Our little angle is two months old! I can't believe it has been two months since I faced my fears about an un-medicated birth, and brought this wonderful blessing into the world!
Women are often met with so many fears about birth, that the pain is so unmanageable and a punishment, we are constantly told the limits of our bodies. We have been conditioned to trust doctors and their views on birth instead of trusting our own bodies and relying on our primal strength. Although I understand, in some cases medical intervention is required and important and I am in no way dismissing that.
I want to tell my birth story to help any woman who has been through anything similar, to let you know you too can take back your power! And to shed light on what a home birth is, how empowering it can be and what a fantastically, amazing experience it is!
Here is my story:
I was molested and raped as a child by an adult I know at a very young age and into my teens. This caused me to have many issues with sex, let alone giving birth, so I have always been terrified of the birthing process. I have always felt that because of this trauma I "needed" an epidural, especially because the contraction pains would bring on flashbacks and debilitating anxiety. My doctors would even strongly suggest one and have even offered C-sections.
I have given birth to 4 children. 3 of them I had epidurals, with my 1st, it worked pretty well. My 2nd, not much at all, it barely kicked in and this was my most traumatic birth because of the flash backs which made it a little harder to connect with my baby afterwards. My 3rd worked too well as I had no idea how hard to push or when, so I ended up almost passing out. With all of these, labor was very long and drawn out and I still experienced most of the pain and pressure during my births anyway.
So with all of this, finding out we were pregnant again (with my 4th), I was determined to have a very different experience and started looking into home birth, midwives and doulas. Doulas help you cope with the pains of childbirth and are there to reassure you and provide comfort through the pains with different techniques. I also looked into Hypnobirthing, which helps prepare for un-medicated birth with meditation. I also did a lot of reading to prepare, "Birthing without fear" and "When Survivors Give Birth" were phenomenal! Birthing Affirmations were very helpful as well. I looked into water births too which was highly recommended to help ease pain especially due to my childhood sexual trauma. So we set it all up and went with a home water birth with Barefoot Birth, after reading reviews and other birth stories, I knew they were the perfect fit.
Even with all of this, being mentally and physically prepared, as much as I could be, with doing squats every day and eating dates, seeing a chiropractor on a regular basis, I was still very nervous and dare I even say scared to bring my baby girl into the world, at home and in water no less. However, knowing this was our last baby, it was my last chance to have the birth experience I wanted, I was determined to go all the way! For me, I needed this! I wanted this birth experience to help re-frame the abuse I endured as a child and well into my teens. I wanted to take back my innate ability, to bring children into the world without fear and inhibitions, that I was robbed of due to the disgusting actions of someone else.
So, on the 21st of June I lost my mucus plug, which for me usually means labor is on its way shortly, but like with my 3rd, it took a few days. On the 23rd I woke up at around 6ish to use the bathroom, went to lay back down and just felt different. I knew that something was going to happen! I had the urge to use the bathroom again and when I stood up my water broke! Not completely, so it was a little rupture but still totally surprising and exciting all at the same time. Contractions started and I timed them for about 30 min and then called my midwives, Erica and Bennett, my doula and then took a shower.
From everything I read, saw and was told I knew I needed to keep myself distracted during early labor. After my shower, hubby woke up and started preparing the bed with my mom in case I wanted to deliver baby on the bed or labor there, and he filled the birthing tub, and got all the stuff out we needed for the birth and after. I started flat ironing my hair, and started doing my makeup, when my doula Amy showed up and not too long after our photographer Candi showed up. Not long after that my midwife team, Erica and Bennett, arrived.
Early labor progressed, I was able to eat and drink, I was dancing to Spanish music and reggae, cracking jokes and was pretty much in a good mood. I was nauseated and was given some peppermints and had some lavender essential oil put into a diffuser and even sniffed the bottle from time to time. Amy, hubby and my mom were alternating with some pressure techniques to help alleviate some of the contraction pains.
After a while labor kind of halted, at one point I was offered an internal exam to see how far I had progressed, by Erica and I declined. I felt it was unnecessary and could have messed with my head a bit if I wasn't as dilated as I thought I was, and my team agreed. I wasn't progressing as fast as I or my team thought I would have, especially being this was my 4th baby and subsequent babies usually come faster. There were reminders of my abuse at play as contractions got stronger, which definitely didn't help with progression, so I needed focus and Erica came in and respectfully kicked everyone out, which I was so grateful for, except Amy and my hubby because I was pretty much like a "watched pot". I think I may have been more worried about entertaining everyone that was there instead of really focusing on my labor. Our photographer was still able to have line of sight for pictures. Once I was reminded to keep moving and to get out of my own head and into the moment and into my body, I was able to move into transition which was around 12pm.
What was really awesome about this was that it was just my husband and I. I finally got into the tub, which was SOOO hot, so I labored standing and with every contraction I went into a squat and moaned deep into my belly instead of out with my head, like singing, you sing with your diaphragm instead of your head voice. I was hot and nauseated and needed to cool off, so they gave me water, coconut water and ice, while Amy put cold wash cloths on my skin to help cool me down. Amy even gave hubby some Gatorade to help keep him hydrated and even fed. My birth team was so awesome!
