“I want to be able to follow my body’s cues throughout labor that will tell me what I need to do next. I want to be able to listen to my intuition rather than asking, “What’s next?” I want to be able to feel my baby descend and judge when it is time to push the baby out, and I want to be able to use my intuition and feelings to guide my body work. I want to ensure that my baby has a calm, safe, peaceful, and loving passage earth side. I want to be surrounded by powerful, passionate, and confident women when my son is born. I want him to be surrounded by positive and peaceful energy. I want him to know that he was born into this world in love and that he is made from love. This will be a labor of love.”
These were the words I wrote as my birth plan while preparing for my son’s birth. My first birth experience with my daughter was an extremely challenging 18 hour labor with 6 hours of pushing. She was born with her arm wrapped around her head like a scarf, which made for a complicated labor. I tore and healed poorly after her birth and was in pain for months. Although I felt like a major bad ass for having a totally natural birth center birth, I couldn’t ignore the fact that I somehow felt spiritually robbed of a peaceful and intuitive birth experience. I would not say that I had a negative birth experience in any way, but the challenges I faced led me to have a very different birth than I imagined. Once I became pregnant with my son, I knew that I wanted a different experience and an enhanced spiritual and intuitive connection through the pregnancy and birth.
While preparing for his birth, I focused heavily on connecting with myself and my baby. I read the book entitled Unassisted Childbirth and felt inspired simply by the concept that my body knows how to give birth without outside influence and that I have everything inside me that I need to have an empowering birth. This idea motivated me to become much more confident in myself. I spent time watching videos of unassisted births and other home birth videos to help me visualize the birth I wanted. I was also drawn to the idea that you can communicate spiritually with your baby through dreams. Before going to sleep, I would often tell myself that I wanted to dream about my birth or my baby. Eventually my dreams would reveal great insight to me. For example, I had several dreams that my son was 7lbs 4oz at birth (he was 7lbs 6oz). I also dreamed of a birth that was eerily similar to his, and I think it subconsciously pushed me to labor that way as if it were a guide. I also grew really close to my baby through talking to him and connecting with him on a daily basis. I used many positive affirmations and phrases to channel warm loving thoughts towards my baby.
Because of my prior birth experience, I knew I had many anxieties that needed to be worked through before my son was born. I asked myself very plainly, “What are my fears?” and wrote everything out in an attempt to dispel and destroy any fears I might have had. I came up with a plan to address each fear individually and had an “action plan” for each worry. Digging up the dirt on my deepest birth fears was uncomfortable, but once the process was complete I felt so open, relieved, and prepared.
I went to bed weary on the night of January 24th, jaded after multiple nights of regular contractions that eased by midnight. I wondered whether it would be the night, but I was afraid of feeling too hopeful or anxious about labor starting. I felt the same regular contractions, but this time I felt a particularly strong pressure at my cervix. I was able to sleep until 4am, when I awoke with contractions that were still irregular but painful enough to be awake. With my daughter sleeping alongside me, I couldn’t continue to labor in bed any longer and decided to get up and move around. I still wasn’t totally convinced I was actually in labor. I went to the kitchen and fixed myself a cup of raspberry leaf tea and sat on my birth ball while timing some contractions and trying to get in touch with my baby. I spoke to my baby and told him that it was his time. We were ready to meet him and welcome him earth side.
It was now 5am and my contractions were about 4-5 minutes apart, irregular, but at least a minute long and getting stronger. I called my doula and let her know that I might be in labor, but that I would get in touch as things progressed. I also called my friend who offered to take care of my toddler and let her know as well. During one of my contractions, I leaked some urine all over my pajamas and needed to go clean up. I decided to take a lavender bath and relax for a bit. The bath was nice and I continued to have contractions that were getting stronger, but still light enough to be able to relax in the bath. When I got out of the bath, I realized I didn’t have any clean clothes outside of our family bedroom. I didn’t want to wake my husband and daughter up at 5am, as I wanted them to get as much sleep as possible. My husband had some clothes left in the bathroom, and I threw on a pair of his boxer briefs and a comfy bra. I find it humorous that I ended up laboring in my husband’s underwear.
