Category Archives: Family Life

30 Day Weight Loss & Healing #1- My Journey Overview

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As a healer, it has always been my goal to be able to help those who have not been able to heal by traditional/mainstream means. Those who have searched and searched, been to countless doctors, spent many thousands of dollars on supplements, tried a variety of diets, etc. and still are not well. I’m interested in helping these people because I am one.
I haven’t written about my experiences very actively over the past 3 years, but once upon a time I was 28 years old and very, very, VERY sick. I was so sick that I knew I would die before age 35 if I didn’t figure out why and how to fix it. I had been to many doctors, they offered me no diagnosis aside from IBS, and no help or hope. I was obese, I was swollen around my joints, which were inflamed and painful. I was fatigued all of the time, it didn’t matter how much I slept. I was in severe pain in my back and neck muscles and had headaches so intense that I would take 3 Ibuprofen upon waking and then lay on the couch for 30 minutes covering my eyes waiting for them to take the edge off the pain. Taking the edge off enabled me to attend to the basic needs of my children. I would take another 3 pills in the afternoon, and another 3 in the evening. That was the only way I could function even a little bit. I started blacking out randomly and having lengthy dizzy spells, often lasing for days at a time, with such intensity I had to hang on to things to move around the house. After my third baby was born was the worst. That was a very dark time in my life. “Luckily” that baby had such horrible colic for 5 months that I changed my diet quiet a bit as I tried to find the offending food. In the end it turned out the culprit was bananas, of all things, but the process got me off of dairy and sugar at least! I lost 20 lbs from those subtle dietary changes by the time he was 6 months old. That’s when I discovered raw vegan diets and read several books on that from our library. I spent the next month reading and doing an Isagenix cleanse (I had done a number of them over several years before but this was the only 30 I had done) to prepare my body for change. If I remember correctly I lost about 12-15 lbs in that month on that cleanse. This was the last Isagenix cleanse I would ever do. My health had improved noticeably. This was June 2009. July 1, 2009 I started my raw journey. I began slow by adding good things into my diet. The first thing I changed was starting my day with a huge green smoothie instead of the whey protein shake I’d relied on for many years. I never had any intention of going vegan, I loved meat and felt I needed it to be healthy, so I had planned on keeping a portion of meat at dinner time with everything else eventually being raw. I had always eaten what the world would consider and healthy balanced dinner; a serving of lean meat, a starch (potato, rice, homemade bread, etc.), and salad and /or steamed vegetables. As I transitioned my salads grew larger and I ate less and less of the starch and steamed vegetables, so I mostly ate salad and meat for dinner. My body changed dramatically over those first 4 months. As my health improved I gained the ability to discern how different food affected me. Every night I would have stomach pain after dinner. This happened for about a month before I accepted that it might be the meat and removed that and put a potato or steamed vegetable back in its place. From the day I made that change I never had a stomach ache after dinner again. I’ve tried eating meat a number of times over the years and it never does go over well with my body or my spirit. I became big into green smoothies and then started juicing, which catapulted my healing in a big way. Eventually I got into colon cleansing with water and that increased the speed of my healing as well. My skin was clear after years of painful face and back acne, I had energy, I lost 73 lbs, I had no need for pain medication because I was no longer in pain, my perspective on the world changed from dark and fearful to light and hopeful, I became an inspiration to others and I started doing Wellness Coaching which eventually led into Detox Counseling, specifically. Detox was my life. I still had some issues with weak digestion (bloating, gas, constipation, hemorrhoids) and low blood sugar, but all else was well and I was still working on those things.
And then I got pregnant with the 4th child. This was autumn of 2012. I had spent the summer rebounding and running and doing The Shred with Jillian Michaels… I was a 5’7″ 120 lb hyped-up-on-life machine of awesomeness… until the 7th week of the pregnancy. I went down. Way, way, waaaay down. As I did with all of my pregnancies, each one worse than the last. I was sure I was going to have the most amazing, fit, life-force infused pregnancy. I was sure I was going to be glowing and still running in my 8th month and tiny all over with a cute round bump. Not so. Whatever it was that caused my pregnancies to be so terrible was still there in force. I was sick the entire pregnancy. I could not eat healthy, I could not get down juice or vegetables. I could eat some fruit. I spent the whole 9 months eating whatever I could get in. It was survival. I was on bedrest almost the entire time with preterm labor. I was anemic. I could breathe but felt like I was suffocating the entire time. I had intense ligament pain on the sides of my tummy if I sat upright for more than a few minutes. I went into labor every time I got up. So I ended up spending the last few months laying down upstairs in my bedroom. We had moved to Arizona during my 6th month and my husband graduated Chiropractic College and went to WA to do his preceptorship for 2 months. I was alone in a new place, with my 3 kids, on bedrest and miserable. I became very depressed and had a lot of anxiety. And it was very lonely being isolated in my bedroom for months.
I was SO relieved when the baby was born. I had a birth that was absolutely awesome and very emotionally healing. That birth erased all the trauma from my second birth (which had also affected my 3rd birth). I felt I could accomplish anything and I was sure that the weight would come right off and within 6-8 weeks I would be a size 2 again and be back out there running and loving life. Well, that baby just turned 3 last week. Today I’m about the same weight I was after his birth. I lost some of the pregnancy weight during the first year but it came back on. I’ve done a handful of cleanses and have juiced all that I can now that I have 4 kids on my hands all hours of the day. Honestly, healthy eating is much more challenging for me with 4 children than it was with 3. I’m exhausted. Life has been very stressful. I went through about 2 years of extreme depression, which brought me through several periods of being suicidal. I never have yet been able to regain the health I was enjoying prior to the last pregnancy. I feel I should go on record here and say I would absolutely do it all over again for the child that came of it! He is amazing and I am as in love with him every moment of every day as I was that first day when I pushed him out of my body and brought him up out of the water with my own hands. He is my little friend who makes every day worth the struggle.
I have been able to identify a few reasons why I’m having these issues. #1 I’ve had Epstein Barr virus since I was about 7 years old. Its activated by hormones (um, pregnancy!). I was not aware of this until recently, and it is very common. #2 I was recently diagnosed with the MTHFR gene mutation. I have 2 copies of the mutation, which means that it comes from both sides of my family and means that I don’t get 70% of the folic acid my body needs to function. It also means that I’ve got massive amounts of homocystine causing a ruckus all over my body, putting me at risk of heart attack, blocking my D3 receptors so that I’m severely D3 deficient. And also my body can’t detox heavy metals very well, so I’ve got heavy metal toxicity in my gut. In addition, I have a mutation of the SUOX gene. #3 These gene mutations cause some fun autoimmune disorders which, in myself, have thus far been identified as fibromyalgia, Hashimotos, and lupus. Epstein Barr also contributes to symptoms of Hashimotos. No wonder I’m exhausted and overweight, huh?!! #4  I have an intolerance to just about every food known to man.  #5 I’m holding on to a whole lot of weight and sickness because of many factors in my life that my body has interpreted as “scarcity.” (More on that in the next post).

The good news: Every one of these things can be corrected. This is not a life sentence.

This is a brief history so you can understand where I am coming from and a bit of what my journey has been like. The next post will be geared toward healing and what I will be doing moving forward, which can also be a massive benefit to you!

P.S. I am 36 years old, I didn’t die at 35! I 100% attribute this to the grace of God as He has led me through my healing journey.
P.S.S. Isn’t it interesting that my healing journey originally began on July 1, 2009 and today is July 1, 2014. Coincidence? I don’t believe in those!

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A Heavy Hearted Adoption Update

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It has taken me several weeks to write this post due to the sensitivity of the update.  I actually have not even informed most of our family members.  I’ve been holding back, waiting to for my heart to heal a bit before I said anything, because I knew that if anyone said something insensitive it would just break me… well, my heart hasn’t healed at all yet, but I feel a responsibility to inform all those who are supporting us in so many ways.  The little girl that we were planning to adopt is now being adopted by another family.  We did not get a waiver we needed from China fast enough, and another family began the process ahead of us.  It was shocking and heartbreaking to us.  We are focusing on being happy that she is going to have a family.  I promised myself that I would be happy for her if this were to happen, and I am, but I am sad for us.  I’m not sure what to do to heal my heart.  I’ve done a lot of praying.  We have wanted to adopt for a very long time and this is not deterring us from a Special Needs China adoption.  We are continuing on with our fundraising efforts and moving forward with faith.

We are Adopting, and We Could Use YOUR Help!

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A few years ago I wrote here about my love for adoption. Our family has been waiting to adopt for a very long time.  We haven’t been waiting to be chosen, we have been waiting until the time felt right.  I am so excited to announce that we are now beginning our adoption journey!  If you are interested in our story, please visit our fundraising site.  We would love any help you can give us, and prayers and sending love are the best thing you could offer.  If you feel inspired, please share our fundraiser with others.  I will be sharing more details about our journey and about “Lilly” as events transpire.

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The Birth of Zain Tai Shan

Born June 24, 2013 at 8:05 am

8 lbs, 15 ounces, 21 inches long, 14 inch head circumference

This is long, bear with me!  I’ve included every detail of this journey that I want to remember for my own record.  If you want to just read about the birth, skip down!

The Pregnancy

Only God and I will ever know the sacrifice it took to give this child life.  In hindsight, I think the pregnancy was even harder than the birth.  This was my 4th pregnancy and birth.  My first 3 had gotten progressively worse as far as how well my body handled being pregnant.  I’d had high hopes for this pregnancy though after having spent 4 years on a detox diet and lifestyle healing my body.  I was in the best shape I’d ever been in in my life.  That’s not to say I didn’t still have a lot of work to do, but I’d made tremendous progress.  I went into this pregnancy expecting to continue eating my clean diet, cleansing my colon and rebounding daily and with visions of my body strong and vibrant, glowing and slim, with one of those adorable round bellies.  I’m a big believer in manifesting what we want and in the power of the mind to create our desired reality.  Despite my efforts and intentions, it didn’t turn out at all as planned and I definitely went through a mourning process for months.  I needed to accept the fact that I’m just not one of those women who can’t be pregnant and healthy.  My body does not handle it well.  This was very difficult for me because it meant accepting that this would be my last pregnancy, as I cannot take care of my children while I am pregnant.  I hadn’t wanted to be pregnant again.  We’ve always felt that 6 children is right for us but both of us fully expected to adopt the last 3.  But the spiritual promptings came, undeniably, and at a time when our income was in the form of school loans, thus making adoption impossible.  So we knew what we had to do.

