For weeks, I hadn’t slept well. Perhaps it was even months. Every night my intention was to go to sleep shortly after we put our toddler down at 8 o’clock, but I would lie awake in bed until after midnight each night trying to beat the heartburn that felt like a fire in my chest. On top of that, my growing little baby inside of me would dance from 10 PM till midnight every night. It was like the night brought her to life! As I got closer to my due date, she would burrow her head down onto my cervix. It was a sharp and shocking pain and there was no way I could sleep through it. My intuition told me that one of those nights she was going to dance me into labor. So on Saturday, January 21, I finally had the urge to sleep. My belly had dropped the week before, but for some reason I didn’t feel heartburn that night. I managed to fall asleep around 10 o’clock, only to be woken up at 12:41 Sunday morning with my waters trickling out between my legs. I was so elated! I woke my husband Benjamin up in excitement and told him my waters had broken. Then I wrote my midwives, and expressed how I felt like it was “go time!” They had other ideas. They told me to get rest while I could, and go back to sleep. Are you kidding?! I couldn’t sleep for the life of me. I felt like I was moments closer to meeting my baby girl, and it felt like Christmas eve all over again. My husband went back to sleep, but I laid in bed staring at the ceiling. Suddenly, I started having contractions and they were less than 10 minutes apart, each lasting one minute, for one hour. At that point I woke Ben up again and he called for the birth tub to be delivered to our home, but sadly by 4 AM my contractions came to a stop…
The next morning I shared the news with my midwives again, and they still told me to get rest because my contractions would eventually come in. Feeling good and resting was the most important thing. My day was pretty uneventful as I felt like I was just waiting. Waiting for something to happen! I labored for four days with my first baby, and it had only been 15 months prior to birthing this baby, so it was still fresh in my mind. I could still access the intensity of contractions like they happened yesterday. I could still feel the burning sensation of the ring of fire when I pushed my daughters body through my body and into my arms. It was all still so visceral. I think that’s why I was so anxious. Most women say they forget what birthing their babies feels like, but I didn’t have time to forget. Due to the grueling labor I experienced before, I had a lot of doubt circling my mind while I contemplated whether or not I could ever do this again.
Luckily I didn’t have too! As promised, second babies come so much easier than first. It was now the night of Sunday January 22nd and I went into labor after watching a movie with my mom on the couch. Benjamin, my husband had been sleeping for a few hours because he had come down with some flulike symptoms and a horrible headache. I personally think it was nerves because he knew what was about to take place. Needless to say, I got ready for bed because at this point I was exhausted, but as soon as I got under the covers, I started having very intense contractions and this time they didn’t stop! Ben reassured me that he was ready to be my complete support system and promised me that the sleep he had gotten rejuvenated him and he was feeling great! I on the other hand was completely drained from being up the night before, and because of the mind games I had been playing with myself all day. At this point I hadn’t gotten into the tub once even though it had been set up and ready for an entire day. This time I didn’t want to labor as long in the tub because when I did that with my first birth, I got extremely tired and relaxed which caused my contractions to slow down. This time my plan was to fight through the rushes and try and wait until I transitioned before I got into the birthing tub. Funny enough, everything was actually going to plan! My toddler was asleep in her crib, my contractions got increasingly closer together and more intense by the minute, and I continued to breathe through the intensity with the help of my husband’s strength. I tried to rest between each contraction but when they would come I would drop to my knees with my husband behind me squeezing my hips together with all his might. It was the only way I could bear it. I kept thinking… I remember this… I don’t know if I can do this… This is the toughest thing I have ever been through. I was very much in my head, and I remember crying to Ben at some point “it’s not enough!” What I meant was I needed more. More distractions and relief to push me through what I was feeling. I wanted the water! I practically ran down the hall to the yoga room where I birthed my first baby to jump into the birthing tub. I wanted the heat to surround me. I wanted to melt into the depths of my favorite element. Ouch! I couldn’t bare it! I put one leg in the tub and instantly pulled it out. The water was so hot because it had been sitting for 24 hours with a cover over the surface. It was 110° and I started to panic! I have a quote written on the wall above the door in my yoga room. It says “Just breathe. You will never have this moment again.” I focused on that truth. Ben immediately came in with buckets of ice to cool down the temperature of the water. I tried to wait patiently but my contractions were very close apart. For what seemed like an eternity, and in reality happened pretty quickly, I was finally able to get in the water. I sank down into the tub but felt an overwhelming heat through my body. I knew it was still too hot for baby and me, so I got out. It was short-lived, but nice all the same.
