"The Birth Of My Dreams:" Felicity's Home Water Birth

The following words are excerpts from this original blog post by mama Diana, "a Dominican woman, mother of two, marrying the love of my life, and lover of all things beautiful."  


There got to a point where I was exhausted and sore. I screamed and I threw a couple of F bombs while Andy whispered encouraging words to me.

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I was in so much pain, when the midwife went to check the baby’s head I slapped her hand (which I was so embarrassed about afterwards) Andy calmed me down when I felt like I was losing control, he rubbed me, and told me that I was going to do this and that I needed to trust myself.

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I cried and then I started to push for another twenty five minutes when I started feeling the head coming out, and it was such an insane and intense sensation, the shoulders were finally through and I went to grab my baby, but I was scared she/he would slip out of my hands so Robyn and placed her on my shoulder.

I felt such a sense of relief and accomplishment in that moment.

I thought she was a boy because I touched the cord and thought it was a penis lol when Robyn opened up her legs and showed us she was a girl I just started crying tears of joy. We had got our little girl, and she was so perfect and so beautiful.

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We conquered something that day and there wasn’t a dry eye in that room. I’m so happy that I got to experience the birth of my dreams, and I’m so blessed to have shared it with the people I love the most.

Photos and video: Moments By Michelle Marie


To submit your story to the blog, email content to empoweredbirthproject@gmail.com with "submission" in subject line. If you want your Facebook and/or Instagram handle linked in the post, please include them as well (it's also perfectly okay to submit anonymously). Photos, videos, or links that provide readers with more information about you or your experiences are also welcome! 

A Reservoir of Strength: Homebirth With Velamentous Cord Insertion

My name is Amanda MacGillivray and I had a beautiful home birth in a pool with my son almost 3 years ago. I am very grateful that a movement like yours exists because it's my firm belief that if society had access to pictures and videos of birth in all of the ways it happens, they would feel more confident when it's their turn that it's not a one size fits all experience. 

As a first time mother who chose to have a home birth early on in my pregnancy, I received a lot of support, but I knew it wasn't full. There was a lot of underlying fear and doubt that I couldn't "handle" it. I chose to not let it into my space and believe that my son and I could do this together. 

I had all of these ideas of how I wanted my birth to go. I basically wanted a ton of friends and family there, music, candles and to be continuously massaged and talked to by my husband. My son had other ideas. 

It was all me and him, and when my labor started I didn't want to be touched at all and I didn't want people around. I was in a deep trance the whole time and it was the most connected I've ever felt to another person and I feel he was in control more than me. In fact, throughout my entire labor I got very distinct visions of him getting into a spaceship on another planet and preparing for "take off". He was so confident putting his helmet on and pressing buttons telling me he would be there soon and I felt I already knew what he looked like. Far off in the vision I could see earth which was his destination. 

From the time I started having my first contractions to the time I watched him push his own body out of mine in the birthing pool it had only been 4 hours almost on the dot. I had very little pain throughout and when my midwife checked me to tell me I was 10cm dilated and could push at any time, my pain had already dissipated completely and I had thought my labor process stopped entirely and would have to start over! I made the effort to push which didn't hurt at all, and when his head pushed out all time stopped and his beautiful head just suspended in the water and his hair flowed back and forth and I knew it was all real. After who knows how long I felt his little shoulders shimmying, I barely gave a push and he slipped out like a bar of soap. In fact I don't even remember if there was a last push. I just remember feeling his shoulders and as if he was doing the pushing. 

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Then he was out and my husband had the honor of touching him first and placing him on my chest right away. 

It was my choice to believe that my own birth could be different. That I could defy my own and other people's fears and also to treat my growing son like he was already a man and had a say in his own birth as well. 

I chose to let go of my ego and expectation of a pleasurable, painful, short, long, complicated, easy etc. etc. birth because whichever adjectives would come to fit my experience would happen no matter what and I would still learn. I was blessed with what I consider to be an ideal birth being short and very little pain in my own home with my closest family members around, but I plan to remain without expectation the next time around as well. Just because I had this experience happen this time doesn't mean it will happen next time. It's most important to honor the process, acknowledge your child as an individual and not let your or other's fear guide you.

