Kamaiio Coaiia was born on the evening of December 15th, 2019 at 42+4 weeks pregnant, with only my husband and I present to welcome our son safely at home.
My birth journey was 4½ days long, so suffice to say this isn’t a short story. But a birth story of ceremony, trust, and the power of a truly undisturbed birth.
It feels important to preface this story with saying; a 4½ day long birth is a normal variation of physiological birth. Birth comes in all flavors. Many simply don’t get to hear stories like mine, where labor is left undisturbed due to the general medicalization of birth.
There was nothing about this pregnancy and birth we did haphazardly, everything was carefully considered. I as the mother was the authority in my birth, and my husband was there to fully support me and Kamaiio through our birthing journey.
On the wall I had written a note that said “Protect Kamaiio’s Birth Journey”, and that’s what we did, protected him and me, listened closely along the way, and followed the knowing that allowed us to birth him intuitively in the wholeness of simply being us together.
Wednesday night December 11, 2019
The beginning: I arrived at 42+0 weeks pregnant after an intuitive pregnancy that we had chosen to keep outside of the medical model, self-assisted and fully supported by myself and my husband.
As I was walking through the at times tender experience it is to be pregnant after loss, I still felt a little vulnerable at the very end of my pregnancy. My son’s spirit had helped me restore trust and remember the wisdom that is pregnancy and birth, but there was also threads of fear as my body remembered that pregnancy doesn’t always end with a baby in your arms.
As I hit 42 weeks pregnant I was stressing a bit about how far my pregnancy might go for. Would I go to 43 weeks? I had felt I would definitely go past 41 weeks, but for some reason not “all the way” to 42. Partly because I knew my dates were so accurate, based on my fertility awareness chart (Symto-Thermal Method) and ovulation date. But this undisturbed and wild pregnancy was allowed its own timeline, as I knew that would be the safest and healthiest for my baby.
We went for a walk in the late afternoon, I hadn’t been out for a walk for a few days I think. I had felt like staying inside in my cave – almost just waiting for the birth that felt imminent. After we came home from the walk, it was already dark on this winter evening and I started noticing these light waves of sensations that would come and go. They weren’t strong yet, but because they came and went so rhythmically I took note that they were my first contractions. Birth was coming! These gentle waves were about 15-20 minutes apart at this time and called me into deep presence in my womb. Alert, alive, and ready, we were starting our birth ceremony.
A bit later my husband Rachan gave me my daily massage (birth preparing bodywork) before bed. I continue to feel sensations 15-minutes-ish apart, but they’re brief and continue like that between 10:30pm and midnight. At midnight they vary with 10-20 minutes a part, lasting 20-40 seconds. Little did I know I would be dancing with birth expansions for another 4 days.
I tried to sleep, but I only slept lightly, as the contractions drew my attention in. They weren’t super painful, but definitely called in my full awareness. At 2am I’m still awake and I feel called to start timing them, I want to sense their beginning and end better. They’re 25-45 seconds long and 5-12 minutes apart now. This rhythm kept going through the whole next day with a rare 20 minute break a couple of times.
Thursday December 11, 2019
Next day arrived after little to no sleep. It was a night of working with the labor sensations by closing my eyes, actively relaxing, and gently breathing through each one in my bed. Next day the contractions were slightly longer lasting 30-40 seconds, sometimes 1-minute long, and varying 6-15 minutes apart, and feeling stronger. I’m struggling to eat and drink much, but try my best to stay hydrated with coconut water.
The day disappeared one contraction at a time, in a slow and quiet way. I lit candles on my birth alter, walked around the house, tried to sit on the birthing ball, but that felt too uncomfortable. I looked at my birth affirmations on the wall, and the stone that I had written “birth is ceremony” on. I went inward, and as it became dark again – now 24 hours in, still in early labor, I couldn’t help but wonder a little about what would be ahead of me. When would he come?
At night we watched a movie, one I had actually saved for early labor, just in case we were going to want to try to rest, cuddle, and watch a movie before the birth really got going. Afterwards I tried to go to sleep, but I couldn’t sleep or stay lying down through the surges anymore.
