Sunday, January 3, 2016

The Birth of Kaleo Bradley

Welcome to the world Kaleo Bradley! 
Born October 22, 2015 at 3:12 pm. 7 lbs 14 oz, 21.5 in long

(So, I began writing this at about two weeks postpartum and am just now finally finishing! Since I would just sit down and add to it whenever I had the time, I feel like it's not written as well as I would like it to be. But, it tells the story at least!) :) 

Here I am at two weeks postpartum and I am just now sitting down to write my birth story. I know I need to do it now before the details begin to fade. I guess I should begin with the day before my due date. I was having a really crappy day. My hormones were all over the place and Ava was being extremely difficult, really testing me and pushing my limits. I was losing my patience and snapping at her and being crabby to Woody as well. I knew I needed to get out of the house and just have a moment to myself to take a breath and ground out. Mary Ann (Woody’s mom who was in town for the birth) suggested Woody and I go on a walk together.  I’m glad she did because I didn’t realize that I was really in need of some quality time with my husband. Even though I had been being bitchy to him all day, poor guy! On our walk I found myself opening up and expressing some of my worries and fears surrounding birth. For weeks I had been feeling like the baby could come ANY day. His head was really low and I was feeling lots of pressure. Plus I was having really intense Braxton Hicks contractions. And from what I had heard, second babies usually come earlier…and faster! ;) So, I was surprised that here I was on the day before my due date and the baby hadn’t arrived yet. I expressed to Woody that I had been feeling stressed and anxious about how things were going to be after the baby was born. I had no fear about birth itself; I was worried about after the birth, how things were going to be with a newborn and a toddler, and how Ava was going to adjust to the new baby. I told Woody that I was beginning to think that maybe the baby was sensing my feelings of anxiety and didn’t feel safe to come into the world yet because I wasn’t ready for him. This realization kind of broke my heart. I knew I had to process these feelings and reassure myself and baby that it was ok and we were ready for him to be here.

The next morning (my due date!) I received a text from a friend. She is an awesome woman in my community who I deeply admire and respect, but we don’t talk on a regular basis or spend a whole lot of time together. Her text read, “Hi! How are you this morning?” I wrote back, “Hi! Well, no baby yet. I am surprised I’m still pregnant! Cuz I have been feeling like this baby could come any day for weeks now! But, I guess he is just taking his time…” Immediately after sending the text, I saw that she was calling me. She said she was just really feeling me and felt the need to reach out. She had intuitively picked up on what I was feeling about the baby not wanting to come yet. I couldn’t believe her perfect timing and intuition! I began to cry as she helped me sort through and process my feelings. I was so grateful for her call and was amazed by how in tune she was. What a truly magical woman! After I got off the phone with her, I sent a text out to some of my closest girlfriends saying, “Hey my lovely sisters. I’m reaching out for a bit of support. It is my due date today. I have been feeling like the baby could come any day for weeks!  I know he is just taking his time and will come when he is ready. But, I had the realization that baby may be picking up on some fear/hesitation I’m feeling and may not feel that it’s safe to come into the world yet. I realized that I have been feeling some anxiety and nervousness about having a newborn AND a toddler and worried about how the transition is going to be, especially for Ava. Ava has been quite a handful lately (pretty much through my whole pregnancy) and I feel like I have been stressed a lot and pushed to my limits. I worry that baby boy is sensing all of this and isn’t ready to be here yet…cuz on some level I’m not ready. So I’m asking you to please hold me in your thoughts while I work through this and reassure myself and baby that it’s ok and we’re ready for him to be here, no matter how hard the transition may be! Thank you loves!” I received so many beautiful responses of love and support and really felt lifted up and held. Later that day, I sat in front of my birth altar and meditated for a while, really dropping in with baby and talking to him. When I was done, I felt a subtle yet, significant shift. I felt clear and light, like a weight had been lifted. And I just felt…different!

That evening, Woody and I left Ava with the Grandma while we ran out to do some grocery shopping at the Community Market. Since it is a luxury to be doing anything together without the toddler, we decided to take advantage of the situation and stop in at the bar before shopping. Woody had a beer while I sipped a kombucha. I told Woody about my phone call with my friend that morning and about my meditation with baby earlier in the day. I started crying a little again, and joked about how emotional I was feeling. I was definitely feeling different, more open and aware of something shifting. I felt pretty confident that baby would be coming soon!

