River’s Birth and Postpartum Story
April 20, 2020
Endings, beginnings, death, birth, winter, spring. Flowing with what is. Being a woman. Being this sacred vessel of love and devotion and deep surrender and trust. I held my vision of the birth, where baby and I walk through the portal hand in hand, with my beloved husband energetically supporting us, and my sisters and elders from afar holding space for us, and I just knew everything is going to be alright. Everything is going to be in alignment with the Divine. We are safe.
I had reached a place of surrender. I had stopped wondering whether it was going to be now that my baby would come. It was a rainy darker day, 28th February 2020, and I spent it quietly with my family at home, playing games with my son Sage, reading books with him, hanging out. We watched a documentary on birth. My mother dropped off some chile con carne and watercress cashew soup she had made for us to freeze to use postpartum. I felt particularly tired and close to my birthing time but no other signals that it was nearing. Exhausted I took an afternoon nap for an hour while my husband Luke was with Sage, and when I woke we all drove to the Kings Road to buy Sage some new wellies. Sage had a big emotional release in the car on the way home as he wanted to stay out. We held space for him lovingly on the short drive. We got home, had dinner and I lay with Sage as he fell asleep.
Luke was feeling low so decided to go to the gym to lift his spirits, and I was excited to listen to the latest release of the Free Birth Society podcast and iron the last of the sheets in my linens drawer. I found ironing so satisfying and cathartic and the perfect nesting practice as I awaited my baby’s unknown arrival. I had no idea how pregnant I was. I thought I was probably 38+ weeks but it could’ve be 3 weeks more than that as I never had a cycle from breastfeeding Sage and then forewent any testing. Being in the wild mystery of this pregnancy was so deepening and liberating, I would do it over and over again if I had the chance. I went to bed at midnight feeling good. I awoke to pee at 2.30am and noticed my waters gently started releasing... a leap year baby... of course!...
I lay in bed on towels listening to meditations, feeling excited and adrenalised, breathing in the last moments before everything would change forever. After an hour I got up and walked around my living room as I felt uncomfortable lying down, but no surges yet. Then the first one arrived so strong that I was brought to my knees and moaned through it. I went to wake up my husband and he diligently started working through the checklist I’d made him!
[x] Make sure I have 1 x Arnica 200c (in envelope with birth supplies in my cupboard) at the start of labour
[x] Set up birth pool under angels. Stir water in the pool w the selenite crystal to charge it
[x] Shower curtain on floor
[x] Towels taken from my cupboard
[x] Put on my free birth playlist
[x] Smudge bedroom & living room with sage.
[x] Birth altar
[x] Turn on fairy lights and light beeswax candles.
[x] Make labourade
[x] Call mum
[x] Make sure space is clear of clutter
[x] Set up go pro
[x] Bake birthday cake
[x] Bed is made w fresh linen ironed sheets
[x] Take photos
[x] Placenta bowl in living room
[x] Postpartum basket by my bed w cord burning box
[x] Offer me water/labourade every 15 mins and remind me to pee
[x] Remind me to pee after I give birth and it’s time to birth placenta. Important closing of a healthy birth process.
[x] After labour give homeopathy following instructions on envelope
I tried to light the candles on my altar myself, however I would light the match and then get struck with another surge 10 seconds after the previous. I surrendered lighting candles and stayed on the floor, waiting for the pool to inflate and fill. I needed to get into water. After holding back my vocalisation as I didn’t want to wake up Sage sleeping next door, I thought to myself “what am I doing?! I am making this so much harder for myself trying to contain it!” So I just let the primal roars release from my gut, my throat, my lips. Such intensity- wow. I got into the pool when there was only a drop in! I needed to be in the water and now. I knew this all through my pregnancy, that my baby would be a water baby...
Sage woke up at 4am hearing me, and Luke called my mother to get him. He was taken aback by the sounds I was making- we had just finished watching the film ‘orgasmic birth’ earlier that day, and I definitely didn’t sound orgasmic, more like a wild animal. My mother arrived at 4.45am and had no idea how far into my labour I actually was, she thought I would be going for hours more, as I had only just started an hour ago, and she was very surprised at my dramatic intensity with each surge... little did she, or any of us know that I was to give birth a few minutes later! Luke took Sage down with my mother, the 4 flights of our mansion block building to her car, and could hear me from out on the street. Luckily it was 5am. He came up and my body started intensely bearing down with no control of my own. ‘The baby is coming right now’ I said, as I leaned forward in the pool making crazy guttural sounds as my whole body opened and shot baby out into my hands like a train moving through me. Our baby was born in 2 surges into the water and I pulled him up to my chest, sat back, feeling more alive, more conscious, more love than I’ve ever felt before. In my body. I didn’t know it was possible to feel this way. I cried tears of joy with him skin to skin waiting for him to clear his lungs, talking to him, knowing so innately how safe we both were. How perfect he was. When I look back at the video I see he was gurgling for a bit and gasping for air, but all I can say is in the moment I knew he was ok and there was nothing to do but allow him time.
Luke acted with the ultimate respect to the golden hour after birth, and didn’t touch us or talk to me, he stood watching us, silently sobbing crying (the only reason I know is because he was filming us and at one point turned the camera to his face to show how moved he was). I stared at my baby soaking him in, the Beautiful Chorus song ‘Thank you for your blessings’ came on and I was just singing it to my baby, crying and high on oxytocin. When I was ready I looked over to Luke and invited him into the water. He eventually asked me if we had a boy or a girl, I hadn’t even thought to look! "A boy!!”...