Friday December 13, 2019
Friday came after a night of being fully awake, as I could no longer lie down through the sensations. I went into another room while my husband slept a little. I was feeling into whether my body needed some bodywork or any kind of active support as birth unfolded. I felt called to try some abdominal lift and tucks against the wall, a spinning babies exercise, during contractions.
On my birth alter I had the book Sacred Birthing – the only birth book that I enjoyed re-reading during this pregnancy. I remembered that it had a birth story where the midwife and author of the book shares why it made sense that the labor had it’s own pattern and rhythm based on the length of the cord.
I wanted to read it again to remember that the idea that my birth should be happening faster is false. There is a far greater wisdom and mystery at play, and it felt good to orient back towards trusting my body and baby’s way.
As morning came I was so tired and just waiting for Rachan to wake up. When he got up we took some time to connect, and decided that he would get the birth pool ready for me. Since I had been up all night, and couldn’t do much but stand up, I needed to try the water to see if it would allow me to sit down and relax my body more.
I ended up spending most of the day in the water, leaning over the edge on my knees, a position I couldn’t bare outside of the water. I was in my own quiet bubble in the birth pool listening to my birth playlist with both music and spoken affirmations. I found my rhythm with the contractions that were really felt in my back at this point. I still hadn’t been able to eat, and also struggled to take in liquid, but my husband made sure to offer me water, coconut water, or cold raspberry leaf tea regularly.
As the afternoon arrived the sensations felt stronger, and at one point I was peeing after each contraction. Outside of the water I tried one inversion and also did a round of abdominal lifts, but not against the wall. It felt like there was pressure and baby pushing on my pubic bone. Some of the contractions then came closer together, and the feeling of baby on the pubic bone resolved.
A few hours later I head to the toilet, and as I wipe I see a bit of bloody mucus. I’m elated to see a sign of “progress”, and I call out for Rachan. He’s not so impressed with the bit of mucus I show him, which annoys me in my excitement. But then a few moments later the whole mucus plug comes out in one big solid piece. And now he’s impressed! 🙂
While I was in the toilet I felt like feeling my yoni and cervix internally. I didn’t try to check exactly how dilated I was, but I took note that baby was still very high and I had a ways to go. (I only did this because I felt like it, and more importantly because I knew I wouldn’t be bothered or let down by whatever I noticed. I was okay with the pace of my birth).
An additional part to the story that I didn’t know about until after the birth is that my husband Rachan noticed (without telling me) that my urine is staining the toilet paper slightly pink. This starts a whole process for him, that involves retreating to the other room to do research and secretly testing my urine. All the while I’m in my own world in the birth tub. It also takes him on a journey into taking responsibility as a father, and feeling how deep his desire is for Kamaiio Coaiia to arrive safely. He share’s more about this interesting twist, and what he ended up doing in an upcoming Cycle Wise podcast episode we recorded with our birth story. Subscribe + listen to CYCLE WISE here.
Saturday December 14, 2019
Since I still can only stand up when I’m outside of the birth pool, I spend most of the night in the water journeying through one contraction after other. A new morning arrives as light very slowly fades into the dark winter morning. I get out of the water for a bit, the contractions are still varying 3-6 minutes apart, 40 seconds long. I’m starting to feel exhausted. I get back into the water at 9:30am as that is where I feel most focused and able to work with my body.
At this point feel like I to re-orient and have a meeting with Rachan, to make sure we are doing what we are doing for the right reasons. I share with Rachan that I want to make sure we are connected to Kamaiio and doing whatever this birth needs. We both feel connected to Kamaiio and that he is doing good!
I also mention that I feel like calling a private midwife friend that we know. He asks why, and I don’t have a real reason. I don’t want anyone to come into our space. I instinctively feel my baby is doing good. And I definitely don’t want to go to the hospital. But I feel like sharing where I am at in this long labor with someone outside of our space that I know wont invade our autonomy in any way or tell us what to do.
Since I can’t really talk through contractions, Rachan writes down what is present for me, and at 10am, we call her. There’s no answer, so we leave a message.
