My birth experience was not like anything I was expecting. My sensations were unlike anything I was imagining based on years of birth stories, months of taking online courses and connecting to strong women. I was expecting to go through all the stages of labor. That early labor would feel like stronger braxton hicks (which I never felt) and I would cycle through the stages until intense transition and pressure of the baby coming down for birth. I expected light waves of discomfort through my belly, contractions from fundus all the way down, and contractions that would periodically get stronger and stronger until our babe was ready. Instead, I woke up at 5am in intense transition, shaking….unable to communicate…intense period like cramps that clamped down on my body and left me unable to find comfort…..and almost 4.5 hours later our daughter was born into my arms and the arms of her papa, my amazing partner Ash.
Most women talk about how long they were in labor, from the beginning of the real contractions to baby coming out in to the world. The more and more I think about how long I was in labor the more I have come to realize that it doesn’t matter. I could probably say that it started the afternoon before, but honestly who’s counting, I don’t need to figure it out. I chose to surrender to the mantra As It Is, not as I want it to be or as it was for another woman but as it is for me. My body did exactly what it was designed to do in it’s own way and not as any other woman. Once I surrendered to this understanding and stopped comparing myself to other experiences I felt a sense of pure freedom surge through my body.
The afternoon before June 12th I was cleaning our house for our German guest that were arriving that afternoon. I began to feel really intense cervical pressure, I call them cervix punches since they felt like the baby was poking at my cervix in attempt to escape. (Her head was low and engaged for weeks, I could feel her inside of my yoni when I would check) My back was also really tense and achy, I could barely walk up the stairs to take a nap. I wasn’t really concerned about these sensations since I have felt them before for many weeks and felt back pain for months. I took some magnesium and slept through the pains. When I woke up and went to the bathroom I noticed blood. It was fleshy and pink. I knew immediately that my plug was coming loose. I got excited. Then I thought of a friend of mine who recently mentioned that her sister lost her plug and still hadn’t gone into labor weeks later. I was certain that the baby would be later than my due date, June 22nd.
I meditated and reminded myself to relax and not to have expectations, “as it is” I kept saying. Stay in the moment and relax. Everything that will happen will be perfect. I told my partner and then went out to dinner with my mom who was in town for the night. Thai food craving, I gave into pad thai and a sweet coconut milk drink. Still having mild cramps and back pain. I returned home, met our guests from Germany and enjoyed a glass of wine on the porch with them. The man told me that he was really excited for us to be having a home birth and amazed that my partner Ash would be there with me the whole time. “I couldn’t watch my children’s births, it made me queasy.” “Ash is a great man!” He explained with his thick Berlin accent. “You will have a great experience.” I laughed and said not for a few more weeks with a smile.
I went to bed and we cuddled and talked for an hour or so. Still feeling achy he gave me a back massage as he did most nights. We went to sleep and I woke up with a sharp cramp and the urge to pee. I hurried naked to the bathroom in the dark. I heard a loud splash in the toilet water and looked down to find the mucus plug and blood. Wow I thought, there it goes. We cleaned up the trail of blood I left and I went back to bed. I had to keep reminding myself to relax and not get too excited, the baby was still weeks away. We cuddled more and made love and fell asleep together.
I had this intense dream about missing a train to Paris because I was going into labor. I stood on the platform and felt the intensity of labor while the trains heaviness moved it towards it’s destination.
I immediately woke up around 4:30 with intense cramps and back pain unlike what i felt before. I laid in bed telling Ash that I couldn’t sleep through this and that it felt like something was squeezing me around my lower abdomen. He massaged me but it wasn’t helping me get through. The intensity of the squeeze would hit me and I couldn’t think or relax. I got up and tried to walk around to feel more into this sensation. Every time it came, which felt like only minutes in between it became more and more intense. I laid back down hoping cuddling and breathing would help me through. We laid facing each other and while looking in his eyes, I felt an hard punch and more cramps. I think the baby hit me so hard she broke my water. It broke with a even more intense cramp. I got up and let it all out on the floor. Then diarrhea came on strong and I rushed to the bathroom. I was shaking and nauseous. I kept thinking if this is early labor there is no way I can do this for 20 + hours. I was imagining that since this was my first it would last a while. The contractions didn’t feel like contractions, they felt like intense squeezing of my lower abdomen with sharp pains.
I got in the shower and leaned over my yoga ball letting the hot water hit my back. The contractions were intense and lasted about 30-45 seconds each. They seemed to be coming quickly and when Ash was timing them he found that in a span of 45 minutes that I was in the shower they went from 5-3.5 minutes apart. I was out of my thinking mind and completely in my feeling body. I was irritated and restless, nothing I did helped the discomfort. Ash stood on the other side of the glass giving me loving empathetic vibes. Everytime one would hit I would go inward and hold my breath. I felt that I was past the point of meditation or breath work for the intensity I was experiencing. The only thing i could focus on was getting through those intense sensations.
