I had a wonderful birth with Selah Rose. Her story is posted here as well. Four months postpartum with Selah, my family underwent a severe time of trial and change. My marriage was in pain, and like the ballers we are, we made it through, relatively unscathed, despite a pretty big lack of support.
Then, about six months postpartum, I began to have flashbacks... graphic memories of a rape at age 3. It would occur during intimacy with Michael- while making love, to be exact. I have never been able to stay present in my own body during sex, and always felt a desire to stay somewhat detached from what is happening. Since this is my tendency anyhow, I did not learn until later how to control what was happening to me.
I would begin to feel a 'trigger' in my mind. My mind would drift, my body would feel heavier, and I would just not 'be all there' anymore. Before I knew it, I was gone. Somewhere else. A man would be on top of me, no face I could place, just pressure on my body that felt like the weight of the world. I felt only fear, only pain, only torment in every bone of my body. I could smell it, see it, feel it, and when I say I was there, I mean I was THERE. I was no longer in my bedroom with my husband- I was a child, and I could feel this man violating me.
The flashbacks continued- sometimes I would be the child, and other times I would be forced to watch this happen to that child from the other side of the room. I cannot put into words how horrific these events were, and eventually they happened every time we made love. I considered suicide several times during the months that this was happening, because I did not know how to make it stop. Where did it come from? How would it stop? What did it mean? How could I ever let my husband near me again, if this was what was happening? I felt like I was losing my mind.
Eventually, I found the words to tell Michael about what was happening, and how it was affecting me. He was very supportive, encouraged me to go to therapy and we stopped making love, for several months. This was very hard on him, obviously, but he continued to be the most sensitive and wonderful support I could imagine.
I began therapy with a trauma counselor immediately. We dove strait in with open dialogue about what was going on in my mind, and EMDR therapy immediately following. The discussion was brutal, and painful, and when I realized that although I was having these graphic flashbacks, the mind is a complex machine, and I could never be sure that these events actually happened to me... and if they did, I could never know for sure who this man was. I spent time calling my mothers friends and asking them if they knew of anything that might have happened to me, and in typical fashion most of them acted as if I was just being 'dramatic Meghan' and this was all a figment of my imagination. I also spent time hunting in my mothers journals for any secrets that may lie inside about a possible rape. I never found anything to prove or disprove what I was experiencing, but what I did find, was countless, relentless confessions of disdain for me and for herself.
This was heartbreaking to say the least, and required months of work with my counselor to break through the lies, abuse, pain and secrets.
But then, like the sun through the clouds, nearly a year of hard work in therapy, in my marriage and myself, I found out that I was pregnant. From the very beginning, this child felt strong, for breaking through my flashbacks, my heartbreak about my mother and all of the bullshit. My therapist calls her a miracle, for being conceived so easily, so soon after the rape memories.
Much like the prenatal counselling I worked through before giving birth to Selah- I kept working on finding forgiveness, and peace in my memories. I worked through the graphic abuse in EMDR therapy and managed to find pity and love for my abusers. From the beginning, this child gave me a will to fight through it all, and an unemotional peace that gave me strength to deal with other peoples nonsense. Selah felt like a little happy fairy, and Adira felt like a quiet, watchful warrior. I was grateful to have her reminding me of who I am.
The third trimester was tougher than I remembered. She was very active in my belly and kicked me hard, a lot. After about 5-6 weeks of braxton hicks, and other early labor signs, I was exhausted with waiting!
But then, a little before my '41 week' marker, I woke up after some crampy sleep at 4:45 to find a little pink on the toilet paper after going to the bathroom. I was pretty sure this was it. I was having gentle contractions, low in my belly and legs about every 10 minutes. They felt soft, blissful and real. I so enjoyed this early morning activity. I turned on my favorite birth documentary- Orgasmic Birth, and rocked on my ball, eating oatmeal and coffee. I was glad to let Michael and Selah sleep, while I had this time to sink into my brain and my heart to center. It is so important before labor.
I was completely unafraid, ready for it, and so happy it was here. However because of the many weeks of activity, I wasn't completely sure. I did not want to get too excited and have it stall out.
I just focused on relaxing, enjoying each rush, and letting the oxytocin flow to encourage the strength in my contractions.
My heart fluttered when I heard Michael wake up at about 6:30. He walked down the stairs, his eyes a little wet with tears... he knew. I cried immediately, and we just held one another. We both knew this was probably it, and it was so joyful.
