The birth of my first daughter Alexis left me a changed woman. She opened my eyes to a new realm of possibilities while clearly showing me what I did and didn’t want for not only my life, but the life of my children. With her birth I was called to something higher, an intuitive calling to stay home, to birth in my power. But given the unknown newness of labour in my body, and my heart condition I opted to choose the medical system. My choice, although I don’t regret it, confirmed everything my intuition had been telling me. My body was not designed to surrender and open within the walls of confinement. The entire process of navigating the medical system with my first pregnancy and birth taught me how to discern what I need, and advocate for my rights. To trust myself completely, and lean into my bodies wisdom.
My body is strong and capable.
My baby and body work together in harmony for the sweetest outcome.
Fear and control have no place in birth.
I have everything I need within me.
I was designed to birth beautifully.
No one knows what I need to facilitate a perfect birth more than ME.
So the moment my first daughter was born a spark was ignited. From that moment I knew I would choose differently for my second, and so I did.
The preparation for Fallon’s birth was rooted in self-love, it came in the decade of deep dive work of intimately knowing who I am body, mind, and soul. It came in the birth stories shared by my powerful soul sisters, the birth gatherings where women shared stories about birthing in power (Shoutout to Halifax Birth Talk), and in every woman who opened her heart to speak her truth. My confidence came from within, and was reinforced by the powerful women who came and birthed before me. In knowing myself deeply it was easy to meet my needs, to trust my intuition and manifest this birth.
In the long and mostly beautiful months of pregnancy I was quiet about what we were planning. I had a tight knit community of support women (also birthing freely and autonomously) who knew my hearts desires and plan, but outside of that small circle we told no one. Which if you know me or have followed me for awhile, you’d know almost killed me. I’m an open book and live for vulnerability and authentic living, but this was different. The decision to keep things quiet came from the desire to shield ourselves from fears that had no place in the story we were writing, the birth we were manifesting. I spent many days dreaming about this birth, and talking about it with my support team (My husband, best friend, and amazing friend/doula/RMT extraordinaire). Each time I dreamt about it, spoke about it and had the space to share freely I would feel my confidence rise. I knew this was coming to fruition and every cell in my body confirmed it with a vibration of delight. I was so certain, so confident that impatience and prodromal labour began to get the best of me.
With my first I gave birth exactly at 40 weeks, despite my persistent need to blab about due dates being bullshit. Given my timely delivery with my first, and the waves of sensations that began around 34 weeks, I was confident this girl was coming early. Little did I know she would come exactly one week “late”. Again I firmly believe this was her way of showing her personality much like my first.
In the weeks leading up to Fallon’s Birth I found myself hitting my breaking point. My hips were tight and didn’t seem to want to release no matter how much massage or stretching they received. I would find brief moments of relief after a loving visit and rub down from my Doula/RMT, or after 20 minutes of my Hubby lovingly putting his elbows to work. But the relief was fleeting and I was exhausted. As I approached closer and closer to 40 weeks, I found myself questioning if she would ever decide to come. In those moments I would sit at my birth altar and remind myself that she was coming, and its my job as her Mother to support her in her timing, not choosing it for my convenience or comfort. So the waiting, discomfort, and waves of sensation continued.
About three days before her birth we entered a heatwave, and things got a little spicier. My consistent prodromal labour had hit a new peak, but I refused to get myself excited. I surrendered to the bed and stayed close to the fan. Day one of this early labour I cruised through, the weeks leading up to this point had gotten me incredibly use to discomfort, allowing me to function when my 3 year old demanded my attention. Day two I hit a level of hopelessness and frustration. Up until this point I hadn’t allowed myself to fully feel it all. I had moments and blips of frustration, but I never fully gave into them. Typically I would find the silver lining before I got to deep and move back into a space of hopelessness, but this time was different. I was in the kitchen with my husband and a massive wave hit me and grabbed the counter and lost it. I screamed “I don’t want to do this anymore, this isn’t fucking fair, and I’m so fucking done”! I bawled and I gave myself permission to let it all out. I was angry, I was exhausted, I was so done with feeling like I would be in limbo forever. I leaned into the discomfort and I felt the darkness that I had been trying so damn hard to avoid. It was immense, but it was brief, and soon enough I was back in my bedroom laughing at the state that I was somehow still in, knowing that tomorrow would mark 41 weeks.