It took 7 months to conceive.  Two of our children were unintentionally conceived and the other took 3 months, but I knew exactly when he would be conceived so I didn’t really consider it “trying”.  I was surprised this one took so long.  I felt very connected to this child from the time we started getting the promptings, about one and a half years before his actual birth.  When I finally did get pregnant the only symptom I had was sharp gas pains a lot of the time, which I didn’t relate to possible pregnancy.  I believe we got the positive test at 5 weeks.  I felt fantastic until week 7.  During that time I really thought I was going to have my dream pregnancy.  Then comes week 7 and the morning sickness arrives.  I’ve never vomited while pregnant, I just can’t eat.  I full-on gag constantly, especially at the thought or smell of food.  The terrible gas pains continued.  I normally would do an enema a day as part of my cleansing lifestyle and I had to up that to two a day just to keep the pain at a bearable level.  I had to eat whatever I could stand to choke down in the moment which meant a whole lot of food that I would never touch normally.  Food that literally would suck the life out of me, but I had to eat something.  I did my best to stick to the highest quality version of whatever it was I was eating.  I became very weak and faint.  There were times I was so sick I was genuinely scared for my life, one time in particular when I was home alone while my family was at church.  I was so low on energy I kept fading in and out of sleep on the couch.  My breathing was shallow and I felt incredibly weak.  I somehow managed to get to the kitchen and made a protein shake, which I’d forgotten I even had in the cabinet until then.  It helped a lot, but was so difficult to get down.  I choked them down daily for the next few weeks until I absolutely couldn’t do it anymore.  I doubt I will ever be able to look at the package again without having flashbacks.

During this time we were readying our house for sale, and by “we” I mean mostly me.  My husband worked and was at school too much to help a lot.  So, sick as I was, I had to force my body to do a whole lot of painting and other projects.  My children’s homeschooling went completely out the window, as did the regular upkeep of the house.  The sickness slowly faded away as I got into my second trimester, but I never did regain any kind of appetite or tolerance for vegetables.  I still had a lot of food aversions.  I continued feeling weak and faint.  Somewhere between 17 and 20 weeks the prodromal labor contractions started.  They had started in the last tri of my first pregnancy, at 14 weeks with my second and at 11 weeks with my third, so I felt blessed to have made it so far without them.

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About a month later we moved from Missouri to Arizona and my husband went to Washington for a 2 month preceptorship, leaving me alone with the kids.  He was able to come home for a visit during that time, which was a huge blessing, but that was a dark time in my life.  I did the best that I could but moving around would bring on contractions and I still wasn’t feeling well.  I started having ligament cramping in my abdomen, especially if I stood up for any length of time, so I spent most of the time laying on the couch.

I began having a lot of difficulty breathing.  It started out happening for several hours each morning.  I felt like I could take air in but that I couldn’t get enough oxygen from it, like I was suffocating.  This would happen even if I was just sitting or lying down.  So I spent hours a day deep breathing as best I could and trying not to panic.  Eventually, it moved from just in the morning to coming on any time of the day for several hours duration.

The kids were super stir crazy.  It was all I could do to even navigate a grocery store, so they didn’t get out much.  The day that my husband was flying home for good our son, Behn, jumped over the back of a chair and broke his arm.  My body had already been pushed to its limits that day and after the time spent in the hospital, that turned out to be the first of many nights I’d have cramping contractions.  I was about 32 weeks at the time.   I just kept praying and laying still and taking warm baths and loading up on a calcium and magnesium supplement to keep the contractions at a minimum.  Sometimes I would have them every 3-5 minutes for several days at a time.  It became exhausting, especially to be around people or in public.  I withdrew from the world so that I could focus on dealing with what my body was doing.

During this time I was diagnosed by my midwife with anemia, which should have explained the breathlessness.  My hemoglobin level was 9.6, and it needed to be over 10 to legally qualify for a homebirth, but my midwife preferred it to be closer to 11.  I started taking Floradix with high hopes of alleviating the suffocation I was feeling.  I read online that it typically took 7-12 days to feel better and I watched the calendar until that time… and that time passed… and 8 weeks passed… and I still suffocated.  A blood test at 35 weeks showed that my hemoglobin was up above 10, so I was out of the danger zone, but I in no way felt better.

The Final Weeks

At last, I reached the 36th week, which meant I was eligible for a homebirth.  I never expected to go beyond 38-weeks with this baby.  For some reason I was sure he would be born in the 37th or 38th week, I was also sure that he would be smaller than my other babies and pretty certain he would have dark hair.  So, being in the 36th week and realizing the time was at hand, my anxiety went wild.

I’ve had a tremendous amount of birth anxiety all my life.  I’ve even wondered if it I might have a legitimate phobia.  My second birth in particular had left me with a lot of trauma and fear.  I had had so much anxiety that whole pregnancy and when labor began it ripped me from my sleep early in the morning.  I began active labor immediately and Behn was born 2 hours and 20 minutes later.  It felt MUCH faster.  I didn’t realize it was progressing so quickly and thought I just wasn’t handling it well and that I had hours more to go and that it would get much worse.  My midwives were just leaving another birth so I had no one there to tell me I was at the end and would soon hold my baby.  I had no one there who was supportive and could bring me back down to earth and help me to stay calm.  I had a full-blown panic attack the entire time.  The midwives did not arrive until 9 minutes before he was born and I was already pushing out of control at that point.  My doula did not arrive until an hour after the birth.  I was just there with my husband, who didn’t know what to do to help me, and my sister who was caring for my 4 year old daughter.  My worst fear was a repeat of that birth.  My first birth was also very painful, but I was calm.  Still, I never wanted to feel that pain again, which is what caused the anxiety toward the second birth.  For my 3rd birth I used Hypnobabies, and it was TREMENDOUS.  I woke up in labor first thing in the morning with that one as well, but for the first time I actually had a first stage and the hypnosis was wonderful during that time.  I kept very calm and chose not to perceive what I was feeling as pain.  I had a pain-free labor, but as I went into transition and birth, that all went out the window and I just did what had to be done to handle it and get the baby out.  This time, I decided that if I could have a pain-free labor last time, I would have a pain-free labor AND birth this time.  I’m a determined person and I usually get what I want.  But now that I was near my birthing time and it was becoming very real to me I began to doubt myself.  I took to reading about painless birth and collecting and reading affirmations every day in addition to my hypnosis practice.  I used a lot of my prodromal labor contractions to practice my hypnosis and it worked magically almost all of the time.

At this point I was still struggling to breathe.  It got to the point where I could not stand up for more than 5 minutes without having to sit down or I would get dizzy from lack of oxygen.  Interestingly, I did a search online to figure out what it was and I came across posts I had put up during my last 2 pregnancies asking for help for the exact same problem… I guess this is just what happens to me when I’m pregnant and I block it out!  In addition to that the contractions got stronger and longer all the time and the ligament cramping got worse.  It was terrible if I stood for a minute or two and even if I sat upright for more than a few minutes at a time.  The ligaments would spasm and I would have pain for hours afterward, which would make the contractions even worse.  I moved upstairs to my bed and didn’t leave for over a month.  I just laid there.  I only got up if I had to, like to use the bathroom.  I had to rely on my daughter and husband to bring me food.   Of course this only made the anxiety worse.  Here I was stuck in one room day after day, mostly alone, helpless, in and out of labor, dreading the upcoming event, constantly wondering when it would come upon me.  My mind did nothing but spin with thoughts of giving birth.  I couldn’t imagine how I could do it again.  I never knew how I’d done it in the first place.  I could only remember what was traumatizing about my previous births.  I was so afraid of waking up in labor again.  I was having contractions at least every 30 minutes, but usually every 15 minutes or closer, so I would wake up all night long to contractions, each time in a panic thinking I was in labor.  I reached out to every resource I could think of during this time, but as I tried to talk through the fear and figure it out it only seemed to get worse.  I would hear myself talking and I sounded like I did as a child when I was faced with anything medical related or physically uncomfortable.  What it came down to was that I knew my body would birth this baby, but I had no belief whatsoever that I could handle it mentally or emotionally.  I kept praying and praying for a healing, easy, comfortable, painless birth.  I got several Priesthood blessings that said that my prayers had been heard and would be answered and that I would be able to stay in the moment during birth and not panic.  This brought a small amount of comfort, but I still felt so trapped.

My due date was June 20th.  On the night of June 8th, at 37-weeks, I had my first night of labor.  I was up that entire night with consistent contractions, 3-5 minutes apart and stronger than usual.  I could not sleep through them at all.  I took a ton of Rescue Remedy and talked myself through the whole night, doing all I could to just stay calm.  Calm was my main objective, as I knew all too well that any pain I would feel would be relative to the amount of fear I was experiencing.  Kolby texted the birth team to put them on alert in case we might need them in the night.  By the time the sun came up the contractions began to space out.  I was so exhausted I was falling asleep sitting up and confused and frustrated.  That felt like a lot of work for nothing!  But still, the entire time, I was willing labor away.  I didn’t want it to come.  Ever.  As bad as pregnancy was and as much as I wanted this baby, I could not bear the thought of going through what was necessary to get to the other side.  In the wee hours of that morning I began to see that maybe my anxiety had some roots in other issues.  I had randomly began to cry about my mom having recently been diagnosed with cancer.  I had been so wrapped up in my pregnancy I hadn’t given myself much space to think about it or process it.

