This Child marks a very important season in my life: the beginning of my journey into a Holistic, Natural-minded lifestyle. Before I became Pregnant I was blissfully ignorant on many issues and fairly mainstream. All I knew was that I wanted to be strong enough to Birth naturally like my own Mother, and the many women who have come before me since the dawn of time. I researched to find one of the more natural-minded hospitals in the area, and began my Prenatal Care there. It was…Well, it was a hospital, which says it all to me now. I was only a name, a number, a statistic. I immediately felt the impersonality of the service, from the rushed appointments to the numerous tests offered, with the option of termination if I wasn’t happy with the outcome. This was not what I wanted at all.
I needed to be more than somebody’s paycheck and my unborn Baby deserved to be respected and revered as a person in and of themselves. It was around this time that I began reading several Natural Childbirth books and watched The Business of Being Born. I learned so much in a very short space of time, and it only affirmed everything I was sensing about where the Birth of my little one was quickly headed if I didn’t intervene. I needed to take control and claim the environment and support for the Birth experience I desired. So I immediately sought out alternative care, and was excited to find a small and independent, free-standing Birth Center 30 minutes away from me, that I had previously been unaware of. So at 4 months Pregnant, I transferred my care to them.
My Pregnancy itself went quite smoothly, and upon educating myself continuously (the beginning of me becoming a complete Birth nerd!), I declined nearly every test and procedure. I realized it was just my style of doing things to have quite hands-off Prenatal Care. Before I knew it, I was one of those Herb and Essential Oil using Pregnant Mamas who planned to eat her Placenta, not bathe her Baby after Birth, and skip virtually all Newborn procedures, and had a sacred Postpartum “lying in” time period planned out, knowing the benefits of Attachment Parenting and early mothering choices like breastfeeding, skin-to-skin, bed-sharing, and babywearing. Yeah, complete Earth Mama in the making there. haha
My Birth Guess-Date came and went, marked by my husband and I actually getting a nasty stomach bug. That resulted in us both feeling extremely drained the next couple of days. Around the middle of the day at 40 Weeks and 2 Days, I began feeling a regular tightening in my Uterus every 30-60 minutes or so. Some of these Uterine Surges very much reminded me of Menstruation sensations, and I had the impression that it would be in the next day or so that I would finally meet my little Baby. I tried to lay down for a nap that afternoon, but was too excited and distracted by each tiny change in my body to rest very much. That night when we went to bed, I still couldn’t really sleep, and each Uterine Wave slowly became more and more regular. Eventually I was completely unable to doze through them, so I started timing them out of curiosity, and found to my surprise that they were already a regular 6-7 minutes apart.
Around midnight, I woke my husband and let him know, and he gave the Midwife on duty a call to update her. He then began timing my Uterine Surges, and took over in caring for me. I sat quietly in the dark of our bedroom for a long while, gently bouncing on a Birthing ball, listening to soothing piano music, and mindfully riding each Wave as it came and went. At some point I decided to get in the shower, and my husband helped hold me in the water. The warmth and pressure from the shower-head was so soothing. Around 3 am, I decided to get outside, and we walked up and down the street. I found the cool night air so refreshing and invigorating between each Wave. At this point, I began leaning on Taylor for each time, arms around his neck and swaying my hips from side to side. Nearing 5am, the Waves were getting more and more powerful, and were getting to be about 2 minutes apart. We thought excitedly that we were getting closer, and my husband asked if I wanted to call the Midwife yet. I suddenly started getting very weepy for some reason, and couldn’t tell him either way. He went into a bit of a panic mode, and I think he was worried I was already nearing Transition. I still am not sure why I was so emotional then, because as you’ll read, we still had a long way to go yet and it was certainly no indication of where I was at in the Birthing process.
The Midwife asked us to come up to the Birth Center, so Taylor woke my sweet Mother-in-Law who was staying with us for the Birth of a new Grandbaby. It might seem odd to have your Mother-in-Law at your Birth, but we’re actually really close. I wanted her and my own Mother present, two of the women and mothers I look up to the most, supporting my first Birth. Taylor and his Mom quickly packed the car and got me into the back seat. I don’t remember much of that drive, but I do remember looking over at the bags that held my little Baby’s clothes and things, anticipating their impending arrival. We were all so excited! We got to the Birth Center right at dawn, and I remember getting inside to our room and seeing the bathtub filling up with warm water. The Midwife was quietly preparing things and welcomed us as we came in. I didn’t quite feel like getting into the tub yet, so Taylor and I walked around the hallways there in the Birth Center. I had this strange sensation that for some reason we weren’t supposed to be there at the Birth Center quite yet. Deep down I wondered if the 30 minute drive had thrown things off.
