Monday, October 26, 2009
I gave birth to my first child, a radiant little boy named Cedar, on the glorious morning of the Autumn Equinox. As I write this, he has been enjoying his cozy life full of love and new sensations and experiences, for over a month. During this time I have often reflected on my pregnancy and birth experiences, unique and profound as they were. I’ve known that I’ll have to write about them, and yet there is SO MUCH to say. During my whole pregnancy, and now also as I take my first steps into motherhood, I have been rethinking everything related to these topics, and finding new empowering realities which serve to cultivate a much more fulfilling, blissful, ecstatic experience of my role as a mother with my precious child, than the commonly accepted, life-diminishing beliefs about pregnancy, birth and motherhood.
The story of my pregnancy and birth is a story about Trust. My birth story is also a story about courage and commitment. I am a person who thrives on doing things in radical ways, which to me means I tend to make choices with maximum possible potential for evolutionary experiences and new peak levels of joy and empowerment.
So I’ll begin with how my pregnancy unfolded. First of all, I have been a raw vegan superfoodist for about 8 years. This is a foreign concept to most people at this time, and for me at this point, I’ve been doing it for so long that it’s totally normal. So naturally, I was a raw vegan superfoodist during my pregnancy. I am sure this had a significant influence on my “unusual” level of comfort and ease during my pregnancy. I had no cravings for unhealthy foods (which are caused by nutrient cravings, if someone’s food choices aren’t meeting the additional nutrient requirements of pregnancy), no “mood swings” (although I felt my feelings much more fully and deeply!), and my increasingly full and round “baby belly” was quite comfortable for me, even in my 3rd trimester in the hot Texas summer! I was physically active, dancing and taking walks, right up until the day of my labor. The changes in my hormones created a wonderful shift in my brain waves, resulting in spontaneous states of meditation, and other blissfully altered states of consciousness. This provided an opportunity for me to cultivate subtle, telepathic channels of communication with my baby. I even received his name, Cedar Kumara, when I “asked” him his name during an especially deep meditation/communication about halfway through my pregnancy!
I knew he was a boy since nearly the beginning, without having to check with an ultrasound. I actually felt no desire or requirement for ANY pre-natal care with a doctor or midwife the entire time, preferring tuning into my innate knowing of everything important, which I discovered that I definitely have! I deeply desired to experience pregnancy and birth in the most intimate way possible, to find out how many of my previously dormant superpowers I could activate during this profound window of opportunity that women usually have only a few times in their lives. I never checked my baby’s position when nearing my due date, preferring to mentally communicate with my baby about why coming out headfirst will be the most comfortable, desirable experience for him. I never bothered having my nutrient levels checked (I trusted my natural food desires to show me which nutrients I required more of at any given time), checked measurements, or any of the other standard pre-natal procedures.
What I did do a lot of during my pregnancy, is contemplate all aspects of my life in great detail. I was very aware that as I was preparing to give birth to Cedar, I was also preparing for my own Rebirth as his mother. I felt myself transitioning to an entire new phase of my life, and nothing would ever be the same. I purified my consciousness of outdated things, thoughts, beliefs and activities. I imagined what my life would be like with Cedar here, in as much detail as possible. For me, pregnancy was an exciting opportunity for purification and transformation, into a much more evolved, responsible, powerful and caring expression of myself.
Back to the theme of Trust… my pregnancy was a gradual evolution of my trust in myself, my body, and God. Before I was pregnant, I hardly “knew” anything about pregnancy and birth. During my pregnancy, I read a lot of books about natural, spiritual pregnancy and childbirth. The more I read, the more I realized I already know all about this topic, deep inside my cells, within my divine blueprint as a woman. My confidence increased more and more. Right from the start, having a home birth was my default choice (my mother birthed me and my sisters at home, so I was already comfortable with home births as the normal way of things). For a long time, I contemplated whether to have a midwife at my birth, or just do it myself. As my pregnancy progressed, something kept me from contacting a midwife. When I found out that most midwives require the pregnant mother have at least SOME pre-natal care with her beforehand, and I felt no motivation to do this, I realized then that I had a deep desire for the empowerment, trust, courage, and personal responsibility of having an unassisted birth, and how having this experience would transform my perception of myself…
Cedar’s Birth… A Story of Trust, Courage & Commitment:
I was two weeks past my due date. I had intuitively felt for a while that my official due date was too soon for us, and our big day would come sometime afterward, so I felt very relaxed about this. One night, I woke up at 3AM, to the subtle yet distinctly clear pulsing of my first contractions/expansions/waves. For the next two hours, I enjoyed these rhythmic waves during the peaceful serenity of night, allowing myself to fully integrate what this means… the time has finally come!!! I will soon see my very own child, face to face, hear his voice and feel his skin! Is this real?!? I woke Isaac up when I was ready. We celebrated… we hugged and expressed our joy at the inevitable forthcoming BIRTH of our child!! Then we took a nap :)
I had no idea how long my labor would be. I thought it might be pretty short, which is a common experience for raw vegan women. And yet, the hours were passing, my expansions still continuous, and slowly, gradually increasing in intensity. 12 hours later, at 3 in the afternoon… it was hot outside… and inside. Ooh.. things were becoming pretty intense. How much longer could I do this? The evening came, and nighttime set in. My experience began to get very psychedelic. My expansions became unbearably intense… well, my mind thought so. I encountered the Dark Night, a primal confrontation with doubt, fear, and a deep belief in limitation that I didn’t know was in me. Could I really do this? How much longer would it be? Was I going to “run out” of energy and pass out?? Isaac and my mother were the two people I chose to attend my birth… Isaac to be by my side the whole time, and my mom in the other room as a backup in case things became really intense (which they did). Their support and encouragement during this time meant everything to me. They helped me do the impossible… to keep going, keep allowing, and keep trusting. This was becoming a marathon labor, and I did my best to rest between expansions. It was now the middle of the night again… I went back and forth between my bed and our bathtub full of warm spring water. My body went back and forth between hot and cold. I remember leaning on my bathroom counter to ride another wave, and looking at my face in the mirror… I looked completely different, my eyes and face revealing the shamanic dimension I now occupied.
