I want to write this story a little different than I wrote Lilah Ivy's. This pregnancy was incredibly different than my previous two. I focused on educating myself more, obsessively reading articles and studies about (natural) birth. Ultimately I decided that the less interference and audience I have at birth, the better. If I'm being completely honest, I wouldn't mind having an unassisted next time around.
The outcome was nothing short of perfect. Really, this was such an amazing experience that I can't think of it without my eyes welling with tears. My confidence in my ability, my strength, my WOMBanhood has indefinitely transformed the respect and love I have for my body.
Id like to start by saying that I honestly believe I had such incredible self awareness and intuition because of the obsessive reading I did. Every article that came up in my newsfeed, every book thrown my way, every study Id come across I would read. And read and read. I learned about optimal fetal positioning (and how to avoid a posterior positioning), cervical dilation, hemorrhaging, anything that had to do with the female reproductive anatomy. With every bit of knowledge I learned on nuchal cords, compound presentation and baby microbiome, my confidence blossomed. And if you ask me, confidence in yourself is important when preparing for birth.
an incomplete Sacred Space
Preparing a sacred space within my home that was mine to meditate on was imperative because I know how essential empowerment, manifestation, and prayer is. I carefully put together an alter of sorts with bits and pieces I found comforting. It was part of my nesting stage during pregnancy. Every detail was important, every piece meaningful. This is where I would birth and it was paramount that I felt safe in the space.
I also read countless birth stories and watched films with my girls to prepare us for what was to come. It became our nightly routine, Lilah always requesting to watch "baby come out of the 'gina". I find other women's journeys comforting and always grateful that they share such an intimate moment of their lives with us.
I wouldn't dare write this story without mentioning a specific group of women who are a significant part of my earthside journey, and sanity for that matter. You know who you are and I love you. These women gave me an outlet to vent when I needed it, to bitch about those things in life that get you down. They were there to pick me up, or slap me with a dose of reality. Each one inspires me in ways I never thought possible. They made all the difference. I feel so blessed to have them in my life.
This being my third, I knew how important it was to prepare for these early postpartum days. As I type this in bed with Milo at my breast, I have everything I need within my reach. My night stand is covered in tinctures, balms, water, snacks, tissues and so much more. My salt lamp delicately glowing with just enough light to see what I need. I stocked up on all of these items during pregnancy .
I highly recommend reading these blog posts if you are an expecting mama:
Labor and Birth
(Ill be completely honest, it was quite uneventful in the best way possible. I know of several birth geeks who love to read the details of labor and birth so I will include all I can remember.)
In the early morning hours of the day after I turned 40 weeks pregnant, I awoke feeling fluid leaking in between my legs. I was in a deep sleep so I knew it was significant. I had some bloody show the day before and assumed I was just loosing more of my mucous plug. I was still so exhausted and didn't want to get up so I thought I could ignore the sensation and deal with it when I woke in a few hours to see my oldest off to school. I knew loosing the mucous plug didn't necessarily mean labor would start any time soon. But as I lay there debating, more fluid started leaking from me so I thought it best to check it out. When I stood, I didn't get to the doorway before the gush between my legs stopped me. Andrew, my husband, was still awake (at 1 AM) and saw me stop. I told him my water broke for sure (no, I did not pee my pants, thanks for asking) but that Im not contracting so Id let him know if he should go to work or not and that I was going back to bed. I dosed off and on within that next hour but soon the waves started becoming more noticeable than that of a Braxton Hicks and I could feel a difference in the way that they were hugging my hips and sacrum. I decided to get up and keep myself occupied and told Andrew to get some rest, that I would like to be alone.
I will forever cherish the time I spent with myself and Milo that early morning. It was so very sacred, the way I was able to prepare my home and birth space intentionally and almost ceremoniously. As I smudged my space with the sage, I prayed to God to give me the strength I knew I already had to birth this baby with ease. I thanked Him for blessing me with this journey I was about to embark on. I was drawn to a few crystals I had setting on the shelf in my birth space. I held on to those while I lit incense and diffused sweet orange oil, all the while dancing through the waves that were increasing in both intensity and frequency. I was ready for this. Anxious. yet serene.
Knowing I was facing a long journey ahead, I decided to lay down on the couch and rest as much as I could. I desired a deep sleep but never slipped into the Sandman's comforting arms. Lilah woke up for a few minutes, and in the short time she was with me she understood my needs. She gently rubbed my leg, brought me covers and simply loved on me until Andrew took her back to bed with him. I dozed off and on for hours, moving my hips in circles while laying on the couch. Emmi stumbled sleepily in, around 9 AM. "Im not at school! We are having the baby today, aren't we?!" All I could do was smile and nod. She cuddled with me as I rocked and sang with my birth playlist through a few waves. I asked her to wake Andrew and tell him it was time to fill the birth pool.
