Born at home on January 7th, 2019 at 5:42pm. 8 lbs 6 oz. Born in the veil.
I see birth as a mirror for us. To let us really see ourselves. The most ripe opportunity to make quantum leaps in our life. To come out on the other side brand new and more connected to whom we really are. My birthing preference is at home, natural and un-medicated. This is where I feel safest. Our belief is that a woman’s body is meant to give birth. Trusting in this in itself is transformational. I feel safest at home and feeling safe during childbirth is of the utmost importance. I choose to be unmedicated in order to be the most in touch with my body, to experience the power within, and to step out of the way to let my body do what it needs to do.
This is not just the birth of Lyon, but the birth of me. The birth of Rocky as a brother. The birth of Matt having a daughter. The birth of our forever changed family.
Before I begin I want to share my journey after Rockys’ birth and before Lyons’. Rocky was born at my midwives house (her policy was that first time moms birth at her house). I was so eager and excited for my birthing experience. I had read in Well Adjusted Babiesthat going through a natural childbirth was equivalent to 7 years of meditation. After doing it twice, I can definitely see why they made that statement. Rockys’ birth started in the evening of 42 weeks and 6 days, contractions BEGAN with every 1.5 minutes for 45 seconds long. It felt like I was thrown onto a bucking bronco and was not let off until he was born 7 hours later at 3:13am. Total transparency, after that experience I understood why women often used epidurals. I distinctly remember feeling fearful during his birth, like I was in a dark tunnel and could not see the light at the end. Being an athlete my whole life I was used to KNOWING how long I was to endure or experience something before I could rest. Birth is not this way. Birth is about surrendering and relinquishing our need to control. In summary, his birth was beautifully imbedded with lessons and love but I was left with the fear of doing it again. I knew I needed to fully process that experience before another baby was to arrive. My motivation to fully integrate was not only to be free of past fears but also because I felt it would not be fair to the new baby to bring Rockys’ birth into theirs. This was a new baby, a new experience and a new me.
Birth requires preparation…mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually. This time around I felt way more grounded and knew what I needed to do to prepare. One of the hypnobaby affirmations that resonated with me this pregnancy was “I deserve an easy and comfortable childbirth.” I loved this and clung to it for weeks. At one point it dawned on me that I did not want an easy childbirth. I wanted a transformational experience. I wanted to come out different on the other side. That was worth everything to me. In that moment I was grateful for my clarity and looked forward to my transformation.
On the night of 1.6.19 we all went to bed as a family. I often had Braxton hicks at night towards the end of the pregnancy so I did not think anything of having cramping that sometimes woke me up. I also did not know how THIS birthing time would present itself as each experience is different. I decided to go out into the living room and open one of the contraction tracker apps on my phone to see if these were rhythmic (indicative of labor). They were mild and lasted around 30 seconds and appeared every 5-7 minutes. I was so excited that it was the day and thrilled that Lyon chose a slower pace to make her entrance. I went into the bedroom and woke up Matt to tell him that it was birthing day but to keep sleeping. I had always loved reading how other women were able to cook or watch movies while waiting for their labors to accelerate. Luckily, I was able to do just that this time! I watched one of my favorite feel good movies, Couples Retreat, while tracking the waves. I also took time to really feel the waves each time. I wanted to know and experience what my body was generating. It felt as if a thick band was tied around my waste compressing me from all sides and then a gentle opening from within.
The next 8-10 hours were the most magical ones I could have ever imagined. Matt woke up and we watched the rest of the movie together while pumping up the birthing pool. The rest of the day consisted of yummy sandwiches, chai tea lattes, time in the sun with my belly out, a walk, baking cookies and prepping the bedroom for the baby. The pace of it was everything. The contractions were irregular at times and I trusted that they would pick up when the time was right. I decided to take a nap around noon to rest and conserve. After waking up I told Matt that the contractions had slowed down and felt that sex was a good plan to move things along. It did just that and my waves came in longer and stronger. We set up the gopro at this point to document the rest of the time. Matt was my DJ and would play songs through every wave for me. I would dance through them and we would laugh together. He kept saying, “I wish people could see this.” He was saying that because most people do not know birth in this way. That it could be this fun and comfortable. That it doesn’t have to be like what the movies depict.
I decided that Matt was to be my doula/birth coach this time. He is my partner, soul mate and knows me better than anyone. And, we had been through this before together. I cannot emphasize this statement enough but to say that he was the most amazing birthing partner I could have ever asked for. He met me where I was at after every wave, asking me what I needed before the next one and surrounded me with love and joy. I wish he had filed some of the pep talks he got me because they were that good but maybe it wouldn’t had been the same intimate experience if so.
