Thank you to our calm and happy newborn, I get to write our birth story earlier than expected. We didn’t even have a hard time at all: we are still reading books, watching movies at night, cooking, cleaning, and basically going on about our daily lives as if nothing changed except that there’s three of us now. We don’t look like a sleepless mess like most predicted and experienced, we are just simply overwhelmed with this blessing! We already love him before he was born, and now we can’t even express how much we love him even more.
It seems as if there’s been a baby boom everywhere (or is it just me and my circle of friends?!) and my still pregnant friends are itching to hear more birth stories. So before I tell you mine, I would like you to remember that this is MY BIRTH STORY, I am writing this as how I remember experiencing it. I am even aware that I have forgotten so many details as I am coming in and out of consciousness during labor, and most of what you are about to read came back to me only after our lovely Midwife Isa started asking questions whether I knew doing so and so at that time, then I managed to recall. (Big thanks to her detailed notes; I’ve managed to match her timed notes with the events in my head so I can write this blog). It’s like a flashback, you don’t thoroughly remember and everything is a blur, but then once you are given tiny information about it, then it comes back to you. I hope this will help you make a decision towards what kind of birth you’d like to have, what not to expect, and nothing more but guide you. You will have your own wonderful birth, and YOUR BIRTH STORY will just be as special to you no matter what.
Unlike my easy and graceful pregnancy (not having a horrible first trimester, no hormone-rage days towards daddy-to-be, no puking, etc.), finding a birthing place didn’t come easy for us. Amongst everything we mutually like, Craig and I have the most interest on traveling, both of us intentionally made the decision not to own a house nor stay put in one location, and because of this we had a hard time deciding where to birth, plus 3 more reasons: having several options where to birth (it is true, options can be very unpleasant if given too many!), that of a visa approval, and lastly, if we can find a midwife available to support us wherever we ended up. I can honestly say that this is the only stress I’ve had during my pregnancy but it sure burned so much time I could’ve had preparing for my dream birth. Although, because of that, we managed to have a babymoon trip for 3weeks, escaping the city where we stayed for the whole second trimester and went to two different islands daddy-to-be has not been to yet. Someone even wrote me after reading my previous blog about tips on preparation, asking me if she still has enough time to do it since she was already on her 30th week of gestation, so I assured her that this is not a problem, we only started settling in during my 31st week. What saved us, I think, is that we were both certain ever since finding out we were pregnant that we wanted a natural birth, no time was wasted and we started reading and researching on homebirth, water birth, and full-lotus birth.
Here is a link to my previous blog to help you with your preparation: 7 Tips for your Home Birth preparation – What we did to prepare for our Little FeetS arrival
My labor practically began on the 1st day of my due date “window” (window means 3 weeks before and 2 weeks after the due date where you may possibly give birth), I started to feel contractions on my upper back just below the rib then shifting to my lower back, Craig gave me a massage as usual and it made the pressure feel more tolerable, but since it was too early and contraction didn’t really last long, we knew it was just “practice labor”, I took a hot shower and went to bed. The next day it was gone and I went back to my big belly life. Three days after that, our Midwife Isa came over to see us for a belly check and to see our birthing hut that we built specially for the big day. Everything was great and perfect, Isa even managed to sneak out and not tell me about the baby’s size being bigger than his age, in which I understand her reason of not trying to put “fear” during these last days and might affect my birthing process. She is awesome like that!
She left us shortly after the check up and we prepared for bed. Around 9pm I started to feel contractions again, we went on with the massage routine, long deep breaths, and got onto the all fours position to ease the pressure – in our minds, it was still very early. I was only 37+4 weeks that night and we don’t expect our son to come out until September. I was hoping to have at least two more weeks with my heavy but lovely belly. Contractions didn’t stop this time, it went through the whole night until the next day but the interval was still from 15-30mins, so we just hoped it would go away again soon. That morning I took another hot shower and we decided to just keep in touch with Midwife Isa and keep her updated.
The following night around 8pm, the pressure started to feel more significant; this time it was 10-15mins intervals. We’ve brushed the thought of birthing earlier than my due date so many times – this one included – but as time passed, I haven’t gotten any sleep and starting to get tired. At 2am on a Saturday, I had to ask Craig to prepare the birth hut…
~~ As promised, I will also tell you about our misadventures. ~~
Call it coincidence, but more challenge came our way when it was time to prepare for the birth; Everything was running smooth every single day but when the big day came, lots of things didn’t work and some planned emergency back ups wasn’t available.
