The very long ecstatic birth story of Seraphina Iselle
I'm gonna try to write out a rough detail of my birth story. Memories are already getting hazy but it's really important to me that I get this down. This was one of the most incredible experiences of my life...I get really emotional when I think about it. It was so much like a transcendental psychedelic experience and pretty much the opposite energetically of my first birth, although that was also a home birth. I had so much presence of mind and grounding throughout the entire thing this time (except maybe the last hour, haha!) But overall, I have never felt so in control and relaxed, weirdly enough.
The last few weeks of my pregnancy felt brutal, as it often can be. I expected to go into labor early so waiting around for weeks for the inevitable was really challenging. I found myself cycling in and out of some very extreme moods and seeking lots of solitude. Since he was out of school, Eros (my husband) was able to pretty much take over Caspian full time and I became more of a side-parent, which I found was something that made me feel sad and emotional. I was basically emotional about everything though. Nobody could say anything right to me and I was irritated with everyone I talked to, with life itself. I felt emotional about feeling emotional, and was becoming restless and anxious about labor the more that time went on.
I started to withdrawal deeper and deeper into myself. Having rekindled my spiritual path, I claimed the upstairs guest room as my “cave” and started nesting in there. Nesting for me this time had less to do with physical cleaning and more to do with spiritual preparation and emotional centering. I made a beautiful altar upstairs in my Cave, and engaged in several hours-long ceremonies and meditation sessions. I prayed to the God and Goddess, the Source of All, the Great Spirit. I cast circles of protection, lit ritual candles, and burned dried flowers and frankincense resin incense over charcoal. I spread circles of salt and purified water around me. I took spiritual cleansing baths of salt and oil and smudged myself with sage regularly. I spoke to the Universe, to my heart, to my spirit, and cast my prayers and intentions for my life out into the world. Every time I did this I re-centered and was able to continue my pregnancy journey with a little less acrimony and a little more love.
Until the last two days...
I started having random contractions. They were like braxton hicks, but deeper. I started to become more and more irritable, tired and nauseous. It felt like I had the flu. Every time I isolated myself in my Cave though, I felt way better and more relaxed and calm. So I kept going back up there and spending a lot of time in there. I loved feeling isolated so I eventually even started sleeping alone in that room. Eventually I started noticing that every time I was in my Cave I would start to have these contractions and cramps, but every time I left and spent time with Eros and my family, they would disappear completely. I started to wonder what the problem was there. I spoke to a close friend about it who told me there was probably an energetic block and I would have to resolve it by doing a ceremony for both he and I.
With his school and my pregnancy and just the ins and outs of daily life, I realized Eros and I had grown disconnected over the last few weeks. And I knew that for labor to start, if baby is ready, there needed to be an oxytocin surge. So I did some research and decided to hold a ceremony and ritual for just Eros and I after Caspian went to sleep. I spent about two hours preparing for the ceremony in my Cave, setting up all my tools and incenses and music and massage and essential oils. I created a comfortable love nest surrounded by candlelight, with harmonic drumbeats playing softly in the background. What happened that night is personal and private, but most assuredly Eros and I engaged in a reunion of the soul, in the eyes of the Universe, the Source, God and Goddess. We changed our perspectives of one another. We became cosmic. I recognized he is God and he recognized me as Goddess...4 hours of meditation, luxurious massage and lovemaking later, rekindling our vows and re-committing to our purpose with each other, we finally went to sleep cuddled together as a family in bed with Caspian.
An hour later, I woke up with strong contractions.
I had been having a dream of children running around outside, when suddenly they turned into snakes which coiled up and around my abdomen, squeezing me until I was twisted up red hot from the core of my being. I kept trying to sleep through this but I couldn't. I woke up and realized I was not being squeezed by snakes, but that I was radiating pain from within. I knew immediately. These contractions were the real deal. They came from a place deep, deep inside, and meant business. I knew this was it. I tried to sleep through them for a bit but it became obvious there was no doing so. I texted Roxanne (midwife) and told her what was going on.
As the surges continued, I focused my mind on relaxing my body. I knew that's what I had to do. The contractions hurt a lot already, but what I did was allow them to wash over me, to GO INTO the pain and feel it entirely, abolishing ALL resistance. With each contraction, I would consciously relax into it, go into it, and BECOME it. I consciously would imagine myself sagging and becoming fluidic, and my cervix blossoming open. I could actually physically release and relax my vagina muscles with each rush and contraction. I did deep breathing and kept focusing on relaxation and looseness of body.
