Birth Stories: My Sweet Welcome of Phoenix Lucien

Birth Stories: Ashley and Phoenix

Note from Creator of Love Natural Birth: This is my own birth story, I'm happy to share a letter written to my son about his journey into my arms.

To My Dear Sweet Phoenix Lucien…I want to write to tell you of your sweet birth while you are so new to me. You are less than 48 hours now…and as I move forward in being your mother…I hope to carry these birth lessons with me well and show you absolute faith…. let me explain. This is my remembrance of your birth…not based on notes and a clock, but on impressions of what we experienced. I could be more or less right, but this is what I remember of your journey into my arms.

Birth Stories: Ashley and Phoenix

On the eve of your birth, I awoke with back cramps…they were enough for me to start unwinding and stretching through them. Your papa started to get out of bed…and I said wait, I need a hug, I’m feeling very vulnerable this morning. We hugged and I stayed behind relishing a bit of time with myself. After a bit I decided to go take a bath to see if it would make the cramping subside…. it didn’t. But I was a bit bummed when I got out of the bath, peed and the toilet paper was still all clear! Low and behold I stood up and felt a small gush…I opened back up my panties…and there was my bloody show! I went and told papa…we’ll be having the babe in the next day or two…depending on how fast we progress!

Oh we were so excited! I started organizing the house and we got together a list of things for daddy to get from the store…so we’d be prepared!!! We actually had our 40-week appointment with the midwife (Coley) that morning at the house, so when she got there, I was all excited to share we’d be birthing you soon! We did our last weigh-in…and your mom topped the charts at 153.5 lbs! You were still camped out on my right side… the place you’d been in for most of the pregnancy!

After the midwife left, your papa went running those last errands and I stayed around the house, I had no inclination to even change out of your dad’s comfy pajama pants that I’d taken over! I had been talking with my friend Blair who was to photograph the birth, and told her it might be today…. I’d keep in touch. She had to drive from LA to be with us, but I didn’t want her to miss it, or come to soon either. When daddy got back, I was hungry! He made us a yummy lunch…a big salad with a fresh baguette and goats cheese…well, just as we were wrapping up eating, things suddenly became much more intense! I told Blair, you might as well go ahead and come, but bring entertainment for yourself just in case.

I went about unwinding and moving however I needed to. I started my calm birth cd…. and though I wasn’t timing my back cramps/contractions consistently, the few times I did time them, they always seemed about 3 minutes apart! I decided to take another bath to see if I could slow things down a little…and it definitely gave me some relief. Finally I called our midwife and told her I really wanted her birth stool! I wanted to be in a squat…and my legs were feeling a bit tired from all the squatting I’d already done that morning. She said she was at a prenatal, I said no hurry, and I just want the birth stool when she has time!

Continued I did, with spa music, calm birth relaxation and moving however I needed. The cramping was intense, but I felt good in between and during, and felt confident in myself! Somewhere in here I had papa put just a little bit of water into the birth pool and got in. It felt good! Somewhere in here is where I vomited for the first time…but not the last!

The midwife arrived with the birth stool…I got on. It felt like the place I needed to be. I told Coley she didn’t need to stay, I thought we still had a ways to go, but she said she’d just hang for a bit and play it by ear. Time elapsed. My friend Blair arrived to take pictures and be present at her first home birth…. I was so glad to share this gift with her! Just as she arrived I vomited again…. At this point I’m still feeling very social in between contractions… but they’re still about 3 minutes apart. Here’s where time seems to fade…. time lapses and I loose track of time.

I’m feeling suddenly that things start slowing down. I tell this to the midwife and she suggests the toilet, taking a few contractions on the toilet. I go and do this by myself with papa always nearby…and am still feeling frustrated. It’s not that the contractions are farther apart, but I feel they’re suddenly not as productive. I go back into the guest room where the pool is set up. I ask everyone to clear out except daddy. I’m in the pool at this point, and I lean over and hug and kiss daddy. I needed to feel his presence in this, I needed to feel that we were in it together, our journey to welcome our little one. After a few minutes, I say, I’m going to get into the shower. The pool was nice, but it was hard for me to be totally aware…my sensations seemed too lost somehow...and it seemed too big.

