I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl almost one year ago. She came into this world surrounded by earth angels. So much light and love was present that morning. I was overjoyed with her arrival and so in awe that after being in labor for almost 3 days, I did it. I really did it.
But I did not do it in the way I had expected. Let me back up a bit.
At the time of my pregnancy I was gratefully working as a holistic nutritionist and herbalist. Working mostly with women, and even more specifically during preconception to postpartum, in essence the birthing year. I was well trained and researched on matters of making pregnancy, birth and the postpartum time as easy as possible. I knew what was the most optimal diet and lifestyle to create a blissful pregnancy and birth and I was highly interested in midwifery (and for a time thought it was my calling) traveling to be trained by the best midwives in the world at The Farm in Summertown Tennessee. I knew exactly what to do to create the birth that all women dreamed of...or so I thought.
And for the most part it worked. I had a super easy time conceiving and being pregnant was a breeze outside of some swelling during the last trimester and putting on a lot of weight. ( I think the last time I counted it was 55 lbs) I was sure my home birth was going to be hard and painful but by the end of 8 hours I would welcome my baby girl into the world via water, still in the caul, and afterwards I would be in bed in an angelic nightgown, nursing my baby girl while sipping on herbal tea and eating snacks that I had premade for the occasion. Please don't laugh too hard but this is really what I intended my baby's birth to be. Idealist? Yes. Possible? Totally. Is this how it unfolded? Nope.
My water broke on the morning of March 21st right as I was heading to a prenatal massage. (I was getting regular massage, acupuncture and chiropractic care to ensure my baby's health and mine.) I knew it was my water straight away and I immediately got concerned. I knew enough about birth to know that your water breaking like this is not the best compliment to having a home birth. The clock began to tick that morning and it was a 24 hour countdown. I called my midwife and she said to go in for my massage as it might help bring on active labor. So I went into my massage but not before having to wear a kids diaper so I would not leak everywhere. ( It was all that was available in the office and well, ya know, I did what I had to do.) After my massage I could feel my heart racing because in hindsight, I think I knew where this was going. I called an herbalist friend of mine who had already mixed some herbs to bring on labor for her birth and she kindly delivered them to me. And I started taking them, but to no avail it did not help progress my labor.
I labored at home until Saturday afternoon. My doula who really was my anchor in all of this was with me from Saturday morning until hours after I delivered. She was in essence my birthing partner. My husband was there every step of the way but there is something about women supporting women in birth that is primal, ancestral, cellular and Godly. She gave me so much strength during that time. I need to thank her again. My midwife checked me at around 1 pm on Saturday and I was still at 5cm and my water had been broke past the time we had. So the only option was to head to the hospital. But before we did, I cried. I cried for my perceived failure. I cried because I knew having a natural birth was fading in the distance. I cried because I was embarrassed that this natural organic healthy mama could not birth her baby at home. I cried because I was scared to go to the hospital. I cried because part of me was a little relieved.
Our arrival at the hospital was met with lovely women who were smiling and kind. We were immediately taken to a room and I kept on laboring naturally with the advent of some monitors. I labored in water, I labored on a ball, walking around, squatting. Everything my birth team and I knew, we tried. But by 9pm with no change in dilation, it was time to intervene. Now my memory gets pretty foggy around this time so I will tell you what I remember. I know, they first checked me for an infection which I had so I had to have antibiotics administered and I got tylenol for a fever. They tried one round of pitocin (which did not change anything) so then later that night came the thing I did not want more than anything; an epidural. I read the stories, I knew what could happen. I was worried about drugging the baby. Having this epidural went against everything I stood for. Everything. I know some of you think an epidural is part of a healthy birth but to me it wasn't. It just wasn't. But time was still ticking and I knew soon the biggest intervention of all could come, a cesarean section. So I had the epidural.
The beautiful part of all of this was that the nurses and midwives really listened to me. I told them I had not taken synthetic medicine in almost a decade and that my body was highly sensitive to any medicine. And they listened. God is everywhere. They started me on the lowest dose of the epidural and turned it off once I was fully dilated. They were angels working to support me in having the best birth I could. I was lucky, really lucky. I had assisted in enough hospital births to know my experience was not normal. I was blessed. God is everywhere.
By 9 am on Sunday, March 23rd I was completely dilated and ready to push. After 2 and a half hours and every ounce of strength in me, I birthed my beautiful baby girl into this world. And she was perfect. She came into this world surrounded by so much love, with at least 6 amazing women including my doula, home birth midwife and of course my rock, my grounding point, my everything, my husband. She was literally surrounded by love. But that isn't the end of the story.
Two days after we got home, my blood pressure raised and my midwife (in not the most eloquent way possible) told me we had to go back to the hospital. What!?! I had a 4 day old baby, my milk had not come in, I was just at that place and did not want to go back. But she said it was a matter of life and possible death. What was happening is I developed postpartum preeclampsia which yes, can cause a stroke or a seizure, so back we went. At 10 pm on March 27th, we were back to the hospital. Admitted into the ER with my brand new baby and my husband. I was terrified. I thought I was going to have a stroke right there waiting for the doctor in front of my baby and husband. I was in shock which I think was a good thing because it kept me from falling apart. ( That came later.)
But like every experience we had so far, the people at the hospital were kind and nurturing. They explained everything and listened to my concerns. I again felt God's presence. And was so thankful. Several of the staff knowing it was my birthday ( oh yeah, it turned midnight and I turned 37) came in and sang happy birthday to me with a cupcake they bought from a vending machine. See, God is everywhere. I was touched, I cried, and my milk came in.
I ended up in the hospital for 3 days, making sure they could get my pressure under control before they released us. That 3 days was probably the hardest of my life. I was super scared, worried about myself, my baby, my poor husband who had been so stoic through this whole ordeal. It rocked my world. It cracked and broke apart every construct and belief system I had around health and wellness. I could not understand how this happened to me. And that is when I spiraled into victim consciousness. And it was super hard to get out of it. For the next 7 months I was barely hanging on by a thread. I was sleep deprived, I had this angel baby that I needed to be strong for, I was questioning everything I knew about anything, I felt sorry for myself and I wallowed. I wallowed and cried and thought I was going to die. Not necessarily from the preeclampsia but from something, anything. That is how scared I was. I was living in fear and had no idea how to get out of it.
But the time passed, I cried a lot, and called on the people in my life for support. My mom came and stayed with us for awhile, which was an immense help and relief. I would sometimes wake up it the mornings before the baby and just cry to her. And she would hold me and listen like mothers do. And like I know I will someday for my daughter. God is everywhere.
I returned to acupuncture and into a dear friend's talent and healing. She saved me in a way no one else could. Not only did I have the gift of the healing from the acupuncture, I had her. She listened to me when I was spinning out and faced me back towards the sun. She is kind and generous and I do not know what I would have done or do without her. God is everywhere.
I am rebuilding from a brand new foundation. The blessing that happens when your whole world is set on fire, is that if you walk out of it, you can create again. Everything is seen with a brand new set of eyes. The work may be slow but it is purposeful and done with a heightened level of gratitude that is beyond what I knew before. Everyday I let go and release my feelings of anger, shame, frustration and guilt a little more. Learning to let go is my biggest lesson in all this. This never has been my strong suit but that is beginning to change. God is everywhere.
And for the record, I do not believe that home birth is scary and dangerous and reckless. I know and believe that it can be the picture I had of it...because God is everywhere. But for me, God was waiting for me somewhere I didn't know I would be.