‘I can’t do this!’ I roared like a lion. I was like an animal pacing around trying to find the right spot. I bit Justin!’: Mom recounts ‘other-wordly’ home-birth story

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“This was my third pregnancy, and sometime between the first and the third I had a very powerful spiritual awakening. When I found out I was pregnant, I instantly knew I wanted to do a home birth. I wanted to experience the full power of my body and my mind without medical intervention. I knew in my heart that it was meant to be this way. I wanted my family – my husband and girls – to be right alongside me as this baby came earth side. And the idea of having him in our home, holding him in my arms in our bed just seemed so right.

Courtesy of @carleyephotography

It was around 3 p.m. on Saturday, May 9th, when I started to feel some regular sensations in my belly. I had just come out of a hypnosis-type guided meditation to stimulate labor when I started feeling it. Nothing major or intense, just a tightening and release feeling that started to become familiar. My first two births were standard hospital procedures, including epiduralssomehow I managed to never feel a single contraction during either one. I wasn’t sure if what I was feeling was actually contractions. I tried Googling if what I was feeling was a contraction but was still unsure, so I called my midwife. She listened to me over the phone and could tell by the timing and sound of my voice I was having light contractions, so she suggested I go for a walk.

Justin and I walked for about 30 minutes while our kids played in a sprinkler in the front yard. The walk turned uncomfortable pretty quickly. I was feeling a really intense sensation in my sideslike a really strong side stitch. I got home and relaxed in the bath and invited the sensations to keep coming.

Things started picking up around 6 p.m. (I may be off by an hour or so… I wasn’t keeping track of the time.) After talking again to my doula and midwife, we felt it was time to start timing things. This is when everything got screwy for me. I downloaded a contraction timer app and got so fixated on timing everything I actually nearly halted the labor process. I was so in my head and confused on what was a contraction vs. something else. I was getting really analytical and finding it hard to just surrender. I was in the bath for most of this part. My husband kept popping in to check on me and I kept telling him, ‘Let me be!’ He was scared he’d have to deliver the baby himself if I waited too long. He was really concerned about timing, which was making things a bit harder for me.

I remember feeling so confused and frustrated. I knew I was supposed to call my birth team once the timing of contractions reached a certain interval. I was super worried about calling my birth team too early. I didn’t want to feel like a major inconvenience to everyone because I got the timing wrong and then they would just have to sit there and wait for me. I found myself getting really irritated anytime I was asked about timing; I felt like I couldn’t time things right and was failing somehow.

Courtesy of Meg Sylester

When I talked to my midwife again she immediately sensed this. She listened and realized labor progressed for me when I was in my body vs. in my mind. Sensations were brought on by things like walking, meditating, and relaxing. She said she was coming over so she could take the job of timing off of me and just let me be. Just knowing she was coming brought the sensations back.

By the time she arrivedabout 30 minutes after we spokecontractions started getting regular again. I think this was around 8 p.m. Not painful, but a regular wave of tightening accompanied by a mild, menstrual-like cramping. We headed to my room, I turned on some music and a salt lamp and we just hung out. She observed me in a non-clinical way. Just sat with me like a friend and took note of my state without me having to tell her what I was feeling. This helped tremendously. I remember thinking she was an angel. My heart was so overcome with love for her. I wasn’t scared at all. If anything, I was just feeling anxious and ready. I desperately wanted to meet my baby as he was already 11 days past the estimated due date.

During this time, Justin called our dear friend Laurana to come over and be with the girls because we were pretty sure labor was starting. It was important for us to have someone who the girls love and trust (that had also been diligently following self-quarantine) during the birth. LaLa is also a licensed massage therapist and reiki master so I knew she’d be a great energy to have at the house for me, too.

After an hour or two, my midwife and I both agreed things weren’t really progressing. We both sensed my body just really wanted to rest and go to bed. She said she was going to go home, but to call her if things picked up. She assured me, if labor was going to happen it would pick up, even if I tried to sleep. And if it wasn’t going to happen, then I could allow myself to drift off and surrender to labor happening some other day soon.