First I decided to pee. Then I called Coley in our bathroom. I said, I’m feeling discouraged. She said, I can check you if you want. I said, I’m afraid if I’m not that far along, I’ll be really discouraged. She said, you’re showing signs of being very far along. Why don’t you take a shower first and then I’ll check you. No, I said, lets do it now and get it over with. Even though I had planned on not being checked the whole birth, I was checked for the first time…I was at 7 cm. Even though I was momentarily disappointed in surrendering to a check, it opened up some space in me, and let out some of my frustration. I felt 7 was great, and got in the shower. Again, I asked daddy to stay close, but I didn’t want anyone in there with me. The light was off, I needed hot water and to work with you and my body. I think this was the third shower of the day…and I gotta say, we worked well in the shower!

Sadly, the hot water was running out. I really didn’t want to get out, but it was too cool, so papa brought me a towel and back I went into the birthing pool. Again, I felt mentally things slowed down. Not the contractions, they were still one on top of the other…but I could tell the progress wasn’t being made. I asked to be checked again. 8 1/2 with a little bit of lip. I could be stretched to a 9 if I wanted. I didn’t.

I needed absolute faith, I was doubting myself too much and couldn’t find my space. I told daddy, call Mary. Mary answered right away, I need you Mary, I’m frustrated and tired…it’s so intense. I’m exhausted and we’re not progressing like I want to. Mary listened. She reminded me of when I walked into her birth and told her she was a birthing goddess and how much it meant to her. She reminded me that I was a birthing goddess and that I could do it. I found some space. Mary stayed on the phone for the rest of the birth. Her and Luc, her first-born, and then her and Leo, her second-born.

Wow, I expressed myself. I cried a few times, I yelled a few times. But mostly I remember talking with you, my sweet baby and talking with my body. Baby, it’s okay to come out. We’re ready for you. Ashley, I can open, I am opening. Open and slide out. You are doing it. Baby we love you. Mama’s ready, papa’s ready. We are opening. Time lapses. Talk to me Mary I say, and she talks she reminds me I’m doing it. She reminds me I’m capable. Time lapses. I hear the others tell me how great I am doing.

By this time I’m still not liking the pool, but I’m standing in the water, bending into the squat—the biggest place of intensity…and then pulling out when it gets too intense. Papa’s continually putting a towel around my shoulders and taking it off, as I keep getting hot and then cold/shivery. At some point here, standing holding onto your papa over the edge of the pool, I’m pooping, I’m opening and I’m experiencing the glory of birth when your water breaks. This part seems to take forever.

I suddenly realize and say. I’m afraid of it being even more intense. I’m afraid it’ll be too much. And then Mary reassures me, even if it is, I can do it. She believes in me…. and her belief reminds me that I too can believe in me. Suddenly I need out of the pool. I give myself permission to dive into the intensity knowing I can do it. I’m on the outside of the pool. Standing, holding onto papa next to me. And then I start bending into the squats even deeper…into the intensity. At one point I ask for a mirror, and I look inside myself while I’m deep in squatting position. I’ve been feeling down with my right hand for you for what seems like hours, and suddenly I feel your head. I look in the mirror. I ask the midwife…is that the head? Yes. I feel relief that I trusted myself and didn’t ask to be checked again.

Is it supposed to feel the babe is coming out my butt??? Yes. Wow. I think we could have been here a lot sooner if I would have trusted that what I was feeling was exactly right. This is what it had been feeling, but I hadn’t been trusting. I had been expecting you from another place!

I start grunting, I start pushing the breath down low. Using the breath in a whole new way. Holding onto daddy, deeper into the squat. Leaning back into it. We’re opening, we’re opening. It’s okay to open. I’m still talking to you. I’m still reassuring myself. I lean over and kiss daddy. One, two, three times. We’re ready. We’re soooooo ready. I’m so vocal…it’s amazing how deep we go.

The midwife checks the heartbeat when I’m deep in the squat pushing, we need to change positions. We need you on the left side she said. I understand, but I’m momentarily stuck in non-movement with you wanting to come out. After another moment (maybe two contractions) I lay down on my left side… and another moment later…out you slide my hand waiting for you as I’d promised you throughout the birth. The cord is around your neck…I can’t quite get it off, so I ask Coley to help me. She gets it off…and another moment later…out slides the rest of you. I pull you up to my chest. You’re so slippery and just perfect. I see your little balls and say, we have our little Phoenix Lucien. It’s 3:13 am on February 24, 2011. Your daddy is right behind me, kissing me and crying. We both are in awe of you, of our journey to you.

Your birth Phoenix Lucien was more intense and in many ways overwhelming than I could have imagined…but, it reminded me of the greatness within me, and I know I will be a better mother to you because of our birthing time together. I have absolute faith in you little one; I have absolute faith in me.

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