I continued having frequent contractions all week.  I was so anxious I was having panic attacks and not eating or sleeping much.  It was getting to be a desperate situation.  There was talk between me and Kolby and me and my midwives (which they brought up) about possibly choosing an induction and epidural in a hospital because the anxiety was so severe I couldn’t function.  It was also suggested I go on an anti-anxiety drug, but I was in such bad shape I couldn’t leave the house to see a doctor.  I seriously considered the medical route.  I had only ever had natural births at home and in water.  After a lot of thought and discussion I made the decision based on my usual terms, the first being which is the path of least regret, and the second being what my instincts are telling me.  I knew that I would regret making a selfish decision out of fear, and compromising all that was so important to me regarding this soul’s entrance into the world.  I also felt that, even if the induction and epidural worked flawlessly, I would be more traumatized from the medical procedures and atmosphere than I would be from having another natural birth, even if it was fast and hard like Behn’s birth.

A week later, on the night of the 16th, I went into labor again.  Contractions started out 5 minutes apart and were long and even stronger than they ever had been before.  The midwives and doula came and everything was set up for birth.  This was a beautiful night.  It was intimate and romantic and everything felt perfect.  I was calm for the most part, and even happy.  I didn’t want labor to stop on me again.  I didn’t want to have wasted everyone’s time and effort and I wanted to have my baby on this perfect night.  I used my hypnosis through the contractions while lying in bed holding Kolby’s hand all night.  He fell asleep, but I didn’t care, I was handling it well.  I was so hungry and kept having my doula bring me bowls of melon to snack on between contractions.  Slowly, the contractions got lighter and I began to doze in between them, and then they spaced out.  The midwives left at 4 am and the doula at 5 am.  I fully expected to get a few hours of sleep and then go into active labor.  But that didn’t happen.  My midwife came back later in the day to check on me and to take down the birth tub and get her things because she had several other women in line to give birth.  My perfect night was gone.  At this point I really didn’t want to go into labor ever again, the perfect moment had passed and I was exhausted and felt so defeated.  I doubted I could recreate such a perfect scene and mental state again.  I went back to fear and attempting to process fear and putting off labor any way that I could.

That week a letter came from my mom and I was hesitant to open it.  When I did I cried as I read it and released so many pent up emotions that I wasn’t even aware I’d had.  She said many things that I’d needed so much to hear since childhood.  This was an extremely healing moment for me and afterwards I felt capable of birthing this baby.  I felt that I could take on anything.  As time passed fear creeped back in.  This was such a tremendous time of mental processing and growth.  I realized at some point that if I had handled this pregnancy, I was already so much stronger than I thought.  I reached out to a friend of mine, who was my doula and Bradley teacher from my first birth.  We had a conversation via Facebook one night that transformed so much of my fear into hope and strength and I will forever be thankful for her and for the prompting to reach out and ask her if she had any ideas to help me deal with this fear.

Being cooped up in my bedroom and being to engrossed in anxiety really began to wear on me.  I became depressed.  My husband was worried about me.  Nothing could distract me from my mental state.  Nothing interested me or made me smile.  I wanted someone to connect with but I just couldn’t find that.  I was in a new place with no friends nearby and was alone in a room most of the time.  When Kolby is around he’s always playing games on his phone and tends to become angry when I talk about my feelings so he wasn’t able to be the friend that I needed, although he did support me to the best of his ability.  I never though this pregnancy would go on this long, but I will be forever thankful, because it allotted me the time I needed to process so much of my fear.

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The Birth

Behn had wanted the baby to be born on his birthday, the 23rd.  I told him I would try but that I really didn’t think I would be pregnant that long.  Yet here I was on the 23rd, still pregnant.  The 23rd also happened to be the day of the Supermoon, the largest (or closest to the earth) that the moon would be all year.  I thought if I didn’t go into labor this day, I never would.

During the day I began having contractions that felt like a band of crampiness in a horseshoe shape around the sides and bottom of my belly.  They were different from any contractions I had had up until this point and judging by the strength of the cramping, I really thought I was in labor for sure this time.  I started timing them around 2 pm.  They started 15 minutes apart and went to 5 minutes apart within an hour.  My mother in law came and got the kids to spend the night at her house.  I had wanted the kids to be part of the birth originally, but they didn’t seem as interested in the last few weeks and I was finding that they were distracting during contractions, especially the boys.

The midwives and doula came over and as soon as the midwife walked in the contractions almost completely diminished.   We talked for a while about my anxiety and how I need to be willing to let go of control and let this baby be born.  I don’t usually consent to cervical checks and my midwife doesn’t typically do them or find them helpful, but she wanted to check to see what all the contractions were accomplishing and also said she would like to strip my membranes.  I had never had that done before, or any form of induction and it made me nervous.  Kolby and I prayed about it and he gave me a blessing and we felt that it was okay to do the stripping.  I had them fill the birth tub first because I was worried labor might kick in for real afterward.   The cervical check and stripping hurt quite a bit.  She said my cervix was tilted back so it wasn’t opening a whole lot and she pulled it forward and was happy that it didn’t slip back.  She said that she probably couldn’t have broken my water if she wanted to because there was almost no water in front of his head, just the membrane.  I didn’t want to know how dilated I was because I didn’t want to feel discouraged and I know that dilation tells you nothing about how much longer it will be anyway.  (I asked several days later and found out I was 3 cm dilated that day.)  Not too long after, the cramping contractions came back but the birth team left after some conversation and insisting that I get out of the house and go for a drive and see the full moon.  I didn’t want to go far from home or have contractions in the car, but I did go out to the backyard with Kolby and sat and watched the moon for an hour.  It was the first time I’d even been downstairs in weeks.  It was nice to get outside, but the chair I was sitting on was uncomfortable.  After that we came in to watch a movie in bed and the contractions went almost completely away again, but the movie helped me relax and get my mind off of birth, so that was nice.  I sat up for a bit thinking about my reaction to and feelings about the birth.  I thought about how I was reacting like my child-self and worked through some issues.  I reminded myself of the woman that I am now.  I thought about the women I was before this pregnancy.  I had all but forgotten her.  I remembered how beautiful and strong I was.  I remembered how positive I was and how often I was told by friends that I was an inspiration to them in one way or another.  I reminded myself that I was still that women, I had just forgotten.  And then, I fell asleep.

A couple of contractions began to rouse me and half-heartedly made an attempt to time them but fell asleep in between.  I believe there were 3, and they were 15 minutes apart.  On about the 4th one I was woken up all the way to a feeling I’d yet to experience.  These contractions were not a band across the top of my belly like my first labor, and they were now a band low in my belly like my last two labors an like the night before.  The best I can describe them was that I could envision a cone shape with an open bottom, as though the bottom were where my cervix is and the cone was the bottom half of my uterus, or somewhere within my uterus.  This is where I felt the contractions.  And they were really uncomfortable!  I had to work to breathe through these.  I went to the bathroom and got caught by one on my way back to the bed and had to hang on to the door as it peaked.  Kolby called the midwives and I laid down and went to work.  He was timing them and they were very erratic, which made me wonder if I was really in labor.  I didn’t trust myself to know by this point.  One would be 12 minutes, then 5, then 9, then a double peak that would last for 3 full minutes.  I had had several double peak contractions during my earlier bouts of labor, which was interesting.  I’d never had double peaks outside of transition before.  The birth team arrive and the water in the birth tub was rewarmed.  I was breathing intensely and blowing out during contractions.  Not only was the timing all over the place, but so was the intensity.  I would have a few easier ones and then a really strong one, then an easy, then a double peak and so on.  Before I knew it the contractions quickly changed and I was vocalizing through them.  Kolby kept trying to offer me food and I was so irritated.  The food ship had long since sailed!  I was asking for more support and had Kolby lying in front of me holding my hand and my doula sitting behind me with her hand on me.  I still felt alone.  What I really wanted was someone to take some of the pain.  These contractions were blowing my mind.  I did NOT want to be having them or feeling this much pain, this was supposed to be my pain-free birth!  The midwives came in and I instantly reached out to my midwife, Alison.  For some reason the whole time I’d wanted her and her presence was so comforting to me.  Everyone started encouraging me to get into the tub.  I was still a little scared to do that because the tub reminded me of the worst parts of my previous births.  That is where the greatest of the pain and intensity happened.  I still wasn’t sure I wanted another water birth because of that, but I wanted the option.  There were really insisting though.  I didn’t want to get in too early and overheat and spend what seemed like forever in there like my last birth.  But when they told me I needed to get my pants off immediately I got the clue!  I was talking a lot during this time and I don’t really remember what I said, I was just sort of unloading emotional stuff.  I had the brief thought that maybe I could be in transition because I was saying things like that I didn’t want to do this and I wanted it to be over, but I’d just started labor, surely I couldn’t be anywhere near transition!   I really hadn’t thought for a second that I was at all close to ready to push this baby out.  They helped me out of my pants and I remember my midwife asking me if I knew about the purple line.  I said yes and she looked and informed me that I had one!   A minute ago, I was still not sure I was actually in labor, and I was beginning to realize I was not only really in labor, but there was a baby about to come out of me!  I made a dash for the tub.  I got on my knees and held on to the side of the tub in front of me and immediately got scared because that was how I ended up pushing before and it triggered those memories.  I said something about how I didn’t want to be in that position and they asked if I wanted to turn around but I couldn’t bear the thought of that either.  Really, I just wanted out of the situation.  I knew the only way was through.  There was a small hole in the tub that the midwife had repaired with tape (she’d ordered a new one but it wasn’t in yet) and I could hear the air leaking out somewhere below me.  I remember this being a huge concern to me.  I knew how hard I was going to be squeezing the side of that tub and I didn’t want it deflating on me!  I fussed over it for a few seconds and then quickly got over it, but I could hear it the whole time.  This time was a bit of a blur and I’m not sure of the exact order of things.  Kolby was sitting on a stool in front of me and the midwives and doula were behind me.  One of the midwives was supporting my perineum with a warm washcloth and I believe they put castor oil on it to “slide” the baby out.  Somehow in the mix of things Kolby had texted his mom and it was mentioned that she was on her way with the kids.  This freaked me out.  I was so overstimulated and so just barely hanging in there, the thought of the distraction of them walking in was too much.  I knew I had to get this baby out before they got there.  I didn’t want to have a single contraction more than was absolutely necessary or be in labor a second longer than I had to be, so I pushed like my life depended on it.  At that point, I didn’t care if I tore wide open, I didn’t care if I had a long, painful recovery, I wanted my baby OUT.  The contractions were still erratic.  There were only 3 or 4 breaks in between where there was no pain and I was able to take a second to rest and recoup some energy to keep going.  This period of time felt chaotic and terrible.  The feeling of the baby’s head stretching me open was incredibly painful.  I was pushing as best as I could and just hoping with every push for the feeling of his head releasing from my body but it seemed like it would never come.  I was even pushing in between contractions when there was just cramping.  During contractions I would push as best I could and scream at what felt like the top of my lungs.  I tried to keep the sounds low, but it was so hard with all the pain.  The midwives kept reassuring me that he was right there, he was just giving me a chance to stretch.  I said a lot of things during this time that I don’t remember now.  I know that I kept saying, “Come out Zainy, come out come out come out.”  I remember the midwife asking if I wanted to touch his head, and I did, but I didn’t feel I could so I said no, I just want him out.  I remember the midwife telling me to reach down and so I could catch my baby, because I had wanted to the whole pregnancy, but I couldn’t stand the thought of pushing without squeezing the wall of the tub with all my strength.  Kolby had caught our other boys, but I didn’t want him to move from in front of me and he was okay with that.  The midwife was worried I might regret later that I didn’t catch my baby, but I knew I wouldn’t.  I was only concerned with doing what was necessary to get the baby out.  It didn’t matter to me who caught him, as long as he was out and he was safe.  I needed a lot of reassurance and support.  I was later told that my water broke as I was pushing, like it did with my other boys, but I didn’t feel or hear it this time.  My midwife had said sometime before it broke that he might be born in the caul and that even though I might not be thinking it at the time, that is the coolest kind of birth… but I was totally thinking it at the time, I always wanted a baby born in the caul!  But after a few pushes I’d totally forgotten about any of that, I was too focused on getting that baby out and getting this all over with.  Finally, I felt myself  stretch to my max and the head released.  I expected to have a rest here before pushing the body out but I kept pushing, I think the midwife told me to, but I’m not sure.  It was SO intense, I felt my body pull up out of the water like I was trying to move away from the pain and out came my baby.  They passed him through my legs and told me to grab him.  I reached down and took hold of his tiny body and cracked my eyes open to see him all purple and curled up coming up to the surface.  He looked like he was trying to take a breath under water and I wonder if he maybe caught his first breath when I rose up out of the water and inhaled some water as he was passed to me.  I pulled him to my chest and turned over to sit down with him.

