Our stories are what unite us down to the flesh and bone. It is here we find our unique differences, our primal strengths and we share our moments that unravel us. Moments we all share.
Many years ago, if you had asked me to name my greatest fear I would have said: childbirth. A combination of my mother's own experiences of birthing in the 70s, together with decades of harmful and often hysterical portrayals of the suffering endured by women during childbirth, had slowly eroded my confidence levels and created a deep pit of fear within me.
Then I began a committed yoga practice where I learned about the power of pranayamic ujjayi breathing. I also learned about the benefits of pre-natal yoga and the birth-assisting role of a doula. I connected with women who shared the first-ever positive birth stories I’d heard.
By the time I fell pregnant with my first child, I was surrounded by natural birthing support and felt empowered with new possibilities about birthing. I’d developed confidence in understanding how a woman's body works naturally to birth a child. What I truly desired was a calm birth without medical intervention. And I trusted that doula support was the way to go.
Subsequently, my experiences of birthing both my first and second child were a dream; certainly physically intense but incredibly rewarding and empowering. In both instances, I opted for a hospital birth with doula assistance, as this was where my husband and I felt most secure and supported. It turned out to be a winning combination. I could relax and feel safe while getting on with the focused business of birthing in my own way.
Kahmen had been an incredible, genuine support throughout my second pregnancy, which posed very different challenges to my first. I’d suspected my second birth might move along quite quickly and I was right. In just three hours from the first rumbling of a contraction at 4am, our new bub was welcomed into the world.
When my waters broke, contractions progressed quickly. After transitioning to the hospital our daughter was born an hour later. For me, a fast birth wasn't necessarily more painful, perhaps because it was a second birth and my body was more accustomed to the experience. I used only a TENS machine for relief, which helped me move into a rhythmic meditative state of focused ujjayi breathing. I chose to birth on all fours, which felt like the most natural position for me. I’m confident that using an Epi-No in the weeks prior to birthing helped prevent tearing or stitches. And I’m certain that birthing drug-free aided a swift physical recovery and a seamless transition to breastfeeding.
The pain of birth is undoubtedly challenging, but I found it more than manageable and was amazed how the downtime between contractions, right up until the actual birth, created a tranquil space to relax and refocus. In the lead up to labour, I’d benefited from the birthing meditation CDs Kahmen had shared with me. I had learned about the pain-fear cycle and how adrenalin closes the cervix to birth, so my mantra was the simple word: OPEN. I felt attuned to allowing my body to surrender and my baby to move through without resistance so that the contractions alone birthed my bub with very little extra effort on my part.
The greatest joy was enjoying how peaceful our baby girl was on arrival. She barely cried and snuggled quietly into my breast. Kahmen had been there to assist at every step; a beautifully calm influence and so instrumental in creating an amazing natural birth. Her voice and touch will always cherished.
After our arrival home, Kahmen offered continued support and nourishment, with plenty of time to chat, celebrate and integrate our shared birth experience. The joy of accomplishment in facing my fears surrounded by a collective support group of women who educated, inspired and nurtured me, allowed birthing to be the greatest achievement of my life.
Theordore and Oswald
Motherhood seems to be this deeply primal thing that starts with that positive test. With my first I lost my way a bit towards the end of my pregnancy. I felt overly doctored and in the end was induced. I felt bullied into it and don't remember actually consenting. However it was how little Theodore was meant to be born. He was taken by C-section and then whisked away from me by nurses with his daddy trailing behind. It's what I thought was suppose to happen. I had trouble boning in hindsight, seemed rosy at the time. But after the wonderful experience with my second, I probably was deeply grieving my birthing experience, lack of experience.
I had trouble with breastfeeding around 3 months and gave up not long later. Abrupt weaning caused me to suffer ppd. I was overly anxious that his childhood had to be just so, if I couldn't breastfeed then everything else would be perfect. I finally sought help and slowly learned to let go and enjoy this time. It helped my relationship with Daniel too, and before you know it, we were expecting number 2.
Oh no!! The fear of them being so close together, what will family say, what will doctors say after a C-section? But there was nothing to worry about, and along came little Oswald. With Kahmen by my side I had a wonderful pregnancy and was so calm and ready for this little bundle to emerge. I was still adamant I wanted a natural vaginal birth and yet was quite at peace if a C-section was in the cards. At least I labored this time, it was so hard but I really believe it made all the difference to our bonding.
A long hard labour, a warrior birth Kahmen said, resulted In a peaceful and wonderful C-section. Oswald stayed the whole time until I was heading to recovery and breastfeeding in recovery, although covered in meconium, was wonderful.
Our little family is complete now, and motherhood is still magical, I feel like my reason on earth was for these boys and that they need me so completely, fills my heart with so much love. There are still times I see my old anxious post partum self, but I feel I can recognise them now and stop them in their tracks. Second time around I'm going with the flow and realizing that I am enough.
Kahmen was an amazing support in this journey, her massage was amazing and really helped me to focus on this pregnancy. Her strength in the labour room was irreplaceable and even though I didn't get the perfect birth, I did get the perfect labour and baby.
Birth story of Leo
Leo came into the world not exactly as planned but thanks to Kahmen both me and my husband were as ready as we ever could have been! The plan was to do the birth as natural as possible with minimal intervention, no drugs and spend most of the time at home so I was trusting my body would know what to do. Even after going through all of the planning and child birth hypnosis training so I knew what I thought to expect and spending time each day focusing on relaxation and breathing exercises, you definitely cannot fathom what labour actually feels like until you are in the midst of it. But because of the hypno birthing preparation and Kahmen I had complete faith in my abilities and knew what I was experiencing was normal and my body could do it. The education and sessions with my hubby meant he also knew what to expect and he was my rock throughout which I needed when I was in pain and couldn’t think straight.
The whole birthing experience lasted almost 24 hours from very minor pains which started around 9pm on day 43 until my beautiful baby boys’ birth at 8.40pm the following night. The pain was unimaginable but I managed to breathe (and scream... ) through it and knew I was not dying (although it felt like it) and it was for a good cause as I was bringing our baby into the world! I managed to spend most of the time at home with no drugs and just hot water bottles on my tummy and back and only had some gas from around 7pm (at around 9cm dilated) to try and get me to stop pushing as my cervix wasn’t quite dilated enough. Unfortunately although I could have kept going and was coping, our little man was in distress and they had to do an emergency Caesar. Words can’t explain the feeling when I heard his little cry and knew he was fine and in the end that is all that matters. Although his entrance wasn’t what I had envisioned I would not change a thing about the labour and would go through all of the pain again. I know I did the absolute best I could have and would not have made it that far without the preparation and help from Kahmen. She is an absolute sweety and we trusted her from the moment we met her. We will definitely be doing a refresher if we are lucky enough to be blessed with #2 :)