The Powerful Free Birth of Zephyr Nova
I started having lower back cramps, intense pressure and cervical twinges throughout the day. These same sensations that I had been feeling for weeks before now felt more “real”. I just intuitively knew that labor would begin within the next day.
While putting Asher to bed that night, I started feeling actual surges in my lower back. They grew stronger and became more frequent later that night while Tyson and I played a card game. They were still mild, but were definitely not just “practice contractions”. We finally decided to go to bed at 1am so we could rest before the big event. I joked that I was too excited to sleep. The joke was on me because they quickly became too intense to sleep through!
By 4am, I was needing to breathe through the waves and repeat, “Open… open….”At around 4:20, I texted my mom that I would probably need her today, as her job was to watch Asher. I went back to the bed.
At 5am, I got up again as they were too strong when lying down. I spent time in the living room going through the rushes, reading my birth affirmations aloud. For the first time since painting my affirmations, I was experiencing their power. At 5:30, I told my mom to pick up a few things when the stores open and to come over as soon as possible since the drive is 40 minutes.
Only 10 minutes later, I heard Asher wake up. I got Tyson up too and told him my mom was coming soon. “So should I go to work?” Tyson asked, still half asleep. “No, you are not going to work!” I laughed, surprised that he even asked.
I continued flowing with the waves in my birth space. “Open.. Open.. Open…” By 7:30, my waves had grown intense, but I was so exhausted from not sleeping. I knew I didn’t have the strength to birth like this, so I went to have a nap. I was terrified to lie down because I feel overpowered by birth sensations in that position. My body must have known it was necessary because the frequency of surges slowed down the second I got in the bed.
Additional support arrives
I woke up a couple hours later to my mom having arrived. The frequency of my surges picked up immediately after getting out of bed, but then decreased again due to my mom and Asher being there. I wasn’t able to be in the proper headspace and I felt like my physical birth space was not yet mine to claim.
As I was getting Asher ready on the floor, I had an incredibly forceful surge that I nearly couldn’t breathe through! I knew this was it. My mom and Asher left right away at 10:30am. The following waves continued to pick up more and more in intensity. Tyson started filling up the birth pool with water.
Unlike my first birth where I was mostly quiet and ‘Zen’, I now needed to start vocalizing to get through. I started out self conscious- restricting what I allowed to come out. After a couple surges of this, I reminded myself that I was a wild birthing warrior and any uncomfortable feelings did not serve me and were not mine. After that, I let go of my need to control and allowed my vocalizations to come out to meet the intensity of the sensations I was experiencing.
No birth is the same
The sensations felt totally different from those of my birth with Asher, (which was exclusively back labour). These ones felt like a thick burning ring all the way around my pelvic area, pushing down through my cervix and vagina, and even out my urethra. I texted Jaime, my doula, “I don’t remember there being so much pressure so early and feeling like the baby was already coming down.” What I really wanted to say was, “I feel that I’m really close,” but I was also thinking that I’d barely been in active labour long at all- of course I wasn’t close! Jaime had a mandatory meeting for her practicum that day from 9am to 2pm, which is why I hadn’t told her to come over.
In my birth space, (which I never fully finished setting up in early labour), I would pace in circles, vocalize, and read my affirmations. The affirmations were the only thing helping me through the waves. One painting that I’d done said, “I am a warrior goddess! I AM Powerful! I AM Fearless!”
Powerful is who I am
I declared out loud, “I am powerful!”, and just like many times throughout my pregnancy, I automatically began to cry when saying those words. Until a few months leading up to the birth, I had never said those words. I had never believed them. Now I knew I had my power deep down inside, waiting for me to claim it. But just like nearly all women, I’d been conditioned to suppress and disconnect from it. After declaring my power, I felt a boost of confidence. Today would be the first day that I’d access it.
After about 30 minutes, I began to feel that I was losing my ability to cope with each surge. I was trying to hold myself on various things around the house, but I always felt like everything was too low to the ground. I couldn’t be on my knees and leaning over too much also made me feel like I had less control. The burning in my lower back was so strong! Also unlike my first birth, counterpressure from Tyson was not helping my back. I felt helpless, like there was nothing Tyson could do to help me. Finally, I was able to find relief with a hot compress.
I had one surge that overcame me. As I felt the surge intensifying, I heard and saw a bird hit the window. Shock. I immediately felt my body tighten more fiercely than it previously had. I dropped down to the floor, wriggling in pain- completely unable to access the proper head space. Tyson, who was still filling the pool, ran to my side. This is when I knew I needed to find a pattern and find my power immediately.
Power in affirmations
I realized that the waves were crashing down on me, overpowering me. Reading my favorite affirmation aloud, “I release and flow with the power of my surges”, I was reminded that instead of fighting my way through the waves, I needed to ride along with them. They and my baby were taking me on a journey and my job was to relax and allow the process to move through my body.