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My favorite moment of the whole birth, when they passed him through my legs and I pulled his tiny, curled, slippery, purple self to the surface!

Such relief!  He was trying to work some fluid out of his lungs and I was trying to get him face down so gravity could help but the cord was over his shoulder so the midwives had to help me move it so I could change his position.  The apprentice midwife announced the time of birth: 8:05, the exact same time Behn was born 7 years and 1 day earlier!  I was still feeling some cramping and my bottom hurt a lot, so I was kind of sitting on my left side a bit.

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LOVE THIS! Its rare that my husband really connects to the moment and the look on his face here is just beautiful!

Just then my kids and mother in law appeared in the bathroom doorway (the birth tub was in the bathroom), perfect timing!  The kids got to take in the wonderful scene of new birth without having to witness mommy screaming and in pain.   I was especially thankful for this because Behn had been very nervous about hearing the sounds of birth and seeing it and tends to be very sensitive about things like that.  It was a blessing that he wasn’t there, and also a blessing that they arrived in time to see the immediate celebration of new life.

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The scene the kids walked in to.

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The boys meeting their new little partner in crime.

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Shy big sister lingering in the doorway

They each came and gave Zain a kiss.  My mother in law left.  Everyone was so happy and there was such warmth and joy in the room.  Zain was perfect.  With my other children, it took me a day or two to bond with them on the outside, but with Zain the strong bond we’d had for so long never changed.  I immediately felt overwhelming love for him.  He was just as I pictured him, only with lighter hair.  So, all of my predictions about his birth were wrong!

After a bit I started having contractions again and asked if I could push out the placenta.  Coen cut the cord with his daddy’s help, he had requested this job after he’d watched the video of his own birth a few weeks before.

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Coen and Daddy cut the cord

I passed the baby to Kolby who took him to the bedroom.  I had been worried about pushing the placenta out as it had been difficult for me in the past and I felt unsupported, even abandoned during that time in previous births.  With my last birth it took me a full hour to get the placenta out and was a very painful and stressful endeavor.  My midwife had assured me I would not be left alone this time and she fulfilled that promise.  I laid on my side in the tub with the apprentice midwife up near my head helping to support me while my midwife checked to make sure the placenta had detached, it had.  I gave one push and it easily slipped out.  I can’t believe how easy it was!  Kolby helped me get washed off in the shower and then I climbed into bed with my sweet baby.  I was nervous to nurse him until he was checked for lip and tongue tie because I endured so much pain with my other babies who had them, but only one of them was diagnosed at the time.  He did have both and my midwife was able to clip them.  I still hate that he had to go through that right after birth, but I also didn’t want him having to go through nursing with a mother who is in pain and dreading every time he gets hungry and being tense while he nurses.  I especially didn’t want him to think he was the cause of my pain.

The apprentice midwife was giving me several herbal tinctures about every 15 minutes from right after the birth.  One was Star of Bethlehem, which my midwife wanted me to take because it helps with trauma.  She was concerned that even if this birth wasn’t traumatic, it might trigger memories of past birth trauma.  I was also given arnica (for tissue healing) and Wish Garden Herbs After Ease.  I can’t say enough about the After Ease!  I was VERY nervous about after pains because they were so bad with my third baby and they get worse with each one.  I only took a half dose of Ibuprofen  5 times (I believe) over the first 3 days, in addition to the After Ease and I never felt anything more painful than moderate menstrual cramps a few times while nursing.

Zain pooed more meconium than I ever thought possible.  After a few hours and lots of poo when we finally got around to examining him he weighed 8 lbs 15 ounces, the exact same as Behn (after he had pooed meconium twice), and was 21 inches long, the same length as my other two boys.   His head circumference was a quarter inch bigger than my other boys and a quarter inch smaller than my daughter.   Labor was 2 hours and 35 minutes from the contraction that actually woke me up, 25 minutes of that was pushing.  The whole thing felt like about 30 minutes.

What I Learned

Going into this birth I wanted more than anything to have a “successful” hypnobabies birth.  I thought that that meant it should be painless and easy.  I prayed and prayed and prayed for this and that this birth would be healing.  I wanted to find out what it’s like to feel empowered by birth, to feel like I’d had a positive birth experience.  I could not imagine that something that involved pain could possibly be any of those things.   All of the anxiety I experienced was over fear of pain.  I truly believed that if there was more than just minor pain I would not be able to have the experience I so badly wanted and would come out of this traumatized.  My worst fear was that this birth would be like my second (Behn’s) birth.  Lucky for me, God knows better than I do, and always hears and answers my prayers, in His way.  This birth was identical to Behn’s birth in so many ways:  I woke up in labor, it was fast and hard, it was very painful, it felt wild and unpredictable, I got into the water only to push because I didn’t realize how far along I was, pushing was intense and so raw and harsh and gritty feeling… BUT, I didn’t panic, and I had support.  This time I wasn’t alone.  I wanted so much for someone to take a little bit of the pain away from me and I did feel somewhat alone in that I knew no one could do this for me, all they could do is stand by my side.  I knew that I was the only person in this world who could birth this child.  I think what made the biggest difference was having someone there to bring me into the reality that things we’re moving quickly, that I wasn’t going to be in that state for a long time, that I wasn’t going to suffer.  I had people watching me push and telling me about the progress I was making and cheering me on.  My husband was right in front of me the entire time touching me and supporting me.  We were a team for the first time.  I felt so connected to my baby and never lost sight of the reason for all that I was feeling.  I realize now that a painless, easy birth would not have been nearly as empowering.  To have realized my own power, I needed to experience its greatness.  It wasn’t some external force passing through me, it WAS me.  It was me using the gift of creation that God has given me, and me and God and Zain, working flawlessly together, gave birth to new life. I gave a small sacrifice of temporary pain for this precious little being to have what he wanted most, a body like his Heavenly Father and an opportunity to experience a mortal life, to learn, to be tried and tested, and to return to live with his Father for eternity.  I realize now that there is nothing wrong with feeling pain.  It is through pain that we do our best growing.  Pain and joy are only opposite ends of the same line, one cannot exist without the other, or we wouldn’t know either.  I’ve learned that I can have positive experiences, even if they involve pain.  I doubt that Christ would complain of being traumatized by what he did for me, and I did such a small thing for a fellow being in comparison.

Another thing I took away from this:  gratitude.  I always say there’s nothing gratitude can’t heal, but for some reason I never applied that to birth before.  It wasn’t until this pregnancy that I learned that when babies come fast, it’s almost always a good sign.  A fast baby is usually a safe, healthy baby.  I’d always seen myself as a victim to precipitous labor.  It wasn’t until this birth that it dawned on me that I would so much rather have these fast, hard, intense labors than to have complications.  I just can’t believe I never saw the blessing in it before.  I have had 4 natural births at home, in the water.  All of them have been absolutely flawless with perfect outcomes.  All healthy babies, and I recovered well from all of them.  I am so blessed!  I realize now, that whatever I endured during those few short hours of my life, no matter how much pain I felt, I am not traumatized.  I am not a victim.  I was given 4 of the most amazing gifts a person can receive.  I am loved.  I am supported.  I am strong.  I wanted to come through this with a positive message for all women and that is it.  What is true for me is true for any women, regardless of her birth experience.  You are loved.  You are supported.  And you are strong.

