I’ve been wanting to share my story but honestly haven’t had the time or mental capacity to do so. Every time I sat down to write, I was interrupted and when I did have the time, nothing came.
Life, it seems, has a new pace and speed at which it moves. My energy and body are pulled in seemingly infinite directions as I discover this new version of me emerging from the depths.
To be in this moment, where I am now, feels a little bit like heaven. Fully recovered. Finding some balance. And watching Ziyah grow into his human body, learning how it works and finding contentment within it.
Beyond smiling, we now laugh together… something that literally brings tears running down my cheeks. I keep telling him these are happy tears, hoping not to confuse him. 🙃 And the biggest gift of all - sleeping through the night! 9 hour stretches + 3 more just so we feel extra rested in the morning. We are TRULY blessed.
But, it’s been a total mix of emotions… this wild ride of birth and motherhood.
I wanted to share my story in a way that was uplifting (for those mamas-to-be out there) but also in a way that was honest (to honor my journey and process).
I may have been a little overly optimistic about how pleasurable birth could be or how easy and natural breastfeeding would be. Truth is, these have been some of the most challenging experiences of my life...
Pregnancy and birth have stretched me in ways I could never even imagine.
I dreamt it would be easy, orgasmic even. I read books and wrote down affirmations, displaying them prominently throughout the house.
I thought if I did enough squats, meditated long enough, cleared my fears and did my daily walks, I could have a comfortable pregnancy and ecstatic birth.
But I didn’t.
And I’m sharing this because I think it may actually help mamas-to-be. Certainly fear can make everything worse, but so can disillusionment…
Towards the end of my third trimester, I could barely walk. My back would slip out of place almost as soon as I left the chiropractor to have it fixed. And despite how many digestive enzymes I took, the heartburn was like nothing I’d felt before.
Josiah repeatedly told me how beautiful I looked but I felt huge and unattractive. And I couldn’t help but compare my belly to other pregnant mamas, feeling other women looked cuter and sexier pregnant (as superficial and silly as that may sound).
I was ready for it all to be over... and then, in my 41st week, on our last walk around the neighborhood, brightly lit by Christmas lights, I declared to the universe that I was ready.
The following night, at 2:30am, it began.
I had just fallen asleep an hour prior and knew I should try to rest but it started so strong, there was no going back.
Josiah rushed to cook and gather everything as I processed what was happening, taking some time to be alone in silence. Then sitting with me, caring for me and doing whatever I needed him to do… Showing up in complete selfless devotion.
After 12 hours at home, we were finally ready to go to the birthing center.
I strolled out of the house in a mini-dress, knee pads, socks and a bath robe. I’m sure I looked pretty hilarious but I could have cared less 😋 The knee pads were my saving grace as I labored on my hands and knees nearly the whole time.
We created a bed in the back of my SUV and I braced myself for the long drive over.
When we got there, Josiah set up the most beautiful ceremony space - complete with an altar, candles, soft music and crystal bowls. He burned sage to cleanse the space and did what he could to make me more comfortable.
I gave myself full permission to let the wild woman out – through every contraction, I screamed and wailed and moaned as loud as my voice could go.
I remembered back to the orgasmic birth videos we watched and had an increasing amount of respect for the women who handled it so gracefully but also wondered why it was so hard for me. I had been meditating every day and really believed I could “surrender into the pain” if I just relaxed enough.
Because we planned for a water birth, the heat was the only thing I had for pain relief and I couldn’t wait to get in. But as soon as I did, my labor slowed and I had to get out… I was devastated!
They kept trying to get me to eat and drink but nothing would stay down. I really didn’t expect that part, it certainly wasn’t fun, but I just kept doing my best to accept whatever was happening.
I stood in the bathroom bracing myself on the handle bars asking why anyone would choose to do this naturally… And why, oh why, did I choose to do it this way? I thought I would have the tub for pain relief… I’m not sure I would have signed up for this if I knew I wouldn’t have that.
But then, I stepped outside my body for a brief moment. I became witness to the thoughts and realized they were not helping me to get through this. So I asked myself “What thoughts do I need to think to make it through (and not get transferred to the hospital, since I really did not want to do that)?”
With that subtle shift in perspective, everything changed.
I declared to the universe that I was ready and “YES” became my mantra. I transitioned to the bed, finally surrendering… “yes, yes, yes, yes, yes” all the way through each contraction.
I melted into it, accepted it and opened up.
I alternated between mantras, “thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you” – welcoming them with all the eagerness I had to meet our precious little son.
At one point, towards the end of active stage labor, I actually fell asleep sitting straight up on an open-back birthing stool. 36 hours of labor will do that I guess! It was a combination of meditation and pure exhaustion.
Ziyah was birthed in the tub shortly after, graciously welcomed into this world by the hands of his father.
He was immediately placed on my chest, initiating a bond that will carry us through our entire lives. Seeing his fully developed perfect human body and feeling his little heart beating against my chest was the most unbelievable, magical moment of my life.
I felt like I needed to sleep for 3 days to recover but the adventure had just begun and there would be no time for that! 🙃
Being thrust into parenthood before a woman has fully recovered is perhaps one of the most challenging aspects of the postpartum experience.
It would be one thing to constantly breastfeed and function off of broken/partial sleep but doing so before we can even walk properly is something else completely. On top of that, we (mama and daddy) must become masters at decoding baby language and soothing techniques overnight.
Our son had an undiagnosed tongue and lip tie for the first 4 weeks of his life (something that 1-in-6 babies have and is preventable btw!).
Almost every time he latched, it felt like labor pain all over again. People said the pain was normal and would go away, but it didn’t. Finally, we had to have a minor surgery/revision to correct his mouth.
Thankfully the pain of breastfeeding is mostly gone but I was shocked at just how challenging all of this has been. There have been moments of breakdown and tears and wanting to give up. But I made it through the hardest parts and am SO grateful to be where I am now! In the most beautiful place.
I never expected all of this. I’m an optimist. I believe that our thoughts create our reality. And they do, no question about that. But it doesn’t mean we did anything “wrong” to attract the challenging experiences either. I know that everything that happens is custom designed by the universe to teach us very specific, individualized, lessons. And for that, I am grateful.
In the end, I had the birth I wanted. I gave my son the entry into the world I wanted him to have and I wouldn’t change a single thing about it.
Just as with yoga, and all of life, it’s not about avoiding discomfort but rather embracing it and learning how to breathe through it, seeing what you can discover about yourself in the process.
I trust each twist and turn on this divine path and know that through all of this, I have become stronger, more resilient, more patient and even more aware of my thoughts on a level like never before.
For me, this process has been a full-on initiation. An initiation into motherhood. Into surrender.
Eventually, at the end of our lives, we will all have to let go... and in the meantime, all of life is asking us to do so.
Motherhood is one of the fastest ways to do this because honestly you have no choice (unless you resist it of course which can lead to postpartum depression).
This is the true rebirth of the woman as a mother. No longer a maiden, her life is no longer just about her. She now has the chance to experience the capacity of her love, the strength of her will and the beauty of her devotion.
She now has the chance to sit before the master, cloaked in the skin of an infant, seemingly helpless, seemingly unknowing. But in her heart she knows the truth and in moments, she gets lost in the universe within his eyes and remembers the magic that she is.
And together, with her partner, they have the chance to strengthen their patience, their communication and their ability to completely surrender into the chaos and beauty that is life.
Photography (Outdoor Shots) by Melodee Solomon