We talked for a while, I updated my midwives, and we went on with our day.
I proceeded to shower, and make stuffed french toast with sausage... I wasn't sure why I felt all the energy I did, but I just rolled with it. I felt strong, empowered and efficient. I continued to have contractions while cooking. We enjoyed a relaxed breakfast and called the photographer as contractions continued to get stronger over the next few hours.
I spent some time in bed, zoning and just being peaceful and unafraid. Laying on my side, feeling blissfully grounded and heavy. Selah laid next to me, forehead against mine, holding my hand and moaning through contractions with me. I never thought I could see a 21 month old doula, but she was exactly that. She laughed with me after a contraction, and pet my face and said "mama" when the next one came. What a joyful, strong little girl. She knew what was happening, and it was so beautiful, that time together, just the two of us.
After some beautiful time laying down, and the contractions getting stronger, at one point they just stopped. A few very gentle ones here and there, but I felt like something had stalled.
We took a walk down the hill with our photographer to see the animals, and let Selah burn off some energy. I was a little discouraged that things had slowed, but I enjoyed the family time and snuggle time with the animals. From their behavior and attentiveness to my belly, I could tell labor was close, even if it was not today. Animals always know.
The sun was out, strong and kind, and it made us all feel so happy. However, after contractions slowed to the point of not having one for an hour, I sent my photographer to lunch, and laid down in bed by myself.
Then, after some time resting alone, it began. The rushes advanced to the point of needing to work through some around 3 pm. I was watching a beautiful film called Mother Ocean, and sinking into the waves of energy, enjoying being alone... which felt so different from Selahs labor. In that labor, I felt like I definitely needed the support of those around me. This time, I felt alone in a sea of power, and happy to be there. I knew I was doing this on my own, no matter what, and this baby gave me strength to do that. I began to feel the pleasure in even the strong contractions. The ones that left me teary eyed from their power, and the power of my own body to get through them... I still felt pleasure. I felt the joy of the nature of it all, and even a little tingle down low, that sexual feeling. I had been working for months to prepare for a sexual healing birth, an empowering one, one that would free my body of the shame everyone else had cursed me with so much of my life, and I began to feel now that it might really be possible.
I continued to work. Just resting into that power, and they indeed kept coming.
They came fast... so fast that only a few contractions after I felt totally on top of it, a contraction came that threw me out of bed. I knew it was time to get on the birth ball for more mobility and freedom to 'cope with them'.
I came downstairs, and like the business bitch I am, grabbed my ball with purpose, brought it outside in the sun, and got to work. The contractions were coming much harder and faster than we had planned... only two hours ago I was perfectly calm, and on top of it. Now was the time to let go, to let the power flow and let the sound OUT. And I did just that. I moaned, low and deep, I rocked and 'moo'ed' through them at times. My birth board read "You are a beautiful beast- meant for birth. Feel your animal within." "Wild Woman" "Birth Goddess", "Stay Wild, Child", "You are free, safe, powerful and so brave. You got this, mama" "Let the powerful pleasure flow through you! So much pleasure." And these helped me, so much, to sink into the power and really enjoy the sensations that come with feeling your body open up and your baby moving down.
I began to chant, to groan and sometimes moan with pleasure through the contractions.
The sun was so warm, and the air pretty crisp, actually... the contradicting warmth and cool was so nice. Just as a breeze would feel a little too cool for comfort, the sun would beat down on my back and shoulders. It felt like a big hug. It felt like nature loved me... as it often does when labor is natural, undisturbed, and full of hormones.
In Selahs labor, I wasn't sure what my body was doing, and although I fell in love with my power, and I did enjoy it- it was 'scarier' in a way, and I felt far more dependent on Michael and my team.
This one... was downright pleasurable. I KNEW these feelings, I knew the pressure I would feel, and I knew what my body was capable of. I felt so free, so utterly beautiful and so ready for it all. The physical feelings were much like Selahs birth, but my soul was so much more ready for it... and my mind could wrap itself around the intensity easily. I enjoyed it immensely.
My warrior music played in the background, with chants and drums beating my body into a rhythm and my baby down gently. I knew this baby had picked her own music, and from the empowerment I felt as soon as the first song played, I knew it needed to be this. I spent time singing and chanting during contractions and in between... sinking into the vibes around me. It was working well.