I tried to time them but soon found that timing them gave me anxiety, so I stopped. Everyone was still asleep so I went downstairs and made myself some soup. The surges kept coming. I started to feel a little funky emotional about the whole labor thing. My body seemed to feel likewise, as I suddenly got very cold and started shivering. Abruptly, I felt aimless and lost and a bit scared. So I warmed up a nice bath with some Clary Sage essential oil and got inside to labor for awhile. By that point people were starting to wake up, and I just needed to be alone. That warm bath was marvelous. OMG. That bath in the first part of my labor was essential. It was awesome. It felt so amazing and the surges kept coming but I was able to relax deeper into them, into the warmth of the waters. Roxanne texted me then and told me how she was in Hilo and was going to stop by and see where I was at.
I felt much relieved and more relaxed and at ease when she arrived. She sat with me and we talked and I just felt so immediately cared for. She sat with me for a few contractions, and then told me she thought I was having my baby TODAY. I was in disbelief upon hearing that....I mean I knew I was in labor, but the thought of having my baby TODAY was still something I had to wrap my mind around. But with Roxanne there, now I felt a lot better, I didn't feel cold and aimless anymore. There was a purpose at work. She helped give me the confidence to fold into everything I was experiencing and I knew it was safe to let go.
She said she was going to start preparing my birth room (which was the Cave upstairs I'd been occupying for the last few weeks for rituals) and getting everything together. While she did that I decided to go hang out in my living room and spend time with Caspian, my 2 year old son. I nursed him whenever he wanted and it did increase rushes. He nursed for a good half hour and we cuddled, no doubt increasing the oxytocin flooding me in my labor.
My son knew something was different with me. He was wildly energetic and it was infectious. I started to feel really happy and excited. I listened to psytrance and dance techno and Caspian and I had a wonderful moment in the living room where we were jamming out to Beats Antique and Four Tet. We were both laughing and giggling together between surges. I can honestly say at this point I was having a great time in active labor and it was fun!! Never thought I would say that about labor! There were several really charming moments where I would moo or make low vocal AUM tones during a contraction and then Caspian did it too along with me. I would say, "Are you having a contraction too Caspian?" and he would say, "Yeah, me too!" and then mimic the noises I was making.
Eventually Eros decided to take Caspian to the park for a few hours because he was getting antsy, and a bit too energetic for me, which really allowed me to get deeper into myself and the birth experience.
I started noticing that I felt a sense of ecstasy after each contraction. Like it was INTENSITY INTENSITY INTENSITY OMG INTENSITY and when the surge faded, I would be left giddy with feelings of pleasure inside of me. Not "orgasmic..." it just felt really really good in between contractions, to the point where I did not fear or tense up when I felt another one coming on. The relief between surges was nice to look forward to. As the labor went on, this feeling of relief became more and more ecstatic in nature. I started to feel really good and in the moment and wanting to talk to someone.
My midwife (Roxanne) was phenomenal. I have NEVER experienced anyone so selfless and pure in what she does. She supported me tirelessly through the entire labor. She gave me oil massages on my back and feet when contractions started to get heavier, applying welcome pressure to my body. She was my companion through the rushes and kept me company and we had many interesting discussions and talks. I really appreciated having someone so open to talk with during labor. We just chatted between contractions for what seemed like ever, and it was amazing. I think we just sat at the kitchen table and talked for hours while I drank strong infusions of red raspberry leaf tea and AUMMMMED through my surges .
At one point Roxanne and I decided to go outside. I couldn't believe how beautiful the world looked around me. I thought I wouldn't like going outside in labor due to the town-like atmosphere of Hilo, but in labor I only had eyes for the natural world around me, the blue sky and the greenery and the white puffy clouds. We went on a walk down the street until we reached part of the Hilo jungle in active labor. I felt like I was on a drug, it was amazing. I felt adventurous and lively. I very much enjoyed being outside while laboring. I even felt a quirky desire to keep walking deeper into the jungle through a massive fallen tree but Roxanne felt I was nearing transition. She asked me if I wanted to birth my baby in the jungle park of Hilo and I decided I'd rather go home to "my cave."
On the way home things got intense. I would have to stop and lean on Roxanne through the surges. She became very "tree-like" to my perception as we were outside surrounded by trees. I thanked her for being my tree.
