A Birth Story with a Recipe :)

September 14th, 2017

 

Drinking ceremonial hot chocolate as my contractions get stronger. I am waiting for you baby as you work your way to the birth canal. It is now 9am. I feel strong, confident and ready. Connecting with you in early labor feels sweet. You are gentle, patient and peaceful. No intense emotions or feelings of being rushed. I am eager to meet you my love. We got this. We are working together and in harmony. I love you.

Last night at 11pm is when it became clear that labor was starting. I felt this surge of hormones, I started getting fidgety, slightly irritable, impatient and warm. “The tub! We must blow up the birthing pool!”; “We need to move the TV, my birth altar is not set up!”; “I have to go to the bathroom, NOW and Taru is in there! Why is he in there!?” Oh shit this is happening. Am I ready? Running through checklists in my head. Do we have all “the things?” Did I prep enough? Do we have enough food? What are we missing? Leif where are you?? Oh right, you’re blowing up the pool…. I was so tempted to ask him to stop doing that so he could come upstairs and move the TV for me, but I decided to sit on the couch and practice patience. The baby was definitely not coming NOW. I won’t give in to my frantic mind. Slow down. Breath. Wait. I am so ready for this. I’ve been so ready. I have everything I need and I AM everything I need.

“Babe, can you please move the TV so can I set up the altar?” He had come back upstairs and was as fidgety and excited as I was “Oh my god, we’re having a baby!”.

Setting up the altar allowed me to slow down, tune in to the energies I was calling in for this birth: gentleness, patience, strength, warriorship, breath, connection with baby, softness. And it allowed me to connect with all my goddess friends who provided objects for me to put on my altar. Once that was done, I decided to take a shower and try to get some rest as the contractions were still mild and far apart.

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My sleep was frequently interrupted with contractions and trips to the bathroom, yet I was grateful to be able to rest. Around 3:30am the intensity picked up a bit and I had to focus my breathing in order to allow for the contractions to pass. But again, I was able to fall asleep in between them. At 6am they got stronger still and I was laboring in bed until about 7:30am when the kids came in. I decided to get up and wash my hair, because if baby is coming today, when will I get the chance to wash my hair again? Plus I want to smell nice for myself while I am in the heat of labor. The shower seemed to have slowed things down a bit so I tried to stay on my feet and move and dance and cook. I made curry in the crockpot. I was feeling somewhat impatient again. Is this going to pick up? Are the contractions going to get closer together soon? Or am I going to be mildly laboring for days? Can we just get this thing done? The mood swings between impatience and staying in the moment were an added indicator that labor was really happening. “With each breath, I oooooopen my cervix”; “Come on already, get stronger and drop that baby!”; “I gently welcome your arrival in due time baby”: “Why am I still smiling  and not crunched over my exercise ball in contraction agony??”.

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It’s 9am and the kids are outside playing with Leif. I make myself a ceremonial hot chocolate, light the candles on the altar and say my quiet thanks to all my support team, present at the birth and energetically there. I set up a few symbolic items next to me on the table (a felt heart for love and gratitude and softness, a butterfly for transition, change and happiness, a clear quartz crystal for amplified energy and connection to spirit). I pull out my journal and start writing. This is what I need to slow down and become fully one with what is happening. No more impatience, no more fidgety energy, it’s time to drop in and connect with baby.

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I feel strong, confident and ready. Connecting with you in early labor feels sweet. You are gentle, patient and peaceful. No intense emotions or feelings of being rushed. While I kept on expecting those and almost calling those in, I am grateful this is not how you are doing this right now baby. I am eager to meet you my love. We got this. We are working together and in harmony. I love you.

 

After this little focused moment of drinking and journaling, things started picking up. I let my midwives know that it is almost time, and I get to work. I walk and dance in order for gravity to work with me. I hum with each contraction and invite baby to drop. I don’t rush. I allow baby to set the pace and I allow myself to get taken by the pace of each contraction. My biggest work here is to fully surrender and relax as much as possible in to each contraction so that baby can do it’s thing. I stay on my feet as much as I can as gravity will help baby to drift downward more easily. Baby is doing most of the work here and I am supporting that as much as I can. I manage to step out of my own way and I surrender. That is my biggest work right here, right now. I have stopped wanting to rush the process yet a part of me wonders if this will be a long birth as everything feels so….peaceful. I keep on expecting things to feel so intense and draining. But it never really gets there. The contractions hurt, and they demand my attention and focus, and as soon as they are over I am able to be fully present to the outside world, not too caught up in my active recovery. This is a new way of laboring for me. I am aware of what is going on around me. I feel when Kekaula, my 5 yr old boy, comes to me and comforts me. I hear Tika, my 9 yr old daughter, and respond to her when she asks me if I need anything. I feel it when Leif, my husband, and Jolan, my 3 yr old son, come and use the tuning fork on my sacrum when the contractions feel very intense. The tuning fork helps so much in managing my pain.