While in the produce section of the Community Market, this older woman approached me smiling and said, “Well, I guess you’re pregnant!” I laughed and said, “Yeah, just a little bit!” She asked when I was due, we chatted for a bit and then parted ways. But, a little later on she approached me again, looked me in the eyes and said, “I can tell just from talking to you that you’re a really good mother. And have a beautiful family. And that’s really rare these days.” She said that so sweetly and sincerely and I could have sworn her eyes were tearing up as she spoke. Mine did too, of course! I just felt like she was an angel delivering me a message I needed to hear. Later when we were in line checking out, another woman started chatting to me and was amused when I told her it was my due date. She asked me some questions about birth, like if I was planning on having a natural birth at home. I told her that yes, I was. And she said, “You know, they say that women who give birth naturally are like shamans. Because they are between the worlds.” I was like, “Hell yeah! Well, shoot…I’ve already been initiated!” I felt empowered by this woman’s words and felt that she too, was an angel placed in the right place and the right time, delivering me a message I needed to hear.

That night in bed, things started happening. I woke up around 2 or 3 am with pretty painful contractions.  They were painful enough to prevent me from falling back asleep, so I started timing them. They were coming about every 10 minutes and lasting for 30-50 seconds. Even though they hurt and were distracting, I managed to fall back asleep sometime after 4. I awoke again a little after 6:00 and texted my midwife, Colette. Contractions were still coming intensely but, they were irregular and inconsistent. Colette said that the baby could be coming today or I could just keep having contractions on and off for a few days. She told me to just keep her posted. Even though I was in pain every several minutes, I was feeling super spunky and energetic. I decided to come with Woody to drop Ava off at daycare. I didn’t feel like just sitting around at home. In the car, the contractions started coming more intensely and a bit closer together, like every 5 minutes. They were making me feel all squirmy and when one would hit, I would have to brace myself by gripping the armrest and lifting up out of my seat. I had to really breathe deeply to get through them.  After dropping Ava off at daycare, we stopped by Hardcore coffee. I got a decaf Americano and an apple fritter!!! ;) (If you are familiar with Ava’s birth story, you might remember that I also ate an apple fritter the morning I went into labor with her. Ha!) When we got home, I took a shower and chilled for a while. Contractions started slowing down again and becoming more inconsistent. I texted my BFF and doula, Feather and told her that things were happening and it could be the day! She got all excited and said she was going to come over right after work. She just happened to have the afternoon off which worked out perfectly! While I waited for her to come over, I sat down and started coloring a mandala. Mary Ann sat next to me and colored in her adult coloring book. It was a really adorable moment. Soon Feather arrived with roses and “holy water.” Seriously. I love her :) I said, “Do I look like I’m having a baby today?!” She was like, “Yeah!!!” We decided to go for a vigorous walk to pass some time and maybe try to speed things up a little. Contractions were coming a little more intensely again, but still not really following a pattern. Feather did a really good job at keeping me distracted and entertained while she chatted about her upcoming wedding and other various things. She had me cracking up when she suggested that I lift my legs higher with each step and start swinging my arms harder. We kind of started doing this silly little march down the street. I laughed every time a car drove by and couldn’t help but wonder what they thought of us.

After our awesome walk, we decided to hit up Peter Lowell’s for lunch. We figured it would be a good idea to fuel up with some good food since it seemed likely that I would be having a baby in the very near future! Before we even ordered Feather asked our server to bring us to-go boxes with our food in case we had to jet out of there fast.  We got our food and ate while my contractions kept coming. Again, they started coming a bit more intensely and closer together, about every 5-7 minutes. I told Feather that I thought it was time to head back. So we quickly paid and left. We made a quick stop to pick up Feather’s son, Kai from preschool before heading back to the house. This was about 2pm at that point. I texted Colette on the way home and told her that contractions were coming hard and heavy about every five minutes. Looking back, I probably should have told her to come over right then! But, she told me to just keep her posted. I should have known that things were starting to progress more quickly. I was starting to get that psychedelic feeling that I remembered from Ava’s birth. And I thought that I could actually feel my cervix opening with each contraction.

