Ecstatic Birth in Austin, Texas

 

The story of a woman who turned her unexpected hospital birth into an ecstatic birth in Austin, Texas.

Do you believe in fate?

I do. I absolutely believe with all my heart and soul that SOME moments are just destined to happen. “Fate” is how I ended up at the hospital, supporting a woman who I’d originally met at a city-wide clothing swap through the labor and birth of her second child.

I remember the evening we met. We both happened to attend a clothing swap event at Soma Vida. Each of us had our eldest sons (our only children at that time) in tow. She approached me out of the blue. Just tapped me on the shoulder and introduced herself. The clothing swap was a bit hectic, so it was hard to focus on our conversation, but I was impressed with how straight forward and friendly she was right from the start. I felt an underlying connection, but couldn’t explain why. Over the next few years we ran into each other at random events around town.. Each time we would greet one another like old friends, but we didn’t talk much in between.

Fast forward to recent events:

I take part in conversations on many local and worldwide Facebook groups that have to do with pregnancy, birth, and mom life. One day, I saw a post by her about her pregnancy in a group we both happened to be in. I had never seen her before in this group, and I hadn’t even realized she was pregnant (it had been months since I’d seen her in person). Immediately, I reached out to her to reconnect and offer my support.

Our original spark instantly ignited once again, and we ended up talking on the phone over the next few days. During this time, she discovered there were complications with her pregnancy. Instead of the calm and peaceful birth center birth she had planned, she would need to be induced in the hospital for the safety of her baby. Due to the change of environment and the uncertainty of the situation, she requested my presence as her Doula and I didn’t have to think twice before agreeing.

My intuition told me that although this was last minute and unplanned, everything would work out and this was where I needed to be.

ecstatic-birth-austin-tx-doula.jpg

Only a little over 24 hours later, I found myself walking into the hospital to support her. Everything was going well but her body wasn’t progressing as quickly as it had with her first. I could see that she was still having trouble adjusting to all of the changes in her plans. She wanted to be accepting of everything but naturally she had some mental blocks. I massaged her feet, did some acupressure, and we talked through these mental blocks. Her feelings were valid and she needed to allow them to flow freely instead of suppressing them.

“It’s okay to feel frustrated, anxious, and/or upset,” I said. “It’s okay to acknowledge these emotions. It will help you move forward.”

Kristine is a remarkable woman. Her mind is so powerful, and she had worked hard to convince herself that she was okay with this new twist in the story. For the most part, she was okay with it— but she still needed to allow herself time to adjust.

Another thing we worked through was her deep fear of cesarean. It was always on her mind. I guided her through the process of surrendering to the experience. It was unlikely she would need a cesarean, but thinking about it constantly (even thinking “I don’t want a cesarean”) was obsessive and would have negative effects on how her labor progressed. We moved past this mental barrier as well.

After these long heart to heart conversations, her labor started to pick up. She laughed and danced with her partner, talked to her son via FaceTime, drank copious amounts of coconut water, and birthed like a boss.

Eventually, she grew tired, and so did her uterus. It was so late in the night that it was actually early in the morning the next day. She and her doctor made the decision to turn off the pitocin so she could get some sleep and continue later in the morning. I tucked her in, kissed her on the forehead, and went home to nurse my own baby while taking a short nap.

ecstatic-birth-austin-tx-doula-7.jpg

The next morning, after they resumed the induction, Kristine and Charles spent a few hours before noon laboring together as a couple. Their love for one another is so powerful and magical— the perfect spark to get the oxytocin flowin’ in order to fuel a strong, efficient labor. Charles called me back to the hospital when things were going steadily. Kristine was prowling around the floor like a mother lioness. She transitioned between squatting, hands-and-knees position, and crouching on the floor while holding onto Charles’ hands as he pulled upward to give her traction.

I wished we were in a birthing hut with a rope hanging from the ceiling. It was obvious that Kristine would’ve benefitted from that ancient birthing practice. She was now in what some of us birth workers call “Labor Land.” None of us were talking much. The extraordinary thing about Kristine was that she didn’t complain at all. She knew instinctively that she wanted her contractions to be strong. If she made noise at all, it was low, satisfied hums. Her body was able to work quickly and efficiently because she wasn’t fighting it.

It wasn’t long before she was ready to push.

ecstatic-birth-austin-tx-doula-3.jpg

She decided she wanted to squat in the bed. With every contraction, her face would scrunch as she pushed with her body’s cues. Then she would relax into an ecstatic state of rest in between, smiling from ear to ear with her eyes closed. She allowed her body to guide her; to tell her when to push and when to rest. No one in the room coached her or directed her. Everyone watched in awe as she birthed her baby.

The amniotic sac was the first thing to show. It was bulging, but everyone remained hands-off, hoping to see a baby born en-caul. As soon as his head burst through the birth canal, her “bag of waters” broke and amniotic fluid sprayed directly into her midwife’s face. Her son’s body followed very quickly, and soon she was holding him in her arms.

I always love the look on a woman’s face immediately after she delivers her baby, but Kristine’s was especially brilliant. She looked deliriously happy as she thanked everyone in the room over and over again.

“This experience taught me so much,” she told us, through tears. “I love you all! Thank you thank you!”

I cannot tell you how honored I am to be a part of experiences like this. I love being able to assist women through such a monumental transition in their lives. Every birth brings us unexpected hurdles, and being able to guide other women through this process, supporting them physically, emotionally, and even spiritually… well, it’s priceless.