I sit in meditation in front of my birthing alter, in the bell tent where I plan to birth my baby. It’s dark, but warm candle light fills the space. To the left of me is the birth pool set up, to the right a cozy bed and heater, above my head affirmation flags dangle, created with intention by the closest women in my life. My alter is filled with special items - crystals, shells, seed pods and artwork, all representing the support, love and trust around me. A space of intention, of power and of safety.
I light some incense, burn Palo Santo and sit holding my belly. The time is almost here. I know it is, yet my mind plays tricks on me. Fears I didn’t have through the entire pregnancy begin to surface. I start to question everything. This entire journey I have chosen to listen to my inner knowing rather than choose any midwifery care. I have chosen to step outside of the system and take back my power as a birthing woman - but suddenly it seems really real. I don’t have anyone to reassure me, to tell me everything is ok, to test, measure or assess. It’s just me and my baby and the trust and surrender I must find somewhere within myself. I pull a card from my ‘Mother’s Wisdom’ deck, the card is Lioness - Courage.
On Wednesday night, I begin to feel some light cramping throughout the night. Some feel more intense than usual but I’m still not sure if this is it. A part of me couldn’t really believe it would be finally happening. At about 4am I can’t sleep so decide to get up. I feel a wave of anxiety fall over me. I wake Sam and he sits with me on the couch as I cry, I tell him I’m scared - thoughts of death keep creeping into my mind. I know that birth is a sort of death, the end of one cycle and the beginning of another. But also just a fear of losing my loved ones around me. I live in so much love with Sam and Luna, I couldn’t stand to lose it. But this birth is leading me to a huge death of a part of myself, a death of our life as three and a rebirth as a new and different family. I cried tears of grief in his arms until the sun rose.
At about 7am I try and get some breakfast and do my normal morning things. A couple of surges stop me in my tracks and I now realise and accept that today is the day. Sam calls our dear friend Holly to come as we had planned to have her here as support in whatever way we needed. Between Sam, my sister Kelly and Holly we have our trusted birthing team. Each one of them supported me in different ways through my pregnancy, they reminded me of my power, truly listened, honoured me and most importantly trusted me. By 9am I can't really focus on anything other than the surges so I decide to go into the birthing tent and go into my body.
I begin by laying on the bed, trying to rest as much as I can. I practise breathing through each surge as deeply as I can, trying to relax my body. Luna and Sam come in and out of the tent, Luna really wants to play and Sam is finding it difficult to be present with the both of us. I feel ok to be alone, just closing my eyes and being with the sensations. Kelly comes in when she can, offers her hand or a drink of the labourade I had prepared to keep hydrated. She knew she didn’t need to say much or do anything - just to be there.
I soon lose track of time as the surges become more intense and frequent. I remember thinking to myself that this seems to be happening so quickly, but I don’t really know. I alternate between sitting and rocking on the excercise ball to laying on the bed or on all fours trying to find some relief. I soon need Sams full presence with me, I need his stability, his strength and his unwavering trust in me. My sister puts Luna to sleep which relieves my mother mind. Now I feel I can truly let go. The surges begin to come in strong, a sensation there will never be words for. So many emotions begin to flow through me and I let it all flood out of me. I cry, sobbing tears of grief and pain. But there feels like so much more being released. Years of conditioning that have stifled my emotional expression are becoming undone, the sadness I feel for women birthing within a broken system comes flowing out, the lineage of birth trauma and abuse is being torn apart as I sit on that ball with tears flowing. Sam holds me as I moan and growl through the surges and I realise I need the relief of the water. I also ask him to get my earrings and I put on my birthing necklace - I feel I need to adorn myself as a birthing goddess and embody her in anyway I can.
Sam fills the birth pool up fairly quickly and I jump in as soon as I can. As soon as my body is submerged I feel relieved. But it only lasts a short while as the surges continue to rapidly increase in intensity. Not long after I get into the water I see Holly’s face peer into the tent. She comes in and holds my hand as I cry some more. My sister comes in too and together I feel their beautiful feminine love holding space for me. Between each surge I rest over the edge of the pool trying to breath, trying to be calm, trying to surrender. The surges come over me like a strong current that I can’t swim out of. I have no control, the only choice I have is to let it come. I groan, I yell, I growl, I scream, I am a wild woman. I move my body in the water, swaying my hips, rocking back and forth and moving up and down. Whatever my body feels like doing I let it do. Sam talks to me and I tell him to stop talking, it takes me out of my body and into my mind. I think about women birthing in other settings, who have care providers that constantly interrupt, check, take notes and medicalise what is so natural. I’m grateful in that moment to be here in the safety and protection of this space.
Sam holds me through some surges and I begin to feel as though I can’t do it. There’s no rest in between, my body is writhing, I want it to stop. A thought crosses my mind that this is transition. Can it be already? I have a huge surge and have the urge to scream no, but I catch myself and instead say Yeeeees loudly and deeply. I don’t want to give up. Then a rest. It could be long, it could be short, I’m not sure. But I get a chance to breath.
Then, with the next surge I feel the urge to push. I can’t really believe it. Have I made it this far? Yes, more pushing. With each surge my body heaves, it forcefully pushes out of my control. It pushes with an intensity that is overwhelming but I can’t stop it. I had pictured this peaceful breathing out of my baby but instead, it is an uncontrollable force. I reach down and feel the amniotic sac surrounding my babies head, it emerges slightly, then goes back in. I groan ‘come on baby’ several times and I hear Sam tell me to call my baby in. Another push and the amniotic sac is bulging out, still not wanting to break. ‘Come on’ I chant. Then I feel the burn of his head stretching me. I try to resist the urge to push him completely out, it feels too quick, it feels rushed. But another surge forces me to push and after a couple more his head emerges, still enclosed in the amniotic sac. His head stays out of my body for a few moments, inbetween worlds. I feel a strong urge to get him out. Sam reaches to touch his head and I swat him away, remembering we shouldn’t touch while still submerged. I lift up on one knee, then switch to the other, trying to manoeuvre him out of my body. But with one last contraction, he slides out. We pull him up to my chest and I’m in shock. I see some mucus on his nose so I suck a little. I rub his back and after a few moments he cries out. We check to see the sex, more than anything I want to welcome our baby with their name. A boy! We Welcome Sage Wolf. My sister brings in Luna and together we surround him with love while I sit in the pool for a few moments. I just look at him, stroke him, kiss him. I can’t believe I did it. I can’t believe he’s here. It’s all so surreal. Luna says ‘that’s my brother’ and looks in awe. I have a son.
I believe I am here now to make change, to resist all the programming and all the dogma around birth and to support women in this process. But I'm also here to trust, right where we are and to let it go. It is a contraction and an expansion, like birth itself. But how do I make change? How do WE as a collective make change? How do we know what to do? As women, we need to learn to become the wisdom we never received. We can forge a new way, by taking back our power in birth, by listening to our own deep knowing, trusting the innate wisdom of our bodies, by loving and supporting ourselves and taking responsibility. We can shed the current ways of being and stop trusting in a system that does not serve us. Woman can reclaim their autonomy in pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood. We can reclaim ancient wisdom and honour birth for the powerful, instinctual and natural process that it is. We can birth a new world into being.