In every single sense of the word.
LIFE moved in and set up camp with no intention of moving out.
Let me rewind...
I have a lot of seriously backlogged updates for this space which include, but are not limited to, moving to Hawaii to teach yoga on yet another private island,
getting married to my Sun and Moon during the biggest Super New Moon Solar Eclipse in decades,
(Yogi wet dream wedding for shizz!)
and traveling back to India for some serious soul rejuvenation.
However, none of those subplots are making a detailed appearance in this particular post. No, this post is devoted to recording my greatest, and deepest, adventure of all...
My journey into motherhood.
Long story short, pregnancy was bliss, but it didn't start that way.
Within seconds of discovering I had a positive pregnancy test, I noticed my toilet bowl was full of blood. I went straight to the community clinic to confirm my pregnancy, had an ultrasound and was sent home with the devastating news that I was miscarrying my baby. I took a week off work to grieve and bleed, feeling ashamed of my body and alone. During that time, I confided in my manager that I was pregnant, and although I was bleeding, at a certain point I felt I needed to go back to work, for the very least, as a distraction from the waiting game. The day I returned to work, my manager pulled me out of lunch, escorted me to HR and I was put on an immediate disciplinary suspension for a claim they couldn't back up, but within a loophole that I couldn't fight. I tearily went home and had my biggest hemorrhage of all due to the stress of knowing that I was getting fired.
Sanoon and I headed back to the clinic for another ultrasound the next day, where we were fully braced to hear that my final hemorrhage had aborted our baby. But to everyone's disbelief, they found a strong little heart beat and told me my pregnancy was viable!
(My tiny astronaut floating in an ocean of love)
At that moment, I knew that nothing else mattered...not that inane job, not the fact that I was going to lose my company home and heath insurance while I navigated pregnancy...NO! I was gifted this life to protect and nurture and that was all that mattered. The universe had given me a good shake to wake up and move forward from a situation that never fully aligned with my heart. All I had to do was trust that the unknowns would free-fall into place.
I resigned my position in the company the next day. Sanoon and I made plans to move to a new home on Maui, which just so happened to be the best place to bake a baby anyway!
Once on Maui, I spent lots of time dosing Vitamin Sea at the beach,
Practicing and teaching yoga,
(Nothing compared to the feeling of flowing with my baby floating inside me)
And then going back to the beach again where I practiced and taught more yoga [hey, I never claimed to be that creative].
Maui provided the perfect backdrop for me to SLOW DOWN and truly revel in my new relationship with my body, mind and spirit of my growing child.
I would be completely remiss if I failed to mention that one of the greatest and most healing practices I swan-dived into during my prenatal period was Tantra. Most people assume that a Tantric practice means having 7 hour love making sessions like Sting and Trudy.
(Not totally accurate, but it is a nice side effect of the practice)
The truth is, I began this practice as part of a year long Sex, Love and Relationship coaching course I'd enrolled in with master teacher and Tantrica Goddess extraordinaire, Layla Martin. The first trimester of the course perfectly coincided with my first trimester of pregnancy, so I was blessed to receive the practice of Tantra during a time of immense physical and spiritual transformation that was already occurring in my body. During my tantric meditations, I faced my deepest fears and traumas in order to release them and create space for a new energy of health, bliss and ecstasy. I felt like a pregnant superwoman. It was pretty freaking rad!
All in all, Tantra proved to be the best pregnancy bootcamp I could imagine. The deeper I dove into the practice, the more empowered I felt trusting the primal wisdom of my body. As I witnessed my initial beliefs that I wasn't strong enough to get through labor intervention-free begin to melt away, I started to feel that that specific narrative around women and childbirth was basically a bunch of patriarchal horse-shit that I didn't want to buy into anymore.
(Disclaimer: I absolutely believe there is a time and place for medical interventions in childbirth. If interventions are needed, I thank God they are there to save the mother and child. I also recognize that some women find comfort with the option of interventions, to which I say AMAZING! No matter where a woman falls on the spectrum of interventions, she is still a freaking superstar for having a baby at all. Period.)
My early insecurities were replaced with the belief that I was made completely perfect, and that my body instinctively knew how to give birth. All I had to do was once again free-fall into an acceptance of the unknown and trust it would all be okay!
In the most organic way possible, I shifted into the thoughts that my body had far deeper wisdom and power than I'd ever given it credit. I wanted to celebrate that strength by welcoming my baby peacefully into the world, surrounded by strong women and in the loving arms of my Sun and Moon. There was no better place I imagined doing this than in the comforts of my own home.
(Our stunning view of the Iao Valley out our back window)
Thus begins the story of my home birth.
OUR BIRTH STORY
I continued a heavy teaching rotation of 18 yoga and fitness classes a week well into my third trimester. Although I was big as a house, I felt more vibrant and healthy than I'd ever felt in my entire adult life.
However, I wasn't meant to maintain my superwoman powers forever, and at 36 weeks, I started to go into prodromal labor. Although I was close to term with my pregnancy, my midwife still wanted me to relax and keep the baby in a couple more weeks at least, so I bid a fond "aloha" to my students, and spent the next two weeks on bedrest. Well, perhaps it could be more accurately described as "beach rest."
(Nothing like a moody silhouette to drive home just how pregnant you are)
When I hit 38 weeks, I had prenatal appointments with both my OB and midwife. The OB confirmed I was about 2cm dilated and 75% effaced. A couple hours later, I paid a visit to my midwife, where she offered to do a membrane sweep on me to see if it would jumpstart my labor. I agreed to try it, and within 15 minutes, I started having pretty noticeable contractions. My midwife and I loaded up my birth tub into my car, and I drove to Whole Foods to grab lunch before going home and observing if the contractions went anywhere.
