Transcript - Rachel Brathen YogaGirl
Emilee Saldaya 0:00
Welcome to the show, girlfriend.
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 0:03
Hi, I'm so happy to be here.
Emilee Saldaya 0:06
Yeah, it’s a full-circle moment. I got to connect with you and your pregnancy and support you, and I'm just so excited to hear the full story today.
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 0:20
Yeah, it feels like a long time ago that we talked about doing this podcast a baby ago.
Emilee Saldaya 0:27
That's definitely a new expression we should use versus a lifetime ago. So tell everyone listening to your story – who you were before your first pregnancy? Take us on the journey of your first pregnancy.
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 0:53
I was born and raised in Sweden and lived my whole young adult life in Sweden. I wasn’t living a super great life. My teenage years were really, really, really hard and heavy. I come from a history of just a lot of childhood trauma and a lot of broken families and death and stuff and didn't know it. But when I was a teenager, I was manifesting inner pain through drinking and running away from home and just being pretty severely depressed for a lot of years in a row. When I was 17 years old, I was in a really terrible place and found myself at a meditation retreat. So much in my life is because of thanks to my mom. I feel that it's so true. She said, “Okay, you're either out of the house or you have to do something better.” So she had found this place where you go, meditate and therapy, and just wildly different from how I was living. I was drinking every day and just dating terrible boys.
Emilee Saldaya 2:15
What was your resistance to going there?
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 2:23
I think about it now, and it's really bizarre because I had never had friends, we’re into this. I didn't know anybody who meditated. I didn't know anybody who had ever gone to therapy or who had done any kind of inner work of any kind. But there was a part of me that knew I couldn’t continue living this way. It's not a sustainable way to live. I was deeply unhappy for so much of my own life. I remember thinking, “Okay, well, I'll, try.” I didn't want to be kicked out of the house. I wanted to feel better. It was a place in Sweden. It was a train ride away. I took a cab from the train station, and halfway to the place, I thought, “Oh, no, this is insane.” I can't believe I’m spending a week with strangers. You know, everyone wearing white? It was so strange to me. I had a face full of heavy makeup and smoking cigarettes. I was not in that place. I told the cab driver, “Hey, I changed my mind actually turn around. Take me back to the station.” And he pulls over and kind of turns around. And he said, “You know, I've driven many people to this place. Everyone is very scared going there. Because I don't know what they do there. But when I pick people up, they are the happiest I've ever seen.” He said, “How about I give you my phone number? And if you want to ride back to the train station, tomorrow, or anytime, you just call me, and I'll come pick you up.” And I said, “Okay, thanks for that cab driver.”
Emilee Saldaya 4:13
This retreat center fully employs that guy.
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 4:18
He's on the payroll.
Emilee Saldaya 4:21
All these trainings of how to get you there. That's funny.
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 4:27
He's the highest-paid employee. But it was so amazing. Because it was a retreat. It's Osho base. I don't know if you know.
Emilee Saldaya 4:35
I lived at his ashram in India.
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 4:39
Okay, so I have lots of friends who did live that life, so I ended up staying and sticking around and doing Dynamic Meditation every morning and really deep, primal work and lots of crying, and it was completely life-changing, basically. So, I ended up going back for another retreat just a couple of months later, and I realized that the only way for me to make a life of my own where I would be happy would have to be outside of Sweden. I couldn't stay in the family dynamic I was in, I had to go. So I broke up with my boyfriend and went to Costa Rica. I was supposed to do a three-month backpack thing. But deep down, I knew, I was never coming back. I just knew this was not just a little trip, it was a big thing. And I went to Costa Rica and didn't return. It changed my life, completely when I found yoga. I found life basically for the first time at 18 years old. I mean, fast forward a little bit. I lived there for three years. Really, you go?
Emilee Saldaya 5:56
So you go one way and stay? And you find work?
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 6:03
I went back at some point to move out of my mom's house, which became another thing. She said, “I want to rent this room. You're out, I have all your stuff here.” So I came back to kind of empty room and repacked and organized myself to really, really live. I think half a year or something later, but then I really stayed, and I bartended for a bit, I waitressed, and I worked at a dive shop. I was just kind of doing that barefooted hippie thing where all I literally cared about was my yoga practice. And this new spiritual journey that I had found, so the plant medicine and sort of kind of opening up into a whole new world over there.
Emilee Saldaya 6:53
Wow. From night to day day.
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 6:57
It really was. I think halfway through that trip, I realized yoga was the thing for me. I always had a lot of back pain, I had a disconnected relationship with my body. Yoga was my first experience of any form of embodiment of finding presence in my body without feeling as though I was triggering a wound or I was very scared to be in the body my entire life because I held so much stuff there.
Emilee Saldaya 7:33
And was it a particular lineage that you found, such as a devotional practice, or did you kind of make it a hodgepodge?
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 7:43
Yeah, I floated in and out. So I started with a very basic Hatha form of yoga with a lot of props and a lot of support, which was great because I had toes that were really a messed up girl.
Emilee Saldaya 8:00
You have lived very many lifetimes.
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 8:03
I think so. I think that if I had found a very intense form of yoga, such as a Vinyasa flow, I probably would have never come back after that first class. So, I'm glad I found a more gentle, supportive practice first. And then I started feeling empowered, got rid of the back pain, realized, I could do a handstand, and I could be in this body and feel strong. And it was really an amazing thing. Yoga really brought me to my body for the first time. And then somewhere around there. I started teaching classes to friends, I would be on the beach just practicing, and someone would join, and I just started talking people through what I was doing for myself. Then realized, I'm kind of good at that. I felt really connected and inspired by just sharing the practice. Then I started teaching and eventually did a couple of yoga teacher trainings. Then I went to Aruba on vacation and walked into a surf shop and met this very cute boy.
Emilee Saldaya 9:30
Of course, a little surf shop
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 9:32
Of course, and I was literally there just on vacation. I’d never been before, I didn't know anyone on the island in the middle of the Caribbean. I met this guy, and we had five days or something together. I was so free-spirited. It's the perfect word for everything. I didn't really have roots in one single place. I was just living in Costa Rica but traveling a ton and wanting just to be happy.
Emilee Saldaya 10:01
That's what you do in your 20s, Rachel.
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 10:04
Right, I did them right. I’m really glad I didn't do that college thing.
Emilee Saldaya 10:12
Yeah, me, either. I'd say I did my 20s really well. Joined a circus, traveled the world, and lived in India. So this cute boy in the surf shop. He lives in Aruba. But where's he from?
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 10:43
He's a Reuben. There are 83 nationalities living in Aruba. There's a lot of Dutch influence. It was colonized by the Dutch a long time ago. So he's tall, blonde, and looks very Dutch, but his whole family in Aruba is super tiny and dark skin. Brown eyes. He looks completely adopted. He's six foot four.
Emilee Saldaya 11:08
I guess I just made up that he was also Swedish.
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 11:13
Everyone thinks he's either Dutch or Swedish.
Emilee Saldaya 11:18
Okay, so obviously, we're talking about your husband. Spoiler alert.
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 11:27
Let's talk about that guy. It could have been the backup. So we have five days together. At the I just thought this was a little fling. He's super cute. Then I returned to Costa Rica, and I couldn't stop thinking about him, even dreaming about him. He just was very present in my mind. I think 10 days later, I just called out of the blue. This was pre, pre-smartphone time. There was a phone booth on the beach I walked to, and I said to him, “I've been kind of thinking about you. And maybe I should come back and visit.” He said, “Yeah, yeah, I've been thinking about you, too.” So I said, “How about maybe tomorrow?” He said, “Okay, yeah, tomorrow's great.” I just hauled ass in the car with my best friend to drop me off at the airport. And I went to visit him, which was supposed to be a month. And I remember telling my best friend, “What if he's a psycho killer? what if he's a serial killer or something?” And she said, “If he is, he’s a really cute one. So you'll be fine.” And then that trip, I ended up literally not leaving. So I didn't return to Costa Rica until a year later to get my stuff. So that was that, you know, and we kind of built this life in Aruba.
Emilee Saldaya 12:57
How quickly when you went there to visit, how quickly into that new relationship? Were you thinking, I'm staying for real, for real?
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 13:10
I think it was kind of unspoken almost immediately during the week. And he had just moved out of his mom's house. I was 21, he was 23, but you stay home until you get married. It's kind of common to stay living with your family for a long time. He was 23, he had just moved out, and it was a big deal. He had this bachelor pad with his best friend. They had lived there for a month. I show up with my little backpack.
Emilee Saldaya 13:46
His friend was like…great!
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 13:49
He moved out, I think, a month later. But he was the best man at our wedding. So he had the surf shop, and I taught yoga on the beach. And we had a couple of years of just doing that this very mellow, grounded, surfing, getting puppies just doing that kind of thing. And then, at some point, social media happened. I started working for a hotel, I created my own position with this hotel, where I became the yoga director, bringing in teachers for teacher training and retreats. I started using Facebook for the hotel to market the classes that I had. Then Instagram came along, and I got an account, I randomly picked Yoga Girl because I did a lot of yoga, which was literal. It turned out to be a good choice. So this was, back in the day, where you had those six filters, and there's a little border on your photos. No one was using Instagram really for marketing. I would share breakfasts and puppies and just my life, and then every time I shared something yoga-related, I realized I got a lot of questions and a lot of responses, and people were asking about poses and things. So, little by little, I started sharing yoga-centered content. And the account just exploded. Really quickly.
Emilee Saldaya 15:55
So that winds up shaping so much of your success, I would imagine.
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 16:04
I mean, for sure. If I had 15 people come to a class, I would go home and think that’s the biggest class of my life. Then went to the Surf Expo in Florida. So my husband would go every year to a bigger Expo for surfing. And someone asked, “Oh, you're here, could you teach a class somewhere?” And I would say, “How would I do that?” I Googled Yoga Studio. I remember everyone I emailed said, “Who are you?” Yeah, sure. “Oh, who's your teacher? Where do you come from?” And then some little studio in a suburb somewhere said, “We’re closed on Sundays. If you want to do a class on Sunday, you totally can. How are you going to market that?” And I said, “I'm gonna use Instagram.” And they said, “What is Instagram?” Then I got there, and there was a line out the door.
Emilee Saldaya 17:30
Did you shit your pants?
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 17:34
We had Chipotle. For some reason. It was my first and only support. Actually, yes, in the middle of class.
Emilee Saldaya 17:47
How did you wind up going viral? Like no one actually knows that part of your story.
