The Miracle of Birth

When my sister-in-law and my brother asked me to be present for the labor and delivery of their son, I was over-joyed, and my answer was an immediate YES! I had months to prepare for my 7 hour journey to San Francisco when the time came, and I received the call that my sister-in-law was in labor. The preparation included weaning my daughter, who by the time of the birth would be 2 years and 7 months. I felt that she would be ready for that in the ensuing months. The other part of preparation included what leaving my kids overnight for the first time EVER would entail. In all of Ava’s 5 ½ years of life, I had not yet left her overnight! And honestly, the birth seemed like the perfect first time to do it, attending a birth was like a dream! And so in the months leading up to baby Isa’s birth, I weaned Amelie, I talked to Ava about what 3 nights without me would look like, and coordinated the babysitting schedule with both my mother-in-law and my mom. My sister-in-law ended up having to schedule an induction because she had gone the allotted number of days passed her due date that the hospital allowed. So when that day arrived, I left in the wee hours of the morning, kissed my kids good-bye and was on my way!


I knew that my kids were in good hands, so I fully relaxed and eased into my drive up north. I played all the music I loved, I chatted on the phone with friends I hadn’t spoken to in a while, I cried thinking about my own births and Mitch's absence, and I breathed in each hour of that beautiful drive. I felt free and empowered in a way I hadn’t experienced in a very long time.


I arrived at the hospital in plenty of time. I breathed with my sister-in-law, I massaged her feet with lavender oil, and I danced with her and my brother to Drake and their other favorites. I filled the Jacuzzi tub in their private hospital room as the labor became more intense, and encouraged my brother to get in the tub with my sister-in-law to offer support and grounding through the pain. After many hours, pain, and pressure from the Dr, my sister-in-law chose to move the labor along with modern medicinal help; an epidural and Pitocin. She worried she was letting me down by deviating away from her birthing plan, but I reassured her how strong I thought she was, and that in the end, only she knew what was best for her and her baby. It was her journey, it was her story, and I was just happy to be witness to the miracle of it all. I crashed out at my sister-in-law’s parents house in the wee hours of the night while the epidural and Pitocin sped up labor and allowed her to sleep.

I received the call from my brother in early hours of the morning that mama was 8 cm dialated and that it was getting close to delivery. I rushed back to the hospital and in the next few hours, baby was born. In the hour my sister-in-law pushed, my brother bent one of her legs and pushed and I held the other as she breathed into each push and bore down deep. I watched my nephew make his way out of the birthing canal. It was the most miraculous sight I had ever seen. My sister-in-law had never looked so beautiful to me. I cried with her as we all gazed upon him for the first time.


I stayed another two nights to help with the baby, to offer support to my brother and my sister-in-law, and knew my kids were in good hands. I think in was great for my kids to realize how cared and supported they are by others, and to realize that when I go away, I come back. All three of us got to experience a new kind of freedom, and appreciation for one another.


I will be forever grateful that I was present for the birth of my nephew! I was invited into one of the most intimate and precious moments of life, and I was able to be there as support and encouragement for my sister-in-law and my brother. I was able to witness their birth story, and see their sweet baby take his first breaths. Life is truly a miracle.


Journal Prompting:

Is there any part of your birthing story that needs forgiving or compassion?

Does your story need to be told in order to honor your experience and your baby’s entrance into the world?


Living life fully awake

And just when I think the day's work is done, I remember that there is still more to do, and then I remember to surrender to the work so that it becomes no better or worse, no more or less than what I'll do when I'm done with the work. Surrender to it, accept it, so it becomes a part of my meditation, a part of my spiritual practice, and then I realize this is what I have to offer others, what I have given to myself that has helped me out of the darkness. So, what has helped me? A daily spiritual practice, which happens to be writing, learning the art of being present and still through a meditation practice that has allowed me to bring this way of being into other parts of my life, being committed to seeing the spiritual in all things, circumstances, and roles, allowing emotions to move through me without judgement or resistance, the same way we birth our children, without resistance to the pain, but rather by surrendering to it, allowing it to move through us, our children, our ideas, our emotions, our thoughts, without guilt, without struggle. Finding a way of creatively expressing my emotions, leaning on friends and family that support me, lift me up, letting go of ways that no longer serve me (first becoming aware of those ways), and really allowing myself to be silently drawn to pull of what I really love -Rumi, and making that my career. Five years ago, googling spirituality and psychology and discovering a perfectly suited educational track and creating a career for myself based on how I could best serve others while utilizing all of my gifts, passions, joys, and learning how to follow my bliss, my peace, and my joy. Yes, we can all live a life fully awake, with hearts wide open to let in love and let go of pain.

