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by Sarah on December 2nd, 2011

Thank you, Robyn, for sharing your beautiful, honest, and inspiring account of the birth of your son, Cassian. .

The Birth of my firstborn,and son, Cassian, will leave me forever changed. I am aware of the divine feminine and my power as a female in a way I was unable to comprehend before surrendering to the power of his birth.

I was dearly attached to having a home birth, and had for many weeks been trying to release that attachment and work through any fears of the birth not happening the way I wanted it to. Both the healer I work with, who was also going to be my doula, and my midwife had explained to me on separate occasions that if I let go any fear or anger of the birth ending up in a hospital or a c-sec that that the need for me to experience that would diminish. I had very little fear around the pain of the birth but I could feel intuitively that if I could surrender the need to control the way my son wanted to enter the world, and trust in my higher self and that of my son’s that the potential of birthing in love, at home, would be greater.

At 39 weeks my son was lying in the posterior position and had disengaged after being engaged since about 37 weeks. I went to see my mid-wife Sandy on Monday and she suggested that it may be another 5-10 days before I went into labour. Something inside me let go of the birth happening soon. I went for a long walk on the beach that evening with my pregnant friend Lisa, and then another with my husband after. That night my husband and I made love, and as it turns out my son started his entry into our world in the same way he was conceived, because shortly after being intimate, he once again engaged and I started enjoying the most intense waves of pleasure – my hormones had started working their magic. I went to bed that night on a complete high – honestly it felt like I was tripping on ecstasy.

At about four the next morning, I got up to go to the toilet and was surprised to see that I had wet myself on my way back to bed. As I tried to clean that up, more water kept leaking and I realised that my water was breaking. I climbed back into bed after sorting myself out, and my husband I tried to get some rest, but as first time parents, knowing that we really could, very soon, be meeting our son was just too much. At 6:30 I texted my mid-wife to let her know about my waters breaking, and we started to get ready for the day. I had only very mild cramps and backache at this stage.
We had some breakfast and took our dog Zara for a walk. Sandy, our mid-wife popped around at about 10:00 am and confirmed that I was 1cm dilated and that my son was now lying in the anterior position. It seems that the clever little thing had only disengaged to get into a better position. By this stage, my cramps were more intense but manageable. My husband and I started setting up our lounge in preparation for the birth.

I created my birthing alter; put up images and affirmations and he set up the birthing pool. At around 11:30 am my first contraction started, followed by the next only 2 minutes later. My contractions continued at these intervals right through the birth. We had decided to call them “expansions” during the birth as a reminder for me to open and surrender during them, but I can see why they have been coined contractions. For me each one felt like a storm. I would start to feel the rumbling of the thunder, and have just a few seconds to get into position and brace myself for the lightning that was coming. Then the lightning would crack and rage for a minute before the storm started to roll away.

I used the birthing ball to begin with but by about 1:00pm was in the pool. Sandy returned at 2:00pm, just when I needed her to, and by this stage each contraction had all of my attention. She checked me out and I was 3cm dilated, and my contractions continued to be strong and regular at one-and-a-half to two minutes apart. I did not have much time to gather myself between them but rather had to roll with the storm and maintain absolute focus. I could clearly see a split in the birthing road at this stage. I had the choice to go down the road of fear by putting my attention to concern over how long this would last, or I could choose to stay completely present and focused using all my energy to opening myself up and allowing the natural process to unfold. At the start of each contraction I would say to myself that I could do this a 100 times over if I had to. I closed my mind as completely as I could to worry. I was a slave to the present moment, and so very grateful for it. I found my inner warrior and abandoned all self-modesty and control. I had to. One minute I was on all fours vomiting from the hormones, and the next racing to get to the toilet between contractions as my bowels loosened. I found my “voice” and bellowed with some contractions, and moaned to the beat of the lost shaman inside of me with others. I was totally present to the process and thus acted without thoughts of fear of what others may think. For the first time in my life I had consciously gotten out of my own way and was allowing some of my authentic self to shine through and access her power in the third dimension.

By 3:30 I was starting to feel pressure to push, and was 7cm dilated. My healer Dora arrived. Just as I needed her. The lightning continued to strengthen its grip and I started repeating my mantras out loud… “I soften and open myself up.” “I surrender.” “I trust my body.” “The pain is fear and I release my fear.”… They were working. Dora commented on how much old “fear” I was releasing with every contraction too – by acknowledging that the pain was just fear and that I had to let go I had to started to cleanse myself of other stuff – belief systems; mass consciousness that was standing in my way of being totally present to the birth.

