Riley's First Birth - A Freebirth on Hawaii
July 16, 2019
The first book that came to me during my pregnancy, was Laura Shanley’s Unassisted Childbirth. I did not have the idea to seek the information, rather it felt like it just arrived. Receiving the book was the first of many "nudges" from spirit that I received during my pregnancy, guiding me to plan for an unassisted birth. Though I initially sought one, I couldn't seem to find a midwife with whom I resonated enough to feel a full “yes” to share the journey of my pregnancy and birth. It soon became clear to me that having an unassisted birth was what my soul wanted.
Once I chose this way for myself, I felt a HUGE shift! The shift was--now I am fully responsible for my birth, and it’s my job to make sure I'm prepared and informed in all the ways that are essential. It became my driving focus to do all I could to feel confident and secure with this decision--and the eventual process that would come of it. Trust was now something I had to create in myself and not give to anyone else. This felt big and oh so right. Soon I realized the healing of self doubt would be crucial. This meant studying, listening, and going inside myself to see what I needed to let go of and what I needed to bring in in order to realize the birth of my dreams. This was a daily practice throughout my entire pregnancy. Listening to the relaxation/visionary self hypnosis CDs “Hypnobabies” became a very powerful and effective tool during the pregnancy. It gave me the space to tune in to the possibilities--to receive, envision, and pray for the labour I wanted to experience . Hypnobabies also assisted me in uncovering the limiting and false beliefs related to pregnancy and childbirth lying dormant in my subconscious, so I could let these beliefs go. A subtle transmission has accompanied decades or more of western medical obstetrics--that pregnancy is more like an illness or a disease to be tracked and monitored than what it really is--procreation...the most natural expression of health and wellness! My partner was accepting and supportive of my idea for we shared the same view of the birth process and the significance of following intuition--with knowledge and preparedness. I knew he felt and reflected my vision of how our child would enter the world.
On January 10th (my birthday) I was 3 weeks away from my due date. I received a gift, a necklace from my grandmother. On the front of the tag was one word: AHUA (in all caps). On the back of the tag it said Ahua (Sun): Meditating on this Mayan Zodiac symbol will enhance spiritual energy and increase enlightenment. The moment I read this tag I knew this was our daughter's name. Her father loved it and immediately looked up what it meant in Hawaiian. Ahua means “to swell like a wave, or the crest of a wave.” (We conceived Ahua on the Big Island and spent the months of my pregnancy building a home on the five acres of raw land we had just purchased. It’s feels so perfect looking back that there was synchrony with the actual process of building a home while expecting the child who would come to live in it...we were preparing a home for the new life that was coming.)
Around this time I was actively preparing for her birth as my due date was said to be January 29th (my mom’s birthday) I knew there was a full moon on the 23rd and this was the day I intuitively felt I would bring my Labour. I wanted the full lunar energy to assist me in my birthing process. I also envisioned going into Labour in the morning so I could feel the warmth of the sun while absorbing its energy to fuel the labor as well.
The night of January 22, 2016 I awoke around 2 am, wrapped myself up in a blanket, and walked barefoot out into our garden to marvel at the moon...she was silvering me and all the plants around me with her light. I felt a strong urge to poop, and I did several times...feeling in the process that I was being prepared for labour to begin soon. I felt close to the earth bowed to the sky and offered a prayer. I asked for labour to begin the following morning. I spoke out loud to affirm that I was ready.
The next morning I woke up at dawn and very excitedly prepared myself a coffee enema. I intuitively felt called to do this to clean myself out and encourage labor to begin. I was so excited, as coffee enemas were something I missed doing very much throughout my pregnancy. After holding the coffee for about 10 minutes, I was ready to release. As I squatted in our garden I released the coffee under a papaya tree and as I looked down I noticed a long clear, lightly blood spotted mucus plug hanging from my yoni. I was thrilled, because I knew this meant things were heading in the right direction. I popped up and ran into our house, exclaiming to Ahua's father that she would be coming today!
He had to run out to the hardware store in town to get one last piece for our kitchen plumbing so we would have running water before the day was done. He continued to work on our home as I worked on myself. I spent the morning listening to my positive birthing affirmations, cleaning and preparing our space, burning sage, laying down lots of blankets, and sheets for the birth, filling a pitcher with spring water to place on the table, setting fragrant plumerias down around the birthing space and diffusing lavender essential oils to create an environment of love to embrace my birthing experience.
At around 11 am I sat down legs spread wide as light and regular contractions began. I placed an infrared pink granite heating pad on my back which provided much relief from the tension and achiness I felt. I began to time my contractions. I found these first steps comforting and fascinating.