I woke up That Sunday Morning with the same contractions and intensity, but I was done waiting for this girl. I was done putting our entire lives on hold and simply hoping she might decide to show up. So I turned to my husband and said “Fuck this, she’s not holding us back from enjoying another gorgeous day. We’re going to the beach”. So we packed up the car, gathered Alexis and headed off to the beach. When we arrived I felt a bit odd and so I decided to send Alexis and Geoff (my husband) down to the beach to set up while I visited the washroom. I sat down and to my surprise when I wiped it looked like I had gotten my freak on with a slug. Knowing full well that I was holding a good chunk of my mucous plug I brushed it off, cleaned myself up and headed down to join my family. My thought was “well you’ve been shedding bits of plug for weeks, this means nothing”.
We had been at the beach for maybe 40 minutes and Alexis was just starting to get into playing in the water when all of a sudden something shifted. I hadn’t gone in the ocean, yet my bathing suit started to feel wet. I looked at my husband with slight concern on my face and informed him that something was leaking from my vagina. Intuitively I knew what had happened, my waters were leaking, but I didn’t want to give anyone cause for panic, and I was convinced even if they had it meant nothing. So I casually mentioned that I wanted to go confirm my suspicions and that he and Alexis should stay and play. Trying my best not to alert one of the hundreds of people around us, which would ensue panic and commotion.
I got to the bathroom again, and sure enough my suit bottoms were covered in a warm clear fluid. Just as I was about to head back down to the beach to be with my family (while texting my best friend, and my doula/photographer to keep them in the loop) I immediately started voiding my bowels. Super glad I was conveniently on the toilet already! As this was happening I sent Geoff a quick text letting him know my waters were leaking, and my body was getting hella empty and he should probably get the car. I sat there on the toilet texting as he desperately tried to wrangle a 3 year old who really wanted to stay, and trying not the panic. Even with everything that had been happening, and all the signs I was still fully in denial. With each new development I simply thought to myself “well that’s interesting” and didn’t allow myself to engage more than that. I was too tired of weeks of disappointment. I casually waited by the parking lot peeling the sunburn on my belly from our last beach trip, while Geoff finally got Alexis back to the car. I was calm, cool, and interested in all the sensations I was experiencing. This happened around Noon.
We made our way home and sure enough the sensations halted the moment I walked in the door. We ate some lunch, and I laid frustrated on the couch until about 3pm. With each time I visualized my birth there had always been wildflowers present. In the final months of my pregnancy I had become fascinated and incredibly drawn to them, and I knew I wanted them at my birth. We had hoped to get some in the earlier days, and we did… but with things not progressing as swiftly as I thought they would, they kept dying. So with a burst of determination I left off the couch and proclaimed “we’re getting some damn wildflowers”. The moment we started to shift and get ourselves into the car, I was hit with the most intense wave yet. Continuing my phase of denial, and commitment to carrying on given the trend of everything halting anytime I stopped to wait, we went anyway. Instead of the vision of me heavily pregnant and elegantly picking wildflowers, it was more of a dictatorship from the passenger seat of the car as I sang my way through the waves. Pointing at which ditch I wanted my husband to forage from as we drove through his old neighbourhood. Ensuring he shook off the bugs before passing me the flowers, and texting my team while laughing at our current predicament. By 4pm we were back home with the most beautiful bouquet. The scene was fully set, my vision was coming to life, now she could come.
Once we were home and the flowers were placed Geoff popped a show on for Alexis so he could shift into supporting me. Things were starting to escalate, and I was almost ready to admit that this was it, that she was coming. Since the beach I hadn’t released anymore waters, but that was all about to change. I wandered into the bathroom trying to figure out what I needed, and grabbed the sink with the next wave of sensation. I felt like something had released, so I reached my hand down and in total awe was met with the same warm wetness I had experienced at the beach. “How cool is this” I proclaimed, to which Geoff replied “Have you looked at the floor”. Sure enough beneath me was a small puddle starting to form, and I entered into full birth geek mode. I couldn’t get over, or shut up about how cool my body was. My waters releasing was a completely new sensation for me, and they didn’t release on their own with my first. I was in complete awe of what my body was doing, and witnessing the beautiful fluid that held my girl safe and sound pooling onto the floor.
