For the longest time I thought my baby would come early, but as my due date (February 29th) approached, I had consigned myself to the fact that I would probably go at least to my due date, or a little bit over.
I relaxed and surrendered into my final weeks of being pregnant, only being partially aware of what was to come. I knew that labor was inevitable, and despite my bravado and eagerness to embrace the experience, a part of me indeed felt a little nervous. I wanted an all-natural home birth and didn't even choose a midwife until two weeks before labor.
I met my midwife Mala through my friend Mina, also pregnant with her first child. Safe to say, we clicked from the beginning, and her presence in my life was serendipitous. I knew she would be the one to deliver my baby. She seemed like some sort of medicine woman, very on my vibe. The last weeks of being pregnant she encouraged me to get in the ocean as much as possible and to express myself artistically before the birth of my child.
9 months pregnant
I spent the week prior to birth bouncing on my birthing ball in order to move the baby further down. Sometimes I would bounce on it for 2 hours at a time. I also engaged in more sex then usual, because I'd read that semen thins the cervix. I did all this, yet I still felt that I would probably go to my due date. I could tell the baby was LOW in my pelvis, as it was hard to walk around, and I was going to the bathroom every five minutes. But I did not bother to consider that I could go into labor at any time, not willing to have expectations and wanting to enjoy the last part of my pregnancy.
Eros enjoying the birthing ball
When February 23rd rolled around- I hadn't slept much at all. I got around 3 hours of sleep, as I had the past few nights. I also wasn't able to eat much food due to limited space in my body, so I found myself just juicing my food and drinking it instead of eating it.
The moment I got out of bed on the 23rd, I felt different. I immediately set up my canvas and paints and decided to paint a picture. I'm not an "artist" per say, but I do enjoy painting and wanted to paint my favorite thing.
While I was painting, Casey (Mina's husband) happened to bring over the birthing tub that they'd used for the birth of their son, Zion, just two days prior. He dropped it off while I was painting and I remember telling him that I thought I would go a few more days, but that I was glad to have the tub.
But as the day wore on, I started to get increased feelings of alteration. I'm someone who is experienced with altered states of consciousness, and there was definitely something going on. I was experiencing a big headshift, catalyzed by what? I just kept painting and focusing on the music. I did not quite want to consider labor yet, as I was so tired from not sleeping the night before.
I spent all day painting and listening to psytrance music. By the time I had to go pick up Eros from work, I felt distinctly like something was going on. It was like being on the come up of a mushroom trip. I felt out of body, out of reality. I could feel the baby moving around inside of me, and his movements felt very vivid. At this point I remember wondering if I was going into labor.
I picked up Eros, and asked him to drive home because I was feeling very disoriented. I thought I might just need to eat something. I home and went to the bathroom, and saw a bit of yellow mucous on the toilet paper after I wiped. I wiped again and more mucous. I knew what this was: my mucous plug. Mala had told me that many times labor begins within 72 hours of losing the plug, so I started to feel a little excited. Was this it?
Mala and Hilary the midwives came over later that night to check me and to discuss what other supplies I needed for labor. We made a list of supplies, and then they checked the position of the baby. They were both shocked to discover that I was 2 cm dilated and that he was VERY VERY low, so low that on my exam they could feel his head pushing down. Mala told me I was in pre-labor and that I need to get the supplies asap as I would probably go into active labor in the next day or so. She told me I could go into labor that evening if I wanted to. I told her I wasn't sure if I wanted to as I was so tired by not sleeping. We talked for a bit more and I told her I would probably not go into labor. She told me to call her if anything changed.
I was starting to feel pretty excited, but also calm.
That night I decided to take it easy. Because I find it relaxing I went on my birthing ball for about 20 minutes.
Then I tried to go to sleep. But I just couldn't. At this point I was starting to feel some sensations in my body. I felt super-sensitive and really "high," and emotive. I found myself wanting to be passionate with my partner, Eros. I felt like touching him and having him touch me. It was like my sense of touch had been heightened and I wanted to take advantage of it. I wanted physical contact and connection. We had sex, the best since getting pregnant.
