Hello everyone! I'm so excited to be sharing with you again after a long break from updating on here. We have been relaxing and hibernating in our babymoon cocoon with the most precious little moon of all time... That's right! Our little Luna Cove has arrived! We are SO blessed and blown away by her presence. She has overtaken us with gratitude and love since the day she was born. On July 5th, 2013, at 6:50am, Oscar and I received our daughter into our hands after 28 hours of unassisted labor. I gave birth standing up, in our bathroom, and it was the most powerfully joyful experience of our entire lives!
For the two weeks leading up to Luna's birth I felt I would be going into labor anytime. I had powerful contractions during those days and had lost all of my mucus plug a week before she came. It was a crazy time of emotion and energy. I did a lot of walking and praying, nesting and sleeping, doing all I could to focus my intention on releasing expectations and trusting in my body to know what to do during birth. Trusting also in Luna to be born in her perfect timing and way, and for God to guide the entire process in whatever direction it was meant to go.
My water broke at 3am on July 4th. I got up for some towels to put down on the bed and woke up Oscar to let him know we were going to be having a baby soon. He replied "Awesome!" and went back to bed, knowing it would still be some time before things picked up. I was so excited for such a sure sign of labor, and contractions were light but starting to take place rather regularly, that it was difficult for me to go back to sleep. Around 6am I got up and made some tea and started doing the dishes. Oscar got up shortly after and checked in with me on how I was feeling. I was excited and felt certain we'd be having a baby that day. He mentioned feeling she wouldn't be born until the next day, to which I responded by starting to cry, wanting so badly for her to come that day. Oscar saw how I reacted and didn't mention it again, but later when we talked, he expressed knowing the whole time that labor was going to be a lot longer than I was expecting. Looking back, I see that this was the only expectation I had allowed myself to hold on to, that labor would be a short process.
After showering and having a light breakfast we took Francois on a nice long walk and spent the rest of the morning and afternoon resting and relaxing. Around 3pm I started feeling a little antsy and wanted to get out of the apartment, so we headed to a deli in our neighborhood for sandwiches and frozen yogurt. It was exciting and strange to be out in public while in labor. While we were eating I started timing my contractions, since at this point I was needing to breathe through them and they were definitely feeling stronger than they had all day. They were about 4 minutes apart and lasting an average of 35 seconds. In my mind, this was again a sure sign that "real" labor was close, and so I talked to Oscar about preparing the tub and our supplies when we got home, feeling sure we'd be having a baby before midnight!
We had decided during our pregnancy that we really wanted to approach every aspect of the process from an intuitive, spirit-based point of view. For us this meant not relying on outside medical assistance during our pregnancy and birth, and for that reason we desired to have Luna without anyone present but Oscar and myself. We invested a lot of time and energy into manifesting what that would look like and part of it was deciding that we wouldn't check for dilation or effacement during labor, really wanting to just give in to the natural flow and release whatever control our brains might want to have over the situation. I justified timing contractions with the idea that it would be how we would know when to start getting the tub ready, based on something I had read about it. That really played in to the only frustration I felt during labor, that things were taking so much longer than I had thought they would. Definitely next time I will not be timing or tracking anything during the birthing process! A lesson I am happy to have learned.
I did my best to rest while Oscar inflated the tub, filled it with water, and set up our candles and music. It was around 7pm and I timed a few contractions again. This time they were coming every 2-3 minutes and lasting closer to a minute. Oscar and I got into the tub together and it was so nice and relieving to float in the warmth. The water was wonderful but it really did seem to slow things down, or it might be that I just got in too early. Either way, after a few hours had gone by I was starting to feel tired and a little frustrated that labor hadn't picked up yet. At this point Oscar was lying down in the other room and he came in to check on me, around 9pm. I was feeling ready to do something different in hopes of moving things along, and he expressed having a craving for raw chocolate and wondered if maybe running a little errand could be helpful. I agreed and got out of the tub and ready to go, wondering out loud if we would be that crazy couple who delivers their baby in the grocery store parking lot!
We kind of forgot it was the Fourth of July and that most stores were closed or had closed early that day, so we drove around for a bit before finding a store that was open. By the time we got there I was needing to stay in the car because of how strong contractions were starting to come on. I breathed and held on to the seat through five strong surges during the 10 or 15 minutes Oscar was in the store. He asked if I felt up to making one more stop, at a little coffee shop for a cup of chai tea, and I agreed no problem. After driving the few blocks it took to get there, though, it was a different story. I told Oscar we needed to get back home right away as things were feeling much more intense, and so we made our way back to the apartment. We returned to our neighborhood to find it full of parked cars and people sitting on their roofs and balconies, waiting to watch the fireworks display over the bay. It was crazy! There was no parking anywhere near our apartment and Oscar had to drop me off so I could get inside and back into the soothing water while he searched for a spot. It must have taken him at least 15-20 minutes to return and as I labored in the tub waiting for him, I imagined how funny/crazy it would be if our baby was born while he was finding parking.
The level of intensity that labor went into at this point truly made me realize how mildly things had been going all day. It was shocking and amazing to feel those first few surges that sent me into a trance-like state. I felt instantly the need to be on my hands and knees, and that's mostly how I labored for the next eight hours, moving from the birth tub in the living room, to the tub in the bathroom, to sitting on the toilet, to the bed, to the floor. It's difficult to describe or recall this part with great detail. It truly is being in the most raw form of your physical self, completely tapped in to your wild animal spirit. I remember reminding myself over and over again to trust and to breathe, and that each surge was bringing our baby closer to us.
