I was 12 when I was blessed with the opportunity to witness birth. We played board games, danced around the living room which was illuminated by candlelight, and ate spicy food as my sister gracefully brought new life into this world. It was calm, yet powerful beyond measures, and began to write my story for what birth looked like. There were no bright lights, no surgical tools in sight, no restrictive beds, or strangers wandering in and out of this sacred space. Simply an empowered woman allowing her innate compass to guide her. Since that day, I have witnessed many births, all different, yet all embodying this core essence of surrendering to the naturally wild woman that exists in us all. These experiences have set the precedence for what birth looks like in my mind.
When I went into labor, I felt anticipation, excitment, and carried not a drop of fear. I felt confident in my body's ability to bring this baby earthside, and was ready for the journey ahead. After 2 days of intensive labor, I remember breathing through every rush and telling myself I was one step closer to being able to get in the birthing tub. That was my light. That was my guiding beam that helped me navigate through days of back labor, water injections that offered no relief, and my husband falling asleep in the midst of my agony in these endless nights. When I was finally dilated enough to get in, I felt such a wave of relief, a moment of gratitude for not giving up. They took the lid off the tub, and to everyone's disbelief, the water had an orange hue to it. Our home was on well water, and sulfur & iron levels were commonly high where we lived. I looked to my midwife, my husband, my support team, and everyone's eyes told me the same thing. I would not be allowed to get in that water. There would be no water birth. My relief instantly faded, my light dimmed, and this may have been the beginning of the end.
As we entered day three, I was transported to the hospital. My water had broken 3 days prior, I had meconium present, my baby whom seemed to have been stuck for the past 3 days was making no further progress down my birth canal, heart rates were dropping, and while we didn't know it at the time, his cord was wrapped several times around his neck, making his passage that much more difficult. We all agreed it was time to reevaluate our birth plan, and make sure my baby and I came out of this together. I was grateful beyond words for the accessibility to the hospital when it was needed. While a cesarean was not in my birth plan, it saved both of our lives, and for this I am forever grateful.
While some relate to birth in hospitals, with the safety of doctors and trained specialists at your beck and call, my picture of birth had been imprinted with the comfort of your home, surrounded by a team that trusts in this natural process. I have witnessed birth in such an empowering light that when my own experience wavered from this vision, it felt like a devastating failure, rather than the beautiful experience it was, and still is. There was no dancing, no calm & centered breathing, no flickering candles, and no baby on my breast seeing my eyes and smelling my scent as he entered this world. There were bright lights, and doctors covered in blue robes. There were foreign hands cutting deep incisions through my body while my hands shook uncontrollably due to the anesthesia. My husband held me tightly to control the involuntary shaking, and while I felt no pain, I did feel everything. Rather than being brought straight to my chest, my child was removed from my safe and warm womb and transported to have tubes put down his throat. There was no bonding, no eye contact, and definitely no skin to skin. My soul ached of heartbreak and my spirit was flooded with defeat.
It has taken me years to heal. Physically, skin mends, scars form, and the power of my body to regenerate and transform comes with ease, but mentally, emotionally & spiritually, the essence of my core shifted & broke apart. The feelings of pain & defeat were all encompassing and the connection with my innate guide has taken a shift that is now only coming back into alignment. I have spent the last 4 years processing my sons birth and I now find myself carrying his birth story into this next, new journey. 35 weeks pregnant, I enter into this vulnerable space once again. How does one release fear? Once we have tasted it, how do you wash it from your lips? Can fear transform and transcend into empowerment? As I near this next birthing journey, I am finding my body and mind still holding onto my first experience, where everything that could go wrong, did go wrong, so why would this experience be any different? There is potent energy, an existence that has taken root internally, that does not belong to this new child, and it must be released. But how do you sort what must live on inside, and what must find a safe passage out? I am allowing these feelings to unfold and transpire, and further allowing myself to respond from my deepest integral nature, rather than from a place of the past, a place of fear.
With a little experience, and a great big handful of perspective, I am diving in with my heart wide open. I am surrendering to love, the power of birth, and the power of life, no matter what form this path may take me. My first journey taught me more than maybe all 27 preceding years of my life, and there is no doubt this second experience will open me to new truths, gifting me new wisdom along the way. I have learned that the only thing I truly have control over in birth is my mind. I have the choice to focus on the light, or the dark, and I choose the light.
(You can follow Tessa's journey on Instagram @lycheetherapeutics)