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Our Birth Journey Together

By Molly Peralta, DC

August 7, 2023, forever marked me as a mother. A day that has etched itself into the essence of my being. Transforming me from maidenhood to motherhood. The birth rite of passage I dreamt of. 

The morning before, I woke quietly, while my husband still slept. Hanging beside him, I noticed my belly gently contorting and shifting shape, almost imperceptibly. I snapped a photo and shared it with my friend Corey, not attaching much significance to it at the time. After all, I had been experiencing what I thought were “mild” contractions throughout the week. As Sam woke up, we received a text from the birth keeper that we had planned inviting into our birth space. She confessed that she wasn’t feeling well and wouldn’t be comfortable attending if our baby decided to arrive in the next couple days. Her intuition was on point. Moments later, I walked into the kitchen where Sam was preparing breakfast, and my water broke. 

We’re truthfully only 3-4 generations away from when this was the norm. To birth your babies in your home. Maybe inviting over a friend or two. If fortunate, the wise woman in your community to be a supportive witness.

We chatted about what it meant that it would be just us, like we had planned originally. We just smiled and held each other. Feeling giddy almost. Knowing that we’d be holding our babe (relatively) soon. I’m sure to many, especially my parent’s generation, it seems “brave” and “progressive” or maybe even stupid to actively decide to birth without the care of a medical provider. For perspective, we’re truthfully only 3-4 generations away from when this was the norm. To birth your babies in your home. Maybe inviting over a friend or two. If fortunate, the wise woman in your community to be a supportive witness.

We slowly ate breakfast, made “one last stop” at the food store, and did a small hike to a secluded spot in Lao Valley for a refreshing dip and nature time before things intensified. Returning home, I rested, and around 1 p.m., the first significant contraction rolled in. By 3 p.m., the sensations were so intense that lying down was no longer an option. 

Sam and I labored together through the night, moving from the bed to the floor, then to all fours, standing by the window, feeling the cool breeze on our skin, and eventually to the bathroom floor and the toilet. It was intimate, romantic even at times. All the work on connection that Sam and I cultivated showed up in our birth. I felt held and utterly blown away by his capacity to breathe, move, and be with me. In those moments between sensations, I often dozed off, only to wake and realize I was still immersed in the journey. And then I began hearing the roosters’ crow (we’re nearly 14 hours in at this point). I consciously started noticing the soft rays of dawn filtering through the trees through our window screens, and something within me shifted. It was as though I had been lifted from a meditative state and thrust into a heightened awareness, and this sort of resentment-filled spiral. I glanced at Sam’s sleepy eyes and reluctantly, resentfully said, “Go make yourself some breakfast,” truthfully wishing he could somehow take away the intensity or switch places with me. 

Around 9 a.m., Sam sent out a text for “support.” Looking back, we laughed at it being his cry for help. It was an instinctive decision; we needed a fresh surge of energy. He asked me twice if I wanted anyone else to join us. Each time, I hesitated, fearing it might seem like I was failing to consider anything beyond birthing alone. Thankfully, he knew to ask a third time and he received a mere “sure” from me in response. 

As I caught a glimpse of who he had asked to come, I was flooded with emotion. I have heard of and witnessed in births I’ve attended—this moment. The emotional breakdown (breakthrough), the tears, the softening, the expansion that follows. Michale, my mentor and “island mom,” sat beside me as I laid on the bed, gently stroking my hair, offering a comforting and similarly refreshing presence in this sacred, transformative moment. 

It’s often said in the birth world: The best people to have at your birth are those that know they’re not needed.

It’s often said in the birth world: The best people to have at your birth are those that know they’re not needed. My friends Michale, Kori, and Zeena were just that. They supported in my expansion and my dream to sovereignly birth my baby at home. They didn’t arrive to save, deliver, or relieve me in any way, rather hold and remind me of what I already knew. Reminded me of what I had already decided. They showed up to witness me in my most vulnerable and open state. Literally and figuratively. Our previously mentioned birth keeper, the crone, Michale, as the matriarch. And Kori and Zeena as the mothers. All archetypes holding me as I moved from maiden to mother. 

As Michale and Kori began to place their hands on me, it was almost as if we were dancing, weaving together. Guided by their hands and their words. I continued to move, to talk to my baby, to actively let go. The softening and flow picked up. With that, so did the intensity. 

The month before Ku’a was born, I had attended the matriarch rising festival and had the opportunity to do a village prenatal with Sister Morningstar. She asked a simple question: What is your dream birth? Admittedly, I was nervous to vocalize what I wanted in birth. Because what if I didn’t get it? What if I said aloud my visual for how it would happen and something totally different occurred? Would I create too tight of expectations? Would I still be able to flow in the moment? But I spoke it out. And I mediated on it. Something I’m sure glad I did. 

With each surge, I was meeting myself, and my intensity, over and over again. Having quite the internal battle.

Around two hours before Ku’a’s emergence, I began experiencing the sensations of what most would consider “fetal ejection reflex.” The “uncontrollable” feeling of being overtaken by the extreme need to bear down. I knew in those moments, there was no big, bad, scary thing coming to get me with each contraction that was forcing me to close, however, I couldn’t get past it. With each surge, I was meeting myself, and my intensity, over and over again. Having quite the internal battle. I verbalized all kinds of things. Much of which I realize now, was a rotation through my shadow pieces. The archetypes: victim, child, saboteur. The parts of me that doubted my ability to actually birth a baby. Parts of me that questioned my choice in being at home “on our own.” The parts of me that feared what it looked like to “fail.” The parts of me wondering if I was “pushing” on a swollen cervix. Or progressing at all? The pieces of me that wanted to simply be done. 

Beyond the internal battle with the intensity, Ku’a’s emergence was virtually exactly how I had visualized it happening. “We got a peek at the head” are words that will forever be etched into my mind. In that sweet, sweet moment, I realized my baby was coming. And that it was near. Immediately, it was like a switch had been flipped, recognizing again that this babe was working with me. I knew what I had visualized. It took nearly nine surges from the first sight of his head to his full crowning. I moved from side lying to kneeling and holding onto Sam. Very slowly and graciously, as I swayed back and forth, his head began to emerge. Once his head was fully between my legs, Sam and I felt him with our hands. I had a conscious thought about him being between worlds. Between heaven and earth. My mentor Whapio would say this restitution phase of birth “is the moment mothers receive everything they need to know about mothering that child.” So we waited for the next sensation. And it came, after another two minutes. Emergence, not emergency. 

And then a big yawn came from our little guy and with that the final sensation, sending his body flopping on the bed between Sam and me. The best thing we’ve ever done.