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 17:51
I remember seeing the line. I went back to the car, thinking I was gonna vomit. What am I going to do with these people? Why are they here? Why? You know, but then from there on. It just kind of grew. I made that my life, and I'm really grateful.
Emilee Saldaya 18:13
It's fun to look back at this. Right?
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 18:17
Yeah, it's fun. I wish I could go back there. Those classes back then were so much fun. And we ended up just living on the road, going from place to place, just teaching just to travel just to experience places. And it's how I made a living for a few years.
Emilee Saldaya 18:32
How many years? Were you guys together before you got pregnant?
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 18:36
Umm…Seven. I had her when I was 28. We met when I was 21.
I always knew I wanted babies. But I wasn't so into getting married. I didn't have any role models in terms of marriage working out. So I always told Dennis, I want a bunch of babies. I want at least four or five. But I don't really think we need to get married to do that. Then he asked me to marry him just out of the blue. And I almost said no.
Emilee Saldaya 19:42
I refused to legally marry my husband. Until last year.
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 19:48
What congratulations. Wait, are you a new newlywed
Emilee Saldaya 19:53
I guess technically. I mean, we had a wedding 10 years ago. We had a whole wedding ceremony and, you know, married each other spiritually in front of our community, which was what I cared about. And we changed our last name. We made up our last name and all this cool stuff. But it wasn't until last year that I was actually willing to do the legal thing
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 20:16
Now you're locked in like you weren't before?
Emilee Saldaya 20:23
Yeah, I saw a lot of divorce. But also, I had a lot of resistance to the legal contract of marriage. And how that doesn't serve me. You know, and how that serves the owner.
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 20:42
Emilee Saldaya 20:45
Exactly. And now, our life has changed where we own real estate, and there's a whole different situation and assessment. And actually, I got sued, which is why this is very unromantic, but I got sued. This is part of a large part, of why we wound up getting legally married, so that none of our stuff could be taken away.
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 21:09
What is it about the United States and suing each other?
Emilee Saldaya 21:15
It’s like you hurt my feelings? Let's go. Let me ruin you financially, forever. Anyway, okay, so resistance to marriage. But so I'm curious. If you could speak a little bit of your dark path from broken homes, and, a rough childhood with trauma to choose motherhood, that's such a big deal. Right? And then, how do you start to wrap your head around calling in a baby? How do you grapple with what you've seen as a blueprint for parenthood?
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 22:55
Yeah, I think for me, the beginning of that was already choosing him, which I realized I didn't really actively route into until I said yes, to marrying him. And it wouldn't have been that big of a deal. You know, our lives were entwined, but I was used to bailing on most things in my life, every relationship I'd ever had before. And I remember when he asked me to marry him, I knew it was coming. I had kind of someone accidentally said something, or it was just, all of a sudden, this thing was happening. And instead of feeling like, Oh, my God, and butterflies, and what a big thing. I was, like, nauseous. This did not even feel exciting. It felt so overwhelming, and really scary. And saying yes, I realized at the time, that this just changes the whole trajectory, not just of my life, but it changes something in my lineage also that I'm choosing him, and I know he's a good guy. I know, he's not the guy who's gonna be the asshole later. I know, he's stable, He's everything my past tells me to avoid, and that was him. And, then, I had to just kind of actively continue to stay anchored in that and not bail. It's that you have to form that new path in your brain, right? And then make a really big effort to stay there. For the first years, I think it would have been easier for me to leave and to be alone and to do that thing. But then motherhood. It was since I was really little. I can remember being my daughter's age. She's six now. And knowing really clearly inside that I will not be a mom until I am ready. I have to find that sense of readiness, which I now know means there was a lot of trauma for me to heal. But I can remember being her age, knowing I'm not just going to have a baby, I have to be this version of something first.
Emilee Saldaya 23:00
And what year was this?
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 23:55
I think I was 27. I guess. I went on another big, transformative therapeutic retreat. I don't know if you've ever heard of the path of love. It's like an Osho retreat. But it's very hard. It's just so intense. So deep. It's basically an ocean-based week. I went anyway, even though I didn't have a major thing to fix in my life. I just knew I wanted to do more. And on this retreat, I had this major epiphany that I wanted to have a baby. But I never consciously thought about that before. I hadn't talked with Dennis, but maybe that was the time. I really wanted to be a mother. But I was absolutely terrified that I would become a version of my mother, or that I would somehow traumatize my children the way I experienced a lot of trauma when I was little. And that whole week was this major transformation for me to let go and step into motherhood, even though I wasn't pregnant yet. When you come home from something really transformational how you see the person you love for the first time, it's so special. We drove to the other side of the island, and had sex on the beach, which sounds very cliche. We had this very intimate, beautiful moment on the beach, and then, driving the car on the way home, he grabbed my hand. And he said, “I think we're pregnant.” And I said, “You out of your mind. You're crazy. Why would you say that?” He's said, “I just think so.” And he kept making little jokes for the next couple of weeks. And then, a couple of weeks later, my period never came. And he said, “I told you.” So it's funny, he really knew, and I had to catch up. But yeah, and then we were pregnant.
Emilee Saldaya 28:05
And what's it like to be pregnant in Aruba? What do you choose for your support? And what else about the pregnancy do you want to speak about? Are you enjoying your pregnancy? Is it hard?
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 28:38
At the time, we were building our yoga studio, we were in the middle of birthing this huge project while I was pregnant, so we were growing something major in a lot of areas of life. And I remember the very first birth video I ever watched in my life, it was after I was pregnant. And I had only heard really horrifying stories about birth my whole life. My mom had four children, for highly traumatic hospital births. In each instance, either the baby almost died, or she almost died, or something really crazy happened. And she told me my whole life, watch out something terrible is going to come and it's really the worst thing that could ever happen to someone and it's so scary.
Emilee Saldaya 29:41
So many women are told that.
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 29:44
I think now, because we've talked about it so much, I chose such a different path. I got pregnant, and the very first birth video I ever watched was a video of a free birth. But I didn't know that at the time. It was in the deep layers of the internet somewhere. And it was a room full of candles. And this woman wearing a long white dress with a huge belly. And it was an hour-and-a-half video. And she's just pacing very gently up and down this room, pausing for contractions, breathing, just doing her thing all alone. And then, at one point, it's so peaceful. The most peaceful thing I've ever seen. And then at one point, she goes to the corner of the room and she knocks on the door. And her guy comes out. So bizarre, and she squats down and has the baby. And then they're holding each other. And I never heard the word free birth. This was seven years ago. But I knew I wanted this. This peacefulness. And then I found a book called unassisted childbirth. Then I went to one of my first prenatal things, which was a yoga-related prenatal. And then this woman who was leading that workshop was a very, very sweet person who asked, “How do you want to give birth?” And I said, “Well, I saw this video. And I really want to birth at home and, maybe alone.” And she goes, “Oh, I did that when I was a teenager, and I tore terribly. And it was the worst experience ever. And I would not recommend it again.
Emilee Saldaya 32:28
Just so crazy. I know trauma and righteousness really are a weird combo, but it is so crazy to me. How frequently do women do this.
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 32:58
I have one of my really, really, really close friends who works at a hospital as a nurse, in the ER. And she called me when I was pregnant to tell me the story of a horrible birth that went horribly wrong. And I said, “Excuse me, I love you. But this is not okay.”
Emilee Saldaya 33:33
A lot of people live in the sea of fear. That is their orientation. That is how they hear everything. And that's how they operate and so it's a very different reality than what I know. So it's so alarming. So you watched a video, found that book, and then the door was closed.
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 33:53
I didn't remember until recently, that actually my first longing was for a free birth. But I didn't know that’s what that was called. So I decided I was going to have a home birth. I want the birth to be as natural as possible. But I also didn't understand I was involving myself heavily in the medical system. And I thought I would find a great midwife, and have a home birth, and it's all going to be peaceful and great. And give birth in Aruba. Aruba is interesting because it has a lot of Dutch influence. I don't know if you know, but in Holland in the Netherlands, home birth is really common. My husband's sister was born in Holland. Homebirth. Totally normal.
Emilee Saldaya 35:30
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 35:32
I don't know any other country in Europe, where they are that positive to homebirths. In Sweden, they treat you as if you're insane if you’re not in the hospital. So we found there was only one clinic, one midwife center on the island that did home births. So if you have to go to the hospital, you're just five minutes away. But not here's why it's great. So from the first visit with them, I said, I wanted to give birth at home, and they looked at me as though I was a little crazy. I was positive, and this was gonna be great. But looking back now, every step of the way I was climbing a mountain that with everything stacked against me.
Emilee Saldaya 36:46
You didn't know how it works. Right? This is such a common story because they ultimately did agree, though there were obviously red flags. They did agree to the thing that you asked for, though they never were going to actually provide it. So that's trickery. Let's think about what you said in that video, you didn't have the language for free birth yet. I think there's something important for all of us to remember that all you were watching was just a normal birth. The only reason we have to have words like free birth and unassisted birth and all of these tracks is because of how co-opted it's all become because really, I'm sure that women birthing didn't call it a free birth either. She gave birth and threw her camera on, and it's in our nature to orient towards that. I don't think most new moms are lying around, excited about their legs in stirrups with strangers inserting instruments into their bodies. It's because they think they have to have that, but the things we fantasize about are like that video. That is our orientation to nature, right?
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 38:05
I think about that a lot. It's kind of like calling food organic food. Exactly the same. But I still think I thought all throughout the pregnancy, I was so convinced that this was gonna happen at home. And I read every spiritual Midwifery. I read every natural birth book, I think I read I did that. If I'm going to research my way to this birth at home, where I read 17 books and watched a bunch of home births online and, all throughout was going to every appointment because I really just thought I had to do that and never occurred to me that I maybe shouldn't have or maybe could have opted out. It was just this is what you do. And it was also exciting at the first ultrasound and seeing the baby. But then already at week 36, they started talking to me about how abnormally big my belly was. You could give birth at any moment. Okay, so for week 36, I thought “Oh my god, I'm gonna go into labor any moment.” I was trying to take it easy, to not go into labor too soon. Because they kept saying this belly is so big. This baby is so big. Oh my god. And every appointment they would nudge me to go to the hospital, why it's better at the hospital, why it's safe at the hospital, even though they knew what I wanted. It was a home birth. And then the due date came and went. And I think that they said, “Okay, so when are we planning this induction at the hospital?” And I said that's the last thing I want. I really don't care what happens. I am not going. And then one of the midwives said, “Okay, well, I won't deliver you anymore at home. You're 40 weeks plus one day, bye bye.” So there were two left, and a couple of days passed. And then the second midwife said, “Yeah, I don't feel comfortable delivering you or being there with you at home.” So it's gonna be at the hospital, there was only one left. And then this woman said, “I can give you until 42 weeks. But if you go past I won't feel comfortable with this plan, you have to go to the hospital.” So from week 40, it was like I was racing against some imaginary time clock. If I don't have the baby, now, I'm going to be strapped to a bed and medicated and I'm going to have everything I don't want to have happen. I was doing, every single thing. All those things that don't work such as long walks and eating spicy food and eating pineapple, having sex twice a day. I mean, just trying to force this poor baby out of me, basically. I mean, I look at it now and it was really crazy. But there was this internal feeling of pressure.
