The Home Birth of Bodhi Rain
A full photo gallery can be found at the end of the post. Listen to my birth playlist while reading for an even fuller experience:
In this post, I will be referring to the birth of my first son, Luken, which I shared in a video here. In retrospect and through the healing that I worked through to prepare for Bodhi’s birth, I have learned that there was much about Luken’s birth that could have been different and I was able to learn so much about birth and my own inner knowing through the processing and reflection on what was in many ways a traumatic birth experience in which my body and its unique birth process was not fully honored.
As I prepare myself to attempt to express one of the most transformational, beautiful, healing, and ecstatic experiences of my life, it dawns on me that there are really no words that could possibly do it justice.
There are certain events in life that no matter how hard you try to explain, re-live, or recall, there is no way to fully access and convey the energy and divine moments that are embedded throughout the experience. With that being said, I will do my best to describe the home birth of my second son, Bodhi, with as much reverence and awe as the actual day brought.
For a few weeks leading up to the day of Bodhi’s birth, I experienced quite a bit of prodromal labor. There were a couple times that I thought I was in labor only to have contractions slow down and eventually stop. I had prodromal labor for a few weeks before Luken was born as well, so I was expecting this to happen - but these contractions felt more intense, consistent, and productive than they had when I experienced it with Luken.
Bodhi was extremely low in my pelvis for the last few weeks, which was quite uncomfortable and by the weekend that true labor started I was beyond ready to meet Bodhi — and be done with pregnancy. On the fourth of July, we were at a barbecue with my family and I was having more prodromal labor, or what I now realize was the very early start to labor. I did my best to ignore the contractions but a part of me wondered if this would finally progress. That night I felt very uncomfortable, texted my midwife to let her know that…yes, this MAY actually be the real deal but I wasn’t getting my hopes up.
Months before, I had guessed that he would be born on the 5th of July: a full moon and lunar eclipse. Some part of me knew that the ancient wisdom of the moon’s cycles would inform my body. I went into labor with Luken on a full moon as well. It seemed fitting that through the night as the moon reached its fullest expression, my cervix was gently and slowly opening to begin the transition into birth. I slept somewhat restlessly, but nothing was too intense. When I awoke in the morning, Mike went to work and I found that I had started the “bloody show”. Throughout the morning and early afternoon, I went about my day preparing my space for what I knew was leading to the birth — I cooked, I cleaned, I walked, I played with Luken and tried to spend as much time with him knowing this would be his last day as my only baby. I practiced breathing and relaxing into each contraction — I knew they would only progress to more intensity and I felt into what my body was asking me to do to really surrender to each wave. I practiced different positions, mantras, and visualizations of my pelvis softly opening to let my baby out. Into the afternoon, after Mike got home, I had him set up the birth pool and I told my midwife it was time to head over. My mother-in-law came over to help support Luken (and my husband!) during the birth and to be able to take Luken in case I ended up deciding it was too much to have him there.
As evening arrived, around 7pm, Paige my incredible midwife, and Loren, my NSA chiropractor showed up, set some things up. I had had an incredibly deep healing experience with Paige and Loren (who through my pregnancy also became good friends), and having them both at the birth felt so important and nurturing. Paige gave me a huge hug and such a strong presence of trust and deep reverence for my ability to birth with my own sacred intuitive guidance and Loren filled my soul with fierce encouragement and entrainments to help my body and nervous system align. We all settled in to let things unfold.
Between each contraction, I felt light, joyful, and playful. The setting of my own home, with dim sparkling lights, my family, fellow soul sisters, my beloved pets coming by for the occasional nudge of support, and my carefully curated playlist all helped me to drop deeper into a new state of peaceful consciousness. During contractions I calmly let them completely take over. I settled into the sensations and told every cell of my being to relax, open, allow. I rocked, hummed, stretched, and let everything around me drop away. I smiled, laughed, played in the pool with my firstborn son. I hugged my loved ones, cried tears of joy and gratitude, sang along to my favorite songs, and embraced every moment of the journey. Soon after being in the pool, I noticed a shift of intensity and knew it was time for things to ramp up. Little did any of us know (I chose not to have any cervical checks throughout my pregnancy and birth) that I had already passed through transition calmly and gently. I asked that Mike take Luken to bed so that I could focus and relax even more. I kissed him good night, as my last time I’d see him as an only child. I felt a wave of grief as I said good bye to the life I once knew — where I didn’t have to share my time, my heart, with another child but him. Paige and Loren embraced me, intuitively knowing what I felt. I took a deep breath, released the tension, and set myself in the knowing that I am ready to feel even more depth of love for both my children.
