CenteredBirth Presents A One Day Childbirth Education Workshop for Expecting Parents

Enjoy a one day workshop in Wilmington, NC.

Join Me December 9 from 10a-2p at The Bump and Beyond Maternity Boutique in Wilmington NC for a 4 hour session packed with practical and evidenced based information about labor, birth and the first few hours with your newborn.

To Register please email wholemomma@gmail.com

6 ways to cope with anxiety in motherhood

6 Ways I Cope with Anxiety in Motherhood

What can I say, it’s a process. I have been living with anxiety for as long as I can remember. Some of my earliest memories are intrusive thoughts and panic. I have some happy childhood memories sprinkled in, but my anxiety always seems to take the forefront of my thoughts, if not in the moment, at least in the long term memory. Clear as crystal. I have been to therapy on and off through out the majority of my life. First in my teen years and now again as an adult. My last pregnancy really took a toll on my emotions and I knew that my usual coping mechanisms were not going to be enough. Still, it took me a year after the birth to make an appointment and start to process the anxiety brought on by pregnancy and postpartum.

I had been in therapy for about 3 months and I didn’t know if I could really put into words how life changing it was.

After a heart to heart with a friend who also is a therapist and a conversation with my primary care provider, I also made a difficult choice to go on medication. I was reluctant because in the past medication felt mind numbing. I felt like I didn’t have any emotions. I was younger, my teenage brain was probably pumped full of hormones so maybe the effects were more extreme or it was the wrong combination of meds and therapy, who knows. I didn’t want to be a zombie but something had to change. I needed relief. For the last 2 years I have been struggling with my anxiety. Feeling sadness and anger and resentment against myself. How could this be me? Why was my own mind turning against me? Why couldn’t I just enjoy a moment? I love being pregnant, I love babies, I love my babies, why couldn’t I enjoy these fleeting moments like I so desperately wanted to?

Motherhood_Coping_Anxiety_6WaysIt felt like I was on the verge of crawling out of my skin my entire pregnancy, and by the birth I was being pummeled with intrusive thoughts, nightmares and the all consuming physical sensations of anxiety. I was worrying about everything intensely and feeling so disappointed that this was happening again. It felt like there was nothing I could do to stop it. Like I was doomed to feel this way forever. Maddening.

Then, the day before I went into labor my anxiety let up. Finally some physical relief. I could breath deeply into my chest and I was hungry again. I didn’t know then that labor was imminent. I was calm and focused and excited… for about 6 hours. My water broke shortly after I went to bed and I went into labor. I had a quick, peaceful, gentle labor and birth at home with my midwife in attendance and was so relieved to not feel the constant pull of intrusive thoughts and panic 24/7. My anxiety went dormant for a few months but I stayed in a dull place. I kept telling myself it was better. I felt like if I couldn’t enjoy every moment at least I didn’t feel like I was terrified of every thing.

After a year, on my sweet baby’s 1st birthday, I knew that I couldn’t go on this way. I wasn’t even excited about the party or my family coming, it was all anxiety, all the time. My anxiety became a focus again and I felt trapped in my own body. Desperately wanting to get out but too overwhelmed to go anywhere, even to the grocery store. I didn’t enjoy anything in the way I wanted to. I finally made a call to my midwife, who asked me if I felt like I was enjoying anything. I could not tell her yes, there was not one thing that made me feel joy, no warm and fuzzies, and that made me so sad. She told me, “life is too precious to feel like shit”.

I made an appointment after I received a referral from another therapist with someone who specializes in OCD and Anxiety disorders. It changed the game.

After 3 months of therapy and a low dose of Zoloft I was a different person, a better person, closer to myself than I had been in years. Things look hopeful. I am rediscovering how to coexist with anxiety and learned some great coping skills to move forward.

Accepting that I have anxiety, but I am not my anxiety.

Learning to let go of the guilt and sadness and anger towards myself and letting anxiety just be anxiety. Just thoughts, sometimes disturbing, but they are only thoughts and I can let them go.