Emilee Saldaya 41:23
Everything in your surroundings is literally threatening you towards violence. That's so hardcore. And women deal with this literally all over the world every day. This is how most women end their pregnancies in the system under enormous threat. So how is this affecting your psyche? Are you freaking out?
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 41:57
I was sitting in meditation for abnormal amounts of time every day. I was trying to find some sense, of groundedness there, which was really, really hard to find crying a lot. I feel as though something is wrong with my body. That’s probably because your body can’t handle it. And then I'm almost five, nine, my husband's six feet, we're big people. I was nine and a half pounds when I was born. In Aruba, the babies are so small. They really aren't like average babies. So they think that anything over four kilos, which I guess is eight and a half pounds or something is abnormal. They think that because that's what they see at the hospitals there. I remember I had to go get my final ultrasound, where they said, “This is the ultrasound that decides whether or not you have to be induced, oh my god.” And by then, I thought, “Okay, can you tell me please? What, you're looking for here? What is this ultrasound going to determine?” And then they said, “Well, we're looking at the amount of fluid, we're looking at the health of the umbilical cord, checking the baby's heart rate.” And I said, “Okay, so if all those things are okay, I'm still good to birth at home, right?” And then this woman said, “yes, yes.” And then I did the ultrasound, and everything was great. And then she turns to a computer and goes, “Oh, so you're going to be induced tomorrow at eight o'clock, and starts telling me as if she’s a robot. And I say, “You just told me if everything was fine, I wouldn't have to, and she said, “Oh, do you want your baby to live?”
Emilee Saldaya 43:58
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 44:00
Shameless. Do you want your baby to live? I talked about it with my husband not so long ago. I can't remember her face but it was a big traumatizing moment for me. Do you want your baby to live? Because that sentence would have replayed during labor later as it was really ingrained that this person of authority who knows so much who knows much more than me about birth, is telling me if I don't get induced tomorrow, I'm basically putting a death sentence on my baby. I had to sit with that and choose to still birth at home. And then week 42 came. It was the last day I had with this final midwife to allow me to birth at home. And four in the morning, labor started, thank God. And I remember feeling I could just relax and let that process run its course. Otherwise, I'm gonna have to go to the hospital. So we had sex that morning, because we wanted to make sure labor really happens today. kind of thing. But that feeling of pressure, that feeling of stress, that feeling of it has to happen. Now hurry up. That was the energy that lasted throughout the whole process of labor with her. The feeling of running against the clock. Even contractions happen faster, and they have to happen sooner. At no point, could I just relax and surrender to the fact that this process has started, and everything's going well.
Emilee Saldaya 46:44
Your recent baby made you wait a little bit, so that you could rewrite what it feels like to be at the end of pregnancy.
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 46:58
That’s the most important part of pregnancy was the final two weeks that getting to the 42 weeks and getting to have a different experience this time around.
Emilee Saldaya 47:08
That's a big deal. Okay, so what happens?
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 47:11
Four in the morning, the first couple of hours, I was just lighting candles and dancing and was alone in the dark with my dogs, just having a really beautiful experience. It wasn't just resting or going back to bed or anything. I was just trying to do what I thought I could do to make things move along. And then in the morning, the midwife came and she's so happy because I went into labor and it's happening so it can happen at home. And she kind of told me, you can relax this baby can come home. I'm here with you. And let's do a vaginal check. Let's do a cervical check. And right away she goes, “Oh my goodness, you're four centimeters dilated. This is amazing. You're gonna have this baby so fast.” She's already four centimeters. So she basically told me this is gonna be a breeze now this baby's coming so soon. Obviously was not in any way. But put this idea in my head that oh, this is going to be easy, right? It got more and more intense. A couple hours later she comes back there's another check. Keep doing what you're doing. It's working. A couple of hours later, she comes back by now it's starting to get really painful to have these exams. At no point did I think to say no, or ask, is this really helpful? It was kind of a given she had to check otherwise, How would she know? How much I'm progressing? She checks and it really hurts. You're not dilating. So in my head, something's wrong. I'm not opening fast enough. My body's stuck. What am I doing wrong? And she goes, “I think we should break the waters because that hasn't happened yet. Because that can really help move things along. And I go okay.” I didn't even know that was a thing as if that's going to speed it up to ensure I can birth this baby at home. Do it. And I remember that feeling. I don't know what it's like a hook or whatever they insert. It was awful.
Emilee Saldaya 49:34
It looks like a coat hanger.
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 49:36
A coat hanger. Awful feeling and it took some force. That sack was not ready to be ruptured. And I think I realized later on that she wasn't ready for that. But what did happen was my contractions went from being manageable to completely not manageable. It felt like I skipped a bunch of steps along the way. And it got very, very, very, very hard. Which I guess is natural when you have that forced upon you in that way. And then it's kind of a blur at this point. But what kept happening in those 24 hours because it took 20 was that she kept telling me four centimeters, only four, still four, still four, up until the point where I was completely convinced that I can't, something was wrong, my body's broken, she said, maybe the baby's stuck. And that's why you're not dilating.
Emilee Saldaya 50:46
I can't believe these people are legally allowed to attend birth.
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 52:02
And then at one point, we're in the bedroom. And I'm struggling, the pain is so intense, and I'm on all fours. And she says, “Okay, let's do one more check.” And I remember saying, “No, I can't, I can't.” I couldn't lie down for her to do a check. It hurts. So the pain was so overwhelming. But it was pain coupled with. Something's wrong. It was pain coupled with a stress. So very different experience than just the sensations of birth. At some point, I turned to Dennis and said “ I want to go to the hospital.” I can't and he goes, “No, because we've been over this, you know, you don't want to be at the hospital. That's the last place you want to be. I believe in you. Everything is going well.” He really really really did everything he could. And I was just convinced, my body's broken, it's not gonna happen. So off we go in the car down these dirt roads. All contractions stopped. We get there. I was the only birth at the hospital that night. I mean, everyone was really small, smiling, but no one else was there. And they let me turn the lights off. We brought music and lit some candles, even some incense. They really let us try to mimic something that felt at home. So I was grateful for that. And then I spent 90 minutes sitting in that hospital bed after I was examined by some doctor who said, “Everything’s fine.” Like why did you come if you wanted to birth at home, nothing's wrong. And he said, “You’re fine.” And just left me there. Just sat for 90 minutes in the hospital bed. And I was sure he was going to tell me there is this major thing that we are going to fix for you or do for you. But No, nothing. And then 90 minutes later, she comes for another check and says, “Oh, nine centimeters.” And I thought, “Oh, yes, we could have.” And then I just remember being a very peaceful place because I was at the hospital. This is supposed to be a safe place. I did what everyone wanted me to do. If my body can't do it, this is where they're supposed to be able to do it. And it was very quiet and then all of a sudden, this the midwife comes in, turns on the lights, and says “Time to push this baby out. You're ready for it. Let's go.” And I thought, “Oh, oh, okay, I guess you know, she's the authority.” So I guess this is what it's supposed to feel like. And I had heard all these stories of what it feels like to have a push contraction, how intense that is that full body kind of thing. I felt nothing. No sensation, no feeling like that was even remotely close at all. But she told me it was time. And I thought, “Okay, we are under pressure here, on the clock.” So it started a three-and-a-half hour, forced pushing face where I was trying to take a poop, but I didn't have to go. There was no feeling of anything at all. And I just pushed and pushed and pushed and pushed and pushed and pushed forever. Until eventually she came. And I kind of can't even really remember that last point. I think I just kind of gave up. I don't know, it was so awful, so hard. And then there she was. And she made this little noise, and she cried, and she was on my chest. And I forgot everything that was not great. And, you know, I had my baby, and everything was wonderful. But they cut the cord so fast, which I didn't even realize that that was. Took her away to weigh her and to do all the things I didn't want to have them do basically happen. And then it was a couple of weeks later my husband said “I think they gave her a shot.” What? What are you talking about? He said, “I don't know, they did something.” So it's that feeling as though I just lost all control of my baby.
Emilee Saldaya 56:50
Yeah, was the midwife in the room with you?
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 56:53
Emilee Saldaya 56:58
How does that kind of directed forced, pushing affect your pelvic floor?
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 57:06
Oh, destroyed my pelvic floor. I didn't know until now. It took my second baby. Which I didn't have to push out. But I've realized now just how absolutely weak my pelvic floor is from then. From that birth, not from having two babies or anything like that.
Emilee Saldaya 57:25
And that's an important distinction to make. Right? Because physiological birth shouldn't blow out your pelvic floor. But abusive, torturous on your back forced on physiological pushing? How could it not? So who are you in those early weeks? You have this perfect baby. How do you integrate all of that?
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 57:56
The first thing that happened was they brought us to this kind of room where you go after, I guess. And they kind of wheeled me and the baby in and then they go okay, well, now you say bye-bye to your husband, and he can come back for visiting hours at nine o'clock. So no dads allowed and, I just remember saying okay, well, we'll go home then. I had a baby 40 minutes ago, but we're going home, we're fine. And it became a whole thing. My husband's mom works at the hospital so we had to call her to wake her up. So she could call the head of the hospital to let us pay for a room to stay. And then we get to this room. And then a nurse comes in and she goes, “Oh my goodness, this baby is so abnormally big. This is a diabetic baby. The blood sugar is not right with his baby. You cannot go home you have to stay for observation. 24 hours.” I go there's nothing wrong with this baby she's a perfect, perfect, perfect baby. They explained they were going to have to pucker with some kind of needle every so and so out in the bottom of her foot to check her blood sugar levels. And they do that for 24 hours. And at this point, I'm like getting out of bed just stuff like this is not, and then there's set of people let's bring the pediatrician in so that he can make an assessment. And the longer you oh my god and then this guy comes in this Dutch older man. And he walks in and he picks up the chart and he looks at the nerves and he looks at me and then is and he's like, this baby is big, but these people are big. He's it's fine. You can go home I'm like okay, thank thank you for letting me go home. I'm gonna be stuck here. But I think I had to really quickly kind of process this birth really quickly as everything was fine. No one died, the baby wasn't too big baby didn't get stuck, I didn't tear massively, and I didn't have a major thing happen. And it's very important for me that this birth is a positive birth. So I rewrite the story very, very quickly and say like, this had to happen this way, for me ending up at the hospital was like a form of letting go of control. And that's what I had to do, I guess lit myself very intensely, so that I could convince myself that this was very healing, very positive.