By 4:30 the pressure to push was getting stronger and I was 8cm dilated. I had crossed over. I was in an altered state of consciousness, struggling to hear and focus on those physical beings supporting me during the birth. I heard from a friend of a friend that in birth we cross over to another dimension to fetch our babies and then journey back with them, and in retrospect this sums up my experience so neatly. I was drifting off in the breaks between my contractions, neither asleep nor unconscious, just “far away.”

By 5:11 I was fully dilated and I started to push. And this called for me to abandon another layer of my mind. Of fear. Again I was clearly shown why first time mothers often battle to push, in my experience. Although the urge is so strong, so is the feeling that what is being pushed through feels so foreign – it is scary. Once again I had a choice. To remain open and curious to what it felt like to push a baby out of that “place down there” rather than slowing the process down with fear of what the “hell was happening down there, “or “what if?”

I will never forget how my son’s head felt as it crowned – so much softer than I had expected. I was so close. I pushed his head out, when suddenly Sandy’s voice found us, as she gently but very firmly told me to stand and get out of the water quickly – his one shoulder was stuck. And so it was that my son Cassian was born firstly with his head in the water, and the rest of him in the air at 5:55 pm on the 15.11.11.

He entered the world bellowing, alert and so very loved.

My mom arrived 45 minutes after the birth and a 900km drive or should I say dash up from the Eastern Cape, just as we needed her. It was not appropriate for her to arrive a second sooner. Her arrival mirrored the divine timing of the rest of our birthing experience.

A heartfelt thanks to Sandy, my midwife, Dora our Healer, and my husband, Christian, whom were as integral to Cassian being birthed in love, as I was. Although I have made no mention of my husband until now, he was with me in mind; body and spirit every breath of the way and my absolute rock throughout the process.

Cassian’s birth into this world is over but my birth into motherhood is only starting. I am amazed at how my journey thus far so closely mirrors what was required of me in birth. Complete surrender to the process and abandonment of my own control over schedule and timing. Being present to the moment. The around the clock care only becomes daunting or loses its joy when I wonder how long it will go on for, or worry about the future. The need to remain curious, which keeps me and my heart more open to the needs of my precious little bundle, Cassian. Making no assumptions. For example, every time I have assumed he can’t possibly be hungry because he fed just an hour ago, we both suffer as I try to find the explanation for his discomfort, before I let go of my mind and logic and just really look and listen to what he is trying to tell me.

And finally, both birth and motherhood have stretched me and my limited ideas of what I am capable of as a human being, and more importantly as a women. I have never been so proud of any effort as much as I am of those during the birth, and I feel now as if I have joined this wonderful club of a particular knowingness and satisfaction that bonds all women who have birthed their children. I can’t say exactly what this knowingness is, but it feels expanded, like I have touched a deep well and infinite source of strength that connects all of us in, birthing more of ourselves whenever we open ourselves to that potential. And I so very dearly wish for all women to experience this, rather than to be led to believe that they do not have it in them to at least attempt natural birth. I believe that denying oneself the experience of natural birth is parallel to denying oneself the experience of womanhood.

In my opinion, vaginal preservation or for whatever other reason lies behind the increasingly high elective caesarean rates in our country are making us less feminine rather than more feminine as a nation. I have no judgement for those situations when a caesarean is appropriate, after all it is the baby’s choice as to how they enter the world. But it does make me sad when I see another female coerced or talked out of natural birth by her community or gynaecologist.

It is my intention that by sharing my birthing story, I have in some small way added a ripple to us turning the tide on birth being a scary and unfortunate experience to be avoided at all cost.

From → Birthing

  • Giselle

    wow! great story. thanks for sharing with us!

  • Anne

    Congratulations, and thank you for writing this :)
    That comment about crossing over to fetch our babies and journey back with them is so beautiful and rings with truth – it has added a new dimension of wonder to my memories of childbirth, putting something into words that I have not been able to before.

  • Tanya

    What a beautiful share! Thank You Robyn x

  • Drea

    What a beautifuly written story. Thank you Robyn for sharing the intimate details of your birth. I will be welcoming my first baby in June 2012 and hope to have a natural delivery much like your experience. I hope more women will read these stories and empower themselves to have an active birth!