 

Kristin, my doula and dear friend, arrives. She looks beautiful in her white dress with large green feathers. Festive and radiant. What a gorgeous gift to get to see her during this beautiful and physically painful and demanding time. She sprays me with some delicate essences and puts a cold cloth on my neck. I didn’t know I needed that until she did it. It’s the little things.

 

I keep dancing and walking around. Going to Leif for a few support contractions. In all honesty, I like laboring alone. I don’t feel the need to have Leif physically supporting me during the pain. It’s nice when he does yet I don’t seek it out or demand it. It’s almost easier to focus my attention on the work when I am at it alone. I go back to the ball on the ground. My favorite place to be for most of the hard labor. Nancy, my midwife, arrives close to 12pm. Kara, my other midwife, shortly after. I can smell Kristin’s amazing cooking coming from the kitchen. Ghee and onions. Something tasty is being created for us. I am laboring hard by then, yet still present and peaceful. This labor is so different from the others. I am grateful and a part of me still doubts. If things don’t pick up, can our baby be born soon? Is labor supposed to feel so sweet, so serene, so…..perfect?

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I throw up. Ok! I am transitioning! If I had any doubts about it before, I know myself in labor and throwing up is a sign that my cervix is opening up even more and I am moving in to the next phase of labor. And yet. This baby is not intense. This baby is not rushing me. This baby is not demanding of my energy or attention. Its is doing its thing and asking the bare minimum from me. In labor, the bare minimum is still a lot, but this my fourth time, it feels so simple and beautiful almost. Kekaula comes to me often with gentle touches and rubs. He is so sweet, and caring, and thoughtful. His energy quiet and loving. I am so grateful for his presence.

 

I feel the baby drop. The pain has moved from my belly and upper womb space to my pelvis and lower abdomen. And the pain is getting more sharp. It’s going to be time soon. My moans are becoming longer, more focused, more intense. And yet. I’ve experienced such excruciating pain in previous labors, is this all this is going to be? I mean it HURTS, and I want it to be over soon, yet I feel like it could hurt so much more. Or have my pain management skills improved since the last birth?

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“Aurore, do you want to get in the water?” Nancy asks. “YES”. I had been wanting to go in yet a part of me was worried that getting in too early would slow things down. I wanted to get in the water when it was really time to push. And it was time. Baby was ready, I was ready, the midwives were ready. It was going to happen soon. And I was grateful.

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The water is warm and I immediately feel better being in it. But the pool is uncomfortable. We got a cheap kid pool off Amazon because I couldn’t find an inflatable birthing tub for rent and I didn’t want the aqua doula. I was slightly regretting it then. I couldn’t get comfortable as my butt was at the bottom of the pool, making contact with a too hard surface: the ground below me. I couldn’t let my body keep opening the way it needed to for the baby to come out. I try to relax. I can feel Kekaula putting his hand on my heart and keeping it there. Giving me his love and strength as I work hard to get his sibling here. Jolan follows suit and gently touches my face. While I am loving the comfort from my boys I am having a hard time getting comfortable and allowing for contractions to really do their work. We try putting a towel under my bum but that doesn’t’ really do enough. I try to have a few more contractions and invite the baby to keep descending but it’s clear that my favored birthing position won’t work here. I flip over on to me knees, allow for my face to rest on the side of the pool and after a couple contractions there I know it’s time. I start to push. It hurts. I am not a fan of this position but it’s what I have to work with right now. I bear down again and push. I put my hand on my vagina to feel if the head is close. It is. I hear Nancy confirm that. Everyone is in position. Baby is coming. It’s all up to me now. Baby has done it’s part, now it’s all up to me in how long it will take for the baby to actually be born, it’s all in the pushing now. I know this. How hard I push, combined with how much I allow myself to OPEN will be the answer to how quickly we meet our baby. So I push. HARD. I try to ignore the sensation that my anus is turning inside out and about to be ripped off. I feel the head. I hear the voices telling me they see the head. “The head! It’s not all the way out Aurore, one more push.” I push hard and I feel the head completely clear. That took so much out of me. “You are safe, you got this, you are safe”. Kara’s voice in my ear as she hugs my head. I guess the effort this is requiring is being witnessed. It’s not just how I feel, I am actually working really hard to push this baby out. “One more push Aurore, you got this!”. It’s all up to me now. I can get this over with now if I choose. SO I PUSH. And I let out a warrior cry. And I reach down with one hand as the baby slips out of me and is being handed to me from between my legs. It’s done. I did it. WE did it. This was the hardest push of all 4 babies. But it was quick. And it’s over. I am so relieved. I lay back with relief and exhaustion and happiness. “It’s a girl! Is it a girl?” I lift the baby up off my chest. It’s a girl! Welcome sweet face!!!