Below are some of the tools I have implemented in my daily life to cope with living with anxiety.

Thank You Brain…

Thanking my brain for my intrusive thoughts.

I know it sounds crazy, it certainly sounded unreasonable to me to say thank you to my brain after 2 years of all of the angry things I had said to myself for having intrusive thoughts. Who needs to see their baby or other children and husband die 100 times a day in their mind while just trying to complete simple tasks like making dinner and walking across the house?

I thought what good is that going to do?

Well, it was pretty amazing actually.

The way that it works is when I have an intrusive thought or thoughts throughout the day I pause and say thank you. Anxiety, for me, is usually revolving around my safety or the safety and well-being of my family members. So when I have an intrusive thought of something happening to my baby or myself or another member of my family I say thank you.

I acknowledge that my safety trigger in my brain has switched on to detect danger and for some reason or another has gotten stuck.

So I say thank you brain for recognizing the danger. I try to look at the facts. Is my baby safe? Is she happy and smiling right in front of me? Is there something I need to do to remove any actual danger to her? If I answer no to all of those questions, then I can move on about my day or task. Sometimes I have to say it again, and again.

Thank you brain for keeping my baby safe.

Eventually the thought will pass. I can chose to let it pass instead of struggling with other emotions, like guilt and sadness and anger, for my brain to show me such a vivid, intrusive example of what could be.

Breathing Exercises

Twice a day I do a breathing exercise. Those of us with anxiety tend to hold our breath or breathe shallowly, this can further the physical affects of feeling anxious and triggering the mental side of anxiety.

So in the morning when I wake up and at night before I go to bed I do a simple breathing exercise to release some of the tension in my chest.

It goes like this.

I breath in deeply through my nose for the count of 4, then I pause and hold my breath for another count of 7. I slowly release my breath out of my mouth for the count of 8. I repeat this process 4 times. It takes about a minute and offers so much relief.

I do this exercise at least twice a day and on most days I do it a few more times as needed.

It really helps when I am feeling irritable, another fun side effect of anxiety. It works really well when I do it consistently as a wellness activity and not just when I feel like I need to take a deep breath.

Guided Meditation with YouTube Videos

You can find everything on the internet and while I am sure there is a lot of hullabalue to sort through, it is also a great resource that can be really helpful.

I can get lost on the internet and it can turn ugly quickly.

One glance at webmd and I will diagnose my self with the rarest disease based on a pain in my right elbow… I am aware of that so I try to reign in freely surfing the internet when I need an answer, after all I am still a person who owns books.

There are two videos that my therapist has shared with me and suggested I practice. One is about anxiety and “the struggle switch” and another is a 15 minute guided meditation called leaves on a stream.

The first video I like because it’s a reminder of all the emotions that are connected with anxiety, the inner dialog that makes the anxiety carry so much weight. When I think about letting go of the guilt and anger and sadness associated with the anxiety then the weight of worry doesn’t seem so heavy. It’s a nice reminder with a great visual.

The leaves on a stream exercise has been great. I try to do this a few times a week. Now that’s it’s summer it has been more challenging to find that chunk of time to relax and listen to it but I have it saved to my phone and I can usually fit it in to a busy day. Then I take pieces of it with me and even if I only have a few minutes of quiet time during the day I can pull from my memory and practice.

Physical Activity and Daily Exercise

My goal is to incorporate at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day. I love to go for long walks to the park and back. I think this has been the hardest to implement.

I really love yoga but don’t make it to as many classes as I would like and for some reason developing an at home practice has been challenging. As I have deemed this the summer of self-care for my family I have a goal that I will work towards finding a balance that helps me get to a place where I feel good about my routine but don’t feel stuck in it.

I like to keep things open and flexible.