My Uterine Surges stayed somewhat regular for awhile, but they weren’t as powerful as before and weren’t building in intensity at all. Still hard work, but nothing too difficult to manage. We paced, swayed, squatted, bounced on the Birthing ball, and walked those halls for hours. I knew that movement was the key to helping my Baby come down, and returning me to point I had arrived at back at home. After several hours of still only weak Waves, the Midwife eventually asked if she could check my Cervical Thinning to see how far I’d come since Midnight. I initially never planned on having these internal examinations, but after having been sick over the weekend and being already drained as it was, and wondering why after hours of all my walking, moving, and swaying at the Birth Center that things still weren’t quite picking up again, I decided to go ahead. She examined me and found that I had reached 5 cm, which I was actually very grateful to know. It reassured me that the past 10 or so hours had accomplished quite a bit. The Midwife thought this was good progress too, but wanted to try some Clary Sage Essential Oil to see if that would get things moving again at a better pace like before when I was at home. I agreed, and she rubbed the oil into my abdomen. To this day when I smell Clary Sage Essential Oil, it immediately brings me back to that early morning, just before I became a Mother. Aromatherapy is so powerful at evoking memories! Unfortunately though, the Essential Oil didn’t seem to facilitate any change in intensity or frequency of my Uterine Surges that day.
Around 10am, the Midwife was exhausted from having been on duty since 8am the previous day, and the next Midwife had come in. I only met her once in my Prenatal Care, sadly. So I admit that Taylor and I were actually hoping she wouldn’t be the Midwife on duty for our Birth, because we had been able to get to know the other two Midwives so much better. So I felt a sense of disappointment when she came in. She’s an incredibly sweet person and gifted Midwife, but I just wanted the familiarity of one of the other women. We all sat in my Birthing room, me, both Midwives, Taylor, his Mom, and my Mom. As we sat by the tub of water that had now gone cool and with the light of late morning streaming brightly through the window, we all talked about her taking over, and the quietness of my Uterine Surges now. The Midwives both agreed that it was because of my sickness just 48 hours previously, that I was so very exhausted and was having trouble working past this point. I vividly remember one of them saying “You look absolutely haggard, Helen”, and I knew it was true. I was so exhausted, and I knew we had quite a ways to go yet. The two Midwives suggested that it would be better to not keep moving and encouraging my body further into Labour, when it so clearly needed to be quiet for a while. Getting home and having a short time of rest would most likely kick start Labour again, and assist me past the plateau where we were at. Normally I wouldn’t have wanted to do anything but keep waiting for my little one and let things develop on their own, but I was honestly getting worried at this point, wondering how I would be able to keep up the strength for the actual Delivery itself yet to come. And I disliked those feelings, as it paved the way for fearfulness.
So we decided to head home, and pick up a prescription they wrote for me for a gentle sleeping medication, to help me get just a couple hours of rest. On the way home I remember becoming very emotional and absolutely defeated. I was incredibly exhausted, and returning home with my sweet Baby still inside me was not how I had imagined things going. I was weeping with disappointment. Taylor was so gentle and supportive of me though, reassuring me that our little one was still on his or her way, and we all just needed a rest before the home stretch, the Baby included. He got me home, gave me a snack and the pills, and tucked me into bed.