 

It’s over. Well almost. Maconium is all around me in the tub. I need to get out. I can’t sit in here and deliver the placenta unfortunately. I need to go on the floor mattress. It’s those last little efforts once the baby is out that feel so incredibly demanding. Getting on the mattress is such a feat of strength. As I get out of the tub I feel a gush down my legs. “Ewwww! She’s pooping!” I hear the kids. Brown liquid all over me. Maconium in my waters. A lot of it. This is why you came early my little doll. It wasn’t safe for you in there anymore. Thank you for coming early and keeping yourself safe.

 

Once on the couch it took you minutes to find my nipple and you wanted to stay there for the first few hours post birth. It was so sweet and nice to see you latch on so easily and effortlessly and eagerly. Breastfeeding is a breeze with you. We lay peacefully together on the mattress as I birth the placenta and final birthing details happen (Did I tear? No. How is my blood pressure? Good. Do I have a fever? No.)

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Now I get to take a brief shower while the midwives check you out and make sure all is good with you too and then I get to snuggle with you in bed for a whole week.

 

I love birthing. I love the process, I love the outcome and I love the post birth week. It’s the sweetest week I ever experience. Falling in love with a new being, spending hours looking at her quickly changing features. Figuring out her cues and sounds and signs. The post birth week is one of my favorite weeks ever.

 

Welcome Haumea.

 

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Reflecting on this birth as well as all my other births, here are the things I wish to share.

From my own experience, the way a baby comes in to the world is somewhat of an indication of who this baby is. Who I am in pregnancy, is also an indication of who this baby is. From the moment conception happens, our energies are blended and we influence each other. By looking back on who I was with each pregnancy and how each labor went, and then seeing who my 3 older children are, that information is very relevant to me. I can describe my mood in pregnancy followed with my experience of labor with each child and explain how those impressions are present in each one of my children.

 

Being able to discern where my energy ends, where baby’s begins and where we are blended is something that came with practice and lots of awareness. I was too young and stuck in my ego with my first child to be aware of those things. It’s upon looking back that I became aware of the details and started paying attention in following pregnancies. With each consecutive pregnancy I became more fluent with this understanding and pregnancy became increasingly more spiritual and meaningful.

While this last birth was not the shortest, it was by far the sweetest. And I can say with certainty that the reason for that is because of who I was bringing in to the world and because of who I am at this point in my life. The increased awareness that baby does the work in labor and my job is to step out of the way really helped my body open and soften the way it needed to. Allowing for sweetness to take over. Because as soon as I regarded the labor pains as the actual work and effort that baby was doing to get here, instead of the dreadful experience that is unavoidable in birth, I became so much more accepting of and even touched by the contractions as I was seeing them as an expression of my baby. And instead of wishing the contractions away or struggling through them, I would softly speak to my baby, encouraging her and supporting her as I knew this was an effort for her as well. Isn’t that a sweet reminder of what parenting is all about? Releasing control and stepping out of the way of our children so they can do the work they came here to do, and just support them as best as we can in their endeavors.

