After attending over 100 births as a doula, and a student midwife, I was about to attend the birth of my own child!
I knew the pain I had seen women go through. I saw the strength that they had to pull onto make it. I saw the funny things that they had to do to get through each contraction. I saw women scream their babies out! I saw women breathe their babies out! I saw women hike a leg up on the couch and push with all their might to get their baby out!! I've seen women in the longest of labor's, I've seen women have relatively painless short labors, I've seen women wheeled back for c-sections, most of the births I've seen in the woman's home were as if she didn't even need a team of midwives at all!
I knew that the women who surrendered to the power of the contractions let their babies out easier.
I knew that the women who let the hormones take over, who are in an altered state, have easier labors. I've seen that women who hold on tight, clinch their butts and their jaws, have longer labors. I didn't know how I was going to do it, but I knew that I had to surrender to the power.
"Let yourself float" was the advice from my grandmother midwife. "Float, float, float."
My labor started an hour after my BodyTalk session. My friend Jeff Goodman, BodyTalk instructor and MY BodyTalk practitioner, had called me after finishing a distance session on me. He said, "everything is in good order, the energy is right, the baby is ready." It was my due date. I knew my baby would come on his due date or that labor, at the very least, would start on my due date.
My baby was conceived under a full moon and his due date was exactly 10 full moons later. It was my due date, exactly 40 weeks pregnant and my 10th full moon in pregnancy. I went to bed. I woke up 30 mins later to contractions that were 2 to 3 minutes apart. They were intense!!
I called my midwife, to give her a heads up. I was already having to breathe through them and they took my whole focus. I was trying to wave her off and tell her it's probably early labor, but when I had to put the phone down three times just to get that message out she said that she was on her way!
She showed up and I remember her being so sweet and happy. She checked my cervix and I was 3 cm dilated! She told me my baby was in the perfect position and that his head was so soft! I knew that she would tell me his head was so soft! We want our baby's heads to be soft, because there's a skull that has to come out of your body! The more that skull can mold and be soft, the better. What felt like no more than an hour later I was writhing and wanted to get into a bath. My back hurt a lot. I remember when Rachel showed up, I was at the point of not talking anymore. Yes, it was potentially early labor but dang, it took my full attention and was intense.
I had fears in my pregnancy that I would have the longest labor in history. I had a fear that my baby would be posterior and that I would have to work through three days of back pain and back labor. I was never worried about an emergency arising. Just worried about endless suffering!
Rachel, the other midwife was holding a heat pack on my back while walking me through the mental psycho-spiritual journey of moving into the light. I asked them, "does the bath really help?" They said, "sometimes..." Rachel asked if she could check me before I got into the bath. The contractions were really close together and really intense. I was 5 cm!! I knew that that was good. I knew that making progress that fast was an awesome sign.
I got into the bath and just let the power take me over. I floated, I moaned, I groaned, I squirmed around, I never let myself tense up.
At some point I realized I was starting to fall asleep between contractions. I had floated away from my body so far, I didn't realize how far away I was. There was music playing in that tiny bathroom and it was vibrating the whole space. At one point Rachel said, "do you even like this song?" That's when I realize I wasn't in my body, because I had to travel back into my body, to listen to the song, to come back to her with a one word answer of, "yes", and then back out of my body I went! I was too far out of my body to be in my student midwife mind.
Looking back now, sleeping between contractions means I was complete and I was having longer time between contractions. This is called the rest and be thankful stage. Looking back now, I realize that I actually was bearing down a little bit with some of my contractions. But I wasn't aware of that in my student midwife mind.
All of a sudden I had excruciating pain in my whole torso. I said to Rachel, "push on my back, push my back!" Because she's a sister to me, she took her pants off to get in the tub with me to really push on my back! That's a true friend! Then she said to me, "Do you want to get out of the bath so that I can really help push on your back?" So I got out of the bath, waddled my way to my bed and laid down on my left side. The pain! Pain! It was a constant pain. And it was in my whole torso. It felt like a contraction in my whole torso that would not let up.
Come to find out, my son had a hand up by his face, which means his elbow was in my sacrum and that was probably hitting a bunch of nerves causing that weird pain. Within a few minutes of being on the bed my body started to naturally bear down strong! I was so happy! I knew what that meant! It meant the labor was almost over! After just a couple of really strong pushes from my body, I could feel my baby move through my birth canal and down to my perineum.
It was a really powerful feeling.
Then came the stretching and the burning! I eased my baby out! I panted so that his head wouldn't move too far too fast so that I could stretch. I panted and I panted until my baby's head came all the way out. And then I had to push really hard to get his hand and shoulders out.
It was surreal.
It was familiar.
It was beautiful.
He cried right away and Rachel laid him down on my leg and I naturally scooped him up with my leg.
I knew that baby.
I knew his voice.
I knew his smell.
My labor was 7 hours total, I had absolutely no interventions, complications or interference with the process, but of course my midwives are badass, and the very midwives I work with today. I also devoted lots of energy and conscious awareness towards that outcome. It was not just luck ;)
My son, Ocean, was born in our home gently and sweetly. The room was silent with respect and magic while we listened to his first cry.
I thought of many of the first time mamas I've witness give birth while I was in labor, and I drew upon their strength to help me sort it out. My postpartum was packed with support, from my midwives, to dear friends and family that show up daily.