My midwife, Katriel, arrived around 3pm as per my request. I did not feel like she needed to be there before then. I knew that I would know when the time was right. Once she came in and set up her supplies, she listened to the baby using a Doppler. This was the first time we had heard the baby in this way as we opted to not have any Doppler or ultrasounds during the pregnancy (just palpation, measurements and fetoscope). Hearing her sweet heartbeat was special and nice to know that everything sounded beautiful and healthy. She listened again about every hour from there on. Matt got the hose ready and began to start filling up the pool. I continued to experience each and every wave, moving around the bedroom with an intention to find what position my body liked and needed. Most of it was experienced while standing with my arms on the fireplace mantel while moving my pelvis in figure-8 motions…other times were on top of the bed, exercise ball or leaning over the bed. At this point I felt so peaceful and confident, using different birthing affirmations during each wave (“I choose love”, “peace”, “I am surrendering”, “I am open”, etc.).
I asked Katriel to check me to see how many centimeters I was. This is a sensitive time and I waited until this point to ask. It can either be very exciting or very discouraging. Either way it provides information. She told me that I was 7cm. I decided that it was time to get into the pool. This is when everything shifted, the music changed to more of a meditative tone and the waves I was experiencing were becoming stronger and longer. This was the time to really start going inward…to turn inside out. I could feel my body opening more and more from within. One thing I really enjoyed during Rockys’ birth was feeling his descent down the canal…to feel the amniotic sac on my fingertips was extremely encouraging (and very cool to feel the rubbery texture of the sac that my baby had been inside of for 43 weeks!) I instinctively did the same thing this time, reaching my fingers upward to feel the baby coming down. My water had not yet broken so I could feel the sac again this time. Feeling progress was everything in those moments. However, Lyon was not descending as fast as Rocky had. This was a lesson I learned that I wish I had known in advance. Do not compare births… every baby is different. Lyon was coming down at her own pace and my impatience was brought to the surface for me to see. I continued to be with my body during the waves. Matt and I would talk between each one, discussing what was needed for the next one. He was so amazing, to meet me where I was at after each one. I don’t know what I would have done without him. I would often cling to his words “this is the only moment you have.” The last 45 minutes I really needed something to hold on to. Attending to my breath was hard enough, I felt like I had to come up for air after the strong waves. I understood cognitively how my body was generating an immense amount of power to bring my baby into this world but knowing that was not enough for me to get through them. Even though I was very immersed in the moment, I knew the importance of hydration and nutrition. I did NOT want to get dehydrated or lose momentum from lack of energy. I often drank my electrolyte water and had two honey sticks with in the pool.
I could feel the sac moving down and then also going back up. I knew that this was the baby’s way of making space but in the moment it is hard to not be discouraged. They often say that when a mom wants to quit is when she’s in transition. I too wanted to quit around this time and my birth team showered me with support. The position I landed with was on all fours, that is what my body preferred. I was in this position the rest of the time and my arms would often become fatigued so sometimes I would hang on to the edge of the pool to rest.
I began to push and could feel the sac coming down. I expected it to pop during this time because that’s what happened last time (Again…another unnecessary comparison!) The sac did not break. It is an amazing feeling to experience when the baby starts to emerge out of the human body. The female body is nothing short of amazing! I had another strong contraction and could feel a large volume coming out of me but as I reached down and felt it I realized that it was not her head but a large bulge of the sac. In my head I thought how cool it was that she was coming out in the sac. In the veil. The next contraction brought out her head and with the next one her body came as the sac burst. The sweet relief. I turned to sit down as I reached for the baby. Holding my baby, skin to skin. This is something I will always remember…how utterly soft babies are when they come out. Their skin against mine. Thinking about it makes my heart burst. After seconds pass I realize that I get to look to see if it’s a boy or a girl! I look down and see that it is a girl! Oh wow, it was such a surprise. Towards the end of the pregnancy I leaned more towards a boy. I held her as Matt was embracing both of us. Shortly after I delivered the placenta and then transferred to the bed. The next 30 minutes consisted of skin to skin and standard procedures to check and monitor mom and baby as well as Rocky meeting his new baby sister. The union of our new family in our home. I cannot express enough how amazing it is to give birth in your own house. I could not have imagined any other way now.
Baby Lyon was born with stork bites between her eyes but they resemble little claw marks…”Marks of the Lion.”
Thank you for joining in the love,
Dr. Monica Smith
*Special gratitude to my midwife Katriel Phillips, CPM-TN https://www.simplybirthmidwifery.com