Note: As I describe my birthing time, you will notice that I used the Hypnobabies® method and I replaced certain words for others.
‘guess date’ for ‘due date’
‘birthing waves’ for ‘contractions’
‘birthing time’ for ‘labor’
Reflecting on Our Pregnancy
As I’ve been snuggling our little bundle of joy and pondering the beautiful moments that brought her into the world I can’t help but wonder where her birth story started. Did it start the moment we took that at home pregnancy test? Or the moment we first heard her heartbeat? Because it most definitely started a while before our birthing time began.
Our pregnancy was beautiful and peaceful. It brought lots of love and happiness into our home and I never had a complaint. We did our best to cherish every moment, even if those moments included sleepless nights, mornings of sickness, and heartburn. They were all a part of the miracle that was bringing o
ur baby girl into the world and so, we loved them all. During pregnancy all things went extremely well. Each midwife appointment brought good news of both our little one’s health and my health. I remember our midwives saying that our pregnancy was “textbook” which is one of the best things to hear when growing a baby.
At 34 weeks I caught Influenza A; it happened to be the one strain of flu that no vaccine was help to. It threw my body for a complete loop and started extremely strong pre-birthing waves. My body got dehydrated and I was convinced that our little one would be joining us early. Part of me was terrified but the other part of me longed to hold her in my arms. My midwives were cleared to bring her into the world in our home starting at 34 weeks but there was the worry of underdevelopment and the fact that my birth team was not in alignment. (My photographer was out of town and my main midwife was off for the month.)
Luckily for me I had an incredible midwife that never let me worry. She kept me laughing and positive. I was given herbs to help calm my uterus, and my pregnancy trekked on. Because mentally I had been expecting to have her early, the last few weeks of my pregnancy seemed to drag on.
When I made it to my guess date I was shocked. We celebrated making it to her guess date by getting dressed up and eating our favorite food, vegan sushi!
Baby Come Out!
As we passed through the guess date, I had already tried some natural induction techniques. I ate 4-6 dates a day to soften my uterus, drank Red Raspberry Leaf Tea to help with labor, and rubbed Clary Sage Oil on my belly to encourage birthing waves. In addition, I went to the chiropractor multiple times in hopes of getting my body aligned and ready to bring baby into the world and received acupuncture in hopes of inducing and turning baby girl to anterior positioning. The other little things we tried included long walks, sex, pineapple, spicy food, and more. Needless to say our sweet girl was extremely content in my womb and decided she would come in her own timing.
After going over my guess date by three days I started getting stronger and more consistent birthing waves again. My midwives, doula, and dad all suggested flying my mom out. I had originally wanted her at the birth but with all of the unknowns of childbirth we had made different plans. After thinking about it for a bit I felt strongly she should come so I sent her a text and an hour later she had a plane ticket for that evening. My birthing waves seemed to get stronger just at the idea of her coming out.
The next day my mom and I were running errands and she jokingly said that if I actually said something negative about my pregnancy then I might go into my birthing time. So I said “Alright fine, I don’t love the crampy birthing waves they remind me of my period!” five minutes later we pull into the grocery store parking lot and I felt as if I peed my pants even though I knew that I didn’t have to pee. My exact words were “Ooh that’s weird!” We headed home, changed, and went back to the store to finish shopping. Right when we got home the second time more of my waters break and we let our Midwives, doula, birth photographer, and family know! Nic headed home from work while my mom and I hung out and watched some Gilmore Girls.
Come On Over!
Deanna (our doula) was the first to arrive quickly followed by Nic. I remember those first moments were filled with jokes and laughter. Using my Hypnobabies®, I mainly stayed in center while we all visited and hung out. My tummy was growling so we made two pizzas and passed the time all together. I can’t say exactly when things changed but the transition was smooth. My birthing waves slowly picked up to where center didn’t cut it and I would have to turn my switch to off. My midwife checked in every few hours to see how I was progressing, but really let me decide when I was ready for her arrival.
Shanari (one of my best friends) and our photographer Laura were the next to arrive, by this point I was still able to have conversations and laugh in between my birthing waves. But things were definitely picking up in intensity. Time was passing quickly which is how I knew I was in my birthing zone. It was at about this time that I looked at Nic and said “it’s time to get the midwives here.” He was lovely and made the call, all the while holding me during birthing waves.