About ten minutes after she left, I started feeling serious contractionsaround 10:45 p.m. This time it was intense. Justin had gone to take a nap and LaLa was with my girls in their bedroom. I had about 4 contractions laying in bed by myself and I started to get scared. I remember feeling so alone and so in pain. And then I realized all I had to do was ask for help. I knew Justin was still sleeping and LaLa was literally a few feet away in the next room, so I texted her and asked her to come sit with me. I was nearly in tears because of the pain by the time she came into my room. She immediately went into healer mode and started helping me breathe. I asked her if she could just pay attention to the timing without me having to tell her when one was starting and ending because I didn’t want to get too in my head again. She put her hands on my body and rode the waves with me while noting the time. She realized they were coming on quickly so she called my midwife, and then my midwife called the rest of my team and they all headed to the house. I wasn’t afraid. I knew my body was made for this. The sensations were strong and intense, but I kept conjuring up images of all of the mamas who had come before me in all parts of the world birthing their babies. This helped me tremendously.

Courtesy of Meg Sylester

While we were waiting on the team to arrive, LaLa woke Justin and the two of them helped me through each contraction. I stripped down and got in the bath. They were both holding my hands and coaching me—helping me to breathe and keeping my mind in a good place. Contractions were about every 45 seconds now. (Once the birth was all said and done, Justin and LaLa shared with me they both thought they were going to have to deliver the baby in the tub because things were getting so intense.)

I got out of the tub and started throwing up in the toilet. How the three of us fit in that room (the small room where the toilet is) I’ll never know! Between the contractions and throwing up, my consciousness was transported somewhere entirely different. I didn’t feel like I was on this planet. I eventually got up from the bathroom floor and remember feeling like an animal pacing around trying to find the right spot to have my next contraction. I’ve never felt so animalistic. I actually bit Justin during a contraction!

Justin was incredible throughout everything. He was with me the entire way. Hardly ever letting go of my hand. Looking deeply into my eyes and telling me it was all okay. I was breathing and saying things like, ‘Help me,’ and, ‘I can’t do this.’ The pain was just so intense. When I started to panic he would lovingly redirect my mind to the moment. My husband immediately sensed my pain and grabbed my hands while  locking eyes with me. I’ll never forget the wisdom in his voice when he said ‘Meg, the place you’re looking for is here. It’s right here.’

I never thought about going to the hospital. Not even once. I wanted to have the baby at home and I knew my midwife would let us know if for any reason we needed medical intervention at a hospital. I didn’t even put the thought of hospitals in my mind. For months I read Ina May Gaskin’s book ‘Spiritual Midwifery.’ The book has tons of birth stories, almost all home births. These stories prepared my mindset in a way no medical text or birthing class ever could. I knew my midwife was completely competent and capable. And I wanted to feel the sensations. I wanted to be fully present in my body. So no, the hospital was out of the question unless directed by my midwife.

At some point the team arrived and my sweet girls came into the bedroom. The gave me little drawings and read me letters they had written me and the baby as I was having contractions. At one point Lily grabbed my hand, and Justin grabbed the other, while LaLa rubbed my back. We sat in a circle on my bed and they both were so strong for me. I completely surrendered to their help and trusted them when they said I was doing good and it would be okay. It was an amazing feeling to just pour all of my trust into them, without weighing their words or analyzing the situation. I’ve never been so present in a moment. Just so fully connected to the love coming from another human. Fully trusting even though I felt so scared.

I kept wanting to go sit on the toilet during contractions. I had always thought I’d do a water birth but the idea of sitting in water while reclined didn’t appeal to me. I needed be in a seated positionmy body knew what to do and took over. My midwives could see this so they set out a birth chair. This is a chair very low to the ground where the seat is shaped like a Cbasically like a toilet but open in the front.