When we got back to the house, Woody was having a beer on the front porch with a buddy. Feather fed Kai a snack and got him all settled, and then started to massage the pressure points in my ankles to try to stimulate my uterus. This is probably what kicked things into high gear! I still don’t know why I hadn’t told Colette to come over at this point! Things obviously just unfolded the way they were meant to. While Feather massaged my ankles she started talking about all the births she had been to. She told me about the very first birth she attended of a good friend of hers. Before her friend went into labor she drew a tarot card and got the Hanged Man. While in labor, there were some complications and it turned out the baby had the cord wrapped around his feet. He was the hanged man. I don’t know if this was a good story to tell me while I was in labor! Especially because shortly after that, I decided to draw a tarot card myself and drew the Hanged Man! I was like, “Woah! Feather…look!” I read the description of the card outloud. “This card implies there’s a sacrifice, a difficult situation coming up in your life. Though you naturally want to resist and struggle through it, be more like the hanged man. Find stillness, open your eyes and use this new perspective to learn something. You’re stuck here either way.” After I read it I was like, Oh! That totally applies to birth! And motherhood! While I had been reading the card’s description out loud to Feather, I had been sitting on a yoga ball and moving my hips around in a circle when contractions would hit. But I had reached a point where I could no longer do this. Contractions were becoming unbearable and I could no longer focus or carry on a conversation. I told Feather I was going in the bedroom. I heard her tell Woody that it was time to change the sheets on the bed. The details from this point on are a bit fuzzy. I remember being on my hands and knees on my bedroom floor, moaning with each contraction. It felt more intense and more painful than labor with Ava. Feather brought in my yoga ball and I draped myself over it, continuing to moan. I started shaking uncontrollably. Feather asked it I wanted to OM, which is what I did when I was in labor with Ava. So, Feather and I om’d together with each contraction. Finally at 2:50 pm I texted Colette saying, “I feel like maybe you should come over now. Contractions have gotten stronger and feeling lots of pressure.” She texted back saying she was on her way. A few minutes later, I texted my good friend, Danielle who I had put in charge of texting all my girlfriends when I went into labor. I probably should have texted her earlier too! For a few more minutes, I labored and om’d over the yoga ball. Feather had sprinkled rose petals around me and was smudging the room while MaMuse played softly in the background.  Woody was behind me squeezing my hips together.

 A little of my water released at this point so Woody helped me out of my dress and underwear. Suddenly I felt this overwhelming pressure and said I had to poop. But, when I sat on the toilet, I reached down and was surprised to find that I could feel the baby’s head. I didn’t have to poop, I was just feeling the pressure of my baby being born! “I feel the baby’s head,” I calmly told Woody and Feather. They both immediately sprang into action (as their inner midwifes came forth) ;) I climbed up on the bed on my hands and knees and the rest of my water released, which relieved a bit of the pressure I was feeling.

I’m not going to lie, I was pretty freaked out by how fast it was happening. But, I wasn’t worried about our midwife not being there. I felt so supported and safe with Woody and Feather. I found myself kind of rambling and saying things like, “I’m so sorry if I’m pooping on you, Woody!” (He quickly reassured me that I wasn’t.) “This is happening too fast! I’m going to tear!” 

I couldn’t have stopped this baby from coming even if I wanted to. He was ready. I hardly felt the need to push at all. I could feel my body doing the work and moving him out. But, since it was happening so fast I felt like I was being ripped apart. 

I let out a scream (my warrior cry) as his head came out. Feather and Woody were silent behind me for a breath, then Feather told me to “PUSH!” to get the rest of his body out. I let out another deep warrior cry as the baby’s body slipped out straight into Woody’s arms. I carefully rolled over as Woody handed me the baby. Feather grabbed a towel and wrapped it around the baby to dry him off and keep him warm. This was at 3:12 pm, about 20 minutes after I had texted Colette telling her to come over. I was in active labor for 20 minutes! Colette and Serena arrived about 5 minutes after the baby was born. I was still in complete shock at how fast everything had happened and that I was holding my baby in my arms! And that Woody had caught him! It took a long time to come down and ground out after such a powerful experience.

Shortly after the birth, Mary Ann went to pick up Ava from daycare. I hadn’t felt emotional or tearful throughout the whole birth or after, but the second Woody walked into the room with Ava in his arms, my heart swelled and I couldn’t even speak. Tears flowed down my face as I witnessed my two babies meeting for the first time. I struggle to find words to describe how precious that moment was.

So much love! Ahhh! Here I am, now a mama of two bright, beautiful souls <3

“It is said that women in labor leave their bodies…they travel to the stars to collect the souls of their babies, and return to this world together.”