I don't remember much of what went on around me after this point, though there were moments of lucidness. The waves were very intense and I breathed through them deeply. It was a beautiful feeling, to surrender to the pain and work with my body instead of against it. I remember being surprised that I wasn't more vocal, as I was with Lilah's labor. But with Lilah, I felt so out of control and tense. This time, it was almost an out of body experience. A high of sorts, with every breath I took. My baby sister and birth photographer arrived around the same time (10ish) and things were progressing quickly. Every wave grew stronger, as did I. I internally spoke with myself and Milo. I was very aware of her and my main focus was comforting her with my peace and breath. I wanted her to embrace the journey and prayed that she was not scared of what was happening. She was highly active through the pregnancy and labor was no different. This comforted me and I knew she was as ready as I was. We were so connected. I could feel her spirit.
I felt myself about to vomit and (unintelligibly, I imagine) asked for a bowl. I knew this could be a sign of transition but I just didn't feel like I was there yet even though I was shaking and spasming. The waves were manageable (though increasingly powerful and deep with every one) and I was inwardly aware. But I started moaning so I asked Andrew to tell Pam, my midwife, to make her way over just in case. I believe she arrived after about 10:30. I can't be sure, as I was inside myself and my eyes didn't open much to see what was happening around me.
Andrew held me as I rocked through each wave. In between contractions I could feel Milo kicking my fundus. Every time she did, I felt my cervix opening and though it was uncomfortable, I welcomed it knowing she was bringing us that much closer to her Birth Day. At one point I grabbed Andrews hand so he could feel her helping. He said something I can't remember but was in awe. Im so happy he was able to experience this intimate moment between our baby and us.
I never left the living room floor, alternating between all fours and leaning on the birth ball. I couldn't find a comfortable place to be. My hips were screaming at me. My belly was burning. I breathed. Deep. Deeper. Yes. It was cleansing. I felt hands on my sacrum. Mmm that felt good but I couldn't express my gratitude, only breathe deep. So deeply. Everyone around me was respectful of my need for space. I have no idea what they were doing.
Minutes after Pam arrived I felt the need to vomit again only this time, I knew I was in transition. I puked all over the floor before anyone was able to hand me my bowl. I vomited so much that I started to dry heave while amniotic fluid gushed down my legs. I was thankful for this. With each heave I could feel myself opening and Milo moving down. I knew it was time to get into the pool.
Women who have experienced a water birth know what a relief it was to step into the tub and submerge my aching body into the warm water. It felt right. So good. I was able to submerge myself quite a bit and relax. My body graciously gave me a bit of a break and it felt as though time stood still. And then all of a sudden my primal half took over and I started to push. Oh it felt good. Breathe. My body pushed again. Slow down. Breathe. Yes. I could feel Milo's head decending and knew she would crown soon. I reached around myself to support both my behind and vulva as I pushed again. There she is! I could feel that infamous ring of fire. Breathe I told myself. Slow down. (insert a few naughty words). I pushed again and she was out. 11:39 AM.
Andrew was supposed to catch her but she came so quickly (only pushing for 7 minutes) that I instinctivly reached down for her and she was on my chest before I knew it.
Its a girl! She is here. Earthside. My mermaid girl. Hello baby!
She was so calm, as water babies usually are. It took her a while to decide she would like to use her lungs. Her cord was pulsing, a beautiful blue spiral against her pinking skin. Her placenta was born about 20 minutes later, the cord pulsing several minutes even after that.
Eventually I decided I wanted to go lay down in bed so I (very slowly) made my way back. I was dizzy. Sweating a lot and hot. Pam gave me a donut and a glass of almond milk. That almond milk tasted like heaven. Ive never appreciated almond milk the way I did then.
When I felt it was time, Andrew and I burned the cord, separating Milo from her lifelong friend and partner, her placenta. I always get emotional thinking about this which is why we decided to burn her cord as a gentle transition. We then weighed Milo and I couldn't believe how much she weighed. I literally couldn't believe it. They had to double check her weight for me. Not big in any means, but my biggest baby yet, she weighed 9 pounds 8 ounces. Wow I would have never guessed! My previous babes were 8lbs13oz and 8lbs even. I thought for sure she was under 9lbs. She was 21 1/2 inches long. And just damn perfect.
The midwives did the rest of their duties and that was that.
A perfect birth, at home.
This was my easiest birth and so far my easiest recovery. I sit here 4 days postpartum with very minimal bleeding and an odd drive to tidy up my home. Soaking up this newborn goodness is devine. Its heaven on earth. Physically Im all aces. Emotionally, well I'm 4 days postpartum with a demanding toddler and a daughter who is nearly 9 (on Friday). Im all over the place emotionally but nothing unusual. I have support and feel showered with more love than I deserve. Im excited for what is to come and this journey up ahead, well its mysterious and beautiful. I can only tap into the energy of the previous mamas who have given themselves to their growing family and hope that I don't screw them up on the way. I give all of my love to them.
That is all I can do, is love. It is what its all about.