At around 1pm, I sat in the water and continued to labor. I leaned into my husband even more as I needed him to be my rock. When I had flash backs of the childhood trauma he would remind me that I was in a safe place. Luckily, I didn't have very many during labor. I was reminded that my body was designed to give life. I was reminded that I was doing a phenomenal job by everyone in the room. I recited my affirmations in my head and remembered some of the stories in the survivor’s book. As contractions got deeper, so did my vocalization. I knew that this meant baby girl was close to coming into the world.
At some point I sat with my head resting on the edge of the tub, eyes closed, holding hands with hubby, taking deep relaxing breathes, listening to meditation music, reminding myself that I got this! I prepared for this! I heard my midwife Bennett say I looked like a goddess and that made me smile because in that moment I felt like one. This was the calm before the storm. I felt very different all of a sudden and my body began to want to bear down so I did a few times. I actually wanted to get up from my leaned back position and get into a low squat but when I went to move a contraction came so I just stayed where I was. I wanted our photographer, Candi, to get as many photos of baby coming into the world as she could. Why that was my concern, instead of just worrying about baby coming, I don't know!
Anyway, at this point, during these hard contractions, I really did let out some deep screams but not in a terrifying way or in a response to pain really. There was something very primal about it, especially once I listened to my team and changed my mindset from trying to just survive the contraction and going into them instead. When I would bear down into my deep bellowing screams it eased contraction pain and made it more effective while pushing and at 1:40pm baby crowned. I think the most painful for me. It's called the ring of fire because, well, it’s a burning sensation and was scary for me especially because of the sexual abuse. I felt a little out of control and my team noticed this and both Erica & Bennett immediately suggested I reach down to see if I could feel her. Which took me out of my head and into my body and I was able to snap out of my fear/flashback and realize my baby was almost here. So, I gave one more good push during a contraction and her head was fully out. Then something crazy happened. She was moving her head back and forth and I had no idea babies did that while coming out! I vocalized this as it caused discomfort! My Midwives assured me she was just moving her way out. Totally didn't know they could do it on their own, without us even pushing them out!
Another contraction came and I pushed! I was instructed to just breath and open, relax, at which this time my mom got behind me behind the tub and reached to help hold my legs open. She was a bit forceful and felt as if she needed to "save me". I did feel a few emotions, uncomfortable, annoyance, irritability, some flash backs. For a moment everything stopped and my team noticed and I was once again reassured that I was in a safe place and to focus on my husband. I closed my eyes and asked Goddess for her strength as I felt another contraction rise, I dug deep into my determination and drowned everything else out and just focused, pushed! At 1:43pm Elaina Valkyrie Rose was born! I helped catch her and brought her up to my chest in complete astonishment, disbelief, immense amount of overwhelming joy and satisfaction that I did it! I actually gave birth to my baby, my way, on my terms, naturally! Hubby and I then celebrated with our signature birth high-five!
I felt victorious! In that moment I truly felt like I embodied the Goddess! There was something so magical and surreal about being able to allow my body to do what it was Divinely made to do. I was so proud of myself that I took my power and my innate ability of birth back that of which was stolen from me so long ago. I was even prouder at the fact that I was able to push out all the negative feelings and emotions and flash backs. I saved myself, unlike those who failed to save me then. I did it and I am damn proud! Something in me changed and I now know that with determination and will, I can go through and get through anything!
I did have have a lot of bleeding after Elaina was born, so I had to receive a shot of Pitocin to help control bleeding. This decision was made very fast and very clear by Erica and Bennett, but they let me stay in the tub with my baby. I was taken out of the tub after hubby cut Elaina's cord, that of which had stopped pulsing to allow the blood that was flowing from placenta to her, to fully stop. It helps with better oxygenation and she gets all the amazing stem cells for optimal health. Now the after pains of delivering the placenta was a little rough, with the contractions and such because the natural oxytocin was starting to dial down. I was checked after placenta was delivered and had no tearing, just a superficial laceration. Bennett weighed Elaina and she was a whopping HALF OUNCE shy of 10 lbs! Everyone was so shocked! We all thought she would have been at most 8 lbs.
Erica and Bennett stayed for a few hours. Helped clean up everything, even started a few loads of laundry. They brought me food from my kitchen and helped with nursing. It was such an amazing show of pure womanhood. That it takes a village experience I was looking for. They were more like sisters than just midwives!
So not only did I take back my innate ability to bring life into the world, but I did it without pain management, on my terms without being told what to do, how to do it or when to do it, but I delivered a 10 lb. baby. Without constant monitoring or vaginal checks or medical intervention, surrounded by strong, knowledgeable women I will forever love and hold dear in my heart!
Birth is not glamorous, they don't always go as planned and are never pain free but don't ever let anyone tell you, you can't do something! Anything is possible with preparation, will and determination and listening to your body! Don't give up or doubt yourself! You are capable and magical and made to achieve things you never thought were possible! You are a Goddess! You are a Woman! You have the power and control to make your birthing experience what you want it to be!