Dearest friends and family,
This is the whole, real, and raw birth story of our baby girl, Bridgette Kea. This is me sharing our experience of brining this angel into the world. On 10/6 at 11:05pm, she was born safely and lovingly in a birthing tub on our back porch, straight into her papa's strong arms.
In the story, the name Dani that you read is my incredible midwife. We couldn't have done this pregnancy or this birth without her. She is radiant wisdom and strength. If you are located on the Big Island and are looking for a midwife to work with, she works in tandem with a another amazing midwife named Nina (who's name you will also read in here) and you can find them at Island Mama's Midwifery. I truly cannot recommend their services enough.
My intention in sharing this incredibly personal story, is that if you are a soon-to-be mama, aspiring mama, or just generally someone interested in the beauty of birth, that you may find some comfort and inspiration in the words. Of course there are some details that I've left out — I can't remember everything! But this is the gist.
All our love X Meagan, Evan & Bridgette
The ceremony of my life. There will never be anything like it. 22 hours of non-stop intensity, beyond every imagination and expectation. It was wild. It was primal. It was invigorating and debilitating all at once. I woke up at 1am Friday night (which was really Saturday morning) with a strong urge to poop. So I did, and right after, I got an interesting kind of cramp all through my lower abdomen. Five minutes later, I got another. Then another, then they didn’t stop until baby came through. For a few hours there I wasn’t sure what I was feeling, I just knew that I couldn’t fall back asleep because as soon as I tried to, another wave of cramping came. I had the feeling that this was it, but wouldn’t let my mind actually say so. Around 5am, I texted Dani and Nina and let them know that I’d been having what I thought were contractions every five minutes, lasting for one minute, since 1am.
Then around 7am, I called Dani and she said my text never came through — I told her about what I was experiencing and she said to just go about my morning and keep her updated. Neither Evan nor I had got back to sleep since 1, so we got up and went about our morning slowly. He made me chia pudding with our almond Brazil nut yogurt and some blueberries. We talked a lot and he made kraut and I started reading through Nourishing Traditions and taking pictures of a lot of recipes. I was lying with my legs open and Evan noticed a drop of mucus on my yoni, so he picked it off and I sent a picture to Dani. Then around 10 or so, I felt the urge to get up and go for a walk. We walked in the rain, sweetly wrapped together under an umbrella, up Indian Tree towards Mauna Kea and back. The whole way, I contracted every few minutes and would have to generously grab onto his shoulder and breathe or fully squat down to release. We got back to the house and I peed, only to realize after I wiped that it felt like something really sticky came out. I looked in the toilet and there was a long cream colored mucus plug stuck to the edge of the toilet paper. I picked it up and sent a picture to Dani and to Charlotte, letting Charlotte know that I thought things were really happening. After this, the rest of the day is an absolute blur until Dani arrived. I remember getting back in bed and allowing myself to drift off as much as I was able between contractions. I never got into a “sleep” but definitely dozed into strange and psychedelic spaces of the in-between. The contractions were slowly but surely getting stronger. At some point, Evan went into the guest bedroom to get a nap, and I stayed in our bed to contract. I would go from lying on my side and being seconds away from a deep sleep, to urgently lifting myself onto my hands and knees to breathe through the sensation. I would also slide myself onto the floor next to me in an deep, deep squat, slay my arms out back onto the bed, tuck in my chin and repeat the mantra “I am open and I am safe, I am open and I am safe.” Or, something along those lines. I was gifted visions of all my wise mama ancestors dancing for me around a flame. It was absolutely gorgeous and reassuring.