Journaling

Journaling has always been an important part of my ability to process my emotions. It’s like I can slow my thoughts down to match the pace at which I am writing. If I can’t write I will doodle. I have piles of journals with pages over flowing with emotion packed in a box from the last 15 years. One day I will go back and read them… writing can be very healing and when I write I know that it’s likely no one will be reading my personal journals, so I don’t have to worry about it being perfect, just the act of writing down some of my thoughts can feel like I am letting them free.

Being Creative

When in doubt, or panic, I drop everything and craft.

It may be anything from a small canvas painting or refinishing a piece of furniture. Creating and crafting is my most reliable go to to calm my mind. Sometimes if I can keep my hands moving and my brain focused on what I am doing and I can make it through challenging times without losing my shit.

Hopefully you have found this article helpful, if only to find out that you are not the only one mothering through anxiety.

My only wish is that I wouldn’t have waited so long to ask for help, but I did and it was hard but it is worth it and even though I waited so long I still saw positive change in a relatively short period of time.

I am still experiencing anxiety. I still have days that hard and long and at the end I wish that I could do it over. But more often than not I am making it a priority to put my self first so that I can be the best mother I can be and I am feeling hopeful. There’s a popular saying in our community of mommas right now, “You have to put the oxygen mask on yourself first, so you can help others”.

I might have anxiety forever, this road is long but I am working on acceptance that I can coexist with anxiety and OCD. I think that having anxiety has made me more compassionate and understanding person and it isn’t an easy thing to live with but with the right help and support it is manageable. I am starting to feel like I can have a life again outside of my own thoughts.

Until next time…

10 Natural Remedies for Heartburn during pregnancy

10 Natural Remedies for Heartburn during Pregnancy

What are some of the causes for heartburn in pregnancy?

A lot of moms never experience heartburn until they are pregnant for the first time. Described as a burning sensation behind the breast bone – sometimes with a sulfur-like or acidic taste in your mouth. It is a very common symptom experienced in healthy pregnancies, it’s estimated 80% of women experience some degree of heartburn, constipation and hemorrhoids during pregnancy.*  It can be incredibly uncomfortable and often adds to the feeling of not wanting or being able to eat foods you used to enjoy. So why does heartburn happen in pregnancy?

According to the American Pregnancy Association heartburn in pregnancy occurs when “the valve between the stomach and the esophagus are unable to prevent stomach acid from passing back into the esophagus. During pregnancy, the hormone progesterone causes the valve to relax, which can increase the frequency of heartburn. This allows stomach acid to pass into the esophagus and irritate the lining.”

Hormones + a growing baby and expanding uterus can really amp up the incidence of heartburn and indigestion in the later months and weeks of pregnancy, although some pregnant moms feel heartburn in the early weeks as well.

What are some ways to treat or prevent heartburn?

While its unlikely you can completely prevent this common pregnancy symptom, there are ways to minimize the discomfort with natural remedies and eating habits.

  1. Eating smaller meals through out the day

    Eating 5-6 smaller meals during the day, as opposed to the standard 3, can be a game changer for mommas with heartburn. You are feeding yourself more frequently, which is great for a list of other things, but also you aren’t over filling your stomach. Over eating is a common culprit of heartburn in and of itself, paired with pregnancy, you are sure to end up with heartburn by overeating.

  2. Avoiding greasy and fatty foods

    This one is a no brainer; but let’s discuss. We need some fat in our diets for healthy brain development. But a diet with too much fat can cause unhealthy weight gain, stomach upsets, nausea, heartburn, the list continues. Avoiding fast or fried foods are a good place to start with this one.

  3. Maintain an upright position after eating

    Avoid bending over or lying down for at least an hour after meals. If you need to lie down, try propping yourself up in a semi-sitting (at least a 45 degree angle) position. Sleeping on your left side can also help.

  4. Using Digestive Enzymes

    Papaya enzymes, from dried or fresh papaya, assist in breaking down food proteins into simpler, easier to digest amino acids, leading to improved digestion and decreased stomach acid production. It is suggested that the digestive enzymes abundant in papain can lead to decreased acid reflux symptoms by lessening the body’s digestive workload.