At some point, the pushing began. I didn’t actually do any pushing… the pushing HAPPENED THROUGH ME. It was the most powerful force in the universe, and it would come in through the top of my head, down my spine, and my muscles would then spontaneously push my baby further down my birth canal! The only part of this process I had any control over were my thoughts/attention, breathing, and vocalizations. I sang as I pushed, in low tones to move my energy downward. I was told afterward that I pushed for two and a half hours! It seemed like his head was in my birth canal for an amazingly long period of time… I would feel with my fingers to find his head, and it kept feeling so far back still, and I felt myself stretching SO HUGE already! Also, while his head was in my birth canal, he must have been moving his facial features, because I kept feeling the most amazing and surprising little sensations! Then during the span of a few pushes, Isaac told me his head was out! I felt a burst of energy and power… I thought, Wow, I am really going to finish this!!! Two more pushes, and his wet little body slipped out, right into Isaac’s hands. My entire body felt the most gigantic, all-encompassing feeling of relief and satisfaction EVER. I heard a brand new voice announce his arrival. A massive wave of victorious joy poured through my whole body. “Look, Courtney!” Isaac called. I turned around. My little boy was in his hands, moving his body and making little sounds. “Ohhh… he is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen!!” We went immediately into the bathroom and into our bathtub. My placenta came out only a minute or so later. My birth was complete. I actually did it. Then I passed out.
I woke up on the bathroom floor. Isaac and my mom had caught me. I was able to crawl into my bedroom, and I laid on the floor cradled by mom and my dad (who had recently arrived with a case of coconuts). “Just hold me… like you did when I was born” I said a few times. I heard my little boy’s voice coming from the tub in the bathroom, and I felt waves of warmth pour through my body, and the most profound love I have ever felt. I had just been Reborn. I was brand new. And my child was brand new. We were brand new together!! Isaac brought our baby into our room and we snuggled up on the floor together, naked and wet, wrapped in towels. I was in awe, and in love. This was the best day of my entire life so far! And the first day of my new life.
Cedar was born with the dawn of this new day, at exactly 7AM on September 21st, the Autumn Equinox. I was in continuous labor for 28 hours. I was surprised to discover my perineum remained fully intact… I really did stretch that far! I’m sure it had much to do with my pushing/birth position (hands and knees/squatting) and my controlled breathing during pushes.
My mom stayed at our house to help out for the first week after our birth. Cedar was a lotus birth, which means we kept his umbilical cord and placenta attached until they fell off naturally… check out http://lotusbirth.info for more about this wonderful gift you can give your child! He was attached for his first 5 days, which had the extra side benefit of making it inconvenient for me to get out of bed, keeping me resting as much as possible :) We got around to weighing him a week after his birth; he was a healthy, radiant 8-pound little boy, and becomes healthier and more radiant daily! For the first week after our birth, I focused on deep replenishment and bonding… resting, sleeping, nourishing food, hydrating beverages, and establishing my nursing relationship with my little one (he quickly became an enthusiastic little suckler, and when my milk came in on the third day, it came in massive abundance!). I had gone 28 hours with no actual sleep, very little food (all I could get down the whole time was water, raspberry/nettle tea with honey, coconut water with grass powder, and a spirulina/honey/coconut oil superfood mixture), while engaging in the most physically demanding act I have ever done. Taking great care of myself afterward made all the difference… a week after my birth I felt wonderful, actually the best I had ever remembered feeling!
My labor and birth went differently than I expected. I had planned on a water birth, and as I rode the intense waves of labor, I discovered that my tub was too small and hard for the high level of comfort I required. The challenging moments were immense, and taught me about the power of REAL commitment. The joyful moments were ecstatic and victorious, and set the tone for cultivating my ever expanding joy of mothering Cedar. I am deeply grateful for my whole experience. My labor and birth was the most empowering, transformative experience of my life so far.
If my story was inspiring or empowering for you, it has served my purpose in sharing it. I fondly imagine a time very soon when all women will take personal responsibility for their journey into motherhood, the rite of initiation that birth represents, and forge the path of a new paradigm of mothering: continuous conscious awareness, willingness to personally evolve in every way, and the daily celebration of the ecstatic joy of being alive.