The midwives arrived around 5 pm. Labor had sped up immensely. Laurie came in and I cried immediately upon seeing her. Something about seeing my maternal midwives in labor makes my 'motherless' feelings so much tougher, and I usually emote pretty seriously. I confirmed with her that this seemed like real labor and she smiled and said, "you're going to have a baby so soon!" That felt great.
I continued to work. The power was so awesome. I felt like a fucking goddess... really, like a sexual monster goddess being from another world. I felt like I was the kind of woman who was the reason men went to war way back when. I felt awesome... like I owned the world. That's the only way I can really explain it.
I have some experience with loss, and those that I've lost communicating with me, through nature. My mother, the day she died, was being brought out of the house by the coroner. My father, sister, husband and I stood outside on the back deck, distraught and waiting for it to be over. We heard the door shut behind them, and just then, a burst of wind, so strong and so long, hit us right in the face and blew the windchimes that my father had bought for my mother. We had never heard anything like it, and never would again. We knew it was her.
However, we also lost someone else, someone who I knew would be here when this little one would be born. In November of last year, we buried my first horse Star in our pasture. Star and I were kindred spirits, two of the same, both broken and both saved by one another. He loved Selah, even when I was pregnant, and he also was very attentive and in love with Adira in utero. He loved my babies. As the vet administered the drug that would relieve him of his pain forever, he lowered his head to my belly, and then looked at me as I looked at him. We both just stared at eachother as I wept, and I told him I loved him so much, and it would be over soon. His body became heavy, and dropped to the ground. And so did I... I laid down on the ground next to him, touching his face and weeping my goodbyes. "He's gone now" the vet said- but I replied, "No, he's not, not yet." Just a few moments after that, the sun came out, so strong and warm, just for a moment, and we felt a breeze. "He's gone now" I told them, as I felt a peace flow through me. The peace that only comes when you know the suffering soul you loved so dearly, is not suffering anymore.
This wind, that blasted me with such force, was Star, or possibly all those I've lost... but it felt like a herd of horses ripping through me, and just then, a contraction came. Michael had come to hold me, and I fell back into his arms and wailed through the contraction, and the heartbreak of memory. Then I laughed. I laughed so hard. I laughed with the joy of nature, and power, and loss, and my life, and it was so utterly awesome and beautiful. I chuckled and said to Michael, "I've never felt better in my entire life". Michael said, "Star is with you babe." I mentioned maybe it was my Mom and he said, "I think it takes a bigger animal to do that." What an utterly awesome moment, and something no one could mistake, if they experienced it. It was such magic.
Labor continued. My birth team quietly witnessing me from inside the house, and me alone on the deck. I felt so quiet, one with everything and so alone in the universe. It felt so great. Then Selah woke up from her nap. Kendra brought her downstairs, and she immediately started crying upon seeing me. I cried too, reaching for her desperately. We hugged and I had a contraction, making her cry more, and she refused to leave me. I told everyone to leave her with me, and I put her in my lap. She faced me, her face pressed into my chest, and her arms and legs wrapped around me. She just fell into my gravity, and we embraced as someone put our favorite song on. It played as she held me, and I held her, and my contractions magically stopped for the entirety of the song. She just rocked with me as I quietly sang to her, and my body respected our space. I loved this moment of my first baby in my arms, my second baby, soon to be born, in my belly between us, and my soul so alive and so in love with them. I was told later everyone was crying watching us. It was truly one of the most beautiful parts of the day.
As soon as the music stopped, I told her I needed to get back to work, and she seemed to understand. Almost immediately, a contraction began and then they picked up even more. The amount of emotional release had really helped my body to dilate more- so I moved into the tub.
As I sank into the water, a contraction hit me and along with the pressure came such a wave of pleasure, joy, and hilarity. I laughed. I literally laughed so hard through the entire contraction. Michael was convinced I had lost my mind. And perhaps I did... this felt so good, I couldn't believe it.
Michael got in the tub shortly after that, and I snuggled calmly into his arms, as we laid back and watched our mountains. The sun became more golden as evening approached. It felt wonderful.
Then, a sexual energy came over me. We gazed at each other, and I winked at him. Michael said to everyone, "It's going to get a little weird, sorry..." Everyone laughed. But as we proceeded to touch each other gently, gazing at one another and kissing, they all slowly left, because I guess it did indeed 'get a little weird.' I felt completely sexually free, powerful, in charge and utterly alive. I'm typically not the biggest make out person, as it makes me feel claustrophobic... but this was different. We sank into each other in every way, and somehow managed to not make love, even though I felt like I wanted to. That's the only way I can describe the feeling, and what happened. Birth goddess indeed.