Emilee Saldaya 1:00:28
This is what we do. This is what women do. It's you have to survive. Now, you have to love this baby, you have to get back to your life. And so it is a survival strategy. It's actually very intellectual and adaptive to lie to yourself.
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 1:01:00
I don't think I could have ever processed the trauma of that. And also the pregnancy, which was there was so much that happened then, and care for this tiny baby and step into this new role and new life and everything at the same time. So I realized now that I kind of put all of that away, and just in waiting for a second pregnancy and waiting waiting to get to do it differently next time around.
Emilee Saldaya 1:01:25
When did you realize how far into your mothering? Did you realize that you had created all this cognitive dissonance around her birth?
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 1:01:37
It took getting pregnant again. Oh, wow. Okay. Yeah. Yeah, I had no, if anyone ever asked how was that labor, oh, I wanted to birth at home. I couldn't because she was a little stuck. Like, that was a story, I would tell. But it was good that I was at the hospital because I got to let go, I got to surrender. There was no intervention, you know, still a vaginal birth. There was no medication, there was no stuff. But you know, there were a million interventions. And there was so much fear-mongering and coerced and terrible.
Emilee Saldaya 1:02:07
How did she get unstuck at the hospital?
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 1:02:17
It took getting pregnant again. And I also didn't realize until like, I got pregnant now, which is six years later. years old knows it's a long time to wait, was that I was I was nervous to be pregnant again. And a lot of that was not having unpacked everything that happened in that first pregnancy.
Emilee Saldaya 1:02:38
Did you know that you'll have more children? Or is there because a lot of women go through this kind of stuff? And then yeah, they'll swear it off. So they'll be like, I'm just not up for that. Like, I'm not fit for that. Where did you land?
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 1:03:04
And I did that I said, we're great. Like having one baby is a lot of babies. And I always wanted like four or five. And one of the buttons, I remember was like, no one is good. And I also had a lot of we had a hectic lifestyle. We had a lot of other projects. It was very, very busy. Yeah, but I will never know like if that birth was empowered unassisted, if it happened the way I wanted it to happen, maybe we would have had, you know, two babies in between these, these two, it's impossible for me to know. Mine was great. I waited five years.
Emilee Saldaya 1:03:39
So then how do we not only summarize the next five years for you and into your choice to get pregnant again?
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 1:04:07
I think a lot of that journey was meant to bring me back to my roots in a big way. So in those five years, I ended up we ended up moving to Sweden, which is something I never thought would happen. I never felt like I had any connections in my family or to ancestry here or to my roots or anything. And then in those years, I ended up doing a lot of healing work that led me to realize actually want to go home. I didn't feel at home in a room anymore. I started wanting cold water and deep dark forests and started really looking into my own ancestry and started feeling a big connection to my family again, and about a year ago, we ended up moving here and then immediately actually arriving in Sweden. We started talking should we have another? Wouldn't it be fun, you know, or if we're going to have more like now is it the time and starting to have that Talk a little bit, and then half a year into living here we got pregnant.
Emilee Saldaya 1:05:08
I'm curious what, what is your relationship with your mom now? Or your family?
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 1:05:27
It's on and off. I've had a couple of years off, where I've set big boundaries and kind of stepped away from that relationship. And then, when we moved back to Sweden, it became more natural to start to connect again, just with holidays and birthdays, and I have a lot of siblings. And so it's been kind of she floats in and out. And I tried to set boundaries, and it works. And then it doesn't work. And then we have space again. Yeah, it's not a very steady relationship. But she's a really great grandma. She's like the best grandma. And I really love it. I love that for my daughter and the little guy too. So right now we're in a good face. I've just learned to accept that it's not the most stable relationship in my life. And it's okay for me to step in and out, depending on my needs. But what has happened since we moved here? Does this deepen my relationship with my dad, and with that side of the family, and with my siblings, here, there are nine of us. So well, we have a bit I do have a big family. And now I ended up we bought a little homestead, a little farm. It's 150 meters away from where my great, great, great grandfather lived and worked. Oh, and we're like, Whoa, really? Back in these ancestral lands? Yeah, you are? Yeah.
Emilee Saldaya 1:06:44
Beautiful. Okay, so you guys landed back in Sweden? Totally different phase. She's five. Yeah, this point? And when do you? When do you even start thinking like, for real for real about another birth and about how you do things differently? And when does free birth? Come into your consciousness?
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 1:07:11
I didn't think so much about it until we actually were pregnant. So my our best friends, so my best friend since I was little married Dennis's best friend since he was a little wedding. It's very, very cute. Very cute. Very, very cute. They got pregnant with their third. And we were out to dinner. They told us like we're gonna have another baby. And then on the drive home that was like, it's now like, if we're going to do it, let's go like, let's be pregnant when they're pregnant. Like, how fun would it be to kind of do this a little bit together? And then we started just more actively. And I wouldn't say trying. It wasn't like, we're like, This is it? We just started inviting that I think more like opening up to it. And then a month or two, two months? I don't know a couple of months later, it was my birthday. And yeah, we found out on my birthday. It was a great birthday. But it wasn't until then that I started thinking about okay, well birth, what would that look like this time around pregnancy? Like I didn't have it was kind of like I shut that door until I was on the journey again. Oh, no. And Sweden is a really challenging place to be for. For anything that isn't conventional here. You know, the medical system, doctors are God. Like there's nothing that you revere more. Everyone kind of falls in line, you know, the system is in place for a reason. If you do anything differently, if you stick out in any way, people get actively really upset.
Emilee Saldaya 1:08:44
I mean, that is most of the world.
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 1:08:46
Yeah, but if you know Sweden, you'll know it's worse here. Okay, I don't know how to explain it. Swedish people are. Okay, this is a great question from my husband who is Caribbean, right? He's like, very different temperament. Like, no one would ever in a million years ever cut in line. It's like, never. And I mean, you see, like, it's a very American thing. I feel like like, Hey, I'm ready. I'm here like Swedish people are like, Excuse me, you stand in line, you follow the rules. If you bought a book, if you get on the bus, everyone is sitting as far away from each other as they humanly possibly can. Whereas like we're Dennis's from if there's one person on the bus, you go sit next to that person to talk to them. And if you do that in Sweden, they're like serial killer. People are very, you know, it's cold and dark and you're in your own houses. Its people are more isolated and less than the community here. And more trust in the system is what holds everything together kind of thing. So here, they're on great toys. You can't homeschool here homeschooling is illegal here. Whoa,
Emilee Saldaya 1:09:54
Okay. Super controlling and everyone is Uber controlling and everyone loves it.
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 1:10:02
There are no birth centers here at all, because there's a law against it. So there's no option really, you know, a home birth is like, it costs money. And here we have universal health care, everything is free. You have to pay like $4,000 for a home birth, and there are only six midwives that will attend the home birth in all of Stockholm region, which is like 2 million people live here. So it's nearly impossible. And you have to be really privileged to be able to afford and do a home birth here. And no for like nothing for like an American who pays so much to give birth in the system. But here, that's a big deal, because everything is free. You know, it's part of you know, we pay taxes that give us that Yeah.
Emilee Saldaya 1:10:49
Yeah, well, homebirth has free medical midwives in the system. Yeah, well, exactly. Yeah. The Monday is, okay. So, yeah, take us into what you discover about yourself.
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 1:11:03
Yeah. So the first thing that happens? Well, I found out that we're pregnant. I don't know really how the system works here. I decided to go for a checkup, or not a checkup to kind of say, like, we're pregnant. What do we do? Like, how does it work here. So I didn't start the pregnancy off feeling like I was going to have a free birth, I'm going to do this outside of the system. I knew I was going to do it at home. I wasn't going to do all the appointments. But I still kind of wanted to see, I guess at the very early stage of like, how it works here. So we went to a place that was recommended that we like a very holistic earth, supportive of home birth kind of place. And as soon as we stepped in my whole being, like my whole, it was like a visceral experience was like, leave, just leave. And then we ended up being in the wrong office. It was like all of the whole all the signs. Were just like, get out, get out like we missed the appointment was the wrong office that took us in and I was like, I don't really want to be here. I don't know why, why we're here. I don't want to be here. And then this woman goes, Okay, so here is the app that you need to decide your hospitals. Here's this and this, and I go, Oh, but where I'm going to have a home birth. And she looks at me and kind of pushes her little file away. And she goes, Oh, well, then we can help you. Oh, and I go, Oh, could you direct me to someone that that could? And you're Yeah, I guess you can Google that. And from that moment on, she was oh, dismissive. And like, You're crazy, basically. So we walked away, and I cried, the whole drive home. And I looked at that as I was like, this is that was the only appointment. That was it. We're not I'm not doing any. I'm not doing this whole thing again. And he was like, I get it. Like, it was just very obvious. So I decided then I'm going to do this outside of the system as much as I, as I want to, I guess. I wasn't committed to a wild pregnancy. I just was kind of feeling it out. In a sense. Did
Emilee Saldaya 1:13:01
You have words for that? Have you caught when you have all this stuff we got going on over here?
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 1:13:08
Well, I have a good friend Ashley, who lives in Costa Rica, babies whose birth free birth a lot of babies. So by then, I knew about the free birth movement and that it's totally possible. And yeah, it wasn't crazy or that foreign. I just never contemplated it for myself until we left that office. And I'm like, Okay, I'm not doing that. And then started opening up to just the idea of doing it by myself. I still felt scared. I still felt like, like, I was doing something not allowed, like a little bit of shame. You know, I'm supposed to follow the rules and do it this way. edition, you. Sweet and me. It was like, I don't know if this is what are people gonna say. So it wasn't a full arm. Fuck the system. I'm doing this here. Now. It took me a couple of months of kind of wavering back and forth. I even met with a midwife. Yeah, as you know, I talked to you about later, who was very supportive of homebirths. My best friend worked with her. Yeah, at home, and, then decided to just opt out of that. Yeah. But it wasn't a full-blown Yes, I kind of had to, yeah, do my research and take time to really anchor into what I wanted.
