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In giving birth, we connect with our senses, our ancestors, and our instincts.
While carrying my last child, I was very quiet in my personal and spiritual space. I studied a lot, dedicated myself to answering questions, and found words for thoughts I previously had no words for.
Since the birth of my third child, my son Journey Soul, I feel like I discovered a very deep, primal, raw, wild side to myself that I was either not aware of before, or it was not being tapped into in a way that I was conscious of. This occurred during Journey’s birth, when I saw and encountered things that completely shifted the way I perceived my life, my children, my partner, my purpose and the various parts of me that until then had not woken up.
My partner Jonathan and planned an unassisted home birth out of necessity—we are on an island in Mexico where no midwives reside. We could have hired a midwife to travel to us by ferry, but Journey’s birth month was in the middle of hurricane season, which means ports could be closed.
We wanted to prevent an emergency situation, so we decided to educate ourselves and prepare for an unassisted home birth. We read everything we could get our hands on, watched videos, took classes online and made a couple of visits to the doctor to make sure the baby was healthy and in a position we felt comfortable delivering ourselves.
My other children Iris, aged six and Legend, aged four were included in all of our classes.
My reasons for delivering at home unassisted changed as the pregnancy went on. I wanted my body to do what it was created to do. I knew that Journey’s birth would be a part of his story forever, and I wanted him to choose his birth date and join the family the way he wanted to. I wanted him to know that I trusted him in the same way he trusted me when he chose me to carry him, and I felt that allowing his birth to be as natural and stress-free as possible was a way to lay a solid foundation in our new relationship.
I spoke to him often, telling him that I would like for him to come when he was ready but to please make it fast—you know, for Mama’s sake! I prepared my body and made sure it was strong. I sent good energy and love to Journey every day. I felt motherly instincts kick in much faster and deeper than I had before, but they were not necessarily over-protective instincts or fears; they were more like quickenings…little flashes of scenes or images that showed me how powerful this little being was and how I was to allow him the freedom to explore his path.
On September fourth, I woke up feeling more fatigued than usual. I felt that I might go into labor in the next few days, so I took the cue from my body and just rested—no work, no housework, just quiet rest.
That evening, I felt that I needed to be cuddled and to be near Jonathan and my children. I felt changes coming.
We all fell asleep watching Animal Planet—mother cheetahs taking care of their new babies.
I woke up around 2:30 in the morning in a complete panic. I suddenly remembered what labor felt like, and I was not ready for that again. Jonathan took me outside for some fresh air, held me and rocked with me while we stood on the porch. I felt the night air wisp across the back of my neck, and Jonathan’s loving arms restoring peace to my trembling body. He reminded me of who I was, why I was going to have our baby in our home, that I was strong, that I could do anything and that I was ready. He suggested that I listen to my Hypnobabies “Fear Clearing” CD, so I crawled back into bed, put the blankets on, and set my computer with the CD playing next to me.
I steadily moved my thoughts inwards, to the present moment. I made a mental note of exactly where I was, how I was laying on the bed, what I felt in each part of my body, and I steadied my breathing meditatively.
My body went into labor within about 30 minutes. As pressure waves grew stronger, I was consciously able to sink just a little deeper each time. I still knew what was going on around me, so this felt like a transition period. I breathed in deep breaths and hummed them out slowly. As I did, pressure waves were gaining momentum, and it felt like my humming grew deeper and stronger, as if it was waking up the parts of my body and mind that I would need to birth my baby.
Originally, we had planned to have several people at the birth, but towards the end of my pregnancy, I was feeling more private and protective, so I decided to have only two people present besides Jonathan and my kids, one who is skilled in pre-natal massages, and one who is a gifted reiki healer.
Within an hour of me going into labor, they were on their way.
As labor intensified, I began to feel connected to my ancestors. I drew my thoughts inward and saw myself in a forest surrounded by tribal women, female ancestors, drums and chanting. I was on the ground, near a giant old tree that I knew instinctively as the “Mother Tree” and when I moaned, the women moaned with me. When I groaned, they groaned with me. When I was quiet, they sang. They walked around me in a circle, but didn’t touch me. When I had a pressure wave, they drummed hard and loud, and softened when it passed.