I had irregular contractions the rest of the afternoon, and after a hot shower and a nap at 5pm, they had pretty much ceased. My midwife called me to check in and I told her it was probably a false start and would keep in touch if anything changed.
At 6pm, everything changed.
I started having consistent contractions every 5 minutes. I observed them for an hour before calling my doula, and she told me to watch them for another hour then check back in. The following hour, my contractions were 4.5 minutes apart, so I asked her to come over when she was ready.
This whole time, Sanoon was in disbelief that we were actually having our baby. He started frantically cleaning the house [which wasn't totally necessary as I'd literally dusted the plants and vacuumed the ceilings one day earlier in true nesting glory] and closing out some day trades. He asked if he should call off work the next day...
As my contractions were 4 minutes apart at that point, I encouraged him that was probably a good idea.
My doula came over and the whole mood of the house shifted from a bit chaotic to relaxed and celebratory. Sanoon and my doula built the baby's bassinet [did I mention Sanoon's previous disbelief in us actually having a baby part?], and I enjoyed chatting, laughing and breathing deeply through the surges.
Early labor was totally trippy for me. The contractions were intense but manageable. However, more than anything, I loved the yummy hormones that flooded my body between each rush. At points I felt like the walls were breathing and the lights were glittering. I literally felt like I was dancing in the jungle on ecstasy. I thought, "If this is labor, that's pretty f*ckin cool."
(A point of reference to my feelings in early labor)
Sanoon spent much of the evening supporting me with gentle touch and dance, while my doula kept track of my progress, administered homeopathic tinctures to progress my labor and documented with her camera for us.
Around 11pm, I started to feel lethargic, so the three of us decided to get some sleep. While I took my little snooze, I gently entered transition, and once again, everything shifted.
I humbly thought, "Oh...THIS must be labor."
I left Sanoon sleeping in bed and went into the shower to labor alone. As I lost my mucus plug, I began emoting some deep guttural whale songs and questioning if I was capable of doing this.
For the first time since labor began, I felt scared, but I remembered reading that feeling scared meant the baby was close, so I thought that it was a good sign to feel that emotion and just kept trucking.
At this point, the veils of labor had pulled down over my eyes, and the ability to speak deserted me. I was hovering between worlds, with one part of my awareness firmly in the physical experience of my body quaking through my surges and the other part floating somewhere outside myself observing the entire experience as a witness.
I left the shower, and opted to labor in my room for the rest of the early morning hours.
At about 3am, my midwives arrived and cheerily greeted me with "We're having a baby!"
To which I replied in all seriousness, "Are you sure?"
[Apparently Sanoon's disbelief rubbed off on me.]
The next couple hours, things continued to progress steadily. I received oil massage and counterpressure as I sipped on coconut and watermelon waters and ingested homeopathic tinctures.
I once read that if a woman doesn't feel like a total goddess during labor, her team isn't supporting her enough. I have to say, I never felt so much divine feminine energy in or around me at that level before. Yes, labor did hurt. At points I thought to myself, "I understand why women choose an epidural," but I continued to remind myself that of course I would feel pain- the power of God was surging through me. So I dug deeper, connected spiritually with all the women whom had birthed before me, and kept pressing forward as I watched my baby kicking his way down my belly. I truly felt like my baby and I were waltzing the most important dance of our lives together.
At around 5am, my midwife did an internal check on my bed and my waters broke.
At around 5am, my midwife did an internal check on my bed and my waters broke.
My midwife said that everything would start to get more intense at that point, and I could start pushing on my next contraction, but for me it was the total opposite. I felt like everything came to a screeching halt as my body relaxed and I heard only a quiet buzz in my ears. I did have enormous, near orgasmic tickling sensations in my yoni, and I assumed those may have been my cue to push, so I rolled with it.
Pushing was hard and didn't feel natural to me. It took 2.5 long hours, and depending on the position I was in, my baby's heart rate would sometimes drop. I was put on oxygen and instructed to breathe slowly and deeply. My midwives reminded me that since we were at home, I didn't need to feel rushed and could take my time. I had so much trust in their expertise and support, I easily heeded their advice. But even more than placing my confidence in them, I felt fully empowered in my body's, and my baby's, primal wisdom working together with me.
At around 7:20am, my baby, fully engaged, had dropped so low we lost his heartbeat on the fetal doppler. My midwife gave me the look of God and said, "You have one chance. He has to come out now. You can skip the next contraction if you need to rest, but he needs to come out."
I don't know where the strength came from, but in one push, he shot out of me like a spinner dolphin, wrapped three times with his cord around his neck and both arms. My midwives quickly and skillfully untangled him.
I honestly don't remember any of this. I didn't know he was wrapped up, and I didn't know he wasn't crying. When he came out of me, I felt my entire spirit lift out of my body and float on the ceiling, like it was dancing with his soul up there. When I heard him cry, I felt like we both crashed back down to Earth, and life began for both of us.
(Immediate skin to skin)
(Our first family portrait)
(And the bravest little Lionheart, who healed me in more ways than words could ever express)
(May these little feet take you on great adventures)
(May your voice illuminate and empower yourself and others)
(You are safe.)
(You are loved.)
(You are wanted.)
Happy birthday, sweet peanut.
Thank you for choosing me to guide you in this life.
Thank you for being my greatest teacher.
I, too, was born the day you arrived.
To hear this story and a few different details in my own voice, you can check out this interview I did for the Doing It At Home Podcast, episode 205.
*All birth photos and video were taken by Intentions Maui (link below).
If you're planning a birth on Maui, I can't recommend my team highly enough!
Check out my incredible and intuitive doula, whom I never would have survived prenatal, birth or postpartum without!
And my rockstar midwife who's delivered over 3,000 babies. A serious pro!