1st: We chose to rent this apartment within a beautiful farm/compound my Aunt Diana owns (she has a very good heart and even allowed us to build anything we want in it – hence the “birthing hut”). One of the most important reason we chose this place is that they have solar power that could run the whole compound as long as the sun is feeling generous, what happened? It broke the day before; only because a lizard (!!!) got in and manage to short circuit a Php60,000- machine. A lizard…
2nd: There was a storm coming in that day and it’s been raining lots for a couple of days already. As expected, the very unreliable electricity provider in Puerto Princesa, Palawan is doing its usual power cut-offs and electricity failures. That’s main power and solar power down that day! And we thought we would be saved by the solar.
3rd: This day just happened to be my Aunt Diana’s Mother’s Birthday too, so they had plans of going to town and celebrate her special day with family, which for us meant, no emergency vehicle for back up in case we needed to run to the hospital. So we started calling other back ups.
4th: Plus she wanted to be there for the birth but had a hunch that she would be away when it happens. And around 4 people dreamt about me giving birth the day before (Oma Ingrid, Aduh, June and Aunt Diana). How cool is that? So, it was literally just Craig, Midwife Isa, and I inside the compound. We came to realize in the end that this was actually perfect because we had a very calm space and there were no other feelings (doubts or excitement) to influence my birth process aside from us three. It was as if he planned all this.
5th: It was super early… he was at gestation 37+5weeks only. We are a very intuitive couple and we believe in synchronicity, somehow we read too much about a Virgo baby and it just so happened that our son hurried out to be a Leo. We now sometimes call him “baby cub”. Also, both of us were worried that he is not yet a “full term” baby, but Midwife Isa assured us that he is a healthy baby boy and everything was almost full term. That he came out early because if he didn’t, he is such a big baby that I probably wouldn’t have my dream birth and end up needing a sliced belly. Big thanks again to my beautiful son for this!
~~ Things might not always go as planned but they sure ended up as it should. ~~
Back on the birth story…
Craig went ahead to the birthing hut: started pumping on the air bed, lighting my candles, setting up my labor music playlist, taping my affirmations on the walls, unpacking our waterbirth kit on the table, and last but not least, filling up the pool with water. Since there was no electricity, we used head torch and candles the whole time; he also started boiling water on big pots in the kitchen. He was very eager to “practice” setting up the birthing hut like it’s a drill, he thought it’d be a good practice and see how long it takes to set up the place in “worse case scenario”. As for me, I jumped in the pool almost immediately and was on hot compress the whole night. We obviously think that we were still on “false labor” (and of course what do I know about that?!) and that with a hot bath it will go away. It’s been a long night and since I was so desperate to get some sleep, I managed to doze off on the pool for a bit while he was busy timing himself on everything. By this time things started to become blurry, I have no sense of time and all I could think of was the pressure and my breath. It went on.
That morning around 6am, I remember coming back to my senses and made a trip to the toilet, I tried to pee but there wasn’t much until I noticed the gel brownish tinge on my bikini, which is the mucus plug. I rushed back out and told Craig to start reporting to Midwife Isa again, I would usually do it myself, but all I wanted to do then is concentrate on my contractions because I was already super tired. Again, we all brushed it off and wanted to wait longer before asking Isa to come. Mucus plug as I’ve read (like labor) can take from days to weeks until actual labor. So Craig and Midwife Isa coordinated with each other from here on and arranged a pick up for her to be dropped off at our place. By 7:30am things changed: contractions felt stronger, there was an intense feeling on my lower back as if I am constipated and I need to go and poop, plus the brownish gel mucus plug has now turned into a deep red color which is a good sign of real labor. I was advised to go back and try to relax and get some rest, and Midwife Isa will be picked up and be on her way by 10am, we all agreed.
Finally she arrived, it was 10:30am and first thing she did was checked on me, she didn’t say anything to me and just asked me to rest, but I do remember her telling Craig “Congratulations, this is now Birth!” and that labor won’t go away…
In spite of being genuinely tired and sleepless, I was comfortable (labor pressure aside). I had inflatable pillows in the pool that let me doze off every contraction breaks. This time it is only 5-10mins intervals. It was a routine of lying down on my side, squatting and all fours during contractions, and passing out during breaks. Again, there was no time and everything is a blur. All I know is that during contractions, I was active and awake.