Finally I was able to go to sleep.
But just as I was starting to go into dream, something happened...MY WATER BROKE!
It broke with a burst all over me! "My water just broke!" I woke up Eros in shock. I got out of bed and felt it drip down my legs more, leaving a trail to the bathroom. At this point I was in so much surprise. My water broke...WAIT...that means...I could be going into labor.
Eros and I cleaned up and then decided to try and get more sleep. If I was going into labor I would need my rest. However I simply could not go to sleep, as after 30 minutes, I started getting waves of powerful contractions. They took my breath away, they were PAINFUL, a lot more intense then the practice labor contractions I'd been having for weeks. I could only breathe through these. But when I relaxed into them and focused on letting go, they seemed more and more painful.
Finally after about two hours of this I called Mala in the middle of the night and told her my water broke. We hadn't even had a chance to get the supplies. She asked me if I wanted her to come or if I wanted to labor more on my own and I decided I wanted to labor a bit on my own first to see how I progress. She told me to try and get some sleep, but of course, I couldn't! The contractions just kept getting more and more intense.
It really helped to cover my birthing ball with a blanket and lean over it
While I labored, Eros slept, but he eventually was woken up by my breathing and moans and he helped me time the contractions. I gotta say that is a sweet memory, cuddled up together on the bed timing my contractions together. I was getting more and more out of reality with each one. I was starting to realize LABOR IS POWERFUL. They were coming frequently and lasting for longer when we finally decided to call Mala because the pain was getting intense and I was starting to want guidance and support. I was really glad I had Mala and Hilary to call upon.
When she got there she took one look at me and said she could tell I was deep into it. She told me that instead of surrendering to the contractions to think of them more as a wave that I could ride. This helped. She also told me that maybe it would help if I made very deep low tones in my throat. So I did, she and I did lots of Aums and deep low tones in my throat to help with the pain which was getting intense. It felt like I was made out of paper and someone was tearing me right in half. I had totally underestimated the possibility of labor pain in my preparation. I kept trying to transmute the pain into pleasure or at least, peace, but it was so intense. I had no control, despite intending on having some.
Mala was so awesome. She really helped me through my contractions.
I labored throughout the night, in many different positions. Each time I changed positions the baby's heartbeat was monitored to make sure that the position was pleasing to him. The pain just kept growing and I was starting to reach transition, and feel a sense of desperation with the pain. I moved to 4cm and then to a 6, then an 8. By the time morning came around, I was starting to feel intense urges to PUSH. It's like my body just took over with this "push" urge. These urges overwhelmed me and I told Mala that I needed to push, and she checked my cervix and told me that I needed to hold off for another 1/2 hour or so, because my cervix still needed to dilate a little bit.
That was one of the hardest parts of my labor, feeling such overwhelming powerful urges to push (I felt as though pushing would relieve the pain I was in) and being unable to do so. I sat in the rocking chair in the living room listening to B-Tribe and trying to cope with the pain of being ripped in half, over and over again.
I was really out of my head by this time. I was beginning to have crazy visions of past lives and people I have been, who have entered into this world through birth. I could see clearly who I have been. It was like being on high-level psychedelic trip, except this was labor and I was trying to birth my baby into the world.
At this point it was morning time and I'd been laboring for awhile, on 3 hours of sleep and minimal food. Hilary the assistant midwife came over, and two of my friends (Tara and Katie) stopped by to help with the birthing process. Here is where it got pretty intense.
I got back into the birthing pool (I'd been in and out the entire night) and Mala told me that it was okay to push the baby out if I felt the urge. I definitely felt the urge. The pushing felt SO GOOD compared to the contractive pain.
But the trouble was the baby's head was having a more difficult time moving through the birth canal. I pushed and pushed and PUSHED until my entire throat was raw and every muscle trembling and he only made small amounts of progress each time.
Mala sang and chanted through my contractions. Eros, Tara and Katie supported me psychically as I dealt with the pain. Hilary took pictures.