  5. Ginger or Peppermint tea

    Small sips of warm ginger or peppermint tea with meals can aid in digestion and keep those stomach acids where they belong. Careful not to drink a lot of fluids with your meals, that can add to the issue and actually cause heartburn. The key is small sips every few bites. A few drops of high quality peppermint essential oils in warm water can also do the trick.

  6. Mindfulness while eating

    We are so busy as moms and care givers that we often don’t take the time we need to take care of ourselves. We rush through our lunch breaks or meal times with quick, ready to eat, prepared foods. But eating too much too fast is a sure way to end up with heart burn. What is eating mindfully? Essentially, slowing down to be mindful and aware about what and how you are eating. Taking the time to sit at a table or designated space with your meal or snack, so you are only involved in the task of eating. Thinking about the positive (or negative) ways you are nourishing and sustaining your body; chewing slowly and thoroughly, allowing for the stimulation of saliva, which can help in the breakdown of your food; Listening to your body’s response about how much you should eat, you may start to feel full before your plate is clear, that’s okay – save the rest for a snack later. For more information about eating mindfully check out this fun post, while not geared towards pregnant women specifically it has lots of good tips.

  7. Chewing gum

    Chewing gum may be helpful in providing relief from heartburn. Chewing gum stimulates saliva, which contains bicarbonate. The saliva and bicarbonate are swallowed, and the bicarbonate neutralizes the acid that has backed up (refluxed) into the esophagus. I tend to buy only a couple of brands of gum, this one is my favorite.
    (This may not help in people who have GERD, which is chronic acid reflux, based on the premise that chewing gum causes you to swallow air and could make your symptoms worse. )

  8. Avoiding tight clothing

    Restrictive clothing, like tight fitting bras or tank tops, in the upper abdominal area can aggravate heartburn. If you find you are feeling uncomfortable after every meal, try wearing looser fitting clothing.

  9. Yogurt

    Dairy can be triggering for some, so if you already don’t do well with dairy then this one isn’t for you… But if you tolerate yogurt then you may find this remedy to be helpful. Essentially a good yogurt contains many probiotics (good bacteria) which can soothe a stomach lining that has been aggravated by acid reflux.

  10. Eating almonds

    While almonds have many health benefits, there is lack of quality research specifically pertaining to almonds and acid reflux. However, based on their nutrition profile, almonds could have a positive impact on acid reflux due to the amino acids they contain that help heal the stomach lining and also help cut down the acid production. Typically just a small handful of almonds are needed to feel the effects, before or after a meal.

 

When should a doctor or midwife be called for heartburn during pregnancy?

Call your doctor or midwife if you:

  • Have severe heartburn or chest pain,
  • Your heartburn symptoms don’t improve with lifestyle changes or treatment
  • Have a fever, headache, nausea, or vomiting with your heartburn
  • Choke when you eat, have difficulty swallowing, or feel as if food is “stuck” in your throat
  • Lose weight without trying
  • Vomit bright red blood or your vomit looks like coffee grounds
  • Have black, tarry stools
  • These may be signs of another medical condition that needs to be treated right away.

Resources compiled for this article from the following;

Myles, Textbook for Midwives, 14th edition.
American Pregnancy Association
Family Herbal, Rosemary Gladstar
Pregnancy Childbirth and Newborn, co-authored by Penny Simkin
Medicine.net

Sticks and Stones

 

When we are pregnant we glow. We are a vessel of creation.

How awesome and a little terrifying.

We go through so many emotions during pregnancy, sometimes it’s hard to keep up . We often read books and watch movies about giving birth. We talk to their friends and relatives about the wishes and plans for childbirth and what kind of mother they hope they will become. We do all of this because we feel the need to connect to other women who have experienced this transformation, we look for guidance and support, we feel a little bit more vulnerable in our times of change. What happens when you talk to people around you, who are close to you, and they say things that are a little less than supportive? They might say things like, “You might want a natural birth, but when you feel those contractions you will change your mind, you will be begging for an epidural”, or “are you sure that’s what you want to do, you know they make drugs for that, right?”. That has happened to most of us, right?