I got myself in the shower because it had been days since my last, and I wasn’t sure when I’d have the chance to shower again. I washed myself with my husbands help through sensations. It was sweet, it was special, but it was also starting to get a little frantic. As I felt the adrenaline rise I knew I needed my team, I needed touch, and I needed help grounding the space and myself. I finally sent the “please come” messages, and we quickly realized it was past 5 and Alexis would need food. Knowing my photographer and doula lived a ways out of town, I asked Geoff to call my best friend, Andrea. I knew he had to make food, but I was not in a space where I wanted to be alone. I needed someones presence with me as I rode the waves which were coming quicker and harder now. Ironically immediately after I had sent the initial message asking my team to come, I said to my husband “what if this isn’t it, what if I called too soon” and immediately things intensified breaking my last straw of denial, allowing me to surrender into the unfolding birth.
Little did I know, but Alison (my Doula/RMT/Reiki Master) was a lot closer than I anticipated and arrived first. The moment she walked into the space everything shifted and I felt myself land. The vision was coming together, and Geoff was able to sort out Alexis letting me breathe a sign of relief. Simultaneously I felt a grounding and lightening of the space. We headed into my birth den, our bedroom and I found myself on the ball leaning over my bed while Alison lovingly tended to my hips and shoulders. I thought to myself “yes, this is exactly what I need in this moment”. Soon after Andrea arrived, and I was so glad I had called her as she had always been a part of my vision, and I couldn’t imagine not having her loving presence there. She also witnessed my first birth of Alexis, and I wanted someone there to witness the shift in myself and these births. To reaffirm everything I had been feeling and already knew. Someone who could help me unpack it all after the fact. She was simply meant to be, and ended up playing a crucial support role for Geoff as things progressed.
Shortly Adelaide (Photographer) arrived, and something magical happened between the three women present. It almost felt as if the three of them created a container in my space. Like shields were lifted and we were hidden from the rest of the world. I felt completely, fully, and energetically held between them which allowed me to go deeper, remain present and lean into everything I was experiencing. I had nothing to fear, my wards were up, my space was safe.
In between waves we found ourselves gabbing and laughing, and it eventually dawned on me that I hadn’t eaten dinner. Not knowing how long this process would be, I figured I should eat something. Andrea lovingly prepared me some steamed broccoli at my request, which I devoured with absolute delight.
As time passed, I realized I had been incredibly comfortable even in my discomfort for a long while. I intuitively felt called to move and found my way to the hallway after a need to pee. Almost instantly I felt things shift again, and my body began releasing more of my waters. It was intense, it was incredible, and I allowed myself to stay curious, stay present, and continue surrendering to the process.
As I continued to labour I found myself getting lost in the sensations as they rose, and fully immersed in the comfort of everyday life that was unfolding around me in the moments in between. Alexis was thrilled at all the new friends for her to entertain, sure that they were only there for her enjoyment and not for mommy. Each of the women seamlessly weaved in and out of meeting her tiny demands and supporting me through the waves. It was one of the most beautiful things to be a part of, simply seeing a community of women in action, supporting a woman and her family through the expansion of birth. This is where magic unfolds, this is how it’s meant to feel. I kept finding my thoughts wondering what an impact this experience would have on my daughter. If this is her normal, how will this affect her births should she choose to have children of her own. What a thought, what a feeling!
Time was both non existent, and simultaneously flying at light speed. As Alison changed Alexis and got her ready for bed, I felt myself called back to the bathroom. I needed to make some room. The moment my bottom met the seat I found myself slip into full transition. Things escalated and for the first time it felt impossible to keep quiet. Alison made her way back to meet me in the washroom where I felt myself getting incredibly hot. I no longer had a break, and the waves were crashing one on top of another. I looked at her and said “this is too soon, there’s no way this can be transition” while intuitively fully knowing it absolutely was. Even in this intensity though I felt calm, I leaned into their intensity with a steady reminder in my ear from Alison “Yes Lin, you’re doing beautifully”. When the intensity built and it felt like I was briefly drowning I would feel a steady reassuring hand, or hear her whisper exactly what I needed to hear. It was amazing to feel and see her intuition at work, knowing exactly what I needed without me having to say anything. So tapped in, so in tune, so present in her power of support.