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Interestingly, after the birth of my son my placenta wouldn't come out. It took a couple of hours and after trying light tugging, a small dose of Pitocin, and pushing, nothing would get it out except a birthing stool. To my midwife and midwife assistant's amazement my placenta was a velamentous cord insertion and they even gasped when they saw it as if it were an urban legend. Apparently it's a very rare abnormality that is potentially dangerous because a sack forms around the placenta and blood vessels grow into the membrane. When the baby is being born it can potentially burst through the membrane, break some blood vessels and therefore cut off the oxygen supply. It didn't happen to me, but my midwife got a cool picture of it!

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My experience is a reservoir of strength I can pull from whenever I need it and has given me a love and sense of power I have never known.

To submit your story to the blog, email content to empoweredbirthproject@gmail.com with "submission" in subject line. If you want your Facebook and/or Instagram handle linked in the post, please include them as well (it's also perfectly okay to submit anonymously). Photos, videos, or links that provide readers with more information about you or your experiences are also welcome! 

What's New With EBP?

Hey everyone! It's been a while since I've given a general update on Empowered Birth Project, so here goes (to inquire about any of the below, contact me): 

THE VISION

Not a day goes by that I don't ask myself "What is the vision of Empowered Birth Project? How can I use this platform to inspire others and better the world? What does empowerment look and feel like?" 

What began as a desire to share my pregnancy and birth experience has blossomed into something so much bigger, far beyond my personal journey. This project has been so well received on social media that I can't help but envision it to grow into events, humanitarian service, publications, activism and more. All of this will take time and patience and a lot of work from many more people than just myself. But I believe in all of it. And thank you for believing in it too. 

THE FILM

When I started my Instagram page two years ago, I was documenting my third pregnancy and birth with Emmy award winning director Carlo Alberto Orecchia to create a short inspirational film. Last November I did an Indeigogo campaign to raise money to move the film into production. We raised over $3k but not enough to cover the cost of editing the 24 hours of footage we have. I feel the film needs to expand beyond my personal story; I will soon be meeting with the director to discuss this at length and I will share with you how things progress. Making a documentary is a lot of work, come to find out! 

THE BLOG

Slowly but surely I've been building EBP's online presence here on the website and other social media channels (come like my page on Facebook!). We have recently started publishing stories here again! If you would like to submit your story to the blog, you can do so here or email it to me at empoweredbirthproject@gmail.com. It can be a birth story or anything related to womanhood, parenthood, motherhood, loss, infertility, pregnancy, reproductive health, etc. 

THE NEWSLETTER

A while ago I announced the creation of a newsletter. Well, I have a lot on my plate (understatement) and I haven't created it yet. But it will happen! And it will be good. You can sign up for it here or by entering your email address in the pink bar at the top of the website. 

THE MERCH

We are still selling hats and tanks! My co-designer is Mothersun And The Captain and the merchandise is printed right here in California. Your purchase supports the film project as well as two hard working mamas! Check out our rad hats and tanks here!

SPONSORS

I am now accepting paid sponsorships to support the work I am doing (this project could easily be a full-time job!) in exchange for publicity on my Instagram page and/or visual advertisement here on the website. I am also available for speaking gigs, promotional events, guest blog posts, affiliate relationships, brand ambassadorship etc. Contact me to inquire. 

Big love + thanks to my amazing sponsors who have believed in me since the beginning, who support this work, and who are creating incredible goods and services that empower women all over the world:

 Euphoric Herbals :: high quality herbal products for pregnancy, breastfeeding, and postpartum. I use these products personally and they are divine!

Sacred Legacy Arts :: custom, handcrafted jewelry featuring your sacred inclusions such as breastmilk, hair, placenta, umbilical cord, or a loved one's ashes.

Doula Trainings International ::  a rich and supportive 9-month training program which includes ongoing mentorship, business skills and in-depth video classes that complement a rigorous initial workshop, an extensive reading list, and practical experience requirements. This program offers lifetime certification to become a birth and postpartum doula. I am currently finishing my doula training with DTI and I am Use code EMPOWEREDBIRTH for $50 off an in-person training or code EBSUMMER16 for $397 off the online training until August 15, 2016.