By 12:30nn, I went to the toilet again, pee wasn’t much again but the pressure has now intensified even more and it went all over my hips: from lower back to side hips to pelvis, the worse part is that of a poopy feeling that wont go away. Went back in the pool and I was reminded to eat – this is every important because you will need food and rest to gain back energy, specially when it’s time to push – so I asked for some bananas and held it for maybe 1hour, contractions can be very distracting. (Again, I don’t know exactly how long it has been since I don’t have any sense of time, I was just reminded by Craig about it because I have forgotten to eat it and has been on my hand long enough).
Blur, blur, blur, it was like a dream on clouds and I am guessing it’s the natural birth hormones taking over and its coming in quite strong for someone who had not had any sleep or food for a while. 2:30pm, as Midwife Isa timed it, the contractions have now progressed to every 5minutes. I don’t know why but I had the urge to remove my bikini bottom and not worry about it by the time I needed to push. After 30minutes I actually started pushing, I tried to do it every contraction but there was nothing. All there is was some tiny bits of poop that they had to fish out of the pool! (Don’t worry about this when you do, your baby won’t be able to come out unless shit comes out first. Hahaha!).
Exhausted, my head is starting to mess up and making me want to ask Isa more questions like “is this normal?” or “why has it been too long?” or “am I doing it right?”… I finally had worries. It was a constant battle in my head; every contraction comes doubt then after comes courage as I brush the thoughts away and trust the process my body and my baby are going through.
I am not going to lie, I really felt like giving up, not because I was scared but more of I had no clue what was going on as its my first time to birth and I was super tired. The only memory I have are during contractions and the breaks are mostly me losing it to sleep. For sure it helped me in the end, but having no sleep during the days prior made it hard. I do recall feeling dazed after some contractions and trying to focus on 1 or 2 affirmation photos on the wall to give me more courage. And every time I look at Midwife Isa in the eye, hesitating, yet dying to ask her about my doubts, she just gives me a huge smile and would not say a word, and then I knew I just have to try again and trust myself. This is how I felt but according to Craig and Midwife Isa, I was nailing the birth so well and that I was so secure during the entire process. They had no clue about my doubts. It helped a lot that Craig was there the entire time preparing everything and at the same time giving me back rubs and kisses.
3:50pm Midwife Isa gave me a “power drink’ concoction because I asked for toast with honey and ended up just holding it again and forgetting about it during contractions. She knew I needed to take something to help me push, considering I was already wilted from exhaustion. I was told later on that it had cloves, cinnamon, ginger and honey on water to give me a boost of energy. I chugged everything in one go since it tasted really good.
Heavy rain outside and it has been more than 12hours now, I am about to pass out and breathing heavily. I would rub my face and look at Craig blankly as he strokes my back and my forehead. They didn’t know what was going on inside my head; at the brink of power outage, about to pass out completely. So slowly I stroked my belly and started talking to my son inside my belly… “Please help me out here, I am very tired now!”… Then Isa asked, “Do you want to go to the shower and freshen up?!” Isa suggested. Here comes Midwife Isa AGAIN, suggesting things that I am thinking of, she’s a mind reader – I’ve concluded. So again I agree and told her AGAIN, “I was just thinking that!”… She even gave me a cue to pop my “water bag”, just kidding! It just so happened that she asked me to tell her when I feel a “ploop” action coming out of my vagina and it happened exactly a few minutes after that. I just went “OOOH! My water bag broke, that was it!”
What she didn’t tell me – because she’s an awesome midwife who’s let me do my own process instead of telling me what to expect – is that she already touched my son’s head and that it is the cause of swelling on my pelvic floor. So 5:20pm, I stood up, had a little trouble feeling my awkward hips, then stormed my way to the bathroom as if it was nothing. Craig followed me in the shower immediately while Midwife Isa, so hungry and was on a raw food diet, swallowed my uneaten toast whole. Hahaha! We did skip meals the whole day, you know!