Soon after my contractions slowed down a bit to 6 minutes apart. Which made me able to have enough of a break to get a few moments of sleep sometimes between contractions, because I was so tired at this point. I’m also able to have a small slice of buckwheat bread with raw honey.
The same happened later in the afternoon. At 2pm, I was able to get some light sleep between contractions in the pool until 2:30pm. During which contractions slowed down to 10-15 minutes apart.
The mindfuck: I had gotten this saying my head that I’ve heard many times; “exhaustion is the enemy of birth”. Additionally Rachan expressed his concern about me not sleeping for 3 days in a row, and I started to worry if my exhaustion would interfere with my birth. This turns out to be the limiting belief I have to overcome to finally birth my son.
After spending the afternoon in the water, I got out of the birth pool at 5pm to make an attempt at lying down and resting. I lie down in bed on my side, propped up with ALL the pillows. I manage a few contractions in bed, and get nearly 12 minutes of sleep, before a contraction jolts me awake. I then fall asleep for another few minutes. Finally, I can’t handle the thought of taking another contraction lying down, so I get up.
I spend the evening meandering around the house in my own little bubble. Contractions are still a bit slower at this point, but strong when they arrive. I manage to eat a small slice of bread with nut butter and banana. And as the evening progresses contractions start feeling stronger and stronger again, still 3-6 minutes apart.
As bed time approaches, I know I’m about head into another dark night of dancing with my own inner waves and sensations. At 11pm I get back into the pool and the contractions get stronger. I feel very different now. They become a lot more challenging. I journey through the most physically challenging night that was only softened by complete surrender.
Sunday December 15, 2019
I spend the night in the pool feeling very psychedelic, yet clear-headed at the same time. While I’m in the birth pool all night Rachan tried to nap, and would intermittently get up to keep the birth pool warm for me. He was getting worn out too.
I could no longer kneel and lean forward, which had given me some rest in the water. Now I could only sit upright to handle the intensity of each wave. It felt like my bones were moving apart, the sensation was mostly in the sides of my pelvis, but I could feel it connecting to my cervix too. It was so wild. But no sound helped, I needed complete quiet focus.
Each expansion felt like a fire I had to say YES to. And so I did. I let it take my body, fully surrendering. It wasn’t scary at all, simply very intense energy to work with.
At no point did I have any fears around handling the birth sensations. But I couldn’t help but wonder how many more days it would continue (?), my mind just wanted to know. Along with; “will I still have the energy to actually birth my baby when I’m so exhausted?”. It also felt odd knowing I was at a point where most people would choose intervention, like I was actively carving out another path that felt like ours to walk.
Morning light comes again. Around 6:45am I had some coconut water with vitamin C. At 7:20am I got out of the pool. I wanted to attempt to lie down again, but I couldn’t. After laying down on my left side I instantly jumped up as a contraction surged through my body. It was impossible to lay down through the intensity.
Around 9:30am I was back in the water, the pain became really strong into the sides and into my thighs, it was incredibly intense. Each surge required full focus, full surrender.
A bit later at 10;15, we spoke with our midwife friend that we had tried to call the day before. We shared what had been happening so far. I needed to share the only fear I really had, which was the hospital. It was interesting to notice how I had no fear around birth as it was happening, only one fear of a hypothetical “what if I have to go to the hospital”.
She said we could always go for a check in the hospital, we wouldn’t have to stay. I instantly felt a NO rising clearly from my womb. I felt Kamaiio saying; I’m good, we’re good, this is our journey – nothing is wrong. He was moving well, and Rachan felt deeply that all was right too.
Before we ended our brief conversation, she suggested that we could look at fears, talk to Kamaiio, and also try to get things moving even more, maybe with some rest first.