Once Evan woke up, I felt a need to turn on The Doors and just go around the house in different positions to dance through the sensations that were arising. And yet still through all of this, it never mentally occurred to me that I was truly in labor. My mind literally never let me think that thought. I had very, very few thoughts, other than spontaneous mantras that would pull me through another hour. I began to feel really high and out of it, both from being in labor and also from lack of sleep. It was around these hours of the day when I really began to enter another dimension entirely. I was never really able to even look Evan in the eyes because of the intensity of the energy flowing through me. To focus on looking at anything, especially something as powerful as his eyes, was now out of my field of possibility. He urged me multiple times throughout these hours of laboring to call Dani and ask her to come over, but it really didn’t feel right yet. I wanted to labor for longer with just Evan, and I’m not sure why. I was going purely off of intuition about the support I knew I needed and when. And truthfully, I think i was still in denial about actually being in labor. I called and texted Dani and few times throughout the day to keep her updated — at one point in the hot shower (one of many I took that day), I squatted down to feel around my cervix and touched what felt like a tiny little tear in some tights — I’m not sure how else to explain it. I’d never felt that inside of me before. I called and told Dani about this, and she said that meant that I was still effacing and probably not dilated yet. She said that when I really started dilating, it would feel different and I would know. She told me that now was the time to really loosen up and focus on opening, and through each contraction to retreat the manta, “Now is the time to open up, now is the time to open up” and to imagine a flower blossoming like in a time lapse video. She even suggested that I get on Youtube and watch some of those, but I was too deep in my process that I forgot to do so. A few hours later, I reached my hands up again to feel the hole, and it now was twice (or more) the size. I could feel something hard right behind it, which I assumed was baby’s head. It was sometime shortly after I felt the twice-the-size hole that I finally texted Dani and said, “I think I need you now, please come over. This is getting really intense.” She immediately texted back “Let me pack up and I’m on the way.” She didn’t show up until about an hour later. At first, I knew that Evan was getting anxious in wondering where she was. I didn’t notice how much time was passing like he did, until about five minutes before she arrived, my contractions were so intense, that I began to get anxious as well and almost called to say please hurry! But as soon as I was about to do so, she pulled into the driveway.
When she came in through the door, I was completely naked and coming down from a contraction. It was already getting quite dark outside, and Evan and I were sitting on the edge of the bed with the curtains closed and the red light district on. This must have been around 6pm. I remember looking to her entering the living room and saying hi. She quietly said hi back, then laid her bags down and went to the sink to wash her hands. She then came into our room and sat down so gently. I think I said something like, “I cannot believe that women do this, this is insane.” We talked about how I was feeling, then another contraction came on. They sat and held space for me to breathe through it. Then she said she would check baby’s heartbeat and my dilation. She forewarned me that based on my coherence and from what I’d been updating her on, she thought I was at 3cm. This made my whole heart sink and I began to mentally prepare to actually be in labor for much, much longer. And yet at the same time, I knew that wasn’t at all true. My body just knew. I knew I was going to have this baby tonight. I went through another contraction, then she checked. Baby’s heartbeat was strong and steady. I laid on my back and she checked my cervix — it took her a few seconds to feel around in there, and then she very assuredly and gently said, “Okay you’re at 7cm.” And I remember kind of lifting up my neck, wide eyed, to look at Evan and say, “Oh my god really? That’s great.” She said, “Okay sweetie you’re about to go through transition.” And though I’ve read so much about transition, I just blurted out, “What does that mean?” I needed to hear it from her and know what I was about to go through. She told me that my contractions were going to get even more intense and that the whole process was going to get really, really deep. In that moment, I could not even fathom it getting any deeper and I think I expressed this out loud. But she assured me that I would acclimate and be fine. She and Evan started filling up the tub, and we turned on Don Gato. While they were setting up and clearing the space, I labored around in different positions. The birth stool felt really helpful for a while and then I made my way out into the grass. I labored on my hands and knees on a towel on the grass until I was able to get into the tub. Finally getting into the tub was an absolute dream. As bliss as bliss could’ve been for me in that state. Just before getting in, I got a stabbing pain in the middle of my lower back — Dani put some black pepper and frankincense oil on it. Once I was in the tub, she threw in some clary sage to help labor pick up, and she placed our crystal inside. I don’t remember her ever taking the crystal out, but I eventually realized that at some point, she did. It was then that everything went so, so, so fucking deep. For the next few hours, I went so deep inside of myself, I have truly never experienced anything like it. This was its own ceremony and I was absolutely baffled the entire time. My heart was cracked so open wide. Each rush came and went, and yet in those first few moments that a rush would come on, I would become overwhelmed with doubt about whether I could really make it through another.