Wow. “Hi my River”. A few hours later I birthed the placenta squatting on my bed into a beautiful bowl, saying ‘I release’ and thanking her for everything. It took some work of relaxing, coughing, being focused and nursing until she came out. Such a relief when she did. I hadn’t torn at all and felt so comfortable. We left the placenta attached in the bowl next to us in bed as I lay soaking him in while Luke was all adrenalised from what he had witnessed and went to bake the birthday cake he didn’t have time to make earlier! A few hours later my mother brought Sage home and he met his little brother for the first time. We had a cord burning ceremony, where we all took turns holding the candles; River’s parents, his brother and his grandmother. Then we sang happy birthday and Sage blew out the candle for his brother. It was so beautiful and perfectly timed, especially as birthday cakes originally symbolise the placenta.
Then came Postpartum, which was a trip. The next 24 hours were totally psychedelic for me. I soaked in a hot bath by candlelight at some point that night and was seeing space invaders and elves and all sorts of things. I lay in bed staring at my baby, with only the red light on in our room, and felt like I was on mushrooms! Totally in control of my body and aware but just accessing another dimension.
I did it... I gave birth in my power to the final piece of our family puzzle, my sweet soulful deep wise River Ray. I free birthed him in an intense decimating whirlwind 90 minute labour. It had been years culminating to this point. Years of research, reflection, self exploration, inner work, surrender, an all consuming immersion. And then, just like that, it was over. And a new chapter had begun. I changed so much in my pregnancy with River, fully embodying my own autonomy and sovereignty, having a wild pregnancy and being taken on a wild ride of self discovery and ego death by his soul in utero guiding me through a purging and purification of self. It was exhausting, it was thrilling, it was invigorating, it was overwhelming. I changed on so many levels, that the thought of changing further didn’t cross my mind...
Postpartum In a Lockdown
My milk was flowing, my tears were flowing. I still smelt like birth. I loved it and didn’t want to lose it. Our little River is a dream, so calm and present, nursing with vigour. He was 8lbs, which surprised me so much considering his brother was almost 11lbs and I was bigger. He is perfect. Sage had lots of big emotions and releasing, but he is infatuated with his baby River and always holding his hand and stroking his hair. In the first two weeks we had lots of support but it still doesn’t feel enough! Sage went to my mother’s every afternoon, she brought us food, we had a cleaner, I had a postpartum doula the first week before she got ill. I had a postpartum massage the day after birth in bed with River by my side. I yoni steamed almost daily from day 2, and felt totally blissed our by my new baby. This was the build up and then lockdown happened.
I then felt like I was being pulled out of my insular, personal sphere of self growth and into a greater purpose of awakening. The theme of Darkness vs Light is so strong right now, especially with everything going on with this Coronavirus, the world being in Lockdown, of being ‘unprecedented times’ and of people navigating fear and hysteria. I asked myself...What is the greater meaning of all this?What can I take from this time of my life, having just birthed my son in my full power, having birthed myself as a new mother and being in isolation amidst this global lockdown. Questioning everything. Who am I? Why am I here? Why are we all here? Why is this happening? Is it real? Why did this happen right when I gave birth? Why am I being drawn to go down the rabbit hole of these different realities? Am I safe? Is my family safe? Are we going to be ok? Is humanity going to be ok?
Then I managed to emerge from being underwater and breathe in the raw power I tasted and embodied giving birth. A State of acceptance. Melting the resistance I have to the inevitability of this very moment. I am undergoing a huge transformation, bigger than I can wrap my head around. I wasn’t expecting it. All I can do is surrender to it and ride the wave blindly, seeing where I get taken but knowing that it will be the divinely perfect place. Remembering my connection to the Divine, to Spirit, to Good, to Light. My umbilical cord to Source. The sustenance that I am able to receive at any moment, that I can drink in from the Universal breast.
This Esoteric ocean of experience I am navigating as my postpartum experience in Lockdown is much more profound than the meal train I had planned for but didn’t get, the bodywork I couldn’t receive, the nurturance from my postpartum doula that couldn’t happen. Postpartum during lockdown has been hard at times. Hard because I had to let go of my deeply wished for and planned support from my community so I could heal in bed with my baby...and finding new ways to be supported.
All I can say is Luke is my absolute hero, and he has acted as father, husband, friend, chef, cleaner, dog walker, yoni steam preparer, grocery shopper and so much more. All whilst teaching our 2 year old how to ride a motorbike!
River has taught me so much about how to stay in the Light, and when I would feel the forces of darkness that are at play out in the world come over me he would catch a cold or get a sore throat or cry more than is usual. When it clicked to me that we are one and the same nervous system, the same energetic body, and the responsibility I had to hold my vibration to a certain standard for him, and therefore for me, everything shifted. I didn’t allow myself to get sucked in anymore, and his cold went away in that same day. I observed the world and accepted that there are so many different realities and that no one story is ‘right’, they can all coexist, life is a play, with many different versions, that are unfolding divinely, without my control.
I will end my story with these points that are carrying me through this time:
-The power of light outweighs the power of darkness. It only takes one match to light up a whole dark room.
-What I do in one thing is what I do in everything. You birth how you live. Therefore you live how you birth.
-I choose to believe that the world is a safe place for me and my family.