Emilee Saldaya 1:14:30
It's a big deal. I mean, it's a big deal. In every every single layer. It's a big deal for your, your orientation to the community that you've just landed in your family. I'm also thinking about the layer of you having this whole audience online. That's like yeah, I imagined they're up your ass. You know, it's just so many there's so any considerations about who you are in all these different spaces? Which also, then there's also just, you know, you and what do you want and, and what's available to you. So what happens how, how far into your pregnancy? Are you at this point? And how do you start to really figure out what you're going to do and claim your your path.
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 1:15:26
I, decided I'm not going to talk about it online. So I really shared minimal, it wasn't like wild pregnancy. Here's what I'm doing. I think when I was seven months, like kind of far along, I shared one post where I shared that I have had minimal prenatal care, you know, in the system, I did go to two ultrasounds, I had one in Aruba. Actually, we went to Aruba on vacation, and I had a bleeding on the way there. That kind of lasted and I got really scared. So I went to a friend of a friend and did an ultrasound there, which kind of confirmed the pregnancy, which was a really positive experience. Very, very sweet, very brief, like okay, that was it. And then, when I started researching, am I going to find a midwife to do this with me at home? Or am I going to do it alone, I hadn't decided I found this woman who was very recommended. Very sweet really still like her a lot. But she told me if you want to birth at home without any prenatal care and the system, the only thing I want you to do is make sure you don't have placenta previa. Privia, how do you pronounce it? And maybe a preview? Yeah, that's very important, as you told me this kind of big story of what could happen. And I never had that fear in my mind until that moment, of course, which was like, Okay, I have to go check that now. That's in my head. Now, this is a fear two weeks later, I was still thinking about it. How would I know what would happen? It became a thing that wasn't there before. So I ended up having a second ultrasound that I didn't want to have, because I wanted to confirm that the placenta was in the right place.
Emilee Saldaya 1:17:08
How pregnant were you?
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 1:17:10
25, maybe 24. Yeah, halfway or a little past halfway there,
Emilee Saldaya 1:17:18
For anyone listening. That's not when previa can be determined. That's not when the location of the placenta matters. It's, it's when you are term, it's when it's time to birth, because the placenta will, you know, keep moving. And so it's such a racket, it's such a racket to fear monger and, and inaccurately pitch these ideas. Placenta previa is incredibly rare, and almost always presents with symptoms. But regardless of all of that, the placenta position just like the baby's position, is irrelevant until the time of birth. But no one's telling anyone that they're just, you know, planting all these these seeds of doubt.
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 1:18:07
And I didn't know that. And I also heard that realization was like, if I hadn't involved myself with the system here, even though there was like a great person that was pro homebirth, I would have not had that fear, I would not have had that ultrasound. And in that ultrasound, she in this woman, she insisted, I have a vaginal. So she wanted to check for the placenta with a vaginal ultrasound. And I said, I don't want that I'm not doing any vaginal exams. And she goes, Oh, why not? I said, I don't I don't want one. So if you can either, if this can't be a regular ultrasound, I'm going to leave. I don't want a vaginal one. And she goes, What did you have some sort of trauma? Like, oh, that's appropriate to ask in this setting, like, well, I'm lying here on this bed like so crazy. Yeah. And then she does the regular Oh, well, this might not work. I might not be able to even tell the positioning of your placenta, we always do this with a vaginal exam here. So even so she kind of told me this might be for nothing now. And I'm like, Okay, can you please just do it? And then tell me if it worked or not before you force me to shove something up my most, you know. And then she does it and she goes, Oh, actually, your placenta is in a good spot. Everything is fine. I could I can see it. And I'm like, Okay, thank you. I'm glad you didn't make me. You know, I'm glad I didn't say yes to that to the vaginal exam. I asked, and this was such an intense thing. So she's doing the ultrasound and I go, can you tell anything about the positioning of the baby just like we're here, you know, could you share anything? And she goes, Oh, let me check and she like puts the device down. And forcefully really, the asking me is this okay? Or without informing me? I'm going to do this now. puts her hands like deep in my pelvis to feel where she can feel the baby present. And it really hurt. It was like Very, very, very, very forceful. And she didn't ask for consent. She didn't say, I'm going to do this now is that okay? She just like, put her hands in there really intensely. And the whole experience was just shit from start to finish. And again, I'm going back home, like, Why did I, I like why did I do this to myself? Again, affirm that like, this is not so far nothing good has come out of any of these results, like why do I keep going back? Yeah, and that was my last interaction with this system of any or why
Emilee Saldaya 1:20:29
Do you keep letting people fearmonger you?
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 1:20:35
Yeah, but that was kind of you know, so the last at least to say that was week 24 Or something the last everything after that was very peaceful. Because that was solidified.
Emilee Saldaya 1:20:51
There are some blessings in dipping your toe in. Because then what I find is that when women need to dip their toe in prenatally they will affirm to not fuck with it during the birth at all. And so there is a gift and kind of like that reminder. Because then it takes that little fantasy off the table.
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 1:21:15
Yeah, yeah. And I think if I hadn't had any interaction maybe I would have no I in the end. It all made sense kind of in the end because it did solidify this I just felt very sure that I could trust this instinct that this is not right for me. I feel it as we're driving around the car my whole body is like I don't want to be here. I know this is not helpful you know. So the last weeks or the mean the last months of pregnancy were just so peaceful. I was just home on the farm and didn't see anyone that wasn't very known I was just so at peace. I didn't hear a single story about anything that could potentially be wrong no one telling me this baby was so big even though he was bigger than me I didn't have any stories in my head or any stories told me that were negative in any way which was just the polar opposite of my first experience. So in this pregnancy, the further along I went the happier and more at peace and more trusting I felt which was in the first one it was the opposite the further along I went the more scared no more terrified the more pressure I felt
Emilee Saldaya 1:22:27
Were you were looking in you are aligning with what was true for you. So what was supportive to you as you got the language and as you went deeper into your you know, your cocoon what are the things you used and called on that support that?
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 1:22:50
Nature was my number one I spent the last month of pregnancy basically floating in the lake here. Going for dips every day. Just gardening as much as I could walking barefoot, just spending time outside. I did have a lot of pelvic pain, which I now know, and pubic symphysis pain, which I now know relates to my very incredibly weak pelvic floor. Like and I had that pain very early on already from month four or five, I started getting a lot of yeah, just pelvic issues. So I had a hard time in the end walking. Physically, it was a much more challenging pregnancy, but mentally and emotionally I was so grounded and, and stable. It was just the whole experience of the pregnancy was just amazing. And it was such a healing thing to get to experience that and in the end, to get to go over, you know, over the bullshit time that they say but to sit there 4041 Getting to 42 weeks, feeling so at peace, knowing completely that this baby is going to come when he's ready to come. And I don't have to look outside of myself for any kind of permission or any kind of confirmation that what I'm doing is the right thing. I just I just know. And it was yeah, those last weeks were the most beautiful weeks of pregnancy.
Emilee Saldaya 1:24:17
Who did you tell? Did your close people know that you were going to be doing this I'm curious how it was with your partner. Anything you want to speak about like the setup.
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 1:24:35
I told the family, but until the baby was born both my brother and my dad spent a lot of time, especially my brother, he was here every single day for the last weeks of pregnancy. When the baby was born, they were like we didn't understand that you were going to be alone. supportive. And I even told them that as I'm like I'm so sorry. I'm happy that they are not once have they said, Well, shouldn't you be at the hospital? Like they were just out supportive? But that was because they didn't know.
Emilee Saldaya 1:25:09
Did they assume you had a medical midwife?
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 1:25:11
They assumed someone would be here like a doula, I don't know, they just had some idea of someone being here.
Emilee Saldaya 1:25:20
So you weren't like, I'm having a free birth. And this is what this means.
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 1:25:23
I kind of said, I'm gonna do it alone at home. Like, I was like, I'm gonna do it alone at home, they were like, okay, you know, that's, that makes sense. You don't like cause like, why would you go to the hospital, and they knew I wanted to help work the first time around. And I did tell my mom, but it came with a condition that it's really important that any fear that you have that comes up around this, which I knew would happen, that you voiced that with other people, that you vent with other people that I'm not the person for you to process that with. And apparently, she and my dad bond, they don't really talk, and they don't have a great relationship. They bonded in my last days of pregnancy, worrying that I was so overdue, and birthing at home, and oh, my God, what if something goes wrong, but they were talking to each other? And not to me, which was really nice. So no one in my immediate family or friends ever questioned? or said anything? Like, are you? Are you sure kind of thing. I had one friend, a good friend who had a traumatic birth, who raised that kind of tried to be very sensitive about it. In the very it was my last day of pregnancy and asked Dennis if something had gone wrong. What are you going to do? And what do you think? What do you think? Yeah. But it was and that was it. That was the only that was the only thing you know, and it was kind of it brought me and done us closer together? Because he felt like that wasn't appropriate. I don't like how she voiced that with me. And she then talked to you when it was just bringing fear into the last days of pregnancy, which is not what we need. And yeah, it ended up being a good thing also. So though, I didn't I kind of, I didn't tell the internet, in a big way. Just kind of said, I'm going to birth at home and I want to, you know, kind of be alone. We'll we'll we'll see what happens kind of thing. Which I'm glad I didn't do because I'm glad I protected my space. Oh,
Emilee Saldaya 1:27:16
My God, of course, I see no benefit. Also, you're not public property. You know, like, no one's entitled, Instagram or not. I mean, this also is this is for people just navigating their families, like, no one's entitled to your personal decisions. And though the world still in large part views, women as public property, we don't have to participate right in that. And there is some bizarre thing when you match someone with any sort of following and pregnancy, there is this bizarre entitlement that no, that comes out by fucking strangers.
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 1:28:06
That isn't what I would do. You know, it's so triggering. It's such a big thing. And I did talk about it. I have a podcast, the weekly podcast. And I feel like my podcast community is so different than the Instagram community. Oh, my goodness, like you don't in a great way. Yeah. And it's also that you don't have this immediate like comments, I share something and then someone's like writing on that post. This is dumb, or this is unsafe, but on the podcast is very intimate if I only get positive response there, because I feel like if you're listening to me talk for an hour and a half every week, you probably like, what I'm doing really requires a very real investment.
Emilee Saldaya 1:28:44
Right? If someone is going to spend 90 minutes listening to you is really different than like a troll looking at a pic. You know, because they're very different in there.