I got out of the shower when the water went cold and laid on the bed. I would make a fist when the contraction would hit and then breath when it was over to signal to Ash. Talking and logical thinking was not in the realm of consciousness for me. I was an animal, in my body to the fullest extent, moaning, primal….it was something of the animal and spirit world combined. Ash was by my side the whole time holding space, keeping me grounded, sending positive love without coaching or smothering me. His presence was perfect.
I got on the floor because I felt I needed to hug the bed. There were no waves, no feeling of my uterus rolling and contracting. It was an intense squeeze. Sharp, paralyzing, it hurt to move. So intense at this point, that the only thing that helped was holding my breath. I was on the floor shaking, feeling flushed, nauseous….I got scared and started to cry. I told Ash out of breath that I couldn’t do this if they were going to feel this way for another 20 hours! I said if this is early labor then I can’t do it.He said nothing. He wasn’t ignoring me, just witnessing me and holding a space that I could be myself in, that I could go through what I had to. He held my hand and I told him that I needed to be in the water. Intuitively he knew this and had already started the bath downstairs. The birth pool that we ordered had not yet arrived in the mail.
We had the bathroom downstairs for our guests so he told them that I wasn’t feeling good and having bad cramps and needed the bath. Not wanting them to be worried by telling them I was in labor.
None of this I knew at the time, I was doing no thinking from my left brain what so ever.
I got into the tub and submerged myself into the water so that only my face was above the water. With every contraction I held the sides of the tub and my breath. Wondering how long this would go on. Surrendering to knowing i was bringing my child into the world. I let go of the notion that my labor would be like any other I had read stories about and just let the water take over my body. With every contraction I felt the water over me and felt safe. I stopped thinking about the length of contractions and stopped wanting to ask Ash what time it was. It felt like half a day had passed. (Not knowing the time was really liberating. It felt like half a day had passed and I had no expectations or need to know the time) I laid there and went through 10 or so. Ash came in and out of the space, it was bright early morning. Natural sunlight was coming into the bathroom. I was watching the cherry tree outside through the frosted window above the tub.
He came in and filled the tub with hot water and put cold compresses on my head and shoulders. Again I had a moment where I didn’t think I could make it. I told him, I can’t do this as I was surrendering in the water. I was moving around the water finding comfort, I had cramps between the intense cramps and it felt like they were hitting me like a train with no stopping. He timed them without my knowledge and I found out later they were 2 minutes apart. He sat there with me and the oxytocin was flowing heavy in this loving space, he didn’t respond to my worries he just sat there and knew that I was going to be alright. As I was saying I can’t I WAS!
Then she started moving down, this feeling was like throwing up but down and pooping. I got through the sensation by grunting and moaning. The more I felt into and resigned to this sensation I realized this is the baby coming through my cervix and getting closer to the world. (This being my first birth experience I was feeling sensations I had never before felt) I went through about 10 of these sensations of pressure, didn’t push or use any extra force. I even tried to at one point to push and my body wouldn’t let me. My body took over and the bearing down came from my body’s natural sense not from me trying to do it. I had no control, it felt like the fetal ejection reflex.
I put my hand between my legs and felt her head, she had already come through my cervix. I was in disbelief that it was happening so quickly. About half an hour of the bearing down sensation and there she was! About 8 more of these sensations and breathing and guiding my body not to give into the urge to push or move her too fast and her head was in the water! Cord around her neck once. Ash and I put our hands on her head leaving her submerged. One more contraction and she started to move out a bit and then retract, she kicked me inside and stimulated another contraction immediately, I felt her shoulders turn as she slid out into our hands. I held her while Ash removed the cord. She came out cooing and coughing. Eyes wide open staring up at us. Head full of hair and body covered in vernix, she was amazing and she smelled amazing.
I laid back on the tub and held her close to my body, we tilted her to drain fluids to help her breathe. We didn’t even look at the sex for what felt like 10 minutes because we assumed she was a boy after all of the feelings and dreams I have had. She started nursing and I felt my uterus contracting immediately. It was completely undisturbed and free but not unassisted in any way. It was perfect. Ash held such a deep sweet and safe space for us to labor and bring our daughter into the world.
I had several large clots, and passed my placenta 45 minutes later, the most amazing feeling of relief! I took motherwort and cotton root bark tincture because I felt that there was some excess bleeding, which was probably just normal for me but I wanted to take the precautions anyway. We waited an hour and a half to cut the cord, when it stopped pulsing and used a piece of sharp obsidian stone to cut it with .
It was the most perfect primordial experience that we have ever had. We are blessed to have gone on this journey together to bring our daughter into the world undisturbed and without intervention. To give birth as nature intended women to do on a full honey moon that none of us will ever see again in our lifetime. It is the greatest gift.
As for the Germans. They heard the whole thing and were giving Ash hugs when he would go out to bring me food and water. I never saw them and even though I knew they were there subconsciously I felt safe. The space was sacred and when I woke up I was already so far along in the birth experience that I didn’t have the thought process to worry. Ash held it down for us to feel safe, so much so that our daughter feels immediately grounded with him when he touches her.
To my loves…. Ash and Baby.