The next thing I knew I was in the living room on the floor on my hands and knees fighting through contractions. Just when I thought I couldn’t take anymore Benjamin recited an intention to me. It helped a lot to think about these positive words as opposed to being in my head clouded with doubt.
Next Amy arrived! She has such a calming presence about her, and I immediately noticed that I started moaning and groaning less, and breathing more deeply in her presence. I felt safe. Half of my birthing team, or as I like to call them my “woman tribe” had arrived. Amy had been with me during my first delivery as an assistant midwife to Tiffanie who was also my midwife again this time around. Most importantly I got to hear my daughters heartbeat for the first time since my water broke and It gave me a new surge of relief. I had been wondering for the last 24 hours how my baby girl was doing. Now I could hear her tremendously strong heartbeat urging me on. We could do this. We could do this together and make this journey a beautiful one. I believed in my abilities, and I believed that my daughter would be strong enough to sustain this journey of ours. I felt reassured and connected to my baby, and was able to relax into the process of it all a little more.
Meanwhile, Ben and Amy got me through the next few hours of labor. They worked seamlessly together. Ben constantly squeezing my hips together with every contraction and reminding me to think about my breathing, while Amy whispered words of empowerment into my ears, and constantly reminded me to relax my shoulders. In between contractions I closed my eyes and fought sleep. I was exhausted and really just wanted to check out. My daughters little body moving further and further down held me accountable though, and got me to check back in each time. Amy gave me water to drink in between each contraction and rubbed my back. Ben continued to reassure me how incredible I was. It’s amazing how time seems to stop when your body remains in fight or flight mode. I had no concept of time as each rush of pain would slowly creep into every nerve of my body, then build up like a tsunami wave, then come crashing down taking all of me with it. There is nothing more intense then the miracle of birth.
Amy brought me back out of my head a few times and reminded me to pee. She wanted me to try a few contractions on the toilet. I’m not sure why, but this time around I only wanted to be on hands and knees. While birthing Kenza (my first) I tried to labor through my contractions with all sorts of positions…another benefit to birthing at home. My feminine body was made for this, and it needed to move. My body knew what to do, and I had reached a point where I was ready for the birthing tub. The lights were dimmed, my labor playlist was on, Ben and rolled up wet washcloths dipped in essential oils and kept them on ice for me, and my shrine with my aqua candle was lit. I made a shrine because of the name we had chosen for our second daughter. Benjamin and I had discovered our baby’s name a few months before she was born while on vacation in Tulum. Benjamin and I are both Pisces, and are happiest by the sea. Her name meant “Goddess of the Ocean” and I knew it was fate while I floated each day in the ocean cradling my baby bump and gazing up to the heavens. She was going to be our little water baby. Needless to say, choosing this name on vacation inspired me to take a nude photo of my pregnant body holding my nude toddler Kenza against my chest. My intention was to use this photo to focus on during labor. To me, this image was tremendously symbolic. It was an image of the divine strength I carry as a woman. An image of the female energy within my firstborn, my unborn baby inside of me, and me as a mother of two. All three of our heartbeats beating together, sun kissed and posing by the aquamarine water…the manifestation of my drams coming true… captured in a moment forever. That photo was placed on a table next to the birth tub, with a candle surrounded by sand, seashells and sea glass beside it. This was a shrine made for the Goddess of the Ocean Yemaya, mother of all, to grant me the safe passage of my baby.