Take a leap of faith off that mountaintop

What does my life look like these days? My life is in transition right now. I gave birth four weeks ago, have had lots of help with family that have flown in from California (I'm in Costa Rica), and now I am preparing to go it alone... Well, not alone, I have a wonderfully supportive community and group of friends, but the last of the family members that have been helping me with the cooking, cleaning, and caring for the little ones will be gone a week from today. I feel ready. Each day I feel stronger, more focused, more confident, and more trusting in my ability to not only care for my little ones, but to thrive while doing so. I am also feeling more and more ready to embrace my unique gifts in order to serve others, and financially support myself and the girls in the process. Yes, I have come a long way in the past four weeks since I gave birth. My mom arrived the day after I gave birth four weeks ago, and I think within days of her arrival I was already crying about her leaving two weeks later, and thinking, how the hell am I going to do this without her, and then ultimately without the full time help of anyone? Well, I cried to her about it, and then had the strong thought that my knowing that I needed to move to Costa Rica was so strong and clear six months ago, and that in the ensuing weeks and months to come, my knowing of what do to and when to do it next, would be just as strong and clear. And at this point, what choice do I have other than to simply trust it will all work out as it should? I know too much to allow myself to fall down the rabbit hole of angst and worry about tomorrow... For right now, I am right where I am meant to be. I will look to tomorrow with hope, with trust, and with excitement for all that is unfolding. I honor Mitch's spirit when I remember to live that way, and I teach my girls to not only trust in themselves, but to trust in life itself. And so for now, I take a leap of faith off of that mountaintop, and trust that my wings will carry me to heights greater than I ever could have imagined, and I go where the winds take me...

My story of home birthing my daughter in Costa Rica

Just 20 days before Amelie's arrival.

Just 20 days before Amelie's arrival.

It was 7:00pm on the night I gave birth to Amelie, in the little house I rented in Costa Rica, and I had just kissed my two and half year old daughter Ava good-night and watched her fall into a peaceful sleep... My contractions were coming with more frequency and more intensity, about every six minutes. I began to create the sacred space in our little rented house to birth Amelie while I waited for the arrival of the midwife and her assistant. I lit candles, placed framed photos of my late husband, Mitch, in easy view, burned sage, laid out the yoga mat to stretch through my contractions, and put Mitch's i-phone music on shuffle. As I was creating the space, I was overcome by big heavy tears of grief for Mitch's physical absence. I let them come to move through me as I knew pretty soon I would need all of my focus and energy directed toward one thing and one thing only, birthing Amelie.

Glamour selfies of me and Ava, just days before Amelie's birth.

Glamour selfies of me and Ava, just days before Amelie's birth.

The midwife and her assistant arrived at 7:30pm, they held space for my grieving, and then after I moved through my fears of a stalled labor, which was what happened with Ava's birth upon my entry into the hospital, my contractions began to come faster and stronger. I breathed through the pain, was massaged with essential oils during each contraction, and prayed for the support of Mitch, the angels, and God. Any conversation I had been having with the midwife and her assistant had come to a halt as the strength of each contraction took all of my focus, energy, and breath. At about 9:30, the midwife and her assistant began setting up the birthing pool in the living room while I laid in bed with Ava who had temporarily awoken. By 10:30pm, with Ava once again sleeping soundly, I got into the birthing pool, and with each contraction, I visualized my breath opening my cervix with as much ease as I could muster to allow the little one to pass through her birthing canal peacefully. I visualized being in bed with my two girls... When the pain was overwhelming, I remember hearing a song come through on the i-phone, “Walkin' on a dream,” by Empire of the Sun, a favorite of Mitch's... It was the only song I remember hearing during that intense period of labor. It was that song, and a memory of a dream I'd had the night before in which I gave birth in the squatting position, that gave me the energy to refocus my efforts and energy to safely and quickly deliver Amelie. I got into the squatting position in the pool, and asked my midwife if she could see Amelie's head with her pocket flashlight. She said she couldn't, but that I could reach into her birthing canal to feel for her head. Well, I reached into her passage to the world and felt her head through the amniotic encasing that was still intact. My midwife offered that I could keep my hand on her head while I pushed to help direct my energies. So I did just that, I prayed and pushed, and felt Amelie's head move further and further down the canal. I switched to a half laying/half seated position so my midwife could deliver Amelie as she made her entrance into the pool.

My girls, all three of us snuggled up in bed just hours after Amelie's birth.

My girls, all three of us snuggled up in bed just hours after Amelie's birth.

With a few final pushes, at 12:23am, Amelie was pushed safely through her birthing canal, her cord was unwrapped from her body by my midwife, and she was placed into my arms. I did it. I home birthed Amelie in Costa Rica, with a midwife, in a birthing pool, without Mitch's physical presence, all while not waking Ava who was in the next room. I sat in the pool with Amelie for a few minutes before I got out and did one last minor push of the placenta, and then laid in bed while the midwife did a health check of both me and the baby; we were both fine. Just then Ava woke up and got to meet her baby sister for the first time, pure love and perfect timing... After showering, I crawled into bed with my two girls, and it was just pure heaven. All I could do was marvel at the little miracle that I had just birthed, thank Mitch, the angels, and God for her safe delivery. The new chapter of our lives was just beginning...