I was determined to stay above the waves. I felt the next wave about to begin. While circling in my space, I repeated, “I’m riding the waves… riding… riding the waves….” I was visualizing myself staying above them. I felt myself glide and hover over the pain. I was doing it!! After the climax, I realized the power that I had accessed and uncontrollably started to cry. I continued to repeat my mantra as the wave tapered off. For the very first time, I had truly stepped in to my true power- The power that all women hold deep down and have wired in to us, but dampened and lost in the conditioning of our society. That power was beyond words. A breakthrough.
I continued this pattern throughout the remainder of my waves. Each one grew more and more in intensity. My vocalization grew fiercer to combat the intensity of the surges, keeping me level with the wave. Louder, harder, less reserved. Wild. Just when it would be about to crash over me, I would repeat, “Ride the wave, I’m riding the wave.…” The power I accessed on top of each wave was just as monumental as the last. I couldn’t process all of my newfound power and it would pour over in tears. I would continue with vocalizing or saying, “Open…” until the wave would dissipate.
By now, the hot compress was a crutch. I needed it HOT! Without it, there was panic- I should have known I was nearing the end!
The surges were coming one after another. I couldn’t tell where one ended and the next began.
Spiraling around the room, almost screaming at the sensations now, I would exasperate, “Riding… I’m riding…”, and just when I felt like I wouldn’t be able to cope any longer, I felt a satisfying pop and warm gush of fluid down my leg. My waters breaking felt like such a relief! I ripped my underwear off and called Tyson over.
Why does the pool always take so long?
The birth pool still wasn’t full. That was fine. I was never sure about whether I would birth in the pool or not anyway, and I had needed to be walking around freely during the waves.
Unsure if the surges would continue with more intensity, I told Tyson to call Jaime. I was terrified of it getting any stronger. She said she would ask to leave the mandatory meeting she was at early and head over right away. Considering we live 40 minutes out of the city, I didn’t think she would arrive before the baby!
It had been about 5 minutes since my water broke and still no surges. It was such a needed break! I couldn’t tell if I had to poop or if it was the baby coming down. I promised myself I wouldn’t give birth in the bathroom (I really envisioned my baby being born in my beautiful birth space or in our bed), but guess where it happened? Yep, the bathroom! I relocated to the bathroom in case I had to go. The pressure was definitely from the baby.
It had been about 10-15 minutes when the surges picked up again. When the first one began, I was really drawn to lean over the bathtub. Tyson’s job now was to hold the hot washcloth on my back and make sure to reheat it between sensations. I got him to bring a big couch pillow for my knees.
During my entire pregnancy, I was so positive that I would not want to check my dilation whatsoever during (or before) the birth process. But in the moment, I found myself needing to be sure of whether these were a continuation of the previous surges or if the baby had begun their descent.
Checking for baby
Checking myself, way at the top of the birth canal I felt my baby!!! It was amazing! In an instant, I felt rejuvenated. I turned to Tyson and exclaimed almost in tears, “Oh my god! We’re doing it! We’re actually doing it!!” Tyson sounded just as amazed and ecstatic as I was. I will cherish this moment forever.
I was very confident in my decision to birth ‘unassisted’ from the very beginning, but this was the first time I truly knew I could do it on this level. It went from an idea to a powerful and surreal reality! I felt it so deeply in my core.
After the next surge, I checked myself again and I no longer felt the baby. For a moment I felt disappointment. Maybe I didn’t actually feel the baby the first time? But sure enough, the baby was there again after the following rush! Wave after wave, this pattern repeated; the baby would descend during the surge and ascend during the break. I never stopped checking the baby’s position during breaks.
My baby and my body; working perfectly, intuitively, harmoniously. Stretching my body slowly and gently. Our bodies and babies are so smart.
Knowing that I needed to open my pelvis, I raised my right knee and shifted my weight forward and back in lunge-like motions. I had it in my mind that I wasn’t going to push at all and just allow the fetal ejection reflex to take over when ready, but the sensations were so intense and I was feeling worn out. Now, in the reality of it, I would push briefly at times during surges when I felt intuitively that it was okay to do so.
Each surge was growing much more intense! My intuitive vocalization was at some points turning in to yelling. I hadn’t had long enough breaks in the past hours for bits of food or drinks. I was exhausted and needed to refuel.
I found some much needed relief by sitting on the toilet. After pushing during a few surges on the toilet, the baby was sitting about half way down the birth canal. Now I needed to stand with my right leg lifted up on the bathtub’s ledge with each surge. My left arm; with a casted broken wrist, was now supporting the rest of my weight on the bathroom counter. At this point I was actively pushing. During breaks, Tyson would very quickly give me sips of water, coconut water, and a bite of fruit. It had been an hour since my water broke.
