A Peaceful & Empowering Home Birth after Previous Trauma…during a Pandemic.

“Birth does not ask you to be fearless. It asks you to be brave.” – Britta Bushnell

This video is my victorious birth!

I was so full of fear at the beginning of this pregnancy. After 2 previous traumatic births, I didn’t know if I’d be mentally able to birth again and was definitely unsure if I could do it at home, though that’s what my heart wanted. 

My first birth at 15 years old, was a traditional feet up / back down vaginal birth at the local hospital. I was voiceless and choiceless. I was told that I needed to be induced early, that I’d be getting an epidural and an episiotomy, that I’d be placing my daughter for adoption and she wouldn’t leave the hospital with me. For my second birth, 2.5 years ago, I decided this time I would reclaim my voice and autonomy and chose to birth my way at home with only my husband, midwife and doula present. Unfortunately, this birth led to the unexpected triggering of childhood sexual assault trauma, I panicked, froze and dissociated during my son’s birth. I was unaware that even after years of intentional hard work on my painful history (see My Healiversary), that trauma could still live in my body. After my son was born, my placenta did not detach (I believe it was pscho-somatic) and I was rushed to the ER by ambulance. If that wasn’t traumatic enough, the entire experience in the hospital was pretty horrendous in itself, the way we were treated, like some backwoods hillbillies who birthed our child in an alley somewhere and were not to be trusted. The hospital staff tried to not let us leave and we were definitely threatened with Child Protective Services before we legally left. I can only imagine how we would’ve been treated if we weren’t educated on our rights, if I wasn’t white and if we both were not English speaking American citizens.

So when I found out I was pregnant this past August (*SURPRISE*), I didn’t know what I was going to do. Abortion was a quick and easy but unwanted solution that popped into my mind for a split second. Next, I seriously considered birthing in the hospital this time so I could have access to an epidural and I wouldn’t have to deal with potentially being triggered from the physical feelings of birth again. I visited a hospital and because I’m low-risk, I was paired with a midwife. I wanted to find out what birthing looked like at the hospital and then she shared with me that two of their midwives were out on maternity leave and they had both had home births, I took that as a sign. Later that week, I saw a forreal sign that read “what would you do if you weren’t afraid” and I knew the answer. Thus began a new chapter in my healing journey as I walked the path of preparing for birthing at home again, learning to move through uncharted territory of “AND”,  being both afraid and brave at the same time.

I had very simple intentions (see below) and am so proud of myself for the work I put in and how I showed up for myself the way I did. I am now able to contribute a positive birth narrative, the powerful tools that worked for me and share with other mamas that it is possible to have the birth you want after trauma and as a survivor. I’ll be sharing more on this topic in coming posts as I am also currently working on a documentary about the long term affects of sexual assault on the birthing person and on the birth spectrum.

My intentions:

1. To remain present in my body.

2. To move my body.

3. To turn off my thinking brain.

4. To listen to & trust my body & my baby’s innate wisdom.

5. To let my birth unfold naturally, undisturbed.

6. To use my voice aloud (talking to my body, baby and any resources I needed to call on).

7. To not say “I can’t”.

8. To catch my baby!

9. To have my placenta detach and deliver without intervention or an ER visit!

Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions or are looking for some guidance to claim your right to an empowering birth post trauma or not. 

Our Birth Team also my postpartum team! – (this was smart pandemic planning!)

Birth Doula: Daisy Hamony of Monarca Birth 

Sibling Support + Photographer & Videographer: Lauren Archer of Love of a Little One (We also took our childbirth class with her and she is our lactation consultant for new babe)

Midwife: Lauren French Hoy of MadreLuz LA Midwifery Services

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*Special thank yous to the following womxn for their various tools that I incorporated during this birth.*

Lauren Archer of Love of a Little One for our childbirth class and SO much off the clock love and support.

Marie Mongon of Hypnobirthing

Sheila Kamara Kay of Ecstatic Birth

Debra Pascali-Bonaro of Orgasmic Birth

Robin McLeavy of Birth Temple

– xOx

Why I Chose to Home Birth

You are // made from everything // That I am // We are // made from everything // That the stars are // I can feel // Your heart // beat // Within mine // The rhythm // Of a blood that runs deep // thru valleys and peaks… excerpt from 19th Birthday.

See why I chose to birth at home here.

I never thought that I would want a home birth. In fact, I swore I would never not have an epidural when giving birth. Why would I choose to feel pain? That’s crazy talk. To be honest, I wasn’t sure if I would have anymore kids. However, I did know if I were to have another baby, it would be under much different circumstances than my first. I was 14 years old when I got pregnant and a lot of, like all of, my decisions were made for me. I couldn’t drink (legally), I couldn’t drive (legally), I couldn’t buy cigarettes (you see the pattern here) and I was told exactly what would happen to my body and to my baby without asking me what I wanted or how I felt. I was induced early, I was given an epidural and I placed my baby girl in an open adoption all by the time I was 15 years old. It was rough, for a very long time. As difficult of a time that it was for me, I do want to add that I’m very grateful for the family that adopted my daughter and the closeness we’ve been able to have over the years. They are my extended family, but it still wasn’t my choice. I had no voice during my pregnancy (which I hid for the first 6 months), the delivery or postpartum. Shoot, I didn’t even really know what postpartum was until my recent birth. I am sure that I suffered from PPD, but I shoved it all down, deep deep down into the crevices and numbed it up with substance abuse.

Fast forward to adulthood and living in Southern California amongst the hippies with homebirthers all around and I’m starting to like the sound of this home birthing business, that’s actually not a business at all, (please watch The Business of Being Born, it’s pretty much what sold me on the whole idea at the end). Having a home birth would mean that I had total say over my birthing experience, the environment, who would be present at my birth, I would be in my home from start to finish, with my delicious home-cooked food, my music and the energy that we’d been creating in the space. I envisioned that after my hypnobirthing experience where I breathed my baby down and out through affirmations that my midwife would shower me and put me into bed with a warm meal and a baby suckling effortlessly at my breast. Very romantic, n’est-ce pas? Is that what happened? …kind of…no not really, but that’s for another post. Although it may not have been as romantic, we did have a successful home water birth and I delivered my big ole, 9lbs 2oz, healthy, veggie-made baby boy at 11:11pm on September 18, 2017 and for that I am forever grateful.

– xOx