As each birthing wave came I would say "release", with the intention to not resist the intensity. Saying the word “release" helped me to welcome and allow the opening to happen. I sat legs long and spread wide while I swayed back and forth giving in to the sensations accumulating in then dissipating from my body, like a gentle wave. Ahua's Father sat across from me and he brought his guitar out to play and sing for us, which I found to be sooo soothing. The strength and familiarity of his voice brought comfort and fortified me. He started to sing Wish You Were Here, by Pink Floyd. As this song was offered to us, my entire being was filled with its beauty. I felt waves of forgiveness compassion and love washing my heart clean as large, tears swelled in my eyes then streamed down my cheeks. The song opened my heart to feel love for my own dad again. He and I had not spoken for several years after a traumatic experience I had with him when I was a teenager. The cleansing in my heart continued and I felt swelling waves of love, compassion, and appreciation for my mother. I could feel into the challenges she navigated to bring me into, then accompany me in this world. At this moment it seemed all of humanity and the entire world fit inside my heart and the tears kept streaming, drip drip dripping onto my thighs as the birthing waves kept coming, now building in intensity. I swirled through pain, joy, love, forgiveness, faith, strength, humility, and surrender. The stream of feelings moving through me was profound. I was aware that as I moved through these waves the pain, though intensifying, was matched by my cleansing breaths and my firm belief that everything was just as it should be. As the cleansing and opening continued Ahua's Father began to sing one last song, “Black Bird” by the Beatles. This song penetrated deep into my heart as the words cradled me, I felt there was nothing to hold on to...there was only a love so expansive, ready to receive me as I navigated this powerful initiation into motherhood. I felt total trust and gave myself to this flow. I was only waiting for the moment to arrive.
And then FULL ON TRANSITION! I got up, feeling the need to move. I leaned over my bed to bring relief to my lower back where the pain was excruciating. I thought that walking outside would help. I wanted to feel the warmth of the sun on my back, but the truth was there was no escaping the pain that I felt. During this time I noticed that my practice to say "release" when a birthing wave would come turned into a forceful "FUCK"! I started to think to myself, "I understand why women get epidurals" and "I will never do this ever again.." and "I can't handle more of this pain!" I started to feel fear and I began to panic. I noticed what was happening and saw two paths stretched out before me...One of doubt and fear...fear that I couldn’t do this and something was seriously wrong. The other path was of trust and faith--trusting in my practice and preparation, trusting in the perfection of the moment...this led to what I wanted, my intentions of allowing, breathing, of saying yes to it all, staying clear, staying open.
I re calibrated my energy and intention just as the biggest, most intense birthing wave came and along with it a roar sooo deep, loud, long, and powerfully primal came bellowing from my center echoing through the land. My meditation and concentration were so intense--was it me or was it just passing through me? My waters broke and splashed out onto the blankets. I had discovered my power, and I harnessed it to carry me through the rest of the journey...MY ROAR. Each time a birthing wave came I braced myself the pain was unbelievably intense I could not believe my body had the capacity to FEEL that kind of pressure. I let the roar pour out of me like a river surely echoing for a thousand miles in every direction...Then I felt the urge to feel if her head was touchable and sure enough it was right there, about to crown.
Another bone cracking birthing wave moved through me pushing her head down a little more, and I kneeled into a squatting position holding onto the side of my bed shaking and panting, I was ready to push her head out.This was the only time I actively pushed during the whole labor and with one more birthing wave her head came out and I moaned all of my relief out into that precious moment. One more powerful birthing wave came pushing the rest of her body out, she slipped into my hands. I held her in my arms amazed and humbled by the victory of this moment. Her father sat a few feet away witnessing us, he wept. Ahua was wet, warm, bright pink, and crying loudly. She was now earth side, illuminated by the setting sun as the ocean song could be heard in the distance. Soon she would be bathed in the full moon’s silver light for the first time. I felt the force of nature through all the elements, bright and soft light all surrounded by the constant lapping of the waves on the shore. The birth waves that brought Ahua into the world mirrored the ebb and flow of ocean waves. All the waves and our bodies were and are under the dominion of the gravitational, magical pull of the moon over the waters of the earth.
After ten more minutes of persistent lower back pain I was finding it difficult to get comfortable. We called our neighbor and dear friend Shanti over to come and support me as the placenta was now ready to be birthed. Shanti is a mother to 6 and 3 of her children were free birthed at home. She came over in 5 minutes and her grounded maternal presence was so comforting and appreciated at this time, a few minutes after she arrived the placenta was born and after it an enormous blood clot which alleviated much of the lower back pain I had been experiencing. Then a few hours later, Ahua’s father cut the umbilical cord and preserved the placenta, thereby truly completing the birth. Every part of the life that had been growing within me was in the air. As is recognized by cultures all around the world, the cutting of the placenta was the real and metaphoric “parting of the ways”.
The Full Moon rose, illuminating the perfection of our new baby as she nursed and settled into my embrace. The four of us sat around our kitchen table drinking tea. I experienced swirling whirlpools of oxytocin flooding me from head to toe as my baby girl rested gently skin to skin on my chest. I smiled, feeling blessed and entirely present to the pure bliss and joy this miraculous moment brought.
The moments following the birth were spectacular as I have never felt more divine love unfolding and expanding inside of me and around me. Giving birth was the most sacred experience I have ever had. I have drawn upon the sheer strength this experience revealed in me. I carry it all within me and draw on it to overcome the difficulties I have had to face since becoming a mother. The strength to be present to what is, and knowing I have the capacity to stretch beyond my perceived limits...to live something that was once beyond my wildest imagination! Through the whole experience I gave birth to Ahua and I also gave birth to living the life of my dreams--no matter how difficult the journey may be. Everyday I ask to be guided, to be transformed into an evermore authentic, present, wise, raw, and empowered human being. The process is continuous.