Contractions continued to get intense in sensations and I kept focused on just kept diving right in mentally...I started talking to my body, telling it what to do. "Letttt gooooo....Lettt gooo..." and "It's okay body. It's okay. It's okay. Relaxxxx...relaxxxxxx..ggo throughhh..." I swayed my hips and made low moaning AUM noises through contractions.
When we got home I drank more red raspberry leaf infusion. I was dripping a lot from my yoni with mucus and was curious about what was happening inside, but I didn't want numerical details. Roxanne told me to reach inside and see if I could feel my water bag. I curiously inserted a finger and there it was! I couldn't believe I had progressed to that point. After feeling that water bag of my baby descending, I started to get very emotional. I went back out to the table and sat down and Roxanne and I talked about my emotions about the upcoming transition. I found myself freely feeling my emotions and accepting them. It felt good to express my more turbulent feelings and be truly listened to and heard by someone who seemed to care so much.
At this point she guessed I was around 7 cm, although we didn't ever do an internal check, leaving it to Nature. I now feel like that was a smart decision to leave numerical details out of my birth almost entirely. So many women get hung up on the numbers of birth, like the timing of contractions and how dilated, etc. I think this takes a woman out of touch with her body, personally. Nature doesn't care about numbers, so for this birth, we didn't either. It felt good for Roxanne and I to just go with the flow of my body, it felt sooo right. She could tell where I was at by the tones of my voice anyway, which was really great.
I soon started to feel nauseous again and like I might want to just lie down. So I went upstairs to my "cave," the room in the house I'd been using for rituals the past few weeks of my pregnancy. I lay down, and did that for awhile. Peter Gabriel started playing on my playlist. My friend Mina called and I picked up the phone and she said I sounded remarkably lucid for active labor. She asked if I wanted her to come over, and I said, "sure." Then I hung up the phone because I was getting another contraction and it was POWERFUL. Way more intense then any of the others. At this point it was taking all of my focus to keep breathing through them and relaxing was getting more difficult. I was making REALLY loud animal noises with each contraction (because funny enough the more animalistic my sounds the better and more relaxed I became) and started to have back pain from the baby's head coming down and pushing bones out of the way.
Roxanne suggested I try out the birthing stool. It was by the window in my Cave, sunlight streaming in around it. I sat down and with the next surge, I felt an "URGE" to push. It was just a little one but it took over and I recognized it. Roxanne said since I was feeling "pushy" we should call back Eros and Caspian because things were gonna happen. Sure enough, the next contraction brought an even more powerful urge to push and I gave into it. It felt great to push.
At this point things start to get a little hazy, and a little crazy. The time dilation I experienced during this part is insane. Every second felt like an eternity. I went into pure animal mode. I was emotional and wild. The sounds ripping out of my mouth and throat were completely inhuman. I felt like a savage beast, but I didn't recoil from it, I surged forward into it. The pain just enveloped me completely then, even between contractions. There was no avoiding it. This pain IS me. i BECOME it. Roxanne reminds me to take rest when I need it, and I do...I was able to draw back into my center at least a few times to sit calmly and regain focus. She reminds me over and over that baby is coming. That helps keep me focused...this pain is not for nothing. Eros came back with Caspian, and I realized Nikki (Roxanne's daughter) is here and keeping Caspian entertained while I'm in this stage. Eros sits down beside me. I alternate between the birthing stool and the bed. Until finally Roxanne recommends the stool for the last few pushes, to allow gravity to help.
Eros is with me. I am suddenly feeling scared and like I'm glad he's there. I make eye contact with him and things go still. I push again with the next surge, hollering in a deep primal way, my throat raw. These bellows are coming up from the depths of my soul, from the depths of time itself. Roxanne is in front of me on the birth stool and with every contraction I grip her tight in a big hug. I'm so so thankful she's there. "I love you so much," I tell her brokenly, feeling an explosion of love inside of me. Then I tell her I don't think I can do it. She tells me of course I can, and tells me of all the women who have birthed before me. I recenter. I push again, and she said the baby has crowned. At this point I'm emotionally shredded. I'm blubbering and scattered and gasping like crazy from the effort. It's the hardest thing I've ever done. At some point I reach down to feel my baby and I FEEL THE HEAD surging against my vagina. I look up at Roxanne and yell, "I WANT IT OUT OF ME!"