I turned on the shower and the water heater (thank God electricity is back!), as soon as the hot water hits my spine, I started having the urge to push! I went on a squat position holding onto Craig with both our arms crossed, and then somehow ended up on kneeling position. I tried saving what’s left of my energy and just kneeled in the shower while Craig continued to hold my arms in pulling position. 5:40pm A rush of energy coming back, it felt like what we call “second wind”, and powerful contractions telling me to push. It was so strong and I finally felt that something was actually happening and opening. And this time, clouds were gone; I can remember clearly what went on. Craig still holding me looked down and started calling “IiiiiSSSaaaA!” (He didn’t panic but his cry for Isa was noticeably loud and long). Midwife Isa came in to check on us with the confession of eating my toast afterwards, I giggled a bit and then went back on labor mode. She then asked me “Choc… would you like to give birth HERE?” And strongly I said (together with contraction) “YeeeEsSSSs!” … She kneeled down and went for a look; she said the head is already visible and that I should only push with the contraction to save energy. Somehow she knew I was pushing more than the urge with contractions, I got excited that finally something was happening. 5:44pm I was already crowning and I FELT IT, and I still remember how it feels; it was a mixture of expanding pressure and exciting relief. I can’t wait to see him. Midwife Isa then asked me if I can go and switch from kneeling down with knees apart to an asymmetric squatting position, – for better opening, visibility, and help the head come out during crowning – I quickly replied “No” (still moaning with contractions), and then she jokingly said, “It will be faster”… So without a word, I lifted my left leg and planted my left foot down. It didn’t take long, and I am certain it didn’t go further than 4 pushes! 5:46pm his head finally came out! As eager as me, after his head came out, he swooshed out of me and didn’t twist his body as supposed. His body came flying out after his head finally made its way.
We lifted him onto my chest while daddy Craig wrapped us in a towel. He also tried to latch for breastfeeding almost immediately. I sat down on a stool and just hugged Craig and Chase (our son – little feetS’ name!) so tight. With a quick check, Midwife Isa noticed that Chase had a little bump on the left side of his head, we then concluded that it took him quite sometime to come out because his head was tilted to the side of my pelvis and couldn’t find the opening until maybe I stood up and walked to the shower and then it went very fast for him afterwards. (Just a conclusion…)
He is very healthy, active, and was already equipped with good breathing when he came out, a big boy indeed. After 30mins, his “twin” the placenta came out, we did the process of full-lotus birth, which meant not cutting the umbilical chord, and kept him attached to it until it falls off on its own. We decided to store it on a bamboo steamer and followed instructions for full lotus birth. The chord stopped beating after a few minutes, Chase has officially gotten all the nutrient and support his twin placenta could’ve given him. We gave it a good rinse, laid it on good absorbing cloths, sprinkled salt all over it and gave it a few drops of essential oils. I must admit, it was a pain to take care of Chase and breastfeeding him while he was attached to the placenta. I was healing and have to be extra careful not to pull the chord too far from the placenta that it might snap off. And just as I was contemplating to cut it, it finally came off hours after. It took the chord exactly 3days to fall off. After it fell, I started crying, feeling so guilty of even thinking of cutting it. To think that the placenta was nourishing Chase inside me for almost 9months and it was only 3 days and I was already being mean to it. Craig thought it was funny and cute. I did feel the changes with Chase when it fell off, and obviously I also felt sad. Initially we were planning to encapsulate the placenta and keep it in our medicine cabinet, but due to many reasons we changed our minds and decided to give it a nice ceremony instead. I wrote a letter and bury it in the compound with the Moringga (Malunggay) tree on top of it. This way we gave it a proper ceremony and we can give back to the place we give birth by planting such nutritious tree with Chase’ placenta.
I finally have my own interpretation of “Orgasmic Birth”, some may have actual orgasms during their births, but for me it meant something else. My Orgasmic Birth means… just the appreciation of the beautiful process of birthing itself: Birth giving us the opportunity to experience expansion mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually in order to make more space for unconditional love and creating life. Birth giving us the opportunity to acknowledge our power and regain capacity to trust our instincts and the process of our body. It sure is mind-blowing. I am so inlove until now, and it is not just the natural hormones (oxytocin high) our body gives during labor and birth but the journey I’ve been to be with my baby, is just truly amazing and I am very grateful, specially to my son’s father Craig, who has been wonderful all the way through. We are very happy with the decision we have made so far. We have given him the best that we could of a gentle birth – no harm, no trauma, no chemicals and whatnot. So that is our funny story! A water poop, shower birth, full-lotus! 😉 (We joke about it!) BUT WE WOULD DEFINITELY NOT HAVE IT ANY OTHER WAY. It is a perfect birth just the way it is, and our son Chase will forever be perfection in our hearts.
I wish everyone out there, pregnant and planning to get pregnant, to be able to manifest their dream birth as well as be as happy with the outcome of their births.
Photo Credits to Midwife Isa and Daddy Craig – I was so happy to find out after birth that you were actually taking sneaky candid pictures during the birth. You guys rock! Love you. 🙂