At this same point in my birth with Luken, I had reached the fabled “10 cm” - not quite as peacefully, but unmedicated and with a sense of confidence. I was told that I could start pushing, so despite no natural urge to push at that point, I started baring down as hard as I could at each contraction. Nothing seemed to be happening, and my body had wanted to rest and my contractions had slowed. I was told to get out of the pool because things were “slowing down”. That was when we found that he was posterior and not positioned in a way that would allow him to descend. He had missed a key opportunity to align himself while my body rested and now that I was pushing, I couldn’t stop…fast forward to being transferred to the hospital from the birth center, getting an epidural, and hemorrhaging after birth (please watch video I linked to in the beginning for full story). It wasn’t until during my pregnancy with Bodhi that I listened to an incredible Birthful podcast episode on the holistic stages of physiological birth that I realized what had happened. I missed the “rest and be grateful” stage, after fully dilating but before the body takes over and fetal ejection reflex begins. This is the stage that the baby follows his instincts and moves into the position that he intuitively knows to be in to be born. I knew after hearing this that Luken’s birth could have been different. All I needed was to fully listen to what my body told me about how to birth him. I was determined to do that with Bodhi’s birth. My body, Bodhi, my heart would tell me exactly what to do — no coaching or external cues necessary; in fact I knew those things had been what interfered with Luken’s birth and would do the same with Bodhi’s.
So when I leaned back to rest in the birth pool after some very intense contractions, I knew to trust. I closed my eyes, half asleep between the occasional light contractions. I felt Bodhi nudging, twisting, adjusting and knew I was in that key, beautiful moment of union and connection with him. The moment where we do this together, I trust him and he trusts me, to be born together. A fleeting moment of anxiety hit me — this is where things all turned in Luken’s birth. What if it happens again? I knew this was the moment I needed to surrender to most. The “NOT doing”. The allowing. The waiting and trusting. At that exact moment, the song Suddhossi Buddhossi came onto my playlist. It was the same song that was sung to me by the Shaman during my ayahuasca journey in Mexico a year prior as I entered the point of surrender to complete ego-death (and what I felt as real death). It had become the song that I listened to any time I felt that I was not surrendering or releasing control in my life. It felt beyond synchronistic that it would come on at this moment, and I instantly relaxed and began uncontrollably laughing. In that moment, I felt so held and safe. I shifted again to an even deeper altered state of consciousness. I felt like I was in a dream. As soon as that pure relaxation came, the next level of birth came. I immediately knew I needed to get onto my knees and the most intense contractions started with an uncontrollable need to push. I didn’t even really feel like I was pushing, but more so that my body was doing it and I just had to brace myself. I held Mike’s hand during each massive sensation as an anchor. After just a couple pushes, I felt my water bag pop and gush into the pool. I cried with relief and joy during the periods of calm between the massively intense moments of contractions. He was coming. We were doing this. He would be here so soon. After just a couple more pushes, I felt his head crowning and entered the most physically intense moment of the entire birth — the “ring of fire”. This was the only part that I had not experienced “unmedicated” during Luken’s birth, and it was completely new territory. As the next couple contractions came, the intensity of that burning sensation pushed me further towards my primal consciousness. The song “Say Yes to Life” began to synchronistically play while I entered this phase of welcoming our son Earthside. I roared for two or three pushes, accessing a deep strength to help guide Bodhi into this world. His head was born and with it a deep sense of relief and release of pressure. I immediately relaxed, feeling his hair and commenting on how much he had, while I waited for the next contraction to come so I could birth his body into my hands underneath the warm waters. I sighed and smiled, knowing I was almost there — so close to meeting my son. Finally, one last strong contraction waved over me and Bodhi was born into my hands under water. I brought him to my chest and was overcome with joy, relief, love, and an awe for what I had just experienced. I cried and laughed. I felt overwhelmed with gratitude and joy that my son was here, and that I had experienced the ecstatic birth I had dreamed of. I had done the work for this. Mike embraced me and Bodhi, my support women surrounded us, and we all soaked in the oxytocin high of an uninterrupted magical birth.
I birthed the placenta and after a while my midwife felt that it was best to bring Bodhi out of the tub as his lungs were taking a while to clear out. I lifted him to Mike and he let out his first full bodied cry, and he seemed to have come into his own. We laid on the bed and he nursed. We performed the cord burning ceremony while Mike lead us in a welcoming prayer for Bodhi.
Bodhi’s birth was the most empowering, beautiful, ecstatic, and fulfilling experience of my life. I felt such a deep sense of trust and reverence for my body and his journey into the world. Throughout the entire experience, I felt as though I was in a completely different level of consciousness and accessing a deep intuitive knowing. No one told me what to do or interfered with the process. I was not monitored (except for a couple doppler heartbeat checks) and I completely surrendered to the relaxation and softening of my body to flow with labor. I was surrounded by love and complete trust in the sanctuary of my home. It was everything I could ever have hoped for, and much more. I felt so much strength and found a profound love for myself and the magic of my feminine power. I had gone through this fire walk, faced fears and found faith, and awoke a fierceness within that I may never have found without this incredible right of passage into womanhood. With Bodhi, I was also born anew.