Over the phone, our midwife instructed us to fill up the pool and so our incredible team set to work on boiling water and attaching the hose to get it ready for me. I think I asked if I could get in “my pool” about ten times before it was ready for me. By this time Tierra (one of our midwives) had arrived and was checking in with baby and me. She took our vitals, held my hand during a few waves, checked in with those already in attendance, and brought a beautiful peaceful presence.
I continued to labor outside of the pool either in Nic’s arms or on my hands and knees. It was incredible. Megan (our main midwife) arrived around ten at night and brought the same peaceful presence that all others in attendance had brought. She was wonderful at keeping our space and letting Nic and I really get into our special place.
The birthing pool was finally at the heat it needed to be and I got the go to get in. Nic joined me and the heat helped incredibly with the pressure in my lower back. Birthing waves in the pool were warm and cozy even though they were uncomfortable.
Love & Support
Nic held me and massaged me and whispered words of love, affirmations, and encouragement into my ears. I truly feel as if he was speaking through God. He knew things to say that I needed to hear. My favorite affirmations were spoken by him even though I had never shared them with him. Nic reminded me that our baby girl was going through this journey right along side me. He was in it with me for the long haul. Some of my favorite things he said:
“You can do this because you are doing this!”
“You are so incredibly strong.”
“Your grandmother would be so proud of you.”
“Your grandmother is here with you.”
“You and Jerusalem are doing this together.”
“You are powerful!”
“You are fulfilling your potential.”
“You can do anything for a minute”
And of course, “I love you”
In recalling the birth Deanna said, “Nic was the only doula that didn’t take a break.” This was true. We swayed together and he held me tight through every step of the way. As I recall the evening, his presence is one part that touched me in ways I will never be able to explain. In so many ways he was the perfect birthing partner, I never once felt like I was going through my birthing time alone.
Not only was I receiving encouragement from him but also from others in our tribe. Deanna did an incredible job at keeping my space; she played the right music, reminded me of my cues, and kept me in my hypnosis. She quietly but successfully protected our space and supported me physically and emotionally at the same time. Her support was the perfect balance of present yet non invasive.
Our Birthing Tribe
Our photographer was another big part of the process. Instead of just taking pictures and hanging back, she chose to help. She helped boil the hot water and with laundry, but she also helped with words of advice. There were two distinct moments I remember. One where she told me “Kalli, what are you doing right now? That’s right! You are birthing your baby. You are doing it right now, you can do it!” And when she told me to breathe through my waves by saying words like “open” and “down” and “out” only did these words relax my jaw, but they also brought our baby down closer to me.
Shanari and my mom were two people I really just needed to be present, although they each did so much more in their own ways. Shanari helped by doing laundry and boiling water. But the moment that stood out the most was when she helped me through a few waves by massaging my back while Nic held me. Her touch sent love straight to my bones and I couldn’t believe how grateful I was for those few moments.
My mother was an angel. She helped with all of the tidying as well but she was also my rock. There were moments where I remember looking around the room in hopes of seeing her face and it always brought comfort. At one point Nic asked me “Do you want to hold your mom’s hand?” As I held her and, it was as if she represented not only my own mother, but her mother and her grandmother and her great grandmother before her.
In the moments where I exclaimed “I cannot do this anymore!” My husband would hold my face close to his and encourage me. When the tears were falling a hand would reach out and take mine. And in my most vulnerable state we prayed. I don’t remember the prayers, in fact, I hardly remember asking for them. But something in me knew that if God was not a part of this, I could not do it without him. My husband’s prayers spoke of strength and brought peace into the room and into my heart. They let me know that I could do this great task of bringing our child into the world.
As my birthing waves progressed I got extremely deep into hypnosis. It often felt as though only my husband, our baby, and I existed. I began the dance of birthing our baby as I moved from the pool to the toilet to the bed to the floor. My hips swayed in the direction our baby needed. I could feel all of the sensations of birth but I wasn’t in the same room as those around me. I remember moments where I felt like I wasn’t even in my body, moments where I felt my daughter completely release and my body would follow in suit. A birthing wave would pass and instantly my body would go limp in my husband’s arms or floating in the pool. I don’t know if I was sleeping in between waves, but I was somewhere near that.