Dani was reassuring me throughout it all whenever I said something or asked. I was moaning and roaring — making noises I have never made before, so loud so deep so low. My voice was starting to get incredibly hoarse and my throat very dry. Evan would feed me water after each contraction. He stayed strongly by my side, letting me whip him and hit him and bite him and squeeze his hand until it was about to break. I never suspected that he was feeling as weak and sick as he later told me that he did. He felt as present as he ever has been with me. Through the hours that I was in the tub, Evan and Dani would go from being by my side, to giving me space and lying down in the living room. And the times that they were giving me space actually felt amazing. I would come to and realize that I was outside laboring alone and it felt empowering and sweet to be with myself in this way. Dani was putting some warm compresses on my back and perineum, and Evan was putting cold cloths on my forehead and neck.
Just before I began to push, I had a vivid vision of a snake slithering up from the Earth and into my womb, it’s multifaceted diamond head lovingly biting onto my baby’s sack to pull her down and out. I rested in this vision until I felt an urge to puke. Evan held the bucket for me and I let out quite a lot of water and acid. This felt incredible and so fucking painful at the same time — the force of the purge itself pushed baby down even further. It was a catalyst that I could feel in an inexplicable way. It was then on the next contraction that I felt the need to push. I told Dani this and she said, “We’re going to meet your baby before midnight.” I had no idea what time it was, but I knew the moment was coming soon. So I began to push — with each contraction I pushed, gradually harder and harder each time. I pushed for what seems like an hour, and it was during this time that I actually got scared for the first time during the journey. My butt hole felt like it was turning inside out and I felt down to grab what I thought was poop, but was actually my colon coming inside out. For some reason, this freaked me the fuck out and for a few contractions, really hindered me from releasing and pushing as hard as I knew I could. I actually found myself sucking it all back up, which felt even worse. Dani reassured me over and over that it was perfectly normal and safe and I wasn’t going to lose my intestines or get hurt — it would all go back to normal soon. Her words helped me to relax into it more, and I started pushing again.
During this time I was turned sideways in the tub facing the long side, facing north. Dani suggested that each time I pushed, that I rock my pelvis forward while holding onto the tub, just like I would on the toilet with a stuck poop. I started doing this and could then really feel baby sliding lower and lower. The sensation of this was absolutely insane. The depth, the pressure, the opening … my god, there is nothing else like it. I kept thinking, “How the fuck do women do this more than once?! I am never doing this again.” And yet here I am, just one week later, and excited in knowing that I can definitely go through it again one day. Dani was right in saying that I’d be amazed at how quickly I’d forget. During these hours, I was having powerful, vivid psychedelic visions. I saw strange birds and flowers, undulating neon shapes of Mama Nature. At one point, the only way that I could express this to Dani and Evan was by saying, “I feel so out of it you guys.” Dani said that I could get out of the water if I felt too hot, and the only thing that I could say back about it all was something like, “No, not hot” and then just kept diving deeper into myself.