SERVICES

If you live in the Los Angeles area, I am currently available for hire as a birth and postpartum doula. I also do placenta encapsulation and social media consultation. Contact me to inquire.

COLLABS

My sister project Mindful Mamas that I co-created with Jana Roemer is blossoming into something really beautiful! Check out our website, follow us on Instagram and like our Facebook page for inspiration on mindful living, yoga, nutrition, health, parenting, and more!  

I've also started a new Instagram page called Fed Is Best, which aims to celebrate and support ALL the many ways we feed our babies. Go check it out! 

 

Phew. Did I miss anything? Probably. Haha. #busyAF

Photo by  Joanna Wilson Photography

Cesarean necklace by Roots In Silver

Tank available here 

 

Miracle Cesarean at 29 Weeks

By Charity Hubbard
@mothermoonrise

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From the time I learned I was pregnant, I knew exactly what I wanted my birth to be like; a natural water birth at a birthing center, surrounded by my loved ones. However, at four months pregnant, I was told this wasn’t a possibility for me as my placenta was weak from the beginning of my pregnancy. It wasn't providing enough nutrients to my baby and she wasn't growing as much as she should have been. On top of that, at 20 weeks I had an amniocentesis, which diagnosed my baby with cystic fibrosis. 

I had ultrasounds done every week to monitor my daughter's growth and ultimately decide when she would be better off growing in an incubator than in my own body. Needless to say, I was heartbroken. I felt like my body had failed my baby. At 29 weeks along, my doctor told me I would have a C-section within four weeks because my daughter's growth had slowed to a near stop. Three days later, I awoke to bleeding - and a lot of it. My stomach was tight and I was having a constant contraction.

My mother rushed me to the emergency room, but by the time we got into the OB emergency room, there was no heartbeat coming from my womb. I was losing so much blood that I was disconnected from what was happening. I was in a dream-like state - not unconscious, but not fully there. I told my mom I had to get to the bathroom. She brought me a trashcan and insisted I would have to use that there since I was unable to get up. When I released what I thought was the contents of my bladder, a huge gush of blood appeared. My mother screamed for the doctor to come see. He almost immediately started running me down the hall to the OR.

All of this happened within about 10 minutes of arriving to the hospital. The last thing I remember was the gas mask being placed on my face and counting down from 10. After my baby was born, it took two more hours for the surgeon to stop my internal bleeding. When I finally woke up, four hours had gone by. I nervously asked my mother if my daughter was okay with so much doubt in my heart. When she said "yes," it was the biggest relief I've ever experienced. I wanted to go to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit right then and hold my baby girl, but I couldn't. It took an hour after I woke up to finish my second blood transfusion. I was wheeled to the NICU five hours after my baby’s birth.

It was then, that I saw her: my precious little girl. She was under a c-pap machine so I couldn't see her face. She had five wires attached to her chest and belly, and an IV in her tiny hand. I had no idea what she looked like aside from her incredibly small size. She was born 2 pounds, 5 ounces, 11 inches long. At that point I wasn't allowed to hold her. In fact, I only had a few minutes to look at her because I needed to receive another transfusion. I put my hand on her little body and wept. She was alive and it was the most wonderful thing I had ever seen. I was instantly in love and desperately devoted.

When my brief visit ended, I went to my room down the hall to get blood and morphine. At one in the morning, 11 hours after giving birth, I held my baby for the first time. A nurse placed her on my waiting chest, and it was the most magical moment of my life. From that point we spent 61 devastating, miraculous, sad, exciting, grueling and love-filled days in the NICU.

I have no words to fully explain the journey we took. I was constantly feeling a whirlwind of conflicting emotions, but the one that always prevailed was LOVE. I realized my body had not failed me. It grew a mighty warrior who fought through prematurity and will fight cystic fibrosis for the rest of her life. My birth was the opposite of what I had hoped for, but it was perfect in its own way. The experience taught me how to be strong and positive in even the hardest of times.