To cut to the chase, I ended up pushing for 3 hours. I changed positions every few pushes trying to find a more effective way with the guidance of Mala. Everyone could tell me I was making progress but I wasn't sure I believed them because soo much effort was being expended and I still hadn't seen my baby yet! I could reach down and feel his head moving down through the birth canal but it seemed to be such slow progress and I was starting to get worried not to mention in increasing pain.
No matter how much I tried to get myself into the mindstate of TRANSMUTING pain into pleasure, or at least peace, I could not do it, it was SENSATION yes, but it really really hurt. The only thing that carried me onwards by this point was my breathing and sometimes the pain was so intense that I could not breathe at all.
I had spent so much time preparing for my labor by envisioning a rapid second stage in which I only pushed for a few minutes. But the reality is that my body was really working on moving the baby's head down my birth canal and it was taking hours of progression to get anywhere. This left me feeling really fragile and vulnerable. This was not like I envisioned at all! But I had no energy to lament. I was getting deeper and deeper into a pure animalistic state of release. I no longer felt like a human being. I became some sort of elemental force of Nature.
I had no brain anymore. No sense of reason. I was totally gone. After the second hour straight of intense contractions and relentless pushing, I was just flat out gone. It was a state of mind that I've NEVER experienced before. I went to a really primal place in my consciousness, the place in space-time where birth and death meet.
The agony roiled through me and all I wanted to do was get my baby out. But it seemed to be taking an eternity. Time stopped. I pushed and pushed. I started to wonder if I was going to be able to do this. I would turn to Mala, my midwife and say, "am I okay?" because I really did not know. She would smile at me and say, "Yes, you're great, you're having a baby!" Everyone told me I was making progress. But I was really worried. I did not know why it was taking so long. I was just out of my head with urgency to have this baby.
Katie and Tara really kept me motivated and focused. They helped make me fruit smoothies to keep me going in labor because I was getting so so tired, having only had 3 hours sleep the night before. It was really hard for Eros to see me in such pain. He's never seen me that far gone, ever.
Time passed. The next hour brought a new level of intensity. I was beside myself with urgency to have the baby. I couldn't even walk because his head was pushing me apart. It was the worst pain I'd ever experienced. I kept pushing and pushing to bring him out. My support team kept telling me, "Oh he's right there Aeri, he's right there! Push push push!" and I would push with all my might and he would still not be born and I felt despair.
But I kept pushing, I needed him out.
His head beginning to come out of my yoni:
I was getting so exhausted. My entire body was shaking. Eros's body was shaking from having to support me. I looked around and only saw ONE CONSCIOUSNESS in the room: it was like EVERYONE who attended my birth was laboring with me. It was real group consciousness I was seeing. Everyone was in labor, everyone was trying to have this baby. I was hanging off people and squeezing them and they were all in it with me. It was a group effort completely.
"I'm so tired," I would say and would only have to push again and again. I was even given some oxygen to help me recover some energy and push harder.
Finally I turned to Mala and said, "Tell me what to do!"
She told me to go outside and walk up and down the stairs...on all fours. I couldn't even conceive of doing such a thing. "Seriously?" I asked her. She nodded. At this point, I thought I had better give it a try.
So I did, I went outside and went down the stairs on all fours and up on all fours. My contractions were out of control and the urge to push was overwhelming me. I barely made it inside, yelling, "I got to push! I have to push!"
I barely made it to the kitchen before I felt my lower part of my body start to explode.
Tara and Katie supported me in a standing position. I hung off of their arms and bore down standing to push. I let out a growl of frustration. I could feel something emerging from between my legs. I could feel the head coming, coming coming...and then POP, it was out! RELIEF flooded through me, the head was OUT!!
I cried out and Mala asked Eros to help me sit down and lean back for the rest of it, but as I leaned back the baby shot straight out of me in a colorful gush of flesh and fluid!
I cried out again in total shock! What just happened? WHAT! WHAT WAS THAT! DID I JUST HAVE THE BABY???! Finally! Just like that??!