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 1:28:55
I felt like I could process it. I felt like I could open up it I felt really safe and really great. But specifically social media and Instagram. I just kept it very, very quiet and the one post I shared, and I think I just had a hashtag. It was like a hashtag wild pregnancy, where I shared like, I've kept this, it was very vague, like I have, I've only been to very few appointments and mostly been very undisturbed this whole pregnancy. It's not even a fully wild pregnancy because I did interact with practices. But I had to turn the comments off on that post. And I have only done that once before in 12 or 10 years and nothing. Nothing freaks people out more. It was crazy. And the amounts of attacks on Mothers and people it was it was it was violent. Really. Oh,
Emilee Saldaya 1:29:42
Okay, so we'll get back to Instagram later. Let's get back to your personal journey. So any anything else that you want to share about your third-trimester lessons? You know, obviously, there's stuff to say about the very end but um, It sounds like you didn't really tell a lot of people, you really practiced new boundaries of self protection. Just kind of had a beautiful last couple of weeks with your family. What else might you want to say?
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 1:30:14
No, I think that's pretty much it. There was a big, I think the last days of pregnancy were the safest I have ever felt in my body. So healing, not just from the first birth, but just from a lot of what I've dealt with, in my body throughout my life. It was really, really beautiful. I miss it. And I wouldn't think I would say that because it was also hard and heavy, and I had pain and all of that. But there was just this big feeling of trust, which was so. And yeah, and I mean, it was summer, it was June. So Sweden in the summer in Sweden is really special, because it's so dark and cold so much of the year. And I had decided, so for the birth, I wanted my husband there and then I have my best friend who who doesn't have kids never attended to birth has no connection or ideas to what birth is supposed to or not supposed to be. I wanted her here to kind of be a little safekeeper for our daughter so that she would be percent taken care of, and for our daughter to be there. And it was 42 weeks or the day before 42 Something like that. She casually came over not for birth, I we live an hour away, but casually to hang out because it was like a beautiful summer day. Let's go swimming, let's hang out. And then my other friend in the morning said, well, don't you think maybe you're gonna go into labor? Because Mikhail is coming today? Like maybe the baby's gonna feel like everyone's here now. And I'm like, oh, wouldn't that be nice, but I'm sure I have another week to go. Like, I just thought I would go longer this time for some reason. And then she arrived and like an hour into her being here. I started feeling like that felt like more than more than just nothing. You know, that's cute. Very cute. It was kind of like he was waiting for the little village to gather here. And I labored throughout the day, but just very casually, like still cooking and talking and kind of pausing, to embrace a surge when it came my way. But then continuing what I was doing like it was really, I didn't think labor was gone. I thought this was kind of pre early, maybe it's going to be a day kind of thing. I was really set on not calling it as like, oh my god freaking out it started. Just very casual. We had a barbecue we ate and I remember at dinner time. I had to really pause when I was speaking. And I wrote and then is and Mikayla, was looking at me like are you? Is it happening? I'm like, no, no, no, nothing's happening. This is this is going to be three days of this, you know, at least so just go about no one freak out if this isn't nothing. And I think I kind of felt like it's something but I didn't want to preemptively call it either. So I got out of bed. We decide for some reason to watch a movie, even though it's really late. We turn on some weird movie. I don't even remember what it was some weird movie. 10 minutes into the movie. I really have to kind of go inward because the sensations are getting so intense, but I'm not seeing anything but anybody. And your girlfriend's still there. Yeah, she's still there. She was gonna spend the night anyway. But I hadn't even told Dennis. It wasn't like I told him like it's on because I was still cut just like this. I'm just doing this on my own. We'll see if it's the real deal or not. But five minutes into the movie. I hear snoring on my right side that is sleeping and I look to my left. Mikayla is asleep. I'm like everyone's asleep. I'm in labor. Like I know now like, why am I watching a movie at like 10 o'clock. I need to go to bed. Like I need to sleep I need to rest. If this is it, I really need that resting time so we go to bed. I lie down then and is asleep right away. I lay down and then a wave comes and it's so intense immediately that I have to sit back up like okay, I couldn't, couldn't lay down and I realized like labor is really on, on like I'm not going to be able to sleep it was fairly intense right away. So what I did just those those first hours, this was 11 pm or something like that. I realize this is happening and I want to be alone. I'm not going to wake them up. I'm not going to go tell me kale it's happening. You know, everyone's sleeping. I'm glad everyone is sleeping. I just really want to be alone. But it was kind of nice that Dennis was asleep next to me because I had his presence even though he wasn't aware that somehow waking him seemed like a hassle, you know? I don't know. But what I did is I suddenly became very sensitive to just the space in the bedroom and I spent a lot of Time, dealing with the lights, I lit a candle, but it was too bright. We have a little Himalayan salt lamp, it was also too bright. So I was like messing with the curtains. And then I had to really pause and kind of hold on to something because the contractions were really, really strong. And then the wave would pass. And I would go back to like messing around with the lights in the room. It was really bizarre like it was it's like pre-production. Production, I don't know. But I had this feeling that it had to be just right. It has to be perfect. So I had to cover this lamp with like this curtain in a specific way, no camera on me. And then I turned on some music, some like that a wave meditation, something on my phone. And then I sat down like in bed with all these pillows. And the moment I sat down, I realized, okay, I'm not going to move after this, like this is it now. And I spend at least like five or so hours. Just completely still, I couldn't move. It was the way I breastfeed now just kind of with a lot of pillows sitting up legs out in front of me. And just letting these waves of electricity wash over me. And as long as I was completely still and completely quiet and completely with my breath, and inward. I could manage everything. It was really like
Emilee Saldaya 1:36:24
It's basically an ice bath.
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 1:36:27
It really was that like it was like an ice bath. Except not at all. Except in no way at all. Literally no way. Other than that, if you move, it's worse. Exactly. If you're totally still, it's fine. Nobody really was it was like I was in my I was like I went inside of myself somehow. And I hook on to this sentence where I could see my vagina as like a portal. And if I when a wave came if I imagined myself going into my own portal, like that's the source of where the electricity is coming from and the pain. If I went in, then I could manage if I try to go out and escape then I couldn't manage kind of thing. And, and I just did that. And then I had this idea of oh, I'm supposed to move. I'm in labor, it's good to move. I should be in different positions. It's good for my pelvis to receive these waves in different ways. I tried to stand up and I was like I was knocked back down. I just like could not move. At some point, I get really thirsty and I realize it's been hours. I'm sitting here I haven't had any water. I'm all alone in my little portal.
Emilee Saldaya 1:37:41
Like the Samadhi state not moving.
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 1:37:45
Not getting dehydrated. Looking for enlightenment. No, but it really was the pain. It was a very physical experience. This time around the pain was oh baby boy. Oh. We're going into the next cycle now.
Emilee Saldaya 1:38:03
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 1:38:05
Give me a three hour I think he's gonna go put it down or like, okay, okay. Well, no, in five minutes, it broke out. Okay. Um, so yeah, a few hours pass. I realize I'm really thirsty. I'm gonna It's time to wake them up. Like I need some presence now. So I kind of reach an arm out and I shake him and I'm like, it's on and he goes, Okay. I'm like, No, it's all right. It's very odd. He goes, Oh, okay. And I say water. He goes, Uh huh. And then he leaves and he gets cold water. And he comes back and it's like, why is it so fucking dark in here? Why is the curtain covering the land or anything pulls the curtain off and I'm like, blinded by the draw like a vampire. Just put it back. And he doesn't understand what I'm saying. Like because he joined me I'm on this journey. Psychedelic journey. He joined me like way down the line. Like he was not in my space in my sphere at all. And then he was kind of by my side kind of useless just kind of annoying me by breathing like His breathing was too loud. He wasn't doing everything right there were some I just just go back to bed. And then he tried and then I was like, No, be with me. Now go back to like, can you please leave but can you also fully be embodied with me?
Emilee Saldaya 1:39:33
Say Actually, could you just like drop down into a deep meditative state? That would actually be ideal. And also give me water.
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 1:39:41
And also don't breathe just like hold your breath like oh, it was really hard for him I think but this is no it's like five o'clock or something in the morning and I realized like Okay, I think I'm gonna have this baby soon. We should fill the pool.
Emilee Saldaya 1:39:54
Are you still just not moving?
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 1:39:56
Not moving. I have not moved. Like I have not gotten out of That's so weird. Isn't it so insane? It's unusual, right?
Emilee Saldaya 1:40:08
You meditated your way through your labor?
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 1:40:12
Yeah. But it was also like the pain was so electrifying. Like from head to toe. It was the only thing I could do was not like it was it's really, really strange. I don't know.
Emilee Saldaya 1:40:23
Is it? Was it partially about your your? pubis, like your pubic pain? Was that present? Around? Okay, it was just like labor sensations.t
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 1:40:36
But much worse than what I experienced with the layout in terms of pain level, but much better because I was very trusting. And it's going faster, and it's going faster. But pain wise was much, much, much, much more painful than the first time around. But it was also enveloped in this complete purposefulness, and trust and like God, like connection to something so it was okay.
Emilee Saldaya 1:41:01
So when you're sat when you're in the bed in your little portal not moving? Are you vocalizing? No. Okay, I'm trying to picture this. Okay. What is it? We're, you're silent and not moving in bed.
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 1:41:17
I'm silent. I'm not moving. I know that I was speaking out loud really it's really crazy. I have never, and there was no, we don't have it on film, because I didn't wake them up. But yeah, if I saw the first video like that, I'd be like, what?
Emilee Saldaya 1:41:37
When you get out of bed, it to them. I just need to know this when you get out of bed to the point that the baby comes out. How much time do we have there?
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 1:41:48
We have four hours.
