife, gynecologist, birth community, and trusting myself allowed me to become very intuitive about my own body and the baby growing inside of me. So yes, I knew that today was the day.
This morning like many of the other mornings that week started slow and full of positive vibes. Four weeks ago this was very different. We went through a lot of transitions with my daughter and as a couple during these last weeks. It was calming for me to talk to my midwife about these shifts. She often witnesses children’s behavior changing before the birth of a new sibling. My husband and I used the last weeks to talk a lot about the set up of my postpartum period, which was very important for me. I wanted things to go smoothly with support from our community and relied on his help around the house to be able to rest. After my mother blessing on November 5th, many things fell into place and we found ourselves in a very strong family set up. I started to withdraw myself a lot from the outside world and spent a lot of days at home nesting, sewing, or taking nature walks while listening to my birth music and affirmations.
Five days before our son’s birth my husband and I enjoyed a 3 hour visit to the spa/sauna and much needed one-on-one time after a argument the night before. Looking back I can’t imagine spending this last week without my sauna practice which came so natural and normal to me this pregnancy. We had time to connect without the children and were able to let go of many things during our time in the water and the spa.
Spending time in the sauna was self-care for me but also letting go (sweating out) of negative vibes I didn’t want to have on my mind. Three days later our entire family again went swimming and enjoyed our favorite element. On this very sunday mornings we all slept in past 8 and made a nourishing breakfast. I was in awe of my desire to be up and make. I made a stir fry vegetable breakfast with fresh rainbow chard and eggs while my husband and children stayed busy around the house. Later I made a post natal body scrub, post natal nut bars, and a labor aid drink all from a book about the “first forty days” postpartum. Looking back at my other births my making and intuitive preparations have always been a part of my start of labor. By midday and after I mopped the living room we decided to go or a walk at a nearby park. Upon our return…
I lit the very candles that I lighted every night in the weeks leading up to that day. We moved the large rocking chair in the living room to set up our birth pool. I called my midwife to tell her that my contractions were five minutes apart and she said she would be there in 45 minutes. I trusted my ability to birth and knew that there was some time. Both of my previous children came fairly quickly with me not really feeling contractions until they were 5 minutes apart. I even went to see my midwife in Hawaii and laughed when she told me I was 8 centimeters and I spoke through contractions. My wish this time was to take it slow, say goodbye to my pregnancy slowly and have an intuitive birth appreciating and listening to my body birthing our baby.
When my midwife arrived my husband started filling the birth pool and we spoke a little bit. I sent a text message to my friend Danielle who hosted my mother blessing and she let my other five friends know to light their birth candles. 2 weeks ago we held a blessing way to send support and strength on my last weeks of pregnancy and birth. This blessing empowered me in my ability to birth, it strengthened me as a woman and showed me that the very women that were in the circle under the tree’s would be there for me any time I needed them. My friend made candles for my close circle that attended and Danielle sent them a message to light their candle because labour was starting. I felt their presence that night and knew that the very women who influenced me positively during my pregnancy and blessing looked at their candles and thought of me and my family.
I felt things were moving along. In my journal I wrote that the first stronger contractions at home felt “magical”. They did!!! I remember standing beside our large heater, listening to a slow song called “Free” and crying when I felt some of the stronger contractions. The music said “what are you going to take when you walk from me? What are you going to make of your world to be? What are you gonna sing with your harmony? Learn to be yourself and you always will be -FREE.” Being free was the feeling I had that night. Within myself but also with my baby. Lets be free! Lets move the way we want to and let our intuitive nature guide the way.
I was standing up at all times during my contractions and felt my babies head slowly move down and opening. The raw feeling of my baby descending, the cervix opening – I felt it. I felt my babies moves that started with summersaults, strong Kicks to gentler ones in recent weeks finally, calmly, and slowly moving down into the birth canal with each contraction. What a wonderful and raw feeling tears just came out because I was astonished of how good this feeling felt. I believe I felt this because I was left alone. No one spoke or interrupted me in my way. I trusted myself and our baby trusted me.
Never in my previous labors have I been able to walk freely and act intuitively in my own home and observe my body moving and doing all things it knew how to do. My births were always fast and because of hospital regulations for a hep lock, fetal monitoring, or blood pressure test I always ended up on a hospital bed. The feelings I had during my first contractions were raw, vivid, and I felt very alive. I had my eyes closed and started my journey never having even a drop of fear. I was in a sort of a trance with my eyes closed and moving from one side of our tiny living room to another enjoying these first stronger contractions. I knew this place, I knew the smells and baby knew we were home and save.
My hips were moving, dancing, spiraling and I was in control. The times between contractions were wonderful too. I remember my husband sitting on the couch watching me move and asked me if I wanted to sit down. I looked at my midwife and told him – no way i am sitting down – I have to keep moving. Standing up, slowly walking, and listening to music felt good. My affirmations included a line that said “You are powerful” and I remember my husband laughing when in between contractions I flexed my muscles. It was around 7:30 when the contractions started picking up and they were around 5 minutes apart. I didn’t keep track of them sometimes looking at the clock and noticing their space. I did however notice that they become more intense. I can’t stress enough how good and needed it was for me to keep moving and do what I thought was right.