As labor proceeded I relied so much to my mantras. "Open, open, open to ten." "Come on down, down, down." I would growl, my eyes became more animal, more primal, and I would let out a little pleasurable shiver at the end of many contractions. It really felt a little orgasmic, that pressure.
Then maybe around 6:45, I felt some doubt. Some fear, some transition. "Don't fight it, sink into it, you get a break in a minute" I moaned through a contraction. "PRESSURE- PLEASURE" I shouted through the peak of it" and then, the waves of nausea, and then, the vomit. So much vomit. Overwhelming purging, and rapid dilation, and it lasted a little too long. I cannot imagine purging harder. My body was ready to have this baby... now. The contractions REALLY picked up. "Come on mamaaaa" I growled as I let them flow, and then more vomit. It was rapid, and so wrong, and then, so right. :)
Then, the urge to push. Once I realized that's what I was feeling, I exclaimed, "I feel like pushing ladies!!" as I laughed! But then, Holy. Shit. When I say this child is a warrior, I mean it. As contractions rapidly came upon me, I quickly changed from actively pushing to again just resting as I let my body work. I was not pushing with them. I laid back against Michaels chest, pulled my legs back and felt her slide down powerfully during a contraction but then still pushing down between them, she was descending so fast! The faces I made during pushing were ridiculous, but I don't think anyone could blame me... I was laying flat and she was still coming down this fast.
At one point in the ten minutes of pushing, I held Michaels head, peered back at him lovingly, and winked at him, smiling. I also gazed at my friend Toni, the friend who helped me as I said goodbye to Star, and I whispered 'death to self'. Another mantra for birth that I have embraced since I realized that the release needed to grieve is so much like the release to give birth to a child.
Another contraction. I silently pushed and a let out a gentle grunt. "Whoaaa, push baby push, yesss. Yessss. It's ok, girl, gentle gentle. I'm not pushing! You got this, girl. I'm not afraid, I'm not afraid." That was a long contraction. At a point in the end of the contraction, I really did sound like I was having an orgasm. The pleasure was real.
I continued to be able to be silent as I pushed, with only a look of intense focus but also peace in my eyes. After only a few contractions of crowning, I felt that 'pop' of her head coming out. After the initial shock of that moment, my midwives reminded me to touch her head if I felt ready. I did, and immediately began crying, "I feel her! I feel her! Come on out baby!!!" Just then a new song came on, a gentle flute, as I kept crying and moaning in ecstasy "Yes! Hi baby!" I stroked her head gently between my legs, laughing with empowered, fearless joy. So much pleasure in this moment.
Another contraction started and I shouted with ecstasy, "I don't want to wait! It's not so hard! Gentle gentle- come on mama" Then, like magic, the music picked up in volume, and I growled the words, "Come on mama- pull your baby out" and then I did. As she descended, I pulled her right out of me and onto my chest.
The joy can be seen in my eyes as they opened wide and I held my little vernix covered sleeping baby (yes, she came out in a deep sleep..) "I felt every minute, I felt every minute! I didn't leave at all! It was beautiful!" I cried in tears of disbelief. "She's here, my sunset baby." I cooed as I held her, smiling at Michael and Selah in the golden light of sunset.
I fought like my life depended on it for this birth. I fought hard for the pride in my body, my abilities, and my sexuality. I worked for this, I dove deep into my past for this, and now I found myself healed enough to not only thoroughly enjoy birth, but to also find a new dimension of sexual awareness in it. I stayed present, aware, in control and I did it on my own. All the decades of abuse was no match for my desire for a transformative and healing experience. Those in my past that tried to break me, shame me, hurt me, rape me and affect my life negatively... I refuse to let you determine my mental health, my self worth or the way I birth. I did it with joy, pleasure, freedom and power, and nothing can ever take this away from me.
Again I have nothing but gratefulness to those who supported me as I birthed Adira Nuelle Luna. Thank you to Michael for knowing me so well, for your love and support, and for that hot makeout session. Also, thanks for making babies with me.
And a huge thank you to my birth team (midwives, friends, babysitters, etc.) who made it possible for me to really enjoy the day, without worries. I love you all.
A special thank you as well to the photographer who captured the images you see here. Breanna Kristner Photography