After what seemed like and endless amount of time on the toilet with no poop success, I heard a tiny voice shout “I NEED TO POOP”. Immediately I knew I would have to move, which felt almost impossible given the unrelenting sensations. I asked her to wait until I passed the peak of the sensation I was in the midst of, and moved the moment I felt I could. The second I got to the hallway I knew it was coming… Of course the moment I leave the bathroom my body would decide it’s time to shit. So I shouted for someone to get me a chux pad because If not I was going to coat the wall! Within seconds I was in a semi squat and experiencing a contraction that effectively emptied me. As the waves fell and rose I found myself making a joke about shitting on the floor in front of my best friends, because what else was there to do? A moment I’m sure none of us will forget. As this was all unfolding Alexis was finishing her own bowel movement and managed to hurt herself as she was leaving the bathroom. My Mother instincts had me wanting to run to her, but the reality of the situation had me surrender exactly where I was and trust that Daddy had her. Such a strange place to be, and what now feels like a taste of the pull between Mothering multiples, learning where Im most needed.
After the poop fiasco I had a brief moment of pause and I knew I needed to make my way to the bedroom, I knew we didn’t have long. Alison lovingly took time to cool my working body with cold cloths which felt divine in the moment. I could feel myself nearing a tipping point as no matter what position, or space I tried to get into I could no longer find even a moment of reprieve. I shifted back and fourth between moaning through the waves on the floor and trying to find rest leaning on the bed. I kept repeating to myself “yes, yes” as I called in the sensations and reminded myself that it meant my body was working at bringing my baby into my arms. Continuously reminding myself that the intensity I was feeling was bringing me closer and closer to joy.
Transition ended with a bang! A howl and cry of pain escaped me as I felt an immense amount of pressure. Something was happening, and I had no idea what. As I called out “what is happening, what is this” Alison reached out and an explosion erupted. A release of more fluid along with a bloody show, this was it, it wouldn’t be long now. Foolishly I thought I would have time. I heard so many stories of women having the opportunity to catch their breath and rest before baby descended. Thinking I would have time, and feeling the exhaustion of my body I tried to lay down… What a mistake! Apparently once Fallon decided she was ready to come, she was waiting for no one. In the midst of trying to lay down she slid into my birth canal in all the wrong places. Panic ensued as I frantically tried to simultaneously figure out what I needed, along with how I could communicate how those in the room could help me. She was full pressing on my perineum and I had visions of me ripping from V to A knowing if we stayed where we were it was unavoidable. My leg had been up in the air, but I didn’t have the strength to suspend it there. I screamed for someone to hold my leg to which Geoff misunderstood and tried to lower. OUCH! As I figured out that I needed to get on my hands and knees and was brainstorming ways to get there with minimal pain and movement suddenly she moved. She slipped completely back and out of the way and I leapt onto my hands and knees and breathed the biggest sigh of relief, along with a thank you. Now I was ready, now she could come. This was it. As the intensity passed I asked if Alexis was still awake, and if someone could go and get her. I knew she wouldn’t want to miss this.
Soon I felt her move back into position and could feel my body begin to work with her to bring her home. It was the wildest and most incredible feeling I’ve ever experienced. As she was crowning she took her time and on multiple occasions would start to make her way out, and then completely escape and disappear completely from view. I stayed with my breath and in complete awe of the experience. I could feel my body contracting, but it somehow felt softer and so much sweeter. At this point there was no longer pain, but instead an intense pleasure. Feeling her make her way in and out, allowing myself to relax and remain open so that everything could unfold as it needed. With no direction, no assistance, yet completely held in that safety net of support and love. Encapsulated by the excitement and energy in the room of each person present.
There was no fear, but only ecstatic joy and celebration. I was present and alive in my body, and this birth was unfolding exactly how I imagined it. As Alexis made her way into the room the excitement grew even greater. I remember weaving in and out of being present with my body and Fallon, while being fully aware and in awe of the dialogue of her big sisters excitement. As she began to finally crown and come Alexis squealed in delight. A few occasions I reached my hand down to feel her coming, something I had never done with my first. As she continued to make her way I could feel the burning of my skin, the familiar intensity of stretching to make room. As intense and fiery as it was, I found it easy to breathe into, to remain soft. I think the mere difference of being fully present and alive with my body through the experience, instead of being muted and lost by drugs with my first made all the difference. We took our time and I allowed FER to do most of the work. On two occasions I gave a nudge to move things along, out of my own selfish impatience of wanting to hold this new human. Once as she passed from brow to her neck, and once more for her shoulders.