I have been lost in baby bliss for the past 9 days.  Zain is wonderful.  I couldn’t have dreamed up a better person.  He has renewed my love for each of my children and my husband.  He has taught me so much about love, and faith, and growth, and myself.  He has given me a new perspective.  The things I learned from this experience I will carry with me through life and they will be priceless tools that I can share with others.

Lastly, I just have to say that all of this sacrifice was more worth it than I can express.  I am so in love!  SO in love with this child.  He is a gift to me, to our family, and to the world.  I pray that I can be a fraction of the mother he deserves.  I know that, as with all of my children, I will spend every day of my life working to be a better person than I was the day before because he deserves the very best and while I’ll never live up to the perfection he ought to have, I will always do my best.  I am so honored that out of every women in the world, he chose me.  My pain was not suffering, and despite the fact that this birth went exactly how I didn’t want it to go, it was a perfect, healing, empowering and positive birth.  I got everything I wanted and more.

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While I was pushing out the placenta they were taking turns holding the baby and taking pics

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Silly boys

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Getting to know each other

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First nursing

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Love this picture with my midwife, Alison Haasch of LifeSpring Midwifery!

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Homebirth scene

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Big sister puts him right to sleep

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Birth-day boy

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And here he is two weeks later! So in love with this guy!

The Birth of Zain Tai Shan

The Birth of Coen Syaoran

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Tying up the posting of my previous births… I’ve been searching for Coen’s birth story for weeks and can’t find it, my heart is breaking!  This was my favorite birth thus far and my memories seem to have gone missing.  I’ll just have to give a brief retelling here, and sadly, no one even took pictures of the beautiful labor that I had, so all I’ve got captured is the after moments.

The Birth of Coen Syaoran

9 lbs even

21 inches long

13.75 head circumference

5 hours 45 mins of labor (longer than my first 2 combined!)

Just like with Behn I woke up first thing in the morning with an undeniable *real* labor contraction. I’d had a somewhat restless night’s sleep after a horrible evening of feeling like absolute poo.  We actually went to get adjusted at Kolby’s school the evening before and ran into some friends who were concerned about me because I looked so terrible.  So, I woke up to a crampy contraction and went to the bathroom.  Behn came out of the bedroom and I changed his diaper in the hallway, had another contraction, went into the bedroom and leaned/sat on the edge of the bed and had another.  They were mild, but different from my usual prelabor contractions.  I took a dose of the Cramp Bark/False Unicorn tincture my midwife had had me on for several months just in case it wasn’t really time yet.  I was 38-weeks exactly.

I know that I laid down at this point and stayed there but I don’t remember anything except waiting for my doula, who is a friend of mine and lived behind us at the time, to come over.  I remember her getting there and feeling relieved.  I knew I was very much in labor by that time (about 30 mins after I woke up).  For the next few hours I lay on my side and my doula held me through every contraction.  I listened to my hypnobabies CD and did my best to keep calm and relaxed.  For a while at first my legs were trembling out of control from nerves, but that eventually stopped.  At some point the midwife got there and asked what made me think this was real labor and I responded shortly that it just was and she went away (later I was told the 2 midwives, who had recently left another birth, went downstairs to take a nap).  I was thinking the contractions were like 15 minutes apart.  It seemed like forever before another one would come and I was bored in between, I kept having to tell myself that it was okay that it wasn’t progressing as quickly as my others, that this was the answer to my many prayers, this was my gentle birth, and that this baby was coming in exactly the way he needed to.  I heard my doula say to the midwife that the contractions were 3 mins apart and that was a big surprise to me!  The contractions were not painful, although I was very aware that I could have perceived them that way had I chosen to, and that I would have perceived them that way in the past.  With each contraction I labeled, in my mind, the sensations, “stretching, tightening, pressure”.  I welcomed each one and told myself, “This is God bringing you your baby.”  I remember being told I need to try and eat a banana but I only got in a few bites and couldn’t do any more, I was concentrating too hard.  At some point after several hours of this the energy of the contractions started to pick up.  I began needing to vocalize though them.  Someone had gotten the birth tub ready right next to the bed and I wanted to get in it before things got too incredibly intense.  This is when I lost the ability to relax and use hypnosis during contractions and they became very strong, this is when I began to feel pain.  I’d had pressure in my low back the whole time, which I’d not had with my other babies, and my doula would rub my back during contractions.  I was on my knees leaning forward into the wall of the birth pool and she was in front of me on the outside with her arms around me.  Kolby was nearby giving me sips of water between contractions.  Every now and then I would see my little 2 year old, Behn, sneak around us and steal a drink from my big labor cup… so cute!  It was reassuring to see him so relaxed and up to mischief, as usual.  I don’t remember seeing my daughter at all, I have very little visual memory from any of  my labors as my eyes are closed most of the time because I’m so inwardly focused.  I only remember knowing she was present toward then end as the kids were getting ready to help daddy catch the baby.  All I really remember from this time was just holding on and doing whatever I had to do to make it through the contractions, which unfortunately for my doula involved some biting and scratching.  I also yelled at my husband that if I had to go through this, I got to name the baby, as we’d been back and forth about a name.  I don’t remember when I started pushing or much about that time, I vaguely remember that my water broke as I was pushing, like it did with Behn.  I remember that I’d thought, for some reason, it would only take a few pushes to get this baby out and it was taking what seemed like forever.  I just kept pushing and pushing and pushing and felt like I wasn’t getting anywhere.  Eventually his head came out, and then his shoulders, but his body didn’t slip out like the others, I had to actually push it out.  I know my husband caught him, but I don’t know if the other kids helped or if they even got in the tub until after he was out.  I’ve made a point not to watch my own birth videos until I’m sure I’m done having kids, so I guess I’ll get to see how it all went down in time!

I felt a little disoriented and overheated after he was born.  He looked exactly like I knew he would.  We hung out in the tub with him a bit and then Kolby got out with him and the kids got cleaned up, possibly by the doula.  I was still having back labor and very strong contractions and trying to deliver the placenta.  The midwives wanted me to get out and deliver it on the birth stool but I couldn’t bear the thought of having a contraction standing and no one was there to help me, so I kept pushing and pushing in the tub.  They gave me some herbs to help expel the placenta and had me pull on the cord to get it out.  Still no go.  After an hour I was finally able to brave getting to the birth stool.  It was surprisingly comfy there.  I had a contraction right away and asked my midwife if I could hold on to her (for whatever reason I cannot push without someone to hold on to) and out it came right away!  Wish someone would have helped me out of the tub sooner!  I got in bed and nursed my perfect little guy.  He was the only one of our babies who looked Chinese.  It turned out to be a trick though, about 2 weeks later he totally looked like a Caucasian baby, but he’s adorable either way!

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Moments after birth

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Family celebrating in the birth tub

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Big sister Juelie holding Coen for the 1st time

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The proud brand new big brother with his new baby brother… love this pic, one of my faves.

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Behn giving Coen’s hand a little kiss

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It was a big day for these brothers, time for their first nap together!

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The Chinese baby

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The one time he sucked his thumb

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From the beginning he was our happy animated child!

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And this is Coen now. Still cute and smiley as ever! … but less Chinese.

Behnjamin’s Birth

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Continuing the posting of my past birth’s leading up to the birth of our newest addition, here is Behn’s story.

 

The Birth of Behnjamin Shen

Born at home June 23, 2006
8:05 am
8 pounds 15 ounces
21 inches long
13.5 inch head circumference

Background

I had had several months of prodromal labor with both of my pregnancies, though the contractions were stronger and closer together with my second. When I went into labor with my first I actually had about 5 hours of early labor, but I didn’t really realize I was in labor until my water broke, at which point hard labor hit immediately and my daughter was born 3 hours later. With this pregnancy, my second, I thought I was in early labor 3 or 4 times a week for the last 6 weeks of the pregnancy. After so many let downs, I decided the only way I would know when I was in labor would be when my water broke, which I expected to happen spontaneously. I was also reminded by my midwife during the 40th week that with “real labor” the contractions will move up above my belly button, so that gave me 2 unmistakable signs to look for to know when I was really in labor…

Labor and Birth

On the morning of June 23, 2006, six days past my estimated due date, I woke up to a very crampy contraction. I immediately thought “today is the day.” It was about 5:45 am. I got up to go to the bathroom where I had contractions that seemed to be about 3 minutes apart. I was in there for maybe 15 minutes. The contractions were definitely different than the ones I’d been having, but the cramping was very low in my belly. I went back to the bed intending to work through them on my own for a while and let Kolby get some sleep. I was very nervous and my body was shaking uncontrollably, in a random tremor-like way. I tapped Kolby on the arm and said his name… he didn’t move… I more frantically tapped him and said his name with a little more urgency. He woke up and without even meaning to I immediately said, “I’m in labor. We sat on the bed together for a while, him trying to calm me down. Juelie had been sleeping on the floor beside the bed and woke up asking if mommy was having the baby today.
About 20 minutes later I was in the living room on my knees leaning over the birth ball. I was in and out of the bathroom every few contractions, where I would have contractions sitting on the toilet leaning over bracing myself on the side of the tub, and squatting down hanging onto the edge of the sink. Kolby called my sister to have her come over and get breakfast for Juels. He called the midwife who was just finishing up with another birth, and he called our doula. By this time I was beginning to vocalize through contractions. The sun was out already and I complained that it was too bright in the room so Kolby taped a blanket up over the living room window.
The contractions were getting stronger and I could feel a lot of pressure and my cervix stretching during the contractions. Things were moving fast, but the contractions were still under my belly button and my water still hadn’t broken, so I figured I wasn’t really in “active” labor yet. It was getting difficult to hang on to the birth ball during contractions. I kept putting one arm on the floor to steady myself, or rocking the ball back and forth. I was getting louder and louder. At some point I had a very strong contraction and I remember saying, “these contractions are going to break my water!” There was SO much pressure. The center of the pain was low in my belly, like where you would feel menstrual cramps and extended up to my belly button.
I was so tired in between contractions and since my water hadn’t broken I figured I still had some time to go. I told Kolby I wanted to try lying down in bed, figuring I could relax better between contractions there. We laid down in bed, Kolby laying behind me. By this time I felt as though I was writhing in pain , gripping a pillow as the contractions peaked. I was moaning as loudly as I possibly could, struggling to keep my sounds low, and trying to put all of the energy of the contractions into sound to get it out of my body enough to take the edge off the pain. I was still shaking uncontrollably between contractions. I was thinking that I wasn’t handling things well, because I still didn’t think that the most intense part of labor had come yet since my waters were still intact. I was worried that when my water broke I wouldn’t be able to handle it, since I was just barely hanging in there as it were. There was an incredible amount of pressure with the contractions. I hadn’t gotten in the birth pool yet because I wanted to save the water for when I really needed relief.
I only had about 3 or 4 contractions laying on the bed before I announced I needed to get in the pool, at which point I jumped up, tore off my pants leaving only my sports bra on, and practically ran to the living room, getting into the pool as quickly as possible as another contraction was building. I got on my knees and gripped the side of the pool with my arms as the contraction peaked, then took off the now wet sports bra and threw it on the floor. I really was having a hard time making it through contractions. It was feeling like they were so much bigger and more powerful than I was. Within a few minutes I had a contraction and as it was begging to taper down I felt my body push. I think you could say this is where I began to panic a bit. It was still just Kolby, my sister, Juels, and me. My body was pushing on it’s own, something I only experienced during the last few pushes during my first labor (where I had pushed for an hour without a strong urge). I started to feel my vagina stretching open with the contractions and something pushing down through it. I kept saying, “There’s a head, I feel a head!”