The Mother Tree reminded me to stay in the moment, grounded in her richness and beauty. She reminded me how all of these female ancestors had experienced this passage into motherhood before me, how we are all connected and together in spirit supporting one another.
I practiced loosening my facial and body muscles so I didn’t tense up, and I felt that the pain would not be in vain if I used it. And the pain…Oh my. This is a hard pain to describe because it’s not one that I wanted medication for, but it was intense.
When you are hurt or wounded, you want to see a doctor—I didn’t feel that way.
It was a profound, intense pain, deep from within me, and the only things that made it seem bearable were my friend’s fingers on my lower back pressure points, and a really raw, loud, deep groan that I couldn’t duplicate now even if I tried.
I was waking myself up—there was more to me than I previously knew. There was as strength, a raw, tribal, ancient strength from the mothers before me that was passed down to me, and I didn’t know I had that. I felt that he entire Universe, past and present, was supporting me. The deep groaning was awakening my soul like a tiger who roars in a jungle and wakes up any sleeping creatures. The pain was causing me to call out this tribal part of me, making me feel completely able to assist Journey in entering this world.
Around 6:30 AM, my older children woke up and got ready for school. They had both watched natural birth videos so they were prepared, but just as extra reassurance, I told my four-year- old that I was just making noises to get the baby out and not to be afraid.
He held my hand and gave me a teddy bear.
After two and a half hours of labor, I gave two or three good pushes, and Journey’s head was out. We knew from a sonogram that the cord was wrapped around his neck, so one of my friends gently stepped in and unwrapped it (knowing Jonathan was a little uncomfortable with this part).
After one more push, Journey emerged with a strong cry. Jonathan and I were overwhelmed with emotions. Seeing Journey for the first time brought me back to the present moment, and I started taking in all that was going on around me. My sweet, incredible little baby, created and carried in such love, supported my my ancestors and the whole Universe. His face was so pure and perfect. His little fingers and toes were long and skinny. His head was covered with hair. His voice was powerful. He shouted out as if to let the world know he had made his transition into this life.
We were in absolute joy and awe.
Iris and Legend saw their baby brother’s birth, and then went off to school. I loved that they were present and part of the birth, so they could understand that birth is part of the natural order of things. It helped them understand the circle of life in their little minds and realize how we are all connected to each other. They were excited to meet their baby brother, and they loved telling their teachers and friends at school that they saw him enter the world.
We decided not to bathe Journey but instead let his new skin soak up the natural bacteria as his first round of antibodies and protection. We didn’t want to wash it away—we saw it as a gift. We also allowed the placenta to come out on its own, which took about two hours. I nursed, and then sat in the bathtub, massaging my uterus while Jonathan held the baby wrapped up near me, the cord still attached to the placenta.
By this time, Journey had received all of his blood from the cord, and it was time to sever it.
We chose to have a cord burning ceremony instead of cutting it, and this was my favorite part of the birth (besides seeing his face, of course). When cutting a cord, it is instant. But with burning, it is a gentle, slow way of allowing Journey to transition from the placenta that gave him life for the last nine months and into his own life, his own space. Burning the cord was slow, like his growth. It was an emergence of energy, a transfer of life—and it was absolutely beautiful.
That evening as I lay in bed with my three children, I felt more at peace in that moment than I had in a long time.
It felt like completion, as if an unfinished circle had been closed. I talked to my children about what they saw and experienced, and realized that they understood how our family circle came together. We talked about how we are connected to our families who lived before us, and how they would continue our family in the future.
We talked about love and life, nature and birth, and even beauty in pain. It was one of the most beautiful conversations I have ever had with them, and it is a concept I hope they hold on to and share in the future.
We lay in bed, and drifted off to sleep. I thanked the tribal women and ancestors who helped me, and rested—mentally, physically, and spiritually—as I took in the beauty of Journey’s birth day.
Author: Autumn Morgan
Editor: Renée Picard
Images: author’s own