I continued laboring in my living room while my family slept. It was now around 6am. I had a few things I planned to do in early labor, but my head was in the clouds and I couldn’t concentrate on other tasks besides the work my body was going through. I went in the bedroom and my husband woke up and asked if I was okay as I worked my way through a few contractions. I told him I was having some labor contractions and that he needed to stay home from work. Our 21 month old daughter woke up as well. They went about their morning routine as I puttered around the living room. During my contractions, I mostly stayed upright and walked around and would stop periodically and hug the couch. I gave my support team word that I was definitely in labor and that they should head over to the house.
Around 6:30 am, my contractions were getting intense enough to need to vocalize and I moved into my bedroom. I lit some candles and listened to a recording of some birth affirmations to continue to keep myself in a calm state. At my blessingway, my friends wrote words of encouragement on stones and I read them to myself between contractions. Under the soft orange light of a salt lamp and candles at dawn, I found my peaceful center. I was still laboring on my feet and held onto my dresser while working through each contraction. I didn’t have much of an appetite, but I was sure to drink water and I nibbled on some crackers. My doula arrived and we set up the sheets on my bed. Then I started getting light headed and nauseated, so I moved to the bed to rest through some contractions. At some point, my husband inflated the birth pool in the living room.
Between 9-11am, my contractions became increasingly intense but never became totally regular and they were still 4-5 minutes apart. I was having clusters of contractions closer together, while some were farther apart. I was starting to feel intensifying pressure with each contraction and my midwife was on her way. I labored in bed on my hands and knees with pillows for support. I was experiencing extraordinary back pain with each contraction, and my doula was amazing at using counter pressure to relieve the pain. She also helped me work on my breathing through each contraction. I needed to slow down my breathing, while deepening and expanding my breath. This change in breathing helped tremendously, and I was able to remain focused and relieve tension during contractions. I had no idea how close I was to transition, and I was sure I still had a while left before meeting my baby. I felt like things were intensifying enough to switch to using water for pain relief, so my husband starting filling up the birth pool.
I started to feel shaky and the pressure was intensifying with each contraction. I briefly experienced transition before my body started to bear down with contractions. We waited too long to set up the birth pool and it wasn’t ready, so I stayed in my bed on my hands and knees. Right around this time my midwife arrived and told me to listen to my body. I think I said something like “I feel like I’m going to die!” and then my body began to bear down. I was surprised when my body started simply bearing down on its own, and I followed its lead. My water broke and hilariously splashed my midwife in the face, which she said was a first for her. With each contraction for the next half hour, my body pushed and I helped with a little muscle and deep roars. I instinctively breathed his head out slowly in order to stay patient and allow my body to expand. I felt his head slowly emerge over the course of a few contractions, and his body slid out in a few more. I even heard him gasp a bit and try to catch a breath before his body was fully out. In about 40 minutes of listening to my body with each contraction, my baby finally arrived. I experienced very little bleeding, no tearing, and had very little pain. Gavin Apollo was born at 11:54am, and he measured 7lbs 6oz and 21 inches long. He was born peacefully and surrounded by a group of powerful, passionate, and confident women who welcomed him earth side.
After Gavin was born, my husband planned a little birthday party for him with a “0” candle. He does this for each of our children when they’re born and it is our family tradition after a birth. Our daughter got to go swimming in the birth pool that I didn’t use and she had the best day of her life – a pool party in the house with balloons! Recovery was easy and I barely felt like I had a baby afterwards, and Gavin started breastfeeding like a pro right after birth. Gavin’s birth was perfect and it was a loving and peaceful experience for everyone. It was everything I had envisioned and I am so grateful for the love and support I received.