This was when the really difficult part began though. I was so prepared for a Natural Birth. I had read and read, educated myself, took a Childbirth Class, and become so passionate about the entire Pregnancy and Birthing process unfolding naturally. So maintaining a calm, collected spirit during each of the Waves had truly been just as I anticipated it. I would quietly focus, and calmly let my body rise and fall with the swelling of each new Wave. But when I took those sleeping pills, I was knocked out in a matter of minutes, only to be jarred awake every 10 minutes with a sudden and unexpected Surge. Because I was sleeping and completely incoherent, as soon as the Surge would begin, I would be jolted awake in a desperate, confused agony, and then immediately fall asleep again as soon as it passed. I did this for 2 hours. It was really unpleasant. This experience made the power of the mind and will and spirit, preparation and education, and being present and calm during Childbirth so very apparent to me. The stark contrast of this interim period of time was so reinforcing of what I knew to be true. As a side-note too, I was so thankful to be Birthing out of a hospital. Because looking back I realized that at this point if I had been in a hospital setting, I would have been put on Pitocin instead of being sent home, and likely could have begun the downward spiral of begging for an Epidural from too intense of Uterine Waves and all the subsequent risks that follow, or even possibly a C-Section (as these things very often lead to).
True to the Midwives word though, the short rest did seem to do the trick. I eventually woke from stronger and deeper Waves over time, and finally told my husband I couldn’t do this anymore: sleeping was finished. He helped me into the shower again, and I have very little memory of being on hands and knees with the water spraying on my back. Here, I began to fully wake up from the effects of the sleeping aid and regained control of my emotional, mental, and spiritual state. I could now process and work with my body’s Uterine Waves. The fear and sense of desperation left me. At this point I began making the deep moaning sounds of a Birthing Mother. My Mother-in-Law told Taylor that those were the sounds we needed to hear, and it was time to get me packed up and in the car again as soon as possible.
I really don’t remember getting out of the shower, and only have a fleeting memory of the drive over. This time there was nothing on my mind but me and my Baby. I was focused completely inward. I don’t remember walking into the Birth Center for the second time that day, undressing, or getting into the tub full of water. I just remember sort of suddenly being there, crouching in the fresh, warm water, and vaguely hearing the soundtrack to Jane Eyre (my favourite!), quietly playing in the background. The Waves were closer and closer together now, seeming to be only a breath apart. I anticipated Pressing down with each Surge soon. This was good. From this point onward again, I realise in retrospect what I was saved from had I been in a Hospital setting. The next 3 hours would have gone much differently: I would most likely have ended up with Vacuum Extraction, Forceps, and/or a huge Episiotomy, and all the risks that comes along with those things.
I hadn’t been in the tub long before I began a few gentle breaths pressing down with my Baby. I was surprised at how quickly this was all happening now. It seemed so sudden that I could now feel his or her hair peaking out of my Birth Path with my fingertips. I began pressing further down with each Wave. They started out as the tentative practicing motions of a first time Birthing Mother. But I soon was giving it my all, pressing deeply, with renewed energy I hadn’t had that morning. The atmosphere of the room was in agreement: this Baby would be born quite soon. You could see the shape of their head growing, as my Vulva was bulging and swelling. The anticipation hung in the air, yet nothing happened. I kept breathing with my Baby, pressing and pressing downwards, but I seemed to have hit a wall. I could feel the Baby’s head come down further each time, but only ever so far. This went on for 3 hours. And I was actually crowning for 2 hours total.
None of us could figure out what the hold up was though. I was there, very present, calm, and breathing and pressing down with my Baby well and with strength. After a long while, the Midwife suggested getting me out of the water to try other positions. I am very disappointed about this too, as I had so been longing for a Water Birth (hopefully next time!).
We then proceeded to try nearly every trick in the book: Squatting, Hands and Knees, Side-lying, even Back-lying, and Rebozo to help with positioning, Birthing Stool, and more. The Midwife used almost an entire bottle of Olive Oil, massaging my stretching tissues and doing warm compresses. But Baby’s little head was just sitting there, barely bobbing up and down with each Wave, never quite getting anywhere. The Midwife later commented that this was probably due to me being a first time Mother, and because I had very tight, tense Pelvic muscles and skin. I was crowning for so long in fact, that my little Baby’s hair actually completely dried right where it stuck out of my Birth Path! I kept reaching into the depths of myself for strength with each Wave, but never seemed to get anywhere. After hours of this, I was getting desperately tired again and was so confused. The whole room was as well.
Eventually, I was sitting on a Birthing Stool with my Mother supporting me from behind, and my husband at my side. Finally the Midwife told me that she hated to recommend this and truly it was so rare that she ever did, but she wanted to do a small Episiotomy. Even as inwardly focused as I was in that moment, I remember the disappointment and sadness in her voice. She wanted me to continue through several more Uterine Waves first though. And I’m honestly not sure what was different this time, because I certainly didn’t have anything further to offer and any more strength or energy to give.