 

I’ve always loved labor. I know it sounds kind of crazy but I do love labor. I like seeing how far my body will go, how much I can stretch my physical comfort zone. I like the feeling of working with my baby to allow for it to be born. I like the deep commitment it takes to be fully present with the experience. I like the meditative state that is required to labor naturally at home. I like paying attention to the phases of labor and how I manage myself in each of those. I love how much of a spiritual experience it can be when I allow myself to soften and have contact with spirit instead of being stuck in my pain.  And I really love the feeling of my baby coming out of me, the actual birthing part. There is nothing like the sensation of having life literally come out of me.

I was made for this. My body responds to pregnancy and birth in a way that makes it that I cannot deny that I was meant for this. And I am so incredibly grateful that I got to do this 4 times.

 

 

 Ceremonial Hot Chocolate Recipe:

(I got this recipe from a beautiful book “The First 40 Days, the art of nourishing the new mother”)

*2 cups milk of choice (I use homemade almond milk)

*3 TBS cacao powder

*1 TBS corn meal (for added thickness and texture)

*1 TBS coconut oil or ghee

*1 tsp cinnamon

*dash of cayenne (optional)

*sprinkle of seal salt (optional)

*sweetener to taste, I used about 2 tsp honey

Warm the milk in a saucepan. Add all ingredients to a blender and blend on high until everything is well incorporated. Drink warm.

This gave me some good sustenance for my laboring hours. And when I threw it all up, the coming back out part wasn’t too unpleasant as the flavors were so potent! Sorry if this is TMI, this is a birth story after all…. 😉

 

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The hidden beauty of weening my child

Sometimes difficult decisions are necessary in order for positive change to happen. This is what happened to me when deciding to start weening my almost 2 and half year old son Kekaula, from breastfeeding. Since I did not have to ween my daughter, now 6, as she did it by herself by two and a half, I was unfamiliar with the process as well as heartbroken that I had to make the choice and not my son. It was an internal battle for me to find peace with my decision. I truly love breastfeeding. I love the bonding that happens. I love the snuggling. I love being able to provide for my child in that way. I also know that once the breastfeeding is over, I will never get those moments back with my child.

But Kekaula has not been breastfeeding alone. For the past 9 months he has been sharing the breast with his baby brother. As far as blissful happy mothering moments go, tandem feeding has got to be my number one. And one that proved to be challenging towards the end there. I knew I would not cut off Kekaula from the breast when his brother arrived. For many reasons, and the main one being I did not want Kekaula to feel as though I was giving him less because another baby was in the house. I did not anticipate the amount of bonding that would happen between the two of them as I would feed them at the same time. Some of my most precious moments were looking down at the two of them, plugged in it at the source as I like to say it, and seeing Kekaula gently stroke his brother head (or vice versa) while they share in one of the most natural human experiences there are. Sometimes they would hold hands, sometimes they would giggle. Always, they shared food and love. The most perfect combination in my opinion.

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But it got physically draining for me. Jolan, who is just 9 months old, breast feeds on demand, which is many times a day. After several months of letting Kekaula breast feed on demand as well i had cut him down to  twice a day: after nap, and in the morning when he comes in to our bed. The mornings started getting brutal. Jolan is not a sleeper. He wakes up ALOT at night. Nothing terrible, he goes back to sleep very quickly, but it is still frequent. Needless to say, I have been sleep deprived for months. Add to that a boob demanding two year old at 5 or 6 in the morning and you have a recipe for a grumpy start of the day. I am not down for grumpy at any time of the day. I make a point to do what I need to do to be genuinely positive and happy. And these 5 am demands became draining and made me genuinely grumpy. I knew something had to give. It was a battle for me. I kept on looking for ways to make these early morning feedings work for everyone. But this was the time when a difficult decision had to be made in order for positive change to happen. And positive it was!

First of all the process wasn’t nearly as terrible as I had expected. It’s been hard, and it is not fully over yet, but it hasn’t been terrible. Second of all, the amount of bonding that has been happening between Kekaula and I is so much more than I could have imagined!! When Kekaula comes in demanding the boob in the morning, I tell him no, we don’t do that anymore. The first few times were hard and he would cry and I would try and unsuccessfully explain myself ( to a 2 year old, yes I know). But then he started asking for a snuggle instead. This boy is the best snuggler I know. Seriously. And I have 4 people I get to snuggle as much as I want on daily basis. He is the best (thank goodness 2 of them can’t read this).

