Jude’s birth was a marathon of mindfulness. His labor happened in slow motion over 52 hours. It began with a popping sensation I felt in bed at 3am Easter morning. 4/4 was the day I predicted he would come, so I was pumped to find some blood followed by the start of subtle contractions. I texted Julie at 7:30am with my first update and then got some sleep. By midmorning I was so excited as the subtle shifts started feeling mild. I hadn’t planned on telling any family members when labor began, but it was Easter and they were all gathering soooo I did. I knew I needed to rest, so I napped and watched my favorite easter movies: mary magdalene and jesus christ superstar. Things felt like they were progressing so I was in good spirits, excited to have an Easter baby. I spent sometime outside with my barefeet grounding into the Earth and praying.
By 9:00pm I started feeling the hormonal shakes and asked Julie to come over. She put me back to bed after an hour or so, as my now moderate contractions never got closer together or rhythmic. I contracted through the first night and slept in 10-15 minute increments. I found a ritual of sleeping in child’s pose on the bed with pillows stacked up, and would stand and rock with each surge. When my breath would get anxious, my husband would lovingly remind me to go deeper and breathe slower. He timed surges for a couple of hours and nothing got closer together for an extended period of time.
Monday morning came and I couldn’t sit, I hated the birthing ball, and laying on my side really sucked during contractions. Julie had a surprise quick birth with another client so she sent over a substitute doula/midwife student, Jen Conway, whom was also a client of mine that I got to work with over my pregnancy. She checked Jude’s heart rate and my cervix. His heart was perfect and I asked not to know any numbers about my cervix as it would get me in my head . She confirmed that things were indeed moving along (turned out to be 4cm). I got a new burst of energy. Jen helped me start to face the discomfort I was avoiding during the surges by bouncing on the birth ball. My sister came over to bring me food which rejuvenated me just seeing her. I couldn’t eat but a couple of bites of food every hour or so.
Julie arrived after her other clients quick 2-hour birth (which I called “that bitch” lovingly). I really didn’t like the pressure in my pelvic floor. I felt some residual trauma from my past being pressed on and the freeze response arising in my body. I let it out with a good cry, got grateful, and shook my body and booty to get the energy moving and relax my pelvic floor. All afternoon I contracted around the house. Julie led me through position change boot camp. She thought Jude may have his hand by his head which might prevent his engaging in the pelvis. Unfortunately, this didn’t seem to do anything. That evening, my husband, Julie and I sat outside as the weather was glorious. I said YES to the labor inducing herbal concoction Julie makes. She went into our yard and found a four leaf clover, which felt like a sign that all is well. I kept hearing from within my heart “all is progressing as it should.” But my mind was getting increasingly pissed.
Hours went by and my surges, now very strong, still weren’t coming closer together than 5-8 minutes. I was exhausted. Julie had used all her doula tricks but Jude was not budging. She put me to bed again and I took her recommended dose of benadryl and a glass of red wine. I slept hard for 90 minutes and was awakened by intense contractions at midnight. I waited until 2ish to wake my husband because he needed sleep. By 3:30am I was leaking fluid everywhere and starting to lose it. My contractions were still inconsistent and never developed a rhythm of coming closer together. This turned out to be my savior, as I learned the deepest surrender of my life in each break between surges. But it also made us all think I was not actually in transition yet. My body was telling me that things are progressing perfectly. But I couldn’t hear it over my mind.
This was a marathon of mindfulness. Physically I was absolutely exhausted and could barely handle each surge. Mentally, I was defeated, as I thought I wasn’t even in transition yet. Emotionally, I was distraught and angry. But spiritually, I was still connected. I called on all of my people’s prayers and loving energy. I called on my guides. I chatted with Jude. I spoke with God. Still, I was ready to check the f out.
My thoughts sounded like this during this time:
“if i can’t get through this how the hell will i get through transition”
“i’m fucking done. i want the epidural.”
“i’m a cocky little bitch for thinking i could do this unmedicated”
“i can’t go on. i cannot do this anymore.”
Nicholas and I had the most intense hours of our lives that morning. He texted Julie that I was burning out at 5:45am. She came over prepared to give me a powerful pep talk. She saw one contraction and knew I was bearing down. I felt what I thought was Jude’s head crowning. Julie checked and felt what we found out later was my water sack bulging. It was go time. I headed out of the house wearing a crop top, sarong and crocs. lol.
We got to the hospital at 6:50am in what felt like a scene out of movie (about the only thing movies get right about birth is the fast driving). The midwife met us at the entrance and my team rolled me up to the 6th floor in the most surreal morning of my life. I was 9cm dilated and my water completely broke upon checking. There was miconium in the fluid so the birthing tub was now not at option. I immediately accepted this. I found a deep inner peace, but never got into that trance like state. I was hyper aware of everything happening. I decided to stand by the bed and squat to push. No one could tell me otherwise. I pulled on Julie’s magical scarf for support. Nicholas had a fan blowing in my face and his other hand on my back. I would look at him and Julie for support after each push. The most primal of noises came from within. I did the horse breath a ton. I shook my legs to loosen up the pelvic floor consistently. My moans were deep and low. It was insanely intense but I trusted the process.
Forty minutes after arriving to the hospital, I pulled Jude onto my chest. He was in my arms. He was healthy and happy. I was elated. I did it without any medication. I felt so empowered. The bliss was beyond words. I can’t explain how deeply satisfying the entire experience felt in that moment of finally holding him.
A mantra i used during this pregnancy is “ I trust my body and my baby.” I found this experience empowering because of this deep trust that our bodies know how to birth. The mind creates fear. WE ARE NOT OUR THOUGHTS. I’ve said this for years, but now I KNOW it…and I truly trust my body, which is a gift from God.
You can follow Kat’s embodiment work at www.kathrynhaydenbeck.com