Emilee Saldaya 1:41:51
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 1:41:54
It's not like, I'm just lying there. And then his head came out? No. That is not it. No, there's still hours to go. Yeah, I think if I counted the way I counted when Leah was born during my first pregnancy because I counted it from the early sensations like was 24 hours, it probably was 24. With this one. We went I was from 11 till 10. So kind of 11 hours ish. But, just from that big intensity until he came. So I tell them to go like we have to fill the birth pool. Go do it. And then I'm like, but don't go but stay. And at this point, I'm like he has woken Michaela up. Because he's it's very clear like this baby is coming. So of course Michaela is awake. So why can't Michaela fill the birth pool and you can stay with me? He was like, Let's not disturb her. She's asleep. Know, except the next day. You texted her? Rachel is in labor. And she goes for the past two months, I have not had a single glass of wine so I can get in the car at any moment to go to you. I have had no appointments. No dates, haven't gone anywhere. And I've had my phone on by my side every night. But this night because I'm at your house sleeping in and I turned my phone off your labor. Dennis will let me know. And he'd text her and her phone is off. So the whole night. So anyway, he goes down to build a pool, I kind of follow. And it's taking a long time. Like it's a big it's a pool. And he goes, Why don't you get in the tub? Like just do the top first. Because it feels really quickly while I fill the pool and then you can transition and I'm like, okay, and I was looking forward to the water. Like I was really thinking this pain is going to get manageable. It's going to be like everyone says when you have a water birth you get in the water and the water is like somehow magically, like some people say that. People say that. People say that. And I was really looking forward to this big amazing. Like I was going to be bathing in an epidural. Swimming and all the pain is gonna go away. The only thing that happened was that like, the contractions stay the same. I was just wet. There's no difference.
Emilee Saldaya 1:44:13
I will say those were very high expectations.
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 1:44:19
That's true. I don't know I really thought it would make it and I kind of lived in that tub all pregnancy I was in the bath every day. So I really thought this was going to be like a shift but no pain and pain is getting. Even though I'm at a 10 out of 10 it keeps getting more and more intense.
Emilee Saldaya 1:44:36
You discover the charts actually up to 1 billion but like I cannot get more painful.
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 1:44:40
It kept getting worse. And then at some point Yeah, he goes the pool I transition to the pool. And I realized in the pool I have to actually like I wanted to move a little bit so I'm like on my knees but that didn't feel right. So then I go back to the same position. I was in bed. And then I was like was try it on my side and then no and I ended up in that same position that I was up there. And I think at this point I am really vocalizing.
And I start vocalizing and I hook onto the sentence where I say, into the portal. And I'm just like repeating that and I'm like, in the board mat, myself diving into my Yoni again and again and again and again.
Emilee Saldaya 1:45:52
This is gonna be your episode titled, Rachel. Yoga Girl dives into her. Oh, God.
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 1:45:59
It made so much sense. That's why I love it. Hey, there's an alarm going off. Can you hear that? No. Okay, okay. And then now I think this is the moment Leah wakes up. So Michaela wakes up and Leila wakes up and Michaela is like what the hell is happening? There's a birth pool, full of water. Rachel is yelling into the portal, landing step breakfast. All these things are happening. And at this point, it's starting, I think I was in transition. It's starting to get unmanageable, unbearable on it's just not, you know. And then it goes, Hey, Olivia texted my best friend who gave birth at home four months earlier. And she asked if you check if you could feel the head. And I'm like, he says this, and I'm pulled out of my Yoni portal. And I realized, oh, wait, I'm in labor. There's a baby coming. Maybe I can feel it. Like I started just having a very physical logistical relationship, again, to the fact that there's a baby coming. I was just on another planet. And I realized this and I go, Oh, okay, and I go on my knees. And I feel the head. I had to go kind of far, but I could feel his head. And that shifted just the whole energy of everything, like, Oh, I was more brought down to earth. He's actually coming, right? I'm giving birth, I'm not in space, okay. And then I would go back, receive a contraction, and then go back on my knees and feel again. And every time I could feel like little by little, he really was moving down. And it was a very cool experience too, to be able to measure that, like, this is moving things forward. This is unbearable, this pain is unreal, but it's bringing him down. It's bringing him down. And in the middle of this, like, I can't talk anymore, I can’t communicate anything to anyone that is bringing me the wrong kind of drinks. At some point in the middle of this, I think probably transitioned like the peak of the hardest moment. He goes, Do you want coconut water or regular water? No, how are you alive in this world? And I am in this job and talking to me. I can answer that. It’s gonna sound like it was Yeah. He gets in the pool with me. And he started putting some pressure on my hips and lower back, which was really helpful. And this is the moment when I smell the smell of coffee. He's a barista. He roasts his own coffee. Coffee is a very big deal for him. And I smell coffee and I hear loud that like in the other room and I'm like, how? How is your coffee being made in this house? When I'm like in the depths of fire and walking through fire and there's make fucking espresso in the kitchen? Like it's another day? Yeah. Just another day. Yeah, late comes in. As she goes, Oh, mommy, is it happening? And I say yeah. And I was able to kind of like, look at her. And I said, yes, the baby's coming. Like I could anchor with her. She holds my hand and she says, breathe in, breathe out. Inhale. And then she says, think of all the good things in the world. When we please think of everything. That's beautiful. Yeah, you're very cute. And the all the while like this was very, very, very late. Like I'm feeling his head is getting closer. It's getting closer. Finally, he's like crowning. But for some reason, Dennis doesn't understand that the baby is this close. He hasn't seen a birth in this way. Obviously before. I'm very loud, like I'm really really vocalizing now, and I keep behind you Oh, he's behind me. He can't see. You can't see. Yeah, I just say I, all I say is I feel this hat. And I've said the same thing five times. Like, I kept checking, I feel it, but I didn't say it's closer or you know, he didn't really know. And then Layup comes in again and makes a joke with Dennis. There was I don't know what they were joking. They have a really cute relationship. There was like a joke being made. And I realized this is the wrong energy for what we're doing.
Emilee Saldaya 1 1:50:26
There's nothing funny going on right now.
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 1:50:32
And I call from Michaela, I'm like Mega, get in here and hold some fucking space. That's her. She said, up until that point, she had kind of thought I wanted to be alone. And she comes in and I grab a hold of her. So I go to the front of the pool, and I'm like hanging over the pool. Holding her arms, like digging my nails into her arms then is behind me. And, and his enemy. And he's crowning, like he's coming. But they don't get that they think this is contractions. So his head comes out the next contraction. And I hold his whole head in my hand, and I say, his head is out. And Makayla goes, What's the head? And I feel that everyone scrambles, like, there's no video. No one's filming you guys. And I'm like, how do they not know? Like, my vagina is like being pulled in every direction. I'm like, This is unbelievable. And they're just like, No, no one was on the same trip as me. But bathroom.
Emilee Saldaya 1:52:11
There's also this cute thing about with Mikayla, because you've had these, what turns out to be, you know, what's the right word disappointing or harmful dynamics with hierarchies in birth, that you purposely have a girlfriend that you clearly feel very, very safe with and comfortable with, and are in a nonhierarchical dynamic with even the vision of you being like, get in here and hold some space. And you chose it very intentionally. And it's, it's a beautiful piece of you yelling at her because we don't do that. We don't like yelling for what we need in positions of authority, or to positions of authority, you know, but to your sister, you got to really scream for what you need at that moment. It's really sweet.
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 1:53:12
And it was amazing that she was also able to provide that in her totality. You know, there was no feeling of like, Am I doing something wrong? Or do you need this? It was like, I could state my needs and she could meet that need. So it was really no it was it was beautiful. So then I heard that layout Lea wasn't there. So I'm aware enough that I know she's not there. And I really wanted her to be in the room. She really wanted to be in the room so I yelled like layup his head is out. And she runs back down. She makes it into the room, right? Right in time. Oh, I have his whole face and my whole head in my hands. And yeah, all the pain went away. This was like a very, very cool, maybe the coolest moment of the whole birth was that this sort of vacuum happened in a time when I couldn’t hear anything else. Nothing else exists. It's just his head is in my it's in my hand. And I felt his whole body turning it was like a fish feeling moving inside of me and I could really feel every millimeter of his whole full body turn that he was doing at no point this was also very important for me I think at no point did I really feel like I had to force or there was a little bit of pushing where I intentionally realized if I push a little bit this pain will be over faster. Like if I push a little bit he will come down but it was barely like I was kind of touching it like a 5% of like a push you know it was just like I'm kind of present there with my Yeah, with that energy there. And then the final push it was like it kind of happened on his on its own and, and he comes out and I feel I kind of I sit back to grab him because I was on my knees holding the gala, and then it's behind me and then it sits back with me. And I pulled him up on my chest, and he was silent. And he has the cord wrapped kind of in a funny way like it's around his neck, but it's also like a seatbelt like it was around his body. And as soon as I saw that, I realized though, I knew this was going to happen, like I knew he would have the cord. I really totally know I'm not at all nervous about that. I just, I just realized because it was wrapped twice in a weird way. I didn't know which way to begin unwrapping I didn’t want to pull on the placenta. So there's a moment where I'm like, it's just a second but I'm like evaluating this baby with this cord and like, Okay, this way, and then I pull the the cord off of his off of his body. And as soon as the cord goes off, he lets out this like, roar this big screen like wow. And he's really, really vocalizing really making his presence known. Like, right away just was very, very, very alive and very, you know, when I pulled lay out on my chest, the first time my first thought was, oh, she's alive. There was a part of me that thought that maybe I was going to birth a dead baby because all these people told me that this was so dangerous, and she's it was not going to work. And with him, it was like he was the most alive baby ever. Like, you know, it was really like of course, he's alive and well, like it was such a closing of that, of that wound in that moment.
Emilee Saldaya 1:56:20
It was right because there are so many layers of the unconscious and of the stories that shape us that are going on in the background. Exactly. Love it. Okay, because it comes out. He's so alive and made it.
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 1:56:34
They made it. We have it on video. Just it's a-and-a-half-minute video. That's all I have from the whole birth. It's that moment. And layers then we're all kind of in. Yeah, she's on the side of the pool. Our dog is trying to get into the pool. Boy, then this thought, like at some point near the end that I had pooped in the water. And we had this little like, see thing. He goes to take it out. But it was a mucus plug, like came really late. Like, puts it on the floor just to get it out. And the dog ate it. Yeah, okay. Yeah. He was just like, so very present. Yeah, the dog just took it and ran and had a great little snack.
Emilee Saldaya 1:57:17
So wait, did you even say when your water broke?
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 1:57:25
No, I didn't because it had been ordered. And it was. And it was kind of like I didn't know it wasn't very obvious. I think the waters broke because I felt like a little bit of a rush. Like, uh huh. But then when I felt his head it also felt like there was a big but it could also just be a slimy head. So yeah, it wasn't a big deal. The water just broke at some point.
Emilee Saldaya 1:57:52
I assumed it happened. It's harder to tell in the water.
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 1:57:55
Right, right. Then I'm just crying. I cry and cry and cry. I just fully can't stop crying. It's just it was a very, very emotional moment is the relief of it, but it was still very physically painful. After that contractions didn't end.
Emilee Saldaya 1:58:17
Did you find the sex out in the ultrasounds?
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 1:58:21
We knew it was a boy.