I don’t know exactly the timeframe, but I remember there were a series of birthing waves that I spent kneeling and swaying on the ground. People later described it as a dance. In between waves my husband would wrap my blanket around me, my midwives would bring water and check vitals, and I would rest. In those moments I remember telling myself to move in the ways my baby needed me to move. And so I did.
There were so many incredibly powerful moments, but I’m only touching on the ones that stood out to me. I do know I was throwing up all through my birthing time. At first it repulsed me but the midwives and doula said that it was moving our baby girl down. Then I welcomed puking, as gross as that sounds. My feet and body got overheated in the pool which lead me to sitting on the edge (little did I know I was threatening to flood the floors) or float in my husband’s arms with my feet propped up on the edge of the pool. It was skill. I remember not wanting to eat but doing it anyways. I remember that the boiling pots of water sounded like popcorn popping, which confused me. And I remember feeling exhausted.
Time to Push
When I started getting ready to push baby out my midwife offered to do a check to make sure that it was really pushing time. After a few more waves I decided this check would be good. Thank goodness she offered because we found I had a cervical lip. We were at a 10 everywhere except where her head was coming out, and there we were a 9. Basically I was given two choices. Choice number one was to not push through a few waves and see if it would resolve itself. We tried this, after two waves my midwife determined it wouldn’t cut it. So we moved onto choice number two.
My wonderful midwife had me do a deep squat in my husband’s arms meanwhile she used her fingers to move the cervical lip behind baby girl’s head. We worked through waves in this position for what felt like hours although I’m sure it was closer to fifteen minutes. When we finally got past the lip I almost jumped for joy! My midwife cleared me to get back into the pool and I promptly did. By this point I knew things were coming to the end, or I guess a beginning? Ether way, I knew we were close to meeting our sweet little one and I was ready to do whatever I needed to bring her earth side!
This is where I felt most strongly that it was both our daughter and myself working together. I wasn’t doing all of the work alone. My husband held my arms from outside of the pool as I squatted inside of the pool and pushed. It was difficult and exhausting and I could feel her on the brink of arrival through the entire thing. My midwives were ready for the baby catch, my doula gave words of encouragement, my tribe cheered me on both verbally and silently, and my husband never left my side. After each wave I could feel her getting closer and closer. I remember feeling as though she was on the brink of two worlds and it was truly beautiful.
Here She Comes!
Finally my body knew that this push would be the last. My birthing wave came and I used everything within me to bring her into the world. As her head emerged followed by her little body my body released. My midwife passed her to me through my legs in the water and into my arms. That first moment with her in my arms was breath taking. Her thick dark hair shocked me. She was absolutely beautiful in every way. I looked to Nic and saw tears in his eyes as he said, “We did it love, you did it. This is our daughter, she’s here.” He kissed me sweetly and stroked our daughter’s hair.
In these first moments I remember bliss, I don’t remember being stressed because she was tangled in her cord or that she took a little long to take her first breath. No, I remember peace. Jerusalem lived up to her name in her first moments of life; she was my place of peace. Our place of peace.
I birthed her placenta, (it was heart shaped!) then toweled off and we were escorted to our nest. It was she, Nic, and I in the hours that passed. We snuggled, we ogled, we kissed and hugged. The oxytocin bliss was incredible. Our midwives made us smoothies; they took our vital signs. Our tribe cleaned up the house, grabbed coffee for the birth team, and held our space.
My midwives did an incredible job at making me feel safe. They didn’t scare me when I hemorrhaged a little or passed a huge clot. They helped me focus on our baby and told me how incredible of a job I had done. I don’t remember feeling any fear. Our baby was here, she was healthy, and that was all that mattered. After nine months of her living and thriving inside of my womb she was finally here and she was beautiful.
Our Family Nest
I have never seen my husband more in love than in these sweet hours. He cared for me, he cared for our daughter, he held me and loved on me and let me know how wonderfully I had done. I became very weak with the loss of blood, and I have never seen so much fear in his eyes as in those moments. It both broke my heart and made it grow at the same time. My mom snuggled our little one and gave her love in the moments where we couldn’t. I will never be able to thank her enough for that. Our little one felt love every single moment of her first day of life, even when she couldn’t be in the arms of her parents.
And thus our life as a family of three began. With laundry running in the background and a family nap, life couldn’t have been more perfect.