I am what’s considered a “survivor” when I gave birth (Book) I won’t go into much detail about this, only to be vulnerable and explain that sexual trauma has influenced my journey as a mother in a profound way. My first birth was a difficult experience, followed by months of postpartum depression. The day we learned we were expecting our second child, I was honestly a bit anxious. However over time I sought support and committed to make this pregnancy the healthiest experience it could possibly be, physically and emotionally. I wanted to combat my fear of “what if?” and let’s just say, I had an incredible pregnancy. We chose to birth at home, we found a great midwife, Rebecca, I had a mother blessing, I invested in essential oils, I filled my life with great music… It was incredible.
Around 36-weeks I was swimming with my 41-weeks-pregnant sister and my 2 year old daughter, when my 2 year old decided to sprint around the pool toward the deep end. I instinctually pulled myself out of the pool to get to her, quickly realizing that I hyper extended my round ligaments while doing so. I began contracting. A warm bath and essential oils calmed things down, but from 36 weeks until 40 weeks, I suffered from prodromal labor due to ligaments that were hyperextended, a pubic bone that had shifted and my pelvis had tilted backward. I know this because I eventually saw Dr. Zimmerman who specializes in prenatal chiropractic health. Thanks to her work, I found relief from my prodromal labor and was set up to have a healthy delivery! *i cannot imagine the labor/birth I would have had were it not for her expertise!*
The night before my water broke we were with my parents and brother’s family, grilling out. We decided to go for a walk after dinner and see if maybe we could get my 41-week-baby to commit and finally come on out. Nothing really happened that night, I noticed my contractions were evenly spaced, 15 mins apart, but that wasn’t close enough to alert everyone around me. We went home, I mentioned to Jason that I could tell these were real contractions, but we were a long way from true labor. He nodded politely, knowing my oldest child sent very similar contractions for a whole 24 hrs before she was born. He was cool and collected, knowing I would keep up my over-sharing and he wouldn’t miss a thing.
The next morning I was up, sent Jason off to work his half-day shift, Gemma was up with the sun and wanted to play. I did laundry, made a pizza, colored and cleaned… Around 11am I told Jason “We are definitely having a baby today… No rush, just prepare yourself… I’m still not telling our parents yet in case I’m wrong.” (I was 41 weeks pregnant, he knew the drill, I told him everything… So these frequent updates were just for my peace of mind and he knew it, bless my heart.)
Around noon my dad called, just wanting to chat… I thought to myself “oh no… I don’t remember how to have small talk!” I tried to hold a conversation during a few contractions, but I just couldn’t stay focused, so I wrapped it up and went back to eating my pizza *mmmm*. Jason got home between 12:30 and 1, I was happy to see him, we needed to get the birth stuff together! By this time I was contracting every 7-10mins.
I had meditated for 9 months on a water birth, using the song Oceans by Hillsong United (Song). We decorated the nursery with an ocean theme, it was amazing and very effective. My oldest, Gemma, wouldn’t nap in her bed that day, so we cuddled on the couch and we both fell asleep. This was an incredibly rare occurrence, so I was once again affirmed that this was true labor, as a calming gravity seemed to draw Jason, Gemma and I together.
Around 4pm I felt a contraction and a pop, as the baby dropped lower. I noticed a little extra fluid, but It didn’t even fill my pad, so I wasn’t confident that my water had broken. I messaged my midwives to get their opinion, they had me take an amnio test from my birth kit to see if my water had broken. Yep! Tested positive! Turns out not everyone’s water breaks in a giant gush! I went back to resting on the couch, I nursed Gemma through one contraction, knowing we would have my parents come get her soon. Breastfeeding triggered very strong contractions so I messaged for my parents to come pick her up ASAP. While waiting for them I slowly walked and grabbed some items Gemma would need for her FIRST sleep over (ever). I was growing emotional, wishing I could prepare her better, but I was quite distracted by the contractions at this point. Jason was still playing XBox when they arrived to pick her up around 4:30pm. We both expected this to be like my first birth, at this rate we have 12 more hours… So not in a hurry. I hadn’t updated him in about 20 minutes, so he had no clue that things were serious enough that I had asked my parents to come.
(This is a nice place to explain that the cervix isn’t a crystal ball, things can change quickly In labor, no two births are a like, etc…)
I felt most comfortable in the bathroom sitting on the toilet, so I stayed in there for a while by myself. I felt that things were getting serious so I messaged my midwives around 5pm, telling them it was time to come for support and delivery. I then moved to kneeling at my bed.
I just have to say, I am extremely proud of myself and my focus through some pretty intense and quick contractions. I breathed into my contractions and relaxed various parts of my body as I envisioned melting through the floor. As a birth Doula myself, I “doula’d” myself and tried to identify how far I had to go between my contractions, an effort to conserve my energy. In the midst of each contraction my heart was fully present to “open” and welcome our little one. As things intensified I began chanting OPEN.
Around 5:30pm my first midwife, Rebecca, arrived and began monitoring baby and helping me breathe through contractions. Jason was on the phone with my sister in law/ photographer, trying to discuss with ME if I felt this was baby time. I couldn’t answer, so my midwife politely told him “she’s getting pretty serious, I would have her head this way.” Between 5:30 and 6pm, two other midwives arrived and began inflating our birth tub immediately. I tried side lying for a few moments. They were about to check my cervix for dilation around 6pm, but the baby wouldn’t have it so I asked for help to go to the bathroom to pee (yes, you heard me, not poop, PEE.)
On my way from my bed to the bathroom (4 feet away) I began feeling the urge to push. They encouraged me to try and wait (you know, so they could stop trying to set up the birth tub and put a tarp down to deliver a baby in my bed room instead!) But I couldn’t. This was just after 6pm, my photographer came in at this point. While holding on around Jason’s neck, I stood in my half bathroom and delivered our daughter, catching her myself. I am very thankful I made it to the tile, because as it turns out, about 90% of my amniotic
fluid was still in my uterus at the time that I delivered my daughter, making quite a splash as she came out! It was such a whirlwind, such a beautiful, heavenly whirlwind. I didn’t get the water birth I had dreamed of and prepared for, but because my focus was on my meditation, rather than the details, my experience was perfect. It was empowering and messy and memorable and exciting and profoundly healing.
Reia Kaye Cordelia made her appearance at 41 weeks and 1 day. Arriving at 6:14pm on August 14th, weighing 9lbs and 21 3/4″ long. I was officially in active labor for 2 hours and 14 minutes and loved every minute of it. To read my about my journey during my pregnancy meditations on Oceans, visit my blog.
Note from Rebecca: Tab Moura is a very gifted doula and childbirth educator who can support both home and hospital births. I highly recommend taking a childbirth class during pregnancy. Check out Tab’s doula and birth services on her Facebook page!
The gorgeous photos were captured by birth photographer Angelyn Moura Photography