Justin guided me to the seat, as LaLa brought the girls to their bedroom, and my doula stepped in. As soon as I sat down on the birth chair my body naturally began to push. I think this was around 12:45 a.m. Pushing was my favorite part. It felt so exhilarating. Each time I pushed, I roared like a lion. It felt like I had turned into a lion. I remember when I had my girls for some reason I had convinced myself pushing without making sounds was ‘better’ and more noble. I thought the more easy and graceful I could make it look, the better. Well, I can tell you, I did not give one flying f*ck what anyone thought of me during this birth. It was incredibly liberating and I honestly think it was the first time in my life I didn’t have a single concern what someone else was thinkingeven though I was completely naked, crouched down on a chair and roaring like an animal. I felt so free to just be in my power and to do whatever it was my very wise body was guiding me to do without analyzingbeing present with my power and trusting it fully. It was the most empowering Goddess feeling I’ve ever experienced.

With each push, I would use my voice to find strength and put more power behind the action. I would start with a deep grunt and it would build and climb into a higher octave. It was like singing and roaring combined. The whole time I was holding Justin’s hand in one and my midwife’s hand in the other. How my midwife managed to do all she did with one hand, I have no idea! (BTW I had two midwives present!) My face was smashed into the side of my doula’s and I have no idea how I didn’t deafen her. I never knew I had power behind my voice. I felt like my voice could move mountains. It was here in this moment I realized I was creating life. I was about to birth an entire life through my power.

For months before the birth, I had been talking to my girls about the different sounds I might make and how it might seem like I’m in pain, but that it was all part of the process and I’d be ok. I told them not to be scared for me, but to be excited. We even watched a great documentary together about home birth. So when it came time, they were prepared.

I pushed and felt something come out that didn’t feel like a baby. It felt squishy and easy to push out. It was the water bag leading the way. Another contraction came, I roared and pushed again. My son’s head was born. I roared and pushed a few more times (about 5-10 minutes total) and a miracleour baby was born. Happy Theodore Sylvester was born  at 12:54 a.m. on May 10, 2020Mother’s Day! 8.6 lbs of pure love. My daughters ran into the room just before he was born. I remembered them sitting a few feet away hugging each other crying tears of joy. When baby came out they cheered and started crying even more reaching for him as I held him in my arms.

Courtesy of @austinbirthphotos
Courtesy of @austinbirthphotos

It didn’t hurt pushing him out (which I attribute to the rush of hormones that kick in during an unmedicated natural birth). My roaring was not reactionary. It wasn’t in response to pain. My roars were me tapping into my native, animalistic power to create life! Immediately after my son was born he was put on my chest. I could hear Justin crying tears of joy. I remember being astonished. Holding him in my arms and staring wide-eyed, bewildered this just happened. I couldn’t believe he was here. The girls came in and witnessed their baby brother’s first moments of life. Lily was crying tears of joy and Ruby was just staring in awe and silence (and probably a little shell-shocked!).

Courtesy of @austinbirthphotos
Courtesy of @austinbirthphotos

Our sweet boy remained on my chest while I delivered the placenta. We then moved to the bed with the cord still attached. After about an hour Lily and Ruby helped to cut the cord. And we all snuggled as a family on our bed as we welcomed Happy into the world.

I’ll never ever forgot the power, the raw emotion, the trust, the love, and the other-worldly feelings of this night. Even though I had moments of panic, moments when I thought I couldn’t do it…I did! I accepted the help of my husband, children, and team. I believed in them. I leaned into their strength and was strengthened by their love. Our son, this birth, helped me to see just how powerful I truly am. Happy is perfect in every way, just like the birth. It was truly the most special magnificent night of my life.”

Courtesy of @austinbirthphotos
Courtesy of @austinbirthphotos
Courtesy of @austinbirthphotos

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Meg Sylvester. You can follow her journey on Instagram and on her website.  Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribeto our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

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