Family meeting: It was time to tune in even deeper. I sat in the birth pool, and Rachan sat on the bed right next to it, holding my hand. We started talking about our feelings; what was present for us…Then we asked if there were any fears present. I felt a fear around the “what if nothing would progress and we would eventually go to the hospital”. Rachan shared that he had been checking in with himself throughout, to see if he had any blockages that could be affecting the birth flow. He shared that the long labor just made him feel how strongly he wanted Kamaiio to be here with us. We both felt that the birth was within the many varieties of normal birth, but it was hard to not wonder how long it would go on for, and if everything defintitely was okay. – the way. we felt it was.
Then we placed our hands on my womb to connect with Kamaiio and try to tune in with where he’s at and if there was anything he needed from us.
Before I got out of the water at 1pm, I closed my eyes and asked my body to give me a break to rest without contractions before we continue. But Instead of rest, it got stronger and birth came closer, which was even better.
In another attempt at getting me rest, we were going to try to have me lie down in bed again, even though I had vowed to never do it again after last attempt, We carefully get me on my side, fully supported with pillows everywhere. But I immediately got up again with the first contraction, it hurts way too much to take it lying down. At this point I have to stand up, while holding the sides of a wooden chair. I need solidity under my hands and feet as the powerful sensations roll through my body. The contractions were incredibly strong, but still varying 2-6 minutes apart, but started to get closer and closer together.
Then my pivotal moment came: Rachan was still expressing his worry about me going on day four of no sleep and barely any food. But the constant focus on needing to sleep only added to my fear, cause I simply could not sleep. It made me feel really mentally challenged, because I needed to feel I could do it no matter what. It was time to let go of my fear of exhaustion sabotaging my ability to birth the way I wanted.
I had a moment where I decided; of course I can do this! I silently pep talked myself by thinking: “Mama’s find amazing energy every single day to do whatever their children need. I don’t need sleep, I can go on for DAYS if I need to. And I CAN birth my baby no matter how tired I am. And with that my inner energy changed.
We decided that I would stay standing in the living room, and keep encouraging labor, and Rachan would try to rest. Before he goes he helps set me up with what I need. I want him to set up my computer with this 4-hour long time-lapse video of flowers blooming over and over. I also wanted music, but I can no longer handle my birth playlist with spoken affirmations and music with lyrics, I need instrumental only. And finally I say, “get my wolf”, this drawn picture of a wolf that have awakened my own inner wolf energy on many occasions.
Our midwife friend also wrote me a text saying; “I meditated a bit on your situation, and it is being asked that you stand even clearer with your decision. Decide that “this will go well”, push all fear aside and ask your baby and womb to show you what they got, when you stand solid in the belief that ALL is well. All the layers that arise now are old grief, fear, and questioning of autonomy. Let them be, love them, and let the feelings pass. You are transforming for multiple lives right now!”
Rachan rested and then checked in on me around 3:15pm, I was still standing by the wooden chair in the living room working with contractions. When he came in I said I had checked my yoni again, and my cervix was so soft and open now, and so different to when I had checked it Friday. I had been At this point contractions were nearly 4 minutes apart, and super intense.
At 3:30pm I felt the water sac bulging. Rachan had a look, the bulging water bag was the size of an egg hanging out of my yoni, and the water was a healthy straw color. The contractions are coming like big waves now, closer together, and I needed my full focus to say YES to each one.
With each contraction I encouraged myself to surrender by saying over and over “thank you, thank you, thank you” or “this is so good”, or “I can handle this, I can do it, I AM doing it”. Affirmations were surprisingly helpful at keeping my mind set for birth.
Time felt like it was moving much faster than it was, as the breaks between contractions were very short now. At 5pm I had blood dripping down my thighs. And then at 5:35pm the water broke in the most epic water splash. It felt AMAZING, as a balloon bursting mid-contraction and a water fall busted out.. Such a relief.
The waves were now coming with one minute or less apart, and I started to feel my body bearing down. I had a moment here where I realized that this was IT, these contractions were as hard as it was going to get. And I remember thinking “this is totally doable”. which energized me.
The final descent & arrival
At 6pm I could feel his head with my fingers, it felt softer than I had expected. And I felt pushing sensations starting, which felt like my body was involuntarily bearing down. It actually felt like a powerful surge of energy that started just above the crown of my head (outside of my body), and then poured forcefully down through my body. Paving the way for my baby.