It was during this time that my husband and I found our birthing rhythm. He was there for me during each contracting pressing his hand against my back and it felt amazing. It was special to feel him so actively involved in this birth. When our first son was born he was away with the military on a deployment in Iraq and I gave birth with just my mother and sister around. During the birth of our second he was there but towards the end all he could do was hold my hand as I was on the hospital bed pushing. This time he was able to play an active role in the birth.
When the next contraction ended I carefully walked to the pool as not to slip and submerged myself in new water. I enjoyed the water but it took a few minutes for me to find my ideal position. I ended up on my legs in a squatting a position that felt comfortable throughout my pregnancy. Furthermore, it was important for me to have my back fully submerged in water when each contraction came. After 1-2 contractions in the water I naturally felt the urge to push. At that time it was around 9:15 It was a beautiful feeling to feel the need from inside of me to start assisting my baby on the way down. In my pregnancy journal I wrote our birth story and described this time as my husband and I guiding our child earthside. What a beautiful feeling to help the miracle that he and I made possible to come to this earth. It is a special feeling for mama to feel and see her partners dedication and help during labor. Can it be translated into a power that also helps the mama and papa during their parenting in the coming years? Can it be the necessary push for fathers to feel the need to be involved and to go on this journey together as a team? Whatever we make of it I am still smitten by how well my husband and I were able to work together during this birth and how good his presence during contractions felt.
During one of the breaks he massaged my head and through my hair which was a great way to relax. Contractions picked up and I remember thinking that the forces that were at play now were so much stronger and intense than the ones earlier when I cried happy tears because they felt so good. Each contraction came on strong and I was ready. I was away in my thoughts to birth, immersed in myself and my bodies work. No one talked to me or checked on me – there was no disturbance. My husband was next to me and my midwife ahead or on the side of the pool on the floor observing quietly. This allowed me to dive deep into myself and be in the moment. I had many pushing contractions but I remembered that those took time from my other births. I usually push for at least 1 hour with each push stretching and opening.
From my daughters birth I remembered how I felt her descend and opening and then moving back up after I felt the contraction becoming less. I met each of these pushing contractions feeling very much in control and always telling my husband when they came so he could push on my back. He was standing on the outside of the pool pushing as I was squatting holding the floor and side of the pool. I would still describe most of these contractions as wonderful and out of this world. While they were strong and powerful they also were the most magical. The forces of my contractions were met by my husbands forces and hand on my back. Throughout the birth I had my hand on my babies head which I felt coming closer and closer.
With each contraction I had one hand on the floor giving me some stability and the other on my babies head to help guide him or her earthside. During contractions the head pushed forward and with my husbands push from the back the feeling was still indescribable. Suddenly our two forces met and all I could feel was my babies head, no pain was present at all. After two more of these wonderful contractions I felt it was time and both my husband and I asked the baby to come slowly.
I enjoyed this pregnancy so much that the only way for me to say goodbye to it was a slow birth and I am glad I got what I asked for. The next contraction came and I screamed as the head was crowning. How amazing is my body and my uterus to just give me so many stretches because it knows the size of this baby? How in awe could I possibly be at this moment? One that can teach so much about the power of ones body and the trust and care we should give it. After a long pause I knew that the next contraction would be powerful. It came and with such force and a quick burning I felt my baby push through and the head was out. The next contraction followed quickly.
One of my legs was now up with the foot on the bottom of the pool and the other with the chin on the floor. I felt the urge to push and had both of my hands on my babies head. I held my hands as to welcome his with the next contraction but he didn’t turn, so in a quick moment which my midwife later told me was my intuition because he didn’t have enough room to move his shoulders, I stood up and with my hands on the rim of the pool I pushed just a little and he came. My husband and midwife stood behind me and caught him as he came out. I quickly sat back down and I had my baby in my arms. We did it. You and me and Daddy we went on this magical journey and welcomed you here. My midwife gave me and baby a towel to stay warm and then we got to know you. She quickly saw that you looked very well with an Apgar of 9 so there was no need to rub or suction or touch you in any way. We were just together and you didn’t cry. You came, immediately laid on my chest and knew that you weren’t away but with mama just on the other side. What a journey. We called our son into the living room and together we looked if we had a new brother or sister. It was a brother! We stayed in the pool and enjoyed and got to know one another. Daddy and brother were looking from the outside of the pool and baby and I enjoyed the water together.
Looking back at my pregnancy and taking a few months to reflect on writing our birth story has been eye opening. Intuitively I was guided towards a spiritual and very conscious birth. A decision to trust my body that it knew how to birth without interventions and check ups that all to often are based on the fear that something could go wrong. Our approach was to listen and assume that all goes right. With trust comes intuition and instinct that I knew I could trust to tell me if something wasn’t right.
With every birth there are new beginnings, for baby but also for mama and papa. It is a journey so powerful and intense that it has been hard to put into words. As I enjoy our newest addition I reflect on his birth daily. His birth is what gives me strength daily. A birth so powerful and ecstatic for us as a couple and our entire family. A re-birth or sorts as it taught us that our intuition is strong and powerful not just in birth but also about our life and the choices we make.
A birth that was directed by mom and dad, a birth that wasn’t disturbed by anyone or anything.
Never in a million years did I imagine that birth could feel this way, had so much power, beauty and wisdom for me as a woman. It moved me to the very core of my being, provides energy for me daily and a desire to venture more into women’s health issues, pregnancy, birth and postpartum health a journey that started and that just continues today.