The moment her lips escaped she began to make herself known. Immediately she started crying, already tugging on my heart strings. I began talking to her immediately, responding to her cries. Originally I had planned to catch her myself, but as I reached back and tried I immediately felt myself get pulled out of the zone and space I was in. Knowing I wanted to stay there in that fully present space as both witness and facilitator, I asked my husband to step up. Nervously he jumped in with heaps of support from Alison which was beautiful to hear in the background.
As her shoulders came and I felt her turn I knew i was going to need another breath. I shouted “DON’T PULL” but it was too late, and Geoff in an adrenaline fuelled moment had instinctually pulled her towards him. I gave him a quick snarl and then immediately returned to my state of birth bliss as Alison took her and handed her to me. After a mere 10 minutes of “pushing” she was here, in my arms, healthy, happy, and so alive!
WE DID IT! With all the buzz, love, and celebration in the room we realized we never looked at the clock. So we guessed she was born around 8:15pm and that’s the story we’re sticking to as it was close to 8:20 when we realized we hadn’t checked. I was in total bliss and complete awe of my body, and this new baby cradled in my arms. As I went to see if she would latch, I soon realized I was covered in all of the things and laughed at the total disconnection due to the oxytocin high. Andrea brought me coconut water, Alexis and Geoff marvelled at this new addition to our family, and Alison celebrated with me. We had lived the birth that we had both been actively manifesting for months, we made it.
Once I had her latched I felt my placenta coming. The smooth, soft, warm and familiar feeling. The finishing and closing of a chapter, the beginning of something new. “I think my placenta is coming, I feel like i’m birthing something” I said as Alison reached down to confirm my suspicions. With Geoff’s help they placed it in a bowl, and I finally decided I should make my way to the bed. I handed Fallon to Geoff, who at lightening speed ripped off his shirt and placed her on is chest.
We climbed into the bed baby, placenta and all as cleanup started to happen at the foot of the bed, and Andrea headed to the kitchen to prepare some nourishment after a powerfully exhausting birth. Just broccoli didn’t quite cut it, mama was hungry!
After awhile we decided it was time to burn the cord, something I had been looking forward to. So often the cord is severed and cut quickly, but i’ve always been drawn to the slow process of separating the cord as a family. Originally I had envisioned Alexis and Geoff helping with the burning process, but a 3 year old only has so much attention span, and distracted 3 year old is not a good mix with fire. So Alison stepped in and held a flame, and Geoff (for all but the last 3 minutes) held the other. It was a bit awkward, hilarious, and I had the placenta bowl dropped on me twice. But it was special and felt true to the hilarity that is our life and family. A little messy, awkward, yet equally amazing. If you plan on cord burning I HIGHLY suggest getting a box, we did not.
Once the cord was burned, I tied it off and ate the delicious stir fry that Andrea had prepared. Alison promptly headed to the kitchen and prepared me the most delicious placenta smoothie to help me replenish and Adelaide headed home. In a haze of exhaustion, bliss, and still riding the high of everything we had witnessed. That night I got no sleep, I couldn’t come down and kept reliving our birth over and over again. Drinking in this beautiful new human that laid beside me, and thanking God for providing the path that led me to choose this Birth, to fully trust myself, my body, and the miracle of physiological birth. To allow what was designed to unfold undisturbed, unhindered, and steeped in nothing but love. I will forever be changed by this birth. Forever bonded to the women who held the space I needed to allow it’s beautiful unfolding. Forever sharing our story to champion a desperate change that the birth world needs, more women fully aware of their power, strength, and the truth that birth can be beautiful.
Autonomous birth starts with the courage to know yourself intimately, a foundation of self-love, and the desire to lean into what your body already knows. I am so grateful for the stories, the women, the networks which allowed me the access to wisdom, truth, power and facts that reinforced what I was being called to. My body was designed to birth freely, fiercely, and surrounded by nothing but love.
To view the full gallery of images captures by Adelaide Rodgers Photography click here