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Kolby didn’t really believe me, I knew he didn’t believe me. Still, he told me if my body was pushing then that’s what it needed to do and to go with what my body was telling me to do. He had been on the phone with the midwives and told me they were just down the street. I pushed again and felt what I thought was the head move way down, stretch me out, and then slide back up again. With the next contraction the “head” I’d felt came down again… and exploded! It was my water! I called out that my water had just broken, and in that instant I felt an intense “hard” pressure in my butt, and then I remembered– THAT is what a head feels like! Moments later the midwives walked in the door. Morgan, the back up midwife (my usual midwife wasn’t feeling well), Theresa, one of the interns I’d seen at many of my prenatal appointments, and another midwife I hadn’t met before. I heard Morgan introduce her as they hurried in, but can’t recall her name.

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Things get pretty blurry from here. This was about 35 minutes after I got into the pool. I couldn’t tell where one contraction ended and another began. I was lost in a jumble of pain and involuntary pushing, with a few voluntary pushes in between. I was feeling pretty desperate to get this baby out. Morgan had me move around to where she could see me better. Juels had gotten in the tub at some point when I had said, “if she’s going to help catch you’d better get her in here NOW!” I was starting to feel a strong burning as I was stretching around the baby’s head. Still in panic mode, I could hear myself saying, “It burns! It burns so bad!” This was fear speaking, it did burn, but not nearly as bad as my first baby had. I was scared that the burn was going to become as bad as it had been with my first labor. I vaguely remember Morgan saying the baby’s hand was up by his face. Kolby says he thinks she pushed it back in. I couldn’t tell if what I was feeling was the midwife or the baby, and so I asked her and she assured me it was the baby, which for some reason made it okay to me. Before I knew it the head was out. I was in shock. I couldn’t believe I had been pushing in the first place, much less that my baby’s head was now outside my body. Morgan lifted the cord from around his neck. Kolby and Juels touched his head. I kept saying random unintentional things like, “Is his head really out? Is he okay?” I even asked if he was alive. Morgan had me turn around and lean my back into the side of the tub, I had been on my knees the entire time. I kept trying to stay in a squat but for some reason needed to go back to my knees again. I really didn’t want to turn around as that had been very uncomfortable during my first labor. However, I didn’t sit down, I kept my bottom up about a foot off the bottom of the pool. I was scared to see the baby’s head, but I couldn’t see it below my belly anyway. I had always been terrified of that moment when the baby emerges from my body and I was totally disconnected from it during my first labor, with no interest whatsoever in seeing the baby come out, much less touching the baby. Well, this time I was so desperate to get the baby out and so in need of reassurance that I really was almost there that I reached down and felt his soft little head. This gave me so much comfort and motivation. His head was out for about 2 and a half minutes before I got another contraction with an urge to push, I believe the midwife had me start pushing before the contraction even began as she maneuvered his shoulders to help them out. Kolby and Juelie caught him, though I didn’t see them do it. My eyes must have been closed because for some reason I didn’t see his birth. He was born 9 minutes after the midwives arrived.

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The next thing I know I’m being handed a light haired, light skinned little boy. I was pretty surprised since my husband is half Chinese and we’d both had dreams of a baby boy with thick black hair and tan skin. I didn’t care. I didn’t care what he looked like. I didn’t care that he looked so tiny and I had been obsessed during my pregnancy with having a baby close to or over 10 pounds. Nothing mattered but that I was holding my baby. I started talking to him and kissing him. He was pretty limp though he pinked up quickly.

Crying because I was so relieved it was over!

Crying because I was so relieved it was over!

I touched the cord and felt it pulsating, something I’d wanted to feel for a long time and didn’t get to with my first baby. I still had a crampy feeling low in my belly, but the contractions had stopped, something that was also different from my first baby. It seemed like so much time was passing and I was worried the placenta wouldn’t come. The midwives weren’t concerned about it. Morgan just asked me if I wanted to deliver it in the tub or outside the tub where she had set up a nest of Chux pads on the floor. I wanted to deliver in the tub but it just wasn’t working.

Cutting the cord

Cutting the cord

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The cord had long since stopped pulsating so Kolby cut it and I got out to deliver the placenta, which didn’t come easily or comfortably. After I had delivered it Morgan helped me into the bedroom. I got a little light headed on the way there but for the most part I felt really well. I laid on the bed to be checked.

Juelie helping carry the baby to mommy

Juelie helping carry the baby to mommy

Eventually the baby was brought in and the room filled with chatter. Our doula got there sometime around this point. The midwives were asking me questions and filling out paper work. Behn was wrapped in a towel. I worked on getting him interested in nursing as I lay on the bed. He passed meconium right onto the towel. We switched him to a clean towel.

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A while later he passed more into the towel and went on to wiggle in it and managed to smear it all over the bottom half of his tiny body. Morgan cleaned him up. By the time we weighed him he was 8 pounds 15 ounces, but they guessed before all the poop he would have been more like 9 pounds 2 ounces. A few hours later and after some successful nursing he was measured, 21 inches long. One of the midwives showed Kolby and Juelie the placenta while I nursed the baby. Kolby video taped the “placenta tour” and Juelie got to feel all the different parts of it.

Placenta tour

Placenta tour

I was starving, Kolby cooked a chicken breast for me, which I ate about 10 bites of between distractions and nursing, and I drank a cup of postpartum tea my doula had made for me. I got up to go into the bathroom to try to urinate, the midwives wanted me to before they left. When I came back from the bathroom 15-20 minutes later the baby wasn’t quite the nice healthy pink color he had been when I’d last seen him. He was purplish all over his arms, legs, belly, and face. Morgan came in and looked at him and noticed it too. This was about 3 hours after birth. They checked his heart and respiratory rates and everything seemed normal. Morgan decided to call over to the hospital to consult with one of the physicians there who had helped her with questions she’d had at many other births. The baby was starting to turn pink again, but the doctor decided it would be best to bring him in, just to be safe.

The NICU

By the time we got ready to go out the door, about 2 hours after we first noticed the odd coloring, the baby was back to his healthy color again. The doctor wanted Morgan to bring him in on oxygen, but he looked fine now so we got in the car and she just brought the oxygen tank along. We got to the NICU 5 hours and 15 minutes after the birth. The baby looked fine and all the tests they ran came out perfect. The x-rays showed a tiny bit of fluid in his right lung. They had 2 guesses as to the cause of the problem. 1) He’d been born so fast the birth canal wasn’t able to aspirate all of the amniotic fluid out of his lungs. 2) He had inhaled a tiny bit of breastmilk during his first feeding, which they said is pretty common. We assume it was the second guess, since the problem didn’t show up until several hours after the birth. They decided to keep him overnight for monitoring and to avoid having to discharge and then re-admit him if any problems came up during the night. We spent about 4 hours in an exam-type room with the baby in a little bed under heat lamps with monitors attached to him. The nurses attempted to draw blood from his arm and heel multiple times and were barely able to get enough for the more “important” of the tests the doctor ordered. I sat nearby on a hard stool, so sleepy I could barely keep myself upright, and starving (once again). After a few hours my doula have me some Emergen-C and Kolby brought me a cup of chamomile tea. They said they wanted to keep him over night for monitoring and would get us a room, but that ended up taking several hours. Once we knew that everything was alright the remaining 2 midwives, Morgan and Theresa (the other one had left our house before we noticed the problem with the baby) left, and our doula went home a little while before we got our room, which was around 5:00. My sister had taken Juels and gone to get some snacks and some things from home. Once she got back Kolby went to pickup dinner from a friend who had made it for us. While we were waiting I ate 2 graham crackers, then FINALLY at around 6:00 I got to eat a real meal for the first time that day. Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to eat in the room (I ended up sneaking food all through the night between the nurses checking on us.)

Behn in NICU

Behn in NICU

I didn’t get the chance to lay down to try to rest until between 12:30 and 12:45 am on the 24th. I got about 45 minutes of sleep. I was up nursing the baby for the next few hours. At one point Kolby took the baby and I fell in and out of sleep for 15-20 minutes before he needed to nurse again.