Mala caught him and immediately he was sending his voice up into the air with his first cry. That first cry is emblazoned into my memory forever. I saw Eros's face. It was stricken with pure astonishment. I was astonished. I couldn't believe what had just happened. I couldn't believe it was over, that I'd had the baby. I simply couldn't believe that I'd done it, that he was here.
He was born so colorful. All pink and purple. His head had been heavily molded by the experience through the birth canal. (now it's totally normal again ) Mala put a receiving blanket and a hat on him immediately so he didn't lose too much body heat.
My angel!! He opened his eyes immediately and looked straight at me! He was SO ALERT and seemed so aware! We looked at each other for a minute or two then he cried for about ten minutes and I was just in LOVE!! I couldn't believe that THIS beautiful creature was what had been growing inside of me for 9 MONTHS! What a miracle, truly divine experience.
I thanked him for being born. I couldn't believe how perfectly formed and beautiful he was. I rubbed the vernix into his skin. He just felt so beautiful. I was so so in shock. I began to lift up in such a high. Most of the pain was gone, there was only this beautiful angelic creature in my consciousness. I couldn't believe the love.
We waited until the umbilical cord stopped pulsing to cut the cord. I had considered a lotus birth but I had other plans for my placenta.
We cuddled together and I couldn't stop looking at him. His crying slowed down and he just looked at me and wiggled on my chest.
Eros was transfixed, he held his son for the first time:
Wow, I was on such a high.
I could hardly believe what I had just gone through, and then POP there was a baby!
About 30 minutes later, I felt the urge to push again. I pushed very gently, and my placenta came out.
I had spent a lot of time reading about the benefits of eating the placenta. Even vegetarian animals will eat their placenta's after birth!! Many women report it helps their bleeding post partum, and clears up any depressive issues. The placenta is a miracle organ. I decided I would try a piece of it raw to see if I liked it. I wanted to listen to my body.
My midwife cut up a piece of it for me to try, and I ate it...it was DELICIOUS. It had a GREAT flavor and was even still warm. I suddenly realized I needed to eat the entire thing. The rest of the day my support team cut up the placenta into pieces which they put on a plate and I ate raw. I ate the entire thing in about 24 hours. It felt very natural to do this and I would definitely do it again.
It didn't seem gross to me at all. I don't know why, but it didn't. I guess after the labor and birth I had, I felt like I needed to eat it to recover. And I feel like it really helped. It felt sacramental to eat it also. I have not had any problems with depression or bleeding. But most of all I felt eating the placenta raw after birth really empowered me spiritually. It made me feel very alive.
The rest of the day was spent recovering and getting to know my new role as Caspian's mummy. Precious baby...sweet baby boy <3
Now it's 10 days post partum and I am just more in love with little Caspian every single day. Every day I spend hours looking at his face, singing to him, talking to him, thanking him for being here with me. I am so so blessed and I know it. I am just so happy that he came to share in the experience of life with me. I feel like he is an old, wise experienced soul who is experiencing humanity over again. I am just in utter awe and have total respect for this little guy. He is not just a baby to me, he is a luminescent eternal soul and I take every moment I share with him very seriously. He is a teacher, sent to me from the cosmos.
I now have a deep deep reverence for pregnancy, birth and motherhood. It is beyond ANYTHING. There are no words to describe it. I feel so lucky and blessed to be a woman so that I can experience this. I now a greater sense of my own power and grace. I am still amazed and in awe and deep love for the challenges I have faced and overcome and the ways I have grown throughout this experience of becoming a mother. I would not change anything and am totally and wholly gracious for the way it all unraveled. I know it is all for my highest good, all of it, and am so blessed and in gratitude for my precious Caspian Elan. <3
Caspian Elan Amadeus Rose
born February 24th, 2012, 1:53pm
6 pounds, 13 ounces
20 inches long
Pisces Sun, Aries Moon, Cancer Rising
1/3 emotional Generator with defined heart/ego/spleen