During this time Oscar was mostly resting in our bed and offering help or support whenever I asked or he sensed I needed. Usually I just wanted water or fruit or for him to hold my hands and be with me for a minute. At one point I threw up and thought I might be in transition but I felt no urge to push. (Sure enough it was not a sign of transition as I ended up being sick for the rest of the labor, throwing up another 3 or 4 times before she was born!) This question of transition gave me the desire to check the time and I looked to realize it had been almost 24 hours since my water broke, typically the point at which labor would be induced for "failure" to progress. I did my best to not allow this to cause me anxiety, reminding myself that those thoughts were just based on things I had read, not on the actual experience I was having, and to really keep myself focused on the present moment. Despite my not being able to keep food or liquids down, I felt a supernatural strength running through my body. I also felt Luna and knew that she was safe and happy, making her way in perfect timing.
Realizing I might never feel the urge to push, I got into the birth tub and decided to just try pushing with a few contractions. It felt good, but not like I really needed to be doing it, so I just continued to allow the surges to do their work while I did my best to relax and breathe. I slowly started feeling the desire to push, and eventually I couldn't not push, but there was never a clear time when a true urge to do so came. I had probably been pushing for about an hour when I started to feel a little "loopy" and was honestly wondering if labor could go on forever. I didn't feel panicked but there was this part of me that really believed I was eternally going to be in this state. I was back in the bathtub at this point and I called Oscar into the bathroom and asked, rather seriously, "This can't last forever, right?" To which he gave a big smile and responded "Of course not, nothing lasts forever!" I laughed, knowing it was silly, but the encouragement and affirmation was truly a gift and afterward I was able to fully regain my sense of calm and presence.
Dawn was just starting to break and the sky turn blue when my surges really picked up. These waves of energy felt so different, so much more powerful from what I had been experiencing, I knew that she was starting to really make her way down. At some point my surges started bringing out blood and mucus and I just assumed it was a good thing, feeling so incredibly thankful that something seemed to be "happening". By now I had been pushing for almost three hours! Suddenly I felt the need to get out of the water, desiring to feel more grounded into the earth, as contractions were so strong and it felt good to push into the floor. I never felt the urge to be loud, just lots of deep sounds, repeating mantras and breathing. Focusing on these elements really kept me centered and this was especially helpful during the last hours of labor. After some time had gone by I felt ready to get back in the water and asked Oscar if he would take care of getting the birth tub ready again, since by this time the water had cooled down. He set off to start dumping out buckets of cold water while I continued to labor, squatting over and holding onto the toilet.
Just as Oscar announced from the other room that he was finished and the tub was ready for me, I had a contraction that made me jump up to my feet in reaction to the amount of pressure I felt it push down inside of me. I stood there unable to move and called to Oscar that he had better come in there instead. By the time he walked the ten steps from the living room to our bathroom, I had another surge that brought just the tip of Luna's head out. I reached down and felt the soft squish of wet hair and my heart almost exploded with excitement. This was the moment we had been waiting for! Almost immediately I felt the urge to push again, and with another contraction, I eased her head out of me. Nothing has ever felt more gratifying in my entire life! It was like an explosion of light and energy shooting down from the top of my head, into every cell, illuminating my being. The release of pressure was so great I felt my entire body wanting to collapse around it. We both reached down and felt her head, the curve of little ears and nose. It was so fantastic, there truly aren't words to describe the ecstasy of this moment. We just stood there, amazed, knowing I would push the rest of her out of me with the next surge. It came just a few seconds later and sure enough, with one last push, she slipped into our arms.
I sat down on the toilet and Oscar lifted her to my chest. She opened her eyes right away and gave one little cry and that was it! She immediately started breathing on her own and looking around, taking it all in. I'll never forget looking into Oscar's eyes and the feeling of love that was between us in that moment. We had brought life into this world and we had done so in the way we felt called to. Nothing had ever felt more satisfying than that! A minute or two after she was born, Oscar went to check the time and grab blankets and a bowl from the kitchen. It was 6:52am and I easily delivered the placenta while squatting over the bowl, maybe ten minutes later. We cleaned up Luna and myself as much as we needed for the time being and the three of us got into bed. It was SO great to finally rest after nearly 28 hours of labor and even greater to be with my new little family after a lifetime of dreaming what that would be like.
We had an amazing time falling in love during the hours following her birth, forgetting completely about the length of time it took for her to make her entrance into this world, or about our fabulous lack of sleep. It was beyond words a sacred experience that was made even more special to us by how we chose to approach her transition from womb to world. Desiring to give her the most gentle entrance into this new realm, we decided on not cutting the umbilical cord, leaving it to naturally detach in its own time. This Lotus Birth experience was truly amazing. We have already been able to witness how it has nurtured a very peaceful nature within her. I look forward to sharing the details of that with you in our next post!
Thank you for taking the time to read our story and thank you SO MUCH to everyone who offered love and support during our pregnancy and birth. It was wonderful to discover such an amazing community online and our hearts are filled with gratitude for all of you reading this, whether near or far.
Oscar, Ashley, Luna & Francois