Kolby trying to sleep on cushions on the floor

Kolby trying to sleep on cushions on the floor

Kolby went to sleep and the baby and I stayed up nursing until 5:45 am. I laid down to nurse him, because I couldn’t sit up any longer. I fell asleep with the baby lying on the couch with me (totally natural for us since we co-sleep) and the nurse came in and woke me up 15 minutes later telling me the baby could get hurt and that I needed to put him in the little crib, which I had not put him in once since we’d gotten into the room. He was still hooked up to monitors but they had moved the couch closer to the crib so that I could sit down and be able to nurse him. Well, I knew that if I put him in the crib he’d just wake up and want to nurse again so instead I just sat up and watched him for about an hour and a half, then woke Kolby up so he could watch the baby and I could go to the restroom.

Getting ready to leave the hospital

Getting ready to leave the hospital

We got home at about 10 am, and around 1:00 pm I finally got a nap and a little bit of food in my stomach.

Home at last!

Home at last!

In Conclusion

All in all, the birth was good. I just wish I’d have listened to my body better and not tried so hard to gauge where things were based on my previous labor experience. This labor was similar in that it was fast (2 hours 20 minutes from the first contraction to birth), but otherwise it was so very different. To me it only felt like it was about 45 minutes long. I kept looking at the baby after ward saying, “I just can’t believe its over!” My “fool proof” sings for telling when I was in serious labor ended up meaning nothing at all since my water didn’t break until after I started pushing and the center of the contractions stayed low in my belly the entire time. Just like with my first baby it took me a day or two to process the experience and fall in love with my baby. I felt for him immediately after he was born, in that I’d worked hard for him and felt protective toward him, but I didn’t really bond with him until several days after.
We all love him so much, and Juelie is doing amazingly well as a big sister. Behnjamin is such a wonderful blessing!

Reading a story on Behn's first day home

Reading a story on Behn’s first day home

 

A daddy nap

A daddy nap

 

 

 

The Journey to Birth, or, The Place of in Between

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Every pregnancy is a transformation, and every birth the completion of that transformation.  I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately.  Nearing the end of my pregnancy, I can distinctly feel that I am in the depths of a metamorphosis, I am experiencing the acceleration of it in the deepest parts of myself.  I can feel it in my child.  I can feel him completing his physical and emotional development as he becomes ready to transition from the spiritual to the physical world.  We are two souls linked as one and working together, depending on one another to complete this process.  Toward the end of my pregnancies I become a bit of a hermit.  Not only within my home, but within myself.  I become very quiet and protective of myself, my children, and my space.  I don’t want any outside distractions, I am too focused on what is going on inside me.  Much like labor.  This is the place I am in right now.  One blogger refers to it as The Time of Zwischen, or the time of “between”.  I love her post and totally agree, this phase needs to be given a name!  This phase needs to be respected and each woman given the space necessary to surrender to it.  It isn’t just about waiting for birth, just as birth isn’t just about pushing a baby out.  It is supernal.  When a woman feels like she might go crazy as she nears the end of pregnancy, it isn’t just because her feet are swollen and she’s heavy and tired and the anxiety of the unknown is driving her mad… it is also because she is literally stuck between worlds.  She is becoming a mother.  It doesn’t matter if this is her first baby or her tenth, she has never been a mother to THIS child.  Every spirit’s journey into being is unique and every mother must carry her child through this journey.  It is never something that can be fully prepared for.  It doesn’t get easier or less awe inspiring because she has done it before.  Truthfully, she hasn’t done it before.  It is always a completely separate experience from any other, as unique as the child within her.

And then comes birth.  The grand finale of the journey.   This is the time when a woman’s power over takes her, giving her no choice but to move into the depths of herself.  She must travel so deep inside, she steps a foot into the spirit realm.  During this time she is completely inwardly focused.  She is not aware of much that is going on around her.  She has a foot in both worlds, doing the physical work in one, and the spiritual work in another.  She must step into the spiritual world to carry her child through.  She must let go and surrender enough to travel the distance.  If she resists, becomes fearful or is distracted or threatened, progress will often stall.  If she is in a hospital and this happens the journey is now in danger of being forced or bypassed by impatient hands.  In which case the integration that follows is often choppy and possibly incomplete.  And so, ideally, she will be reverenced during this time.  She will be supported in the physical world.  She will be understood.  She will be trusted.  She is wise and brave and only she knows exactly how to carry her child through the veil.  So she steps across and does what is necessary.  At this point, reality becomes real in a way that she has likely never experienced.  She may momentarily doubt herself or become fearful.  The intensity is overwhelming.  She is nearing completion, but is so involved in her great work that she is not aware of how close she is to completing it.  She cannot step away and admire her progress, she can only surrender and allow the forces of creation to move her child through her body.  I, personally, believe that this is the time when the spirit is being sewn into the physical body of the baby.  Up until now, the mother has likely been able to feel the baby’s presence, but sometimes nearer than others.  The spirit has been coming and going, preparing for mortal life.  But now the spirit is being cemented within the new body by the pressure of birth.  This process will be compete with the first breath, the breath of life.  The mother’s body is as open as it can be, and she is spiritually as open as she can be while still residing in her body.  The baby is passing the threshold.  The intensity is unrelenting.  She is stretched and open beyond description.  The final pushes are powerful, overwhelming, and exhilarating.  First the head.  She breathes.  Then the shoulders.  Next a slippery, bumpy body expels from her own and the pain and the intensity instantaneously become the greatest relief she has ever felt.  Any number of feelings are possible right now, but relief and awe are dominant.  She can’t believe she did it.  She can’t believe it is complete!  She and her baby make eye contact.  They speak to each other spirit to spirit, telling each other about the journey they have just been through.  Only they can completely understand.  The following moments, days, and weeks are a journey all of their own.  A journey of integration.  The birth will play over and over and over again in the mother’s memory.  No doubt, the baby will do the same.  They are processing what they have been through.  Both will cry many tears as they release emotions and communicate the hardships of their journey.  They will continue the journey together.  In many ways, they are still one.  They are only beginning to get to know each other as separate beings in the world.  This process will take approximately 5 years to complete, during which time they will remain attached to each other, holding tight to the bond they formed through the journey of creation.

My message, really, is to tell other mother’s out there to embrace whatever it is that they are experiencing.  Don’t become too impatient. Don’t rely on Dr. prescribed dates to tell you when your pregnancy journey will complete itself.  There is an exact moment in time that this soul is meant to enter the world, put yourself aside and honor that.  This process is your greatest sacrifice.  No good can come from rushing.   In the grand scheme of things, it is only a fraction of a moment in time.  Be patient.  If you have feelings of wanting to push the world away and go inside yourself, by all means do.  The world can wait.  It will still be there when you are through.  You are becoming a mother, and there is no work more important.  Just stand back and witness the natural progression, let it happen as it is meant to.  You and your baby know exactly how and when to make the transition.  Connect with your baby and have faith in the two of you.

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My Child Will Only Eat Junk Food!

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Its mind boggling how often I hear this, and every time I think the very same thing.  The only way your child can be eating only junk food, is if that’s what you’re feeding him!  This isn’t meant to sound uncompassionate.  I know raising a “picky” eater can be a nonstop battle, and I know well the pain of nonstop battles with children.  But the fact remains that it is you who buys the food, you who prepares the food, and you who puts that food in front of your child.  They cannot eat what isn’t there.  And I ASSURE you, children WILL NOT starve themselves!  Of course they will throw a fit and protest and may not eat for a while… that is OKAY.  Fasting is actually very beneficial to the body.  Never force a child to eat.  Just prepare healthy food and put it in front of them.  If they don’t want to eat it, that’s okay.  No judgement.  Put it in the fridge.  When they say they’re hungry later, bring it back out and give them another chance to eat it.  Repeat again, if necessary.  If bedtime is nearing and they still haven’t eaten explain to them very straight forward, “This is what is for dinner.  This is your last chance to eat tonight.  You can eat it now, or wait until morning to eat.  If you don’t eat now, you will probably be hungry in bed.”  No threats, no judgement, just the truth.  If they choose not to eat and cry later in bed because they want to eat just state the truth, “You chose not to eat your dinner before bedtime, and now you’re hungry.”  Again, no threats, and no judgement.  Let them cry it out if they need to.  Lay with them and silently hold them.  You are not abusing your child, you are teaching them that their choices have natural consequences.  This is a very valuable lesson.  You won’t always be there to save them from the consequences of their choices.

A few tips on feeding kids:

1.  They generally LOVE fruit.  Fruit is the perfect food for the human body and most of them are still in touch with their instincts enough to be very drawn to it.  Never limit fruit.  In fact in our family I make 1 meal for dinner, and they can eat it now or later (but they must sit with the family during meal time) OR they can exchange it for fruit.  I will never tell a child to eat cooked food when they would rather eat fruit.  That’s just how I work, how you work is of course up to you.

2.  Require that a fresh, raw, colorful, tasty salad be eaten before the rest of dinner.  They will eventually develop a taste for it and will love it.  My kids go through phases where they don’t really want to eat dinner salad and where they eat 3-4 salads a day at their own request… and really, I do the same thing!  I just go with it, but the dinner salad is nonnegotiable.

3.  Never force a child to eat meat or drink milk.  Their bodies cannot digest these substances and unless you are really picky about quality, they are laced with poison, parasites, and mucus and devoid of nutrients anyway.  If they have an aversion, there is likely a reason.  If they do love their milk make sure they are getting fresh, raw milk, preferably from a goat as the casein molecule is smaller and easier to digest and less likely to result in allergies.

4.  If you have a child who doesn’t have an appetite for food in the morning, don’t push it.  Our bodies are still in “cleanse mode” from our night of sleep.  It takes some of us hours after waking to complete our nightly cleanse.  This is normal and very healthy.  Encourage them to drink water, herbal teas, or freshly juiced vegetables and fruits.  They may be up for just eating fruit for breakfast as well because it is light and very cleansing.  If your child attends school outside of the home there tends to be anxiety about “sending them to school hungry.”  Let them be the one responsible for that.  If they get too hungry before lunch time every day, they will likely be more inclined to eat in the morning.  And if not, no harm done.  It is perfectly fine to go until lunch (which in school is typically between 11 am and noon) before breaking the nightly fast.