Everything is okay in the face of a newborn

my two little angels

Amelie is four days old now, and each day I find that I fall more and more in love with her, and all of my fears about welcoming her into the world have vanished. I feel Mitch's physical absence so strong right now, piercing through my heart really, as I look into Amelie and Ava's sweet faces, I wonder what he would be saying, how he would be gazing at their beautiful little faces, and I play his music, I want to keep his presence as felt as I can for my own sake, and for the girls- I never want them to feel very far away from their daddy. I wonder if they can see or feel him more easily than I can, I can only hope. As I watch Amelie smile in her sleep, and listen to Ava and my mom's happy chatter from the other room as they color together, I can't help but cry as I think about what's missing. Although I know I must try as hard as I can to see all of the signs he is here with us, gazing lovingly at Amelie, giving Ava peace in her heart, filling our house with music from his i-phone, sending me messages in my dreams, and sending visions of all of us together to loving others who are more open to seeing, who thankfully share with me what they see... And then the sun outside shines a little brighter, a strong wind blows in through the open window, and I am reminded to be strong, have faith, and feel peace in my heart. I hold my memories close, and have the thought that Mitch's love is a part of my own heart beat now. I know intrinsically I needn't look far to find him. And then with that thought, my sweet newborn looks lovingly and intently into my eyes and I feel that somehow everything is okay as it is in this moment.


Receptivity and intention to light up the darkness

Ava and I arrived at the birthing house nearly two weeks ago, and I have found myself mentally, emotionally, and spiritually preparing for Amelie's entrance into the world, as well as grieving another aspect of the loss I feel over Mitch's passing. My intention for the stay at the house was to enjoy the heck out of Ava, really make it a special time of bonding for the two of us, connect to the special surroundings of the house, the mountainous rainforest, feel very connected to Mitch's spirit, and welcome Amelie into the world. At the start of our stay, upon Ava's request, we watched a very up close and personal video of Mitch, and it had me reeling for the next several days, and very focused on all of the ways he was not here... I struggled with connecting to the ways he was here with us, and then one afternoon while Ava was napping, I was sitting outside on the patio looking out into the vast mountains and tropical forest. A strong, calming breeze came over me, and in that instant, I could feel him, I was overcome by an overwhelming feeling of peace and joy. And then one evening a mutual friend of Mitch and I's posted a music video called “shine on,” that she felt called to share with me when she was all of a sudden filled with thoughts of Mitch and I. In those three of so minutes of watching the video, again, I very strongly could feel Mitch's presence, and was so grateful for my friend who was able to send me his message and remind me to have faith. And then one evening of instant messaging with a friend, with such a knowing, she reassured me that Mitch was with me in that moment, and would be with me during the birth. That faith that she had helped cast any shadows of doubts that I had in that moment of his absence. I was truly amazed at the power that her faith had in helping my guiding light shine just a little bit brighter. And then this morning, I was gently drawn into the town church, and although I am not a church goer, I have an appreciation for all places deemed holy. Upon entering into the church, I was overcome with feelings of a beautiful, compassionate, forgiving, divine presence that brought me to tears. I am sharing this out of pure gratitude and awe at the sometimes subtle and obvious ways that Spirit present itself to us, if we are simply open to receiving. As the days have passed here and I feel more connected to the sacred, I have found myself more and more ready to give birth and begin the new chapter of our lives... I believe that with receptivity and intention, we can allow healing and miracles into our lives.

Embracing birth-days, our own and our children's

Why is it that so many of us dread our birth-days? Have anxiety about our birth-days? When in reality, we ought to be celebrating the fact that we are alive? I wonder if it has something to do with how we felt leading up to our actual births... Perhaps our mother was frightened of labor and delivery, and passed her pre-birth-day anxiety onto us in the womb? Or perhaps, our mother feared how she would care for us, and there was some feelings of apprehension about our birth-day, thus leading us to feel apprehensive, perhaps a little dreadful of our annual day of which should be a celebration of our life....?

The reason I am pondering these questions is because as Amelie is preparing to enter into this world from her nine month incubation in her watery womb, I too am preparing and becoming aware of some fears and apprehensions I have about starting this new chapter of our lives. This process of fear examination of the labor or post-labor experience was encouraged by a hypno-birthing book I have been reading, which explains that these fears cause unnecessary restriction in the uterus during labor, thus causing more pain. So, upon examination, I realize I have been fearing how different our (Ava and I's) lives will be after Amelie is born, and wondering, will it all be okay? I have been fearing my ability to raise two young daughters without their father, and there has been a part of me that has been fearing the labor process, as I am planning on birthing in the birthing house we are currently residing in, without the use of an epidural (which I used for Ava's birth). Upon becoming aware of these fears, and understanding how they could make birthing more painful, and possibly affect how Amelie feels about her Birthday every year, I decided it was time to let them go. So, that is what I have been sitting with these past few days, trusting that all will be well during the laboring and birthing process, that Ava and I will have more than enough love to give Amelie, and that I will have the energy, creativity, and  support of family and friends to help make the transition of caring for two as smooth and as beautiful as possible. So, now I encourage us all to embrace our Birthdays (if you don't already do) with gratitude for our lives, and compassion for our mothers who birthed us, with or without fear . :)