This morning, as usual, Kekaula comes in early and asks for the boob. I say no but we can snuggle instead. After a couple minutes of complaining he gives in and it was the best snuggle I have had all week. His little body fully embracing mine, his breathing deepening as he falls back asleep on my chest. In the mean time Jolan wakes up and because Kekaula and I feel like one in this moment, I can easily shift my body in order to feed Jolan while still holding Kekaula close to me. As I lay awake, holding both of my sleeping children, I am overcome with happiness. The long nights, the tired mornings, the frustrated moments in my day, are all worth it because of moments like these. Moments I had dreaded in my mind that turn out to be more beautiful than I could have imagined. Weening Kekaula did not mean cutting him or me off from any bonding moments, it just means we had to shift the way we were going to do that. And in all honesty, even though I still feel a tinge of sadness at the fact that I will never again share a breastfeeding moment with him, I get so much more out of our snuggling time than I did out of him latching on. And eventually, he will just come in and lay down in bed and snuggle without a fight for the boob first. And I will look forward to that because eventually, that is another moment that will have an end. Although I anticipate the snuggling years to last much longer than the breast feeding years 🙂

(If anyone is interested in knowing details in how I weened Kekaula, I am happy to share, just ask)

The power of choice

I had started writing a post a couple weeks back about my experience camping with 20 other families and the food they served. I never ended up publishing it because it seemed, well a little too judgmental. No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t find ways to express myself in a respectful manner towards the way some people feed their children. After countless times, I decided to just stop writing and reflect really what it was I wanted to say. And what it came down to is that, as a relatively new parent, I am still trying to find ways to raise my children as healthy as possible in a world where processed foods and sugar is a staple in most homes and at most social events.

While I can sit there and point fingers on how terrible it is to give your kids sugary boxed cereal for breakfast and processed meats with pre-sliced bread for lunch, the truth remains the same: pointing fingers won’t make the junk food go away nor will it make me a better parent. Although I have made it one of my goals as a mother to raise my children to have strong immune systems, to rarely get sick, to eat their vegetables and have a healthy upbringing, other people have different goals set for their kids. And I am no one to say their goals aren’t as valuable as mine. They are just different. I value health over anything else as I believe physical health to be the foundation for a happy, productive, energetic life. While I spend hours in my kitchen in order to accomplish that, other families will spend hours at museums or educational venues to teach their kids about other life values. (Not that you can’t do both).

Although I am aware I do things differently than  most parents, and I have accepted the fact that I am a minority when it comes to being this health conscious with my family, it has been a struggle for me to feel completely comfortable with the amount of junk food food that is served every time we are out. And we have a very social life, so we are out often. Typically I let my daughter have some juice and dessert, or cookies, when we are at events, constantly reminding myself that as long as I feed her well at home, she has a good foundation for her health. But still, I remained annoyed that she would have so much sugar just because we weren’t at home, and a part of me was not okay with that. In addition, my daughter is not one to turn down sweets or to ever feel like she had enough (I’ve tried letting her keep her bag of Halloween candy hoping she would get sick of it, but no). I’ve been feeling helpless at these parties because I do not want to be the parent telling her kid no all the time while she is watching other kids indulge. Until tonight. My daughter graduated pre-school tonight (she’s going to kindergarten!!!) and there was a potluck afterwards. As usual the amount of sugar at the dessert table was overwhelming, and the juice boxes were flowing. I was bracing myself for yet another night of over indulging. When it dawned on me, I need to give her choices. Kids do GREAT with choices. Typically with choices, it’s a win-win (at least for me, until she catches on that both choices are in my favor most of the time). I caught my daughter before she punctured the juice box with the straw and I told her, “You can either have the juice box now, or you can have dessert after dinner, which one do you want?” She put down the juice box. Luckily I have a kid who eats most of her vegetables, so after serving her a good helping and she ate it, she asked for dessert. I took her to the overflowing dessert table, and told her, “You get ONE. Pick whichever one you want and that’s it”. She picked the one that most appealing to the eye and went on her merry way with no complaints. The party ended and she didn’t come back once asking for more treats. I was impressed. And somewhat surprised. How had I not thought of this before? I use the “Do you want this or this?” method at home for many things with great success, and somehow, not until tonight had it occurred to me to use it for sugar when we are out.

I know this is the first night, and I am staying open to the fact that this might not work every time, but for now I feel successful, and my daughter came home talking happily about her monkey shaped cake pop.