Emilee Saldaya 1:58:27
You're still in pain.
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 1:58:30
I'm still in pain. I want to get out of the tub almost right away. Like I started feeling kind of cold. So we had a little mattress on the floor with some pillows and I get there and I lean back but I'm still in very intense pain, like contractions are still coming. Very uncomfortable. Like I didn't have this rush of oxytocin and oh my god relief because yeah, because of the percent, I think still still still there. So I drink some bra. We really had this little cocoon that was so preserved, no phone calls. We didn't nothing disturbing anything. Just all of us. cocooning in that little bubble with the baby, he went to the breast right away, like it was very, very sweet and beautiful. But I was like, I need to do something like I need to get this out. Yeah. And so I yeah, I think I had planned but if it doesn't work out, because I heard you say to like cough can help get placenta out. But I just went into a squat with the baby and I wrapped my fingers around the umbilical cord and I just yanked. Yeah, that's exactly what I did. And it was such a relief, and it was huge. It was really big we didn't weigh it. I forgot to weigh it. I wanted to weigh it, but it was a really big plus, that doesn't make sense that it felt really great to get it out.
Emilee Saldaya 1:59:52
It's very primal. Very primal.
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 1:59:57
And then it was like, okay, that was the biggest relief. That's when I felt like okay, like now we've made it we were.
Emilee Saldaya 2:00:04
So how long was that with the placenta?
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 2:00:09
I think 20 to 30 minutes.
Emilee Saldaya 2:00:26
Those are for the births where the mom isn't bothered by the placenta in it, right inside. I mean, but the births where you can't freaking relax until it's out. Those usually come out pretty quickly.
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 2:00:39
I had a little tincture. You know, I had a postpartum tea. I had things that I had just mentioned. Maybe I will want to use these things. I don't know. That was necessary at all. Yeah. A good old Yankel do yeah. Good old Yank was all that was needed. Yeah. And then eventually, we transitioned to a bed in the next room. And my brother came. This is when I found out that my brother thought that there was going to be a midwife here. So he walks in. And there's like, because I yank the placenta out, there was a lot of blood on my feet. And I didn't shower or anything. So it was just kind of covered in blood and the bathroom was a mess. And my brother has never, I think, seen a birth video. Yeah, he's, he's, he's not really in that place. He walks in, like, oh, you know, this happened like this. No one was here. Just just you. You're still covered in blood, blood. And you brought food and they made a big, huge, like brunch spread with all eggs and bacon and cake and fruit salad and champagne. And it was like, so, so beautiful. We stayed in bed, until I think three or three hours or something with them, and we burned the cord. It was really nice, to get to keep it until I really felt like it's time. Like it started getting a little cold. And you know, it really felt like this is it. It was really beautiful to get to communicate with him. Like I explained to him what was going to happen. And he felt like he was really listening and looking at me. And it felt like a gentle, just gentle ceremony to release that. But it was also it took a while. Mm hmm. That was never met my husband, he's the most sarcastic. Like he's he has a really big sense of humor. So after like a few minutes, this is very sacred. You know, it's still not happening. And he starts making jokes. Yeah. Where did you get these kittens, but we had like beeswax candles from the oh, it can take like a half hour. us like what are these, like janky candles that you have, like, these are not going to do the trick. I'll be back and then he goes, gets the IKEA candles. He's like these, they're gonna they're gonna they're gonna work much better. And yeah, it took like 15 minutes or something for the court to go. But I'm really glad we did that. And it was also just not 15 But at least like 10 quiet minutes in a dark room with candles lit all of us gathered just it really felt like the closing of that journey.
Emilee Saldaya 2:03:26
Leah, I'm assuming she was there.
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 2:03:28
She was holding the candle and it was sweet. Very, very sweet.
Emilee Saldaya 2:03:32
This is birth on your terms. You know, this is your pace, your story, your decisions, your knowing like this is this is so redemptive, you know, and this is available to any woman who wants it. You know, it's so beautiful and so important. Anything you want to share about your postpartum?
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 2:03:58
I took it easy. And I'm really glad I did. I spent almost two weeks in bed where I was really in bed for most of the time and had Dennis or Mikayla bring me but Mikayla stayed for the postpartum time, which we hadn't planned for that. And it was the greatest blessing just to have someone that wasn't just Dennis there. I mean, she changed my pads for me when I was holding the baby like it was a very, very beautiful expression of sisterhood. And I'm so glad we have her here. And no, I feel I just feel good. This time around. I didn't feel a rush. I really feel like that pace of the birth and that going inward into the portal like the portal kind of stayed. For the first two weeks at least I really felt like we were in this cocoon where there was no rush to do anything or go anywhere and just getting to know each other and it's been really beautiful was part of the time.
Emilee Saldaya 2:05:01
So good. Hmm, we did an 11 weeks.
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 2:05:03
And we did, we did a podcast about the birth.
Emilee Saldaya 2:05:07
That's about your free birth. So good. Awesome. Well, so beautiful. I'm so proud of you. And I'm reminded of one of my favorite quotes from sister Morningstar. And she says what one woman can do, all women can do. And I hope anyone hearing this really internalizes that. And, let that be true, because you and I chose this right for ourselves and our own way. And it's, it's what's available to anyone, anyone listening and anyone interested. And that's, that's really the most that is the thing that connects all of us, you know, is motherhood is all people born come from women come from mothers, and there's this golden chain of mothers around the world who are opting into self-responsibility and opting into healing and opting into intact birth. And it's so it's, it's not an exclusive club, it's it's available, you know, to anyone who just wants to turn on that consciousness and claim it for their own. And I'm so proud that you did it. And I'm so happy for you and your family.
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 2:06:24
Thank you. And I'm so grateful for you. I mean, listening to the free birth podcasts when I was pregnant was so, so crucial just to hear the stories of everyday women doing it this way. The dramatizes the whole thing and makes it down-to-earth and mundane. Like that was maybe my best, the best part of this birth was just how normal it was, yeah, we were just sitting there having breakfast right afterward and right about our lives like, that was something that that part of it, I really feel happy that I get to share that.
Emilee Saldaya 2:06:58
From one of your mom's traumatic births to you laying in bed with your family in bliss and ecstasy, like how quickly we can shift our lineages story and set a new tone and set a healed a tone and you know, like a whole new up level. It's so it's so inspiring how quickly, we can do it, you know, through the generations, and that your daughter watched you birth and was a part of all of this and it just can change so fast for the better.
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 2:07:32
I’m just connecting back to the lineage of it was only a couple of generations ago that our own ancestors were born exactly in this way. And I think, because I have ancestors from this area, I wonder on this farm, like on this homestead, just a couple of generations ago, babies were born. Oh, we got to do that again. And it just feels so so special.
Emilee Saldaya 2:07:55
And you set a tone for, you know, living by example, right is such a, it's such a cool part of having eyes on you is you know, your own daughters, and then you know, the wider world. It's just so exciting that what becomes possible is that that's what everyone says about the podcast just hearing that it's possible for all these other women makes it possible for me. And I guess that is a question I have for you before we end how has it felt to hold this space and kind of come out? Like I know you posted the cool video of grabbing your baby and I think you said it was a free birth in the caption but beyond just Instagram, like in your community and your friends, what does it feel like to be on the other side of it and be public about it.
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 2:08:48
It's both amazing, and also really, really challenging at the same time, especially living here in spite. So I mean posting that video, I think at the point where I had like 4000 comments, and 99% of them are overwhelmingly positive. So positive, big comments from women saying this is changing how I view birth and this is healing to watch and oh my god, I never wanted kids. But now maybe I do like big, big, big things. And then there's a few like say 100 or 200 Out of those 4000 Negative people. Dangerous you're promoting something bah bah bah. And then here in Sweden, there were articles in the media with the title Yoga Girl criticizing for dangerous rebirth. And I'm like you're picking this 1% criticism and can you how about we focus on the 99% that we're selling the one that wouldn't make any interesting headlines.
Emilee Saldaya 2:09:39
Did you feel kind of prepared for that? This isn't your first rodeo with public criticism?
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 2:09:51
I don't want to be in the place where I debate my talk this way. And that's kind of where they want me to go. Of course. So I'm trying to tread that path as carefully as I can Riceville without saying, because if I say, Hey, I think every single person should birth this way, is putting myself in a place of getting really attacked by people who, yeah, who think that this is crazy.
Emilee Saldaya 2:10:15
But also, I mean, I don't know how you think I don't think that every single person should be born this way. You know, that's like, no, so I just referred to like, showing another option.
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 2:10:22
For me, it was very important to hear that there was another option. Another option showing that this is possible, can only be healthy can only be positive doesn't mean that every single woman has to make the same choice. But include, it's more inclusive of what birth actually can be. So I regret sharing that.
Emilee Saldaya 2:10:45
And keeping it like that is arguable, right? You could argue everyone should birth that way. You can't argue this is what I chose. This is what this was what was perfect for me that really isn't arguable. I find so much liberation, in that like just keeping that kind of my main thing is like, this is my lived example, this is what I do. This is what I choose, because no one really can do shit about that.
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 2:11:16
No, and also saying, because some of the comments I got was this is because I have a big platform, this is responsible. And I say like, oh minimizing to think that any woman would do such would do no research about this biggest moment of their lives, that they would just see a reel on Instagram and go, Oh, I'm going to do that, like no woman would ever.
Emilee Saldaya 2:11:40
So let's stop minimizing how big is. If a woman saw your reel and chose to free birth, that would be more in alignment with nature and what is true and protective and safe and smart than a woman saw a gentle C-section and going and doing that, you know, I mean, it's all nonsense, because it's a completely different paradigm. And it's a paradigm where we are broken, where we need to be saved, where women are less than where women are, you know, it's all just so boring. Like anyone in that consciousness. It's just so boring, you know, and the more birthing we all take it so seriously, you know, we all like this is such a big deal.
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 2:12:13
And I think just the more versions of it that we've seen, the better are all options. For me, this is an awesome option. And I really, you know, hope that when it's Leah's turn to give birth, if she wants to be a mother I would assume that this would be an option that would feel natural. It feels like such a big shift from where we've been in our own lineage, you know, right.
Emilee Saldaya 2:12:41
Love it. So good. All right, thank you so much for your time this extra-long episode.
Rachel Brathen YogaGirl 2:12:49
This extra episode. Oh my god, I had a feeling. Can we all just say a little hallelujah for the baby. Just sleep.
Emilee Saldaya 2:12:56
I just got the text that my baby is quite ready as well. So we will go nurse our babies. Thanks, Rachel.