Once I was in the water this time, I remained there, humming and even swaying a little to the music I had chosen for this birth. My moans increased and so did the pain. During each rush Amy would slowly pour water over my sacrum letting it trickle from a cup. It felt magical.
Tiffanie arrived and Amy continued to check on my baby’s heartbeat. It would quicken like mine with every rush, then slow down like mine as the contraction subsided. Baby was doing amazing. I was given some honey to keep my energy up and some melon as well. Benjamin continued to place cold mint washcloths on my face and I felt his devotion and support. I couldn’t help but think about how grateful I was to finally be experiencing my dream birth…the birth I had envisioned but never had with my first.
The sun had risen and soon after my mom arrived to be with Kenza when she woke up. My mom had witnessed my first birth, and her energy, love and kiss on my forehead worked wonders as she entered the room to share her belief in me. Shortly after Kenza began to stir.
I was close, although I didn’t know it because I was still trapped in the past and preparing mentally for the marathon. Amy used the Doppler again to hear our sweet girl’s heartbeat but she was having a hard time finding it as I contracted on hands and knees in the water. Ahhhh, there it was. The most incredible sound in the world. Music to my ears. Life. My baby had dropped even lower. What felt like moments later, I had the urge to push. I didn’t even feel my body transition. I just felt a “jump out of my skin” sensation and literally wanted to do just that. My body took over, I jumped up and stood in the tub while bearing down and pushing with all my might. I heard the distant voice of Tiffanie telling me to get back down in the water, then the next thing I hear is to pick my baby up out of the water! It was in slow motion for me, but the birth video shows that this all happened in seconds. It was an out of body experience for me. I remember looking down and seeing my baby girl at the bottom of the tub with eyes wide open looking up at me! Insane!! Tiffanie grabbed her and next thing I know she is on my chest still fixated on my face! Our eyes locked.
I was coming back to my body. Tiffanie kept saying she’s here. I was in shock and disbelief! One push and she dove headfirst down into the tub making an entrance into the world with a splash. She was our water baby alright! Yemaya was perfectly pink, had huge eyes and a tiny but strong body. She was holding her head up to look at me. It was love before first sight this time because with second babies you already know the feeling of a love stronger and more protective then anything in the world. You already know that this tiny little baby will make you more fearful, emotional, empowered and fierce then ever before. I had doubts that my heart may not have enough room to expand any more then it already has with Kenza. I used to think how could I possibly love my second child as much as I love my first? Well it just happens. Instantly. My heart is more full then I ever imagined it could be…and the moments that followed are burned into my mind forever. Benjamin behind me, gazing over my shoulder at our new daughter.
My mom bringing Kenza into the the yoga room, this sacred place in our home where both of my daughters came to me earth side…
I will always recall the sound of Yemaya’s first cry…Kenza reaching out and touching her baby sister for the first time…
My husband gazing in wonder at his second daughter before cutting her cord…
Laying in my own bed with my family and my midwife Tiffanie helping Yemaya latch on to my breast for the first time…
The moment I realized that I was there in my room with my girls…my two girls! My two incredibly healthy daughters! The whole idea of it was surreal! I was a mother of two!
Seeing Ben enjoying skin to skin time with our new baby and the bond they had sparked.
Suddenly we were a family of four, and as we gathered and embraced each other I felt complete. I was certain that this little girl had chosen us to be her parents for a reason. Gods master plan was unfolding, and for the first time in my life, I learned the lesson of simply letting go and trusting. Yemaya was here.
Yemaya’s Birth Playlist ~ Goddess of the Ocean
Written by Tiffany Zoldan
Midwife: Tiffanie Gonzales
Assistant Midwife: Amy Huntsman
Such a beautiful story for a wonderful family! So inspiring sharing your miracle of birth for a second time! I feel so blessed to have been included in this amazing journey of yours! Xox Love you … Mommy
Awesome :)) :)) :)) I was an early natural birth and water birth mom, 1980s. Great to hear the tradition lives on. It takes lots of fortitude. And you did it :)) :)) Dawn
My water baby now: https://ellaharp.com/bio/
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