Again, time is hazy and unclear. There might have been a few more pushes. But soon my focus zeroed in big time. I closed my eyes and with the next contraction, I visualized a open sphere of fire and when it was time to push I DROVE all my energy right into it, full force, right into the middle of that flaming ball of agony, I THREW MYSELF, everything that I was, or will ever be, INTO that flaming ball of pain like my life depended on it. It was incredible, the total surrender I felt in the depths of my soul as I THREW MYSELF into the fire, to BURN. And burn I did. Scorching. Until there was nothing left. Surrender surrender surrender!! GONE.
EXCEPT A HEAD!!! I felt the head pop out and it was a rubbery bump. VICTORY. Relief relief relief but oh but the burning burning burning!! I waited for the next contraction trying to stay calm, gasping for air. As I waited, my friend Mina came into the room carrying flowers, JUST THEN. What amusing timing! I loved it and immediately felt calmed, my breath steadying. The next contraction, I pushed, and my baby slid out into Roxanne's hands, more rubbery goodness, and in SHOCK, total obliterated SHOCK, I saw my daughter for the first time.
I couldn't believe it.
"I did that!" I kept shouting. "I did that! I did that!"
I became completely nonsensical at the sight of the baby. That feeling when you meet your baby is indescribable. It's extreme. I felt such a sense of accomplishment and just flat out AWE. I blubbered and babbled and said all sorts of crazy stuff. It was like getting struck by lightning over and over and over again at the sight of her. I couldn't function. She was sooooo soft, the softest thing I'd ever felt since my son was born. And slippery, covered in vernix. I wanted her on my chest right away. With the next push I delivered the placenta. It came out incredibly fast, unusually fast. Roxanne and Eros helped me back to the mattress carrying baby and placenta and I found I could barely walk at all. How do your legs function after birth? It's hard. I felt myself rapidly coming "back to my body" and having to make my feet work somehow.
I laid down and the baby girl was put on me. Dear GOD, the BEAUTY. I was freaking out because she was so fresh and a weird color, very pale. Roxanne helped her cry a little to clear her lungs by rubbing her on top of me and she eventually gave in and cried and her color pinked up immediately. I was entranced. It was a moment frozen in time.
This is where I did have a freaky thing happen in my labor. Although the baby was out, I was starting to feel pretty weird and uncomfortable. I felt like I was still having a lot of contractions. But this time I didn't want to accept them, they felt off. The pain grew and grew again and I was confused because I had just given birth and thought everything was out. Roxanne checked me and pressed lightly on my uterus and discovered I had developed an unexpected random bleed. She pressed on my uterus and a wave of blood and clots came out. I lost a lot of blood and was feeling faint. Apparently my blood pressure got very low. There was no obvious reason for the blood as everything had left my uterus intact, but the placenta had shot out unusually fast on its own. This was the only weird thing about my labor. But Roxanne was prepared and gave me a shot to help slow the bleeding and had me lay down with a baby girl on my chest, suckling for the first time. I saw her eyes and she reminded me soo much of her brother Caspian.
Two hours passed in a flash. Now time is speeding up. I'm nursing baby girl and overwhelmed with love. There are no words. She was great at nursing right away it seemed, once she got the hang of it, she latched right on, even better then Caspian did when he was born. After 2 hours passed and the cord had stopped pulsing, Roxanne had Eros cut the cord, and then Mina took my placenta down to the kitchen for processing so that I could start eating it. Eating your placenta is great for a lot of things, but especially for any bleeds or hemorrhage. I ate it with Caspian's birth too but this time, because of the bleed, it seemed especially important I consume it asap. The rest of the day my beautiful birth attendants brought me bowls of chopped placenta and glasses of iced fruit juice while I tried to recover. The bleed had left me feeling really weak and dizzy and lightheaded, so I stayed in bed (and am actually still pretty much bed-bound). I'm taking iron supplements and focusing a lot on my nutrition to help my body heal but it's slow going. The post partum period is always such an intense and delicate time, regardless. I just birthed a human being, after all! WOW!!!
I could go on and on in this birth story, but I will stop it here. I will conclude this essay by saying that this birth experience was one of the most enjoyable, amazing, interesting, empowering, transcendental experiences of my entire life. I never want to forget. I never want to forget the love that I felt during the entire birthing experience, the fun I had during labor, the moments of pure Presence and Beingness that I felt. To me now, looking back, I am overwhelmed with emotions of gratitude and awe. This labor and birth experience felt like becoming one with GOD/GODDESS/SOURCE, radiant and abundant and vivid and REAL. It was deeply humbling and I will never be the same.