5.  Make food fun!  Let them experiment in the kitchen.  Kids love to come up with their own culinary creations.  Play a home version of “Chopped”, give them several food items and challenge them to come up with something using all of those items…. say, raw cashews, bananas, raisins, vanilla stevia, and an avocado.  Give them their own bit of garden or planter and let them grow their own food.  Explore online and find creative ways of presenting fruits and veggies that are fun to look at.  Let them take part in grocery list making and shopping.  Let them cook with you and help them learn to follow a recipe.  Yes, this all takes time and patience… but no one ever said parenting was convenient or uninvolved!

6.  With infants, do all you can to breastfeed exclusively.  Delay solid foods until the child is a year old.  Feed the child only raw fruits and vegetables until they are at least 2 years old.  Toddlers LOVE green smoothies and fresh juices!  The first foods we eat become our “food imprint” and those are the foods we are naturally inclined to for the rest of our lives, so make that imprint a good one!

One last thing, I would feel I’m failing you if I didn’t mention this.  Lets be honest.  Most of the reason we feed our children certain foods, even though we know those foods are damaging, is because we ourselves are attached to them.  Food addiction is no different than drug or alcohol addition.  The chemical reaction in the body is identical.  It is a very real thing.  The fact is, processed foods are designed to be addictive.  Its just simple marketing.  Even foods that are labeled as healthy very rarely are and are also created for addiction.  Food addiction is something I have dealt with myself and something that I coach people on regularly.  It is too vast and too personal to cover in this post, but if you ask yourself if this is the reason you’ve still got these unhealthy foods in the house and the answer is yes, there is absolutely help out there, whether through me or another means.  The most important thing is that you take care of YOU first.  Lead by example.  Make the changes in your own eating habits that may be necessary before you can be of help to the rest of your family.  Inspire them!

If you are interested in my coaching services you can learn more at www.InnateWellnessCoaching.com.

Photo courtesy of ivillage.com

Photo courtesy of ivillage.com

Pain, Pleasure and Childbirth

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Throughout all of my pregnancies I’ve spent the majority of the time processing fear.  I’ve come to know, all too well, the inevitable link between fear and pain in birthing.  So throughout this pregnancy I’ve been contemplating the opposing natures of fear and love.  If fear causes pain in childbirth, can love cast it out?  Or is pain just part of this rite of passage?

Tonight I’m contemplating something deeper… if fear causes pain in childbirth, can love cause pleasure?  Raise your hand if you’ve heard of “Ecstatic” or “Orgasmic” birth?  I had before, but I hadn’t given much thought to it.  I think during previous pregnancies the concept was just so far beyond where I was at the time that it wasn’t relevant to me.  Honestly, I was just trying to deal with fear well enough to go one night without a panic attack, or to maybe to not feel like I was going to throw up every time the thought of birth struck me… which was all of the time.  Thanks to Hypnobabies my last labor was quite healing.  The labor was painless and relaxing.  It really was beautiful.  Of course, that was the only time I’ve experienced 1st stage labor (my first two were the fast and “furious” type), maybe 1st stage is just not that difficult, but whatever… it was wonderful and I loved it.  Once the intensity began to climb and I came into active labor and transition I lost my focus and went into my typical mindset of suffering and wanting someone to save me.  When it came time to push and birth I was fighting and hanging on for dear life.  So with this birth I’ve wanted to take it a step further and have, not only a painless labor, but a painless birth as well.  Throughout the last labor I was very aware of the fact that I absolutely COULD be in pain.  I COULD choose to perceive what I was feeling as pain.  But that’s what it really came down to, altered perception.  Instead of fearing the contractions, I welcomed them.  Instead of interpreting them as painful, I labeled them for what they really are:  pressure, tightening and stretching.  Over and over and over I said to myself, “this is God bringing you your baby.”  And each time I said this I would envision the hand of God gently sweeping my baby lower and lower so that he could come into my arms.  When I envisioned God’s literal hand in my birth, and acknowledged that we were “in His hands” I felt safe.  When fear would try to creep in I would remind myself that God was giving me my healing birth, that whatever was happening was exactly what this baby and I needed to complete this journey.   Long story short, that labor made me believe that if it’s possible to alter my perception and have a painless labor, it ought to be possible to do the same for birth.  And so, this has been my journey throughout this pregnancy, to explore ways that that might be possible.

I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out the love aspect.  I love my baby more than I can express, but I don’t necessarily feel like that alone will cast pain out of birthing him.  The sacrifice I’ve gone through to bring him into the world is one of love, but in past pregnancies and births that has not cast out fear.  Is it a matter of loving myself?  Is it in the loving and acceptance of the process of birth?  I don’t have all the answers on this, but one thing is for sure, I’ve learned A LOT about love during this time.  And that is probably the greatest gift I could have gotten from, or along with, this child.  He gets to be born into a much happier marriage and a more peaceful home.  Lucky boy!  And lucky me because my love for my husband has grown immeasurably during this time.

The second thing I’ve spent a lot of time pondering is how sex and birth are tied together, and how this might affect someone, such as myself, who still has a lot of issues from past sexual abuse.  Tonight I was pondering how when women learn to embrace their sexuality they open themselves to the possibility of having pleasurable births.  The same energy and the same organs that make a baby, birth a baby.  Birth is essentially an exaggerated sexual encounter.  There is such a fine line between pleasure and pain.  Have you ever had an orgasm so intense you thought you couldn’t handle it?  Have you ever had an orgasm that made you cry?  I have.  I would imagine an intense orgasm, occurring for an extended period of time would be incredibly overwhelming and could very easily been perceived as painful and causing suffering.  So my thoughts in relation to sexual abuse and birth are this:  I’ve always described birth as being “hard” pain, intense, violent and traumatizing.  If my first experiences with sex were, in fact, violent and traumatizing, it is by no means a stretch to see how I would perceive birth the same way.  Especially considering that during birth we are more “open” and therefor vulnerable than we are at any other time in our life.

The third thing I’m pondering, as of tonight, is the power, or the “intensity” of birth.  When you are studying “painless” childbirth, “ecstatic” birth and “orgasmic” birth you quickly learn that how women experience these are vastly unique.  But rarely is there ever a woman who claims to have a birth that is without intensity, and I’ve often said that it isn’t even so much the pain that is hard, it’s the intensity of it.  From my first birth I’ve described it as feeling like the greatest force in nature possible is moving through you… greater than a tornado or a tsunami, even.   It is nature’s GREATEST force and it comes into you and moves through you and there’s nothing you can do but hang on until it passes.  And in between these forces (or, contractions) there is this incredible calm, like the eye of a hurricane.   So painless birth does not mean birth without this power, or birth without incredible focus and hard work.   Well, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what is meant by the term being “in your power.”  I listen to a lot of talks by Natalia Rose and Amanda Dennis and this term comes up a lot.  It occurred to me tonight (and this is a HUGE light bulb moment for me) that maybe I am not a victim to the power of birth at all… maybe, just maybe, it is MY power.  Maybe I am so powerful, it is frightening.  Maybe I’m so powerful, I’ve refused to claim it because it is too much to wrap my mind around, or too great a gift to accept.  Maybe WOMEN are SO powerful, we’ve been led to view that power as pain, as something we are a victim to, to keep us down!   So, maybe when we are experiencing the intensity of labor, that is when we are most “in our power”.  And if this is true, are we not Goddesses?  Are we not tremendous?  Should we not embrace and claim that power with all the love that we possess and make THAT our birthing experience?  Quite a bite of food for thought, that’s for sure!

Some great resources to explore more:

Hypnobabies.com  (learn self-hypnosis and read positive birth stories)

Ecstatic-birth.com  (website of Sheila Kamara Hay, who inspired this post)

Inamay.com  (all of Ina May’s books are very empowering)

Joyinbirthing.com  (Giuditta Tornetta’s website, and her book Painless Childbirth)

debrapascalibonaro.com  (Debra Pascali-Bonaro, Director of the documentary Orgasmic Birth and co-author of Orgasmic Birth: Your Guide to a Safe, Satisfying and Pleasurable Birth)

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Thoughts on “Sssshhhh-ing”

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Just finished listening to an online call with Giuditta Tornetta, whose book, Painless Childbirth, I’ve been reading throughout my pregnancy.  Her book is very thought provoking.  Basically, she has made connections between the Chakras and the Basic Human Rites and each fits with a specific month of pregnancy.  Its truly fascinating and insightful.

Anyway, she was talking about how we treat our babies during the moments following birth.  This is a time of intimate communication between mother and child, each admiring the innate beauty of the other.   One of the main ways babies communicate is through crying, and most of us (due to societal conditioning) will respond to a crying baby by hushing them.  We may try to soothe them with a “sssshhhhh” or say something along the lines of, “Please don’t cry, its okay.”  And of course this is well meaning, but do we realize what we are doing?  Are we aware of the impact?  Our child is born and is attempting to communicate with us, to express to us what his/her journey into this world was like and the very first thing we’re saying to them is, “no.”  Do we want the first message we give to our child to be, “No, do not express yourself”?  After all, one of the basic human rites is the rite to have a voice and to be heard.

Perhaps this struck me so profoundly because I’ve known for several months EXACTLY what I want the first thing I say to my baby, Zain, to be.  I don’t know why this is, it isn’t something I ever thought about with my other babies.  It just came to me one night and I’ve rehearsed the moment over and over in my head ever since.  I pray that when that moment comes I will be physically able and have the courage to say it despite the spectators present.  I really would like for everyone to just disappear, except my husband and my children, for just a moment the second the baby is handed to me so that I can give him this powerful message.  Stay tuned for the birth story and you may get to hear what that message is!  ; )

I just wanted to encourage everyone to think about the messages we send our children and to open up more consciousness toward our words.  These are phenomenal spirits, set apart from any the world has yet seen.  May we give them messages of love, acceptance, and respect.

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First moments with our 3rd child, Coen.