I was exhausted, I felt ravaged. As a surge would begin, I would shoot up off the toilet in to position. As it would cease, I’d collapse back on the toilet, needing fuel to give me energy for the next wave. I would check the baby towards the end of each rush. It was so very close to crowning each time! At the end, I would feel the baby move back up.
Just now, I heard Jaime walk in the door! She came in and asked if I’d like her to take photos- of course! (I am so beyond grateful for her divine timing. I got my intimate birth experience with my partner, alone, and also got the most incredible pictures of our final, and our baby’s first moments!)
Now I was no longer sitting back on the toilet. I was hovering during breaks; my leg on the bath, casted arm on the counter. Tyson and I were staring in to each other’s eyes, waiting for the next wave.
I KNEW in all my being that this had to be it.
This was it!
With this rush, I pushed with all my strength. I felt the baby’s head coming through! It moved back up slightly, but I could still feel the head of hair right there at the opening during the break.
With the next rush I pushed, breathed, pushed, breathed- intuitively listening to my body. My hand feeling my tissue slowly stretch paper thin and open. Burning! Crowning, I felt the baby’s head lock in to place! I now remembered the feeling of the “ring of fire”, although, I would describe it as pressure.
During this pause, I just soaked in this magic between worlds: Feeling how thin my tissues had stretched, feeling the wet hair on my baby’s head, waiting in this openness. Knowing that any SECOND I would be meeting this person that Tyson and I called in. This person who I had grown in my body for 43 weeks. There are no words.
Here it was, the final surge- I pushed again with all my strength! I felt the baby’s head sliding through… Wait… Breathe, push… Breathe, okay puuush—I felt the baby’s head pop out (with a hand at his face)! RELIEF!
Within the next second, my hand still holding the head, I guided my baby out in to my partner’s loving arms as the rest of the body shot out. I DID IT! I felt power and strength that I still haven’t found the words to describe!
I looked down and was shocked to see a boy! We had been expecting a girl from very early on. Tyson and I looked at each other with confused faces. Jaime said our look was priceless!
He cried as he was still coming out of my body and had amazing color already. Tyson swears he heard the name Zephyr within seconds of seeing our boy. I believe him completely.
Zephyr makes his grand entrance
Zephyr Nova was born on March 16th, 2018 at *approximately* 2:13 pm at 42+6 weeks.
I had an intact perineum. No tearing whatsoever!!!
Jaime helped us move effortlessly to the bedroom. I delivered my placenta spontaneously in the comfort of my bed within 30 minutes of birth.
For me it’s relevant to add that being at home, I had no one pushing on my uterus after birth while trying to bond with my baby. It did its job- which it’s obviously made to do. I was able to feel it and decide for myself if it was contracting properly. To me, the pain of the uterine ‘massage’ post birth was significantly more painful than the entire birth process. No one prepared me for it either. I feel like I still hold trauma from that in my hospital birth with Asher.
We were able to instinctively navigate the immediate postpartum, with all the hormones working harmoniously in our favour. Just like nature intended. Even with only one hand, breastfeeding was a breeze. I had no one telling me what to do, telling me that I needed to track my baby. No one testing my baby and taking him away.
Since I never got to use my birth pool, I washed off in it a couple hours PP.
We did a cord burning ceremony after I asked Zephyr if it was okay for me to separate him from his placenta so that I could consume it. He didn’t cry so I took it as a yes. He also didn’t cry during the separation.
After the cord burning, my mom brought Asher home and he got to meet his baby brother!
I, (or should I say we), had a placenta smoothie. Tyson was already open to trying it, Asher had a couple cups, and even my mom who was wary about the thought earlier became curious and had a few sips!
We weighed him late that night- he was 7.7lbs
The most rewarding decisions
Both having no routine prenatal care and birthing undisturbed and free have been the most rewarding and life changing decisions I’ve made in my life. I learned to listen to my intuition, to trust & believe in myself, my body, and my journey. I connected so much more deeply to my partner. He believed so strongly in my ability and honored my autonomy. He and my mom were the only ones who heard my baby’s heartbeat during pregnancy. It was such a spiritual experience for me to go my entire pregnancy only ever looking inward.
Since I went so ‘far’ past 40 weeks, I had no one else’s fear or agenda to contend with. I knew my baby and body were healthy the entire time. I also wholeheartedly believe that I would have known if something was off. I simply relaxed, connected, and enjoyed my final weeks. No threats of induction, dropped care, or fear mongering.
I am so grateful to have come across free birth and to have had the courage to walk this path, knowing that it was what I was being called to do.
42+5 weeks. March 15th, 2018