At some point, she suggested that if I could, to move around and face the other way in the tub either squatting or with my legs open to see how that feels. It hurt to move but once I got into a new position, facing west, I felt really ready for baby to crown. Those next few pushes are such a blur until I finally reached down and felt baby’s head coming through. It was now that I felt beautiful and powerful and radically excited — the doubt diminished and I was fully surrendered, fully open and in it. It took me about 4 contractions of crowning to get baby’s head out. Those were the strangest and the most painful contractions of all — as she really started to emerge, the perimeter of my yoni was on fire. Everything felt like it was ripping and burning. I think I kept saying something like, “It burns it burns so bad!” But there was no turning back, the only way through was through. I felt it the most in my clit — I was sure that it was being completely ripped apart, although it really wasn’t. The moment that baby’s head finally popped through was beyond satisfying. I didn’t think I would get the head out on that push, but when I felt a big blup, I asked them if that was the head and they said yes. I then felt a deeper relaxation and excitement than I had since labor began. Baby was still completely in her sack, and I didn’t realize this at the time, but her cord was around her neck and Evan was freaking out. I didn’t have another contraction for about two minutes, so we all sat there with her head just bobbing out of me. This sensation was incredibly strange and painful because the buoyancy of the water was lifting her head upwards and again, it felt like my clit was being ripped in half. When the next contraction came on, Dani told me to give a big hard push. I knew that this was going to be the last contraction, and when it came on, I remember taking a deep breath and saying “okay” in a very finalized and ready kind of way, and then pushing hard as her shoulders and body slid through. These first few seconds of her being out are so blurry in my mind — the relief and joy and exhaustion consumed me. I had been waiting for this moment my whole life. Dani reached in to open her sack and unwrap the cord, and Evan lifted her up to my chest. This moment of Evan placing her in my arms and immediately, so sweetly and stunningly saying, “it’s a girl” are the most vivid moments of my entire life. The first thing I remember is her eyes — super wide and piercing, the brightest beams of light on our dimly lit porch. I remember scanning her face and just melting into her beauty and the perfection of the way that she was formed. One of the first things I said when I held her was, “Oh my god, this just came out of me?!” It all felt so alien. Her soft and squirmy body, fully formed and healthy and alive. Nothing could’ve prepared me for this moment. Nothing. The depth of it was beyond comprehension. She made a few squirmy sounds, but nothing like a cry. Her essence was sweet and tender, flooded in peace.
I now really understand that babies do not have to come out screaming bloody murder, but that babies can come through with joy and smiles and sweet sounds of life. Our little girl was so happy and at ease — nothing like what I’ve seen in movies. Evan and I cried and held and touched her, and he counted all her fingers and toes and I told her that I knew her all along — I knew she was a baby girl, and that we are so honored to have her here. Dani got flannels to keep her warm, and we all sat and basked in her beauty for 10 minutes before they helped me get out of the tub and onto the birthing stool to birth the placenta. I sat there for a few minutes but it wasn’t coming out. I wasn’t feeling any more contractions, and my legs were shaking so fucking bad. My knees felt like they were about to break off. I had been uncontrollably shaking since I started pushing, so my legs couldn’t have been more weak. While on the birthing stool, she immediately latched onto my right boob without me really trying. I just put her face up there and she started to suck. We then moved onto the bed, and that got my placenta to come through. That wasn’t painful, I never got a contraction, not even a cramp. I just did a slight push and it slid right out without me really feeling anything. And seeing the placenta come through was such a trip! Just like baby, I was totally baffled by how that had just been inside of me! It was this big, red, beautiful blob of life that had held and nourished baby for all these months. Dani noticed that I had some fat deposits on it, which she hadn’t really seen before. There were also some calcium deposits she and Evan said felt grainy, and I’m assuming it’s from all the nettles I drank and dark leafy greens that I ate.
These moments were pure bliss. The absolute best of my life. I felt high and in love, with Evan and with baby, and so in awe of Dani and her wisdom and strength. To see her in that space was an honor — she took care of me exactly as I needed. I don’t think that she, Evan, baby and I could’ve been a better team. Our energy all flowed so beautifully and faithfully together. The entire birth was more beautiful and powerful than I could’ve ever asked for. I am so, so grateful. Dani and Evan then worked together to stitch me up in a few places. Then mom came in and Dani cleaned up and we all settled into sleep around 3. Now, as a family of 3.
I — this life — will never be the same.