It was wild and powerful, especially because the breaks between these contractions were really short. I never had any thoughts of not being able to handle it, it was simply happening and it was time to show up.
My husband got the birth pool ready again, while I eagerly wanted to get back in. Around 6:45pm I got back into the water, and entered into what would be two hours of journeying with these powerful ‘pushing’ surges of energy, while feeling Kamaiio descending and stretching me internally. i made these involuntary guteral roars with each wave, if it hadn’t been such a stormy night I think every neighbor would have heard me.
This was the first time during the birth where I really needed my husband helping me. I was kneeling in the pool, while leaning forward and holding his forearms while he leaned back for counterbalance. I needed to both pull on him and be held by his counterbalance. I needed something stabile, as the WILD energy poured down through my body. I tried to change positions, but nothing else worked.
I felt completely present in my body, in an all encompassing way. Noticing all the sensations of my baby coming down, and wondering what it would feel like to finally feel him emerge. I was also aware of trying to keep my lower body and pelvis positioned in a way to hopefully minimize tearing. The stretching felt confronting at times.
Towards the end I started feeling like I needed to actively push, and so I pushed with the wave of energy bearing down involuntarily. His head had kept descending and opening my yoni, and then rising back up. I got to feel the “ring of fire” twice, one for practice, and then again when his head finally emerged out of my body. I said to Rachan, his head is out, as he couldn’t see into the water in the darkness. It was so nice to feel his excitement as he took in my words. Then I said; what now? – which always makes me laugh thinking of this moment, as I knew very well what was happening. But Rachan just calmly answered; his shoulders will rotate and then he’ll come out. The break between contractions felt longer once his head was out, but it wasn’t actually very long. It just felt like such a moment of suspense.
And then the final “body-earthquake” poured through my body, he rotated and came sliding out into the water. With only instincts guiding my body, I leaned back, my hands met his body for the first time, and I lifted my son up to my heart. He instantly let out a cry, as he stretched his arms, and fully landed into my arms. He came out so strong and present, so fully here, as he arrived in the dark room only lit by a salt lamp. He was born around 8:47pm.
Placenta & Cord Burning
One of the things I had asked of my husband in preparation for the birth was to be very present and tuned into me until the placenta was out. And know that the birth is not complete until the placenta is released.
After a short while of sitting in the pool and being in awe that our son was in my arms, my husband asked me if I wanted to come out of the pool. It felt like the biggest feat to get up and out with my precious baby in my arms. With all instincts awake, I carefully got up while my husband helped hold me steady. He asked about the placenta, but the most important thing for me at that point was to offer Kamaiio a chance to breast crawl, and then to latch him. All my instincts were wanting him to breastfeed.
We got me laying down on the bed, on a towel to catch any blood, and placed Kamaiio on my now squishy belly. We watched him with admiration as he squirmed his way upwards. Then I got him latched for the first time, I had to help hold back my breast from blocking his little nose.
A while later my husband asked me again if I wanted to get up to release the placenta. He helped me up from the bed as I held Kamaiio in my arms, it felt wild and vulnerable to move with my womb empty and core wide open. I kneeled down on the floor, we had a sheet under me, I could feel the placenta sitting just inside, and it easily plopped out. We put it in my favorite bowl, and my husband checked that it was complete with nothing missing, which it was.
Another few early morning hours passed before we did the cord burning ceremony. I wasn’t quite sure if I was ready. I spoke to Kamaiio about what we were going to do, and said thank you to his placenta. He was lying on my legs as I sat in bed, starring back at me with his big eyes, so present and alert. We then had the bowl with the placenta on a tray next to me. And then Rachan lit a beeswax candle, and held the cord over the flame. Slowly Kamaiio’s cord was severed, I loved the slowness of this transition. We tied up the rest of the cord that was left to dry, it came off a few days later.
And so, our birth journey was complete. I did it! I worked with the challenges of our birth terrain in my own power. And I feel really proud of how we protected Kamaiio’s sacred birth journey.