But suddenly my Baby flew into the world! Their little head finally, finally was born, revealing what the hold up had been all along: their right arm was held across their face, right hand by the left ear with the wrist bent at a 45 degree angle (not just flat against their head), and with the cord wrapped around all of this twice, holding their arm in place so that they couldn’t have pulled their arm down even if they wanted to! It all made so much sense now and the entire room breathed a sigh of relief as we finally understood what the wait had been for. Not only was I a first time Mother, newly stretching all of that tissue and breaking the new ground of my Birthing Path, but my little Baby’s positioning meant I had quite a bit of extra diameter to Birth out at the same time too.
With one more gentle breath pressing downward into my husband Taylor’s hands, our Baby was fully born into the world. They were immediately placed onto my chest, and I distinctly remember this moment: We were seeing and touching each other for the first time, yet still connected by the Umbilical Cord. And we were all so relieved to see this little one, that we hadn’t even checked to see what gender they were yet. So there was this special, timeless moment where they were still just my little Baby, with no name and no gender known by anyone but them and God, yet we were finally seeing each other for the very first time. Taylor checked a minute later, and we found out we had a sweet little daughter! She suddenly became even more alive in that moment. She stuck out her bottom lip and let out several cries, and then started looking around the room and taking it all in. After a few minutes of laughter and celebration, me sitting there supported by my own Mother, and myself now a new Mother with my Daughter in my arms, we formed a row of three generations of women. And Taylor proudly announced our Daughter’s name to the room: Margot Primrose. Her name was also kept as a surprise, so everyone was very eager for the announcement. I cherish maintaining the sacred, inwardness of Pregnancy and the unity of Mother and Baby. It is my view that gender and names are to be born with the Child, on the day of their Birth.
Sweet, little Margot Primrose was born around 6:30pm, and I was soon laying back in the bed, doing skin-to-skin with her. She was so alert and quiet in my arms. We waited to cut the cord until after the Placenta was delivered, which happened painlessly and relatively quickly after her Birth. My Placenta was then sent off to my Placenta Encapsulator to be prepared into capsules for consumption. I also attempted to Breastfeed at this point, but my Daughter seemed to become quite tired, and wasn’t very interested. It was apparent that she too was exhausted from all that hard work of us Birthing together. I was fearful about her refusing to latch, knowing the importance of Breastfeeding right away. The Birth Assistant even helped me express some Colostrum, but my Daughter was still uninterested. They reassured me not to worry just yet, but to keep trying as soon as I got home. To my immense relief, she did finally latch at 2 am, eight hours after her Birth. She breastfed beautifully too, and we’ve had a wonderful, nearly effortless Breastfeeding relationship, and are still Nursing strongly onwards, past her 3rd Birthday.
We came home that night around 11pm, four hours after the Birth, and laid in bed together bonding, breastfeeding, bed-sharing, and lying skin-to-skin for the first several days, really practicing a quiet lying-in period, a Sacred Postpartum. My little girl is closely attached to me, and I wouldn’t change any part of her beginning of life.
It’s true how empowered you feel after a Natural Birth. You honestly feel that you can accomplish anything, and I believe that you need that passion to dive into and thrive in Motherhood. I remember just minutes after the Birth, my Midwife told me that if I could do what I just did, then I could do anything I set my mind to. And I believe her. I’ve carried that truth with me into Motherhood, because it’s something sacred: Motherhood is a role specially designed by God, and it is an honour to claim it as my own.
– Helen Rose
***While reading my story, you may have noticed my avoidance of using words like “Contractions”, “Pain”, “Pushing”, etc. This is because I have a strong belief in the power of words. The way we describe Childbirth directly effects our experience. For example, look up synonyms for the word “Push”, and you will primarily find forceful or even violent imagery in the suggestions offered. “Pressing” or “Breathing” as an alternative, offers up visions of a natural motion, and of mindfully, calmly working with your body and Baby in Childbirth. This is both therapeutic in pondering past Birthing experiences, as well as empowering for future Births too. I encourage you to take on this mindset as well!