It certainly happened to me. I was always left a little disappointed that the people I was reaching out to for support let me down.

Pregnant women deserve our best.

They deserve for us to be there for them and hold them up no matter what choices they make, especially when they are based on informed decision making. Birth is a natural physiological process that has been carried out since the beginning of time. It’s only been in the last hundred years that we’ve begun to lose support to birth without drugs.

Technology and medical interventions has saved the lives of mothers and babies, that’s the truth, it has, when it’s used in a responsible and needed way. Thousands of women end up with C-sections that weren’t done for medically indicated reasons, but for convenience of the care provider and sometimes the mother and they are left permanently scarred, physically and emotionally.

So when a women says to me that she wants to try to give birth without the use of medical interventions, unless medically indicated of course, I say go for it, and then I ask “who’s your doula?”. On the other hand, a woman does have the right to choose whether or not she wants to use pain medication, and given that she has received all of the current information regarding the risks vs. benefits of those drugs, that is her choice. The point is that we should stop wasting so much time judging one another.  It’s my opinion that we all need to work more on lifting each other up instead of bringing one another down. That’s what words can do that are a little less encouraging, when they come from the mouths of the people who love us and care about us it is even more so. We can all share our experiences with one another that doesn’t cause emotional upsets to the one beside us. If we have had less than positive experiences, we can talk about and learn from it. But please, let’s not use it to discourage others from trying something that might be a little outside of what our views are. Women are powerful beings that have the courage and strength inside of us to bring our babies into the world.

{Sometimes we need a lot loving words, support and guidance to get there, but we all deserve an empowering experience where the people who surround us truly believe in us.}

Doula what?

“If a doula were a drug it would be unethical not to use it.” Dr. John H. Kennel

The word “doula” comes from the ancient Greek meaning of “women who serve”. We use it now to refer to a woman who is trained to provide continuous physical, emotional and informational support throughout the labor process and the immediate postpartum period. Not to be confused with a midwife, doulas have no clinical training. They are meant to be a support person on your team in addition to your care provider and partner. They are also there to offer support to your partner and family as well. A doula will encourage your partner to participate in the birth on whatever level they feel comfortable. They are there to offer an objective viewpoint and help you and your partner gain access to the information you need to make the best choices for your family.

There have been quite a few studies done on the effects a doula has on laboring women. This information comes from Mothering the Mother by Kennel, Klaus and Kennel (1993).

Effects on Birth Outcomes:

  • Labors are 25% shorter.¹
  • There are fewer complications.
  • Cesarean rates are reduced by 50%.¹
  • There is 40% less need for oxytocin to speed up labor.¹
  • Need for forceps is reduced by 40%.¹
  • Women request 30% less pain medication and 60% fewer epidurals.¹

Effects on the Mother:

  • Greater satisfaction with their birth experience.
  • More positive assessments of their babies.
  • Less postpartum depression.

Effects on the Baby:

  • Babies have shorter hospital stays with fewer admissions to special care nurseries.
  • Babies breastfeed more easily.
  • Mothers are more affectionate to their babies postpartum.

Effects on the Health Care System:

  • The cost of obstetrical care is dramatically reduced.
  • Women are pleased with the personalized care doulas offer.
  • The Benefit of continuous support in labor is recognized by:
    • The World Health Organization
    • The Medical Leadership Council (an organization of over 1200 U.S. hospitals)
    • The Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada

 

12 ways to empower your birth

Birth in the United States is said to be in crisis.  Our cesarean rate is sky high with our national average being over 32% in 2008 and in areas it reaches over 50%. Being induced (artificially starting labor) and giving birth with an epidural is the cultural norm for most in our society. Women today have a greater chance of dying during childbirth than her mother and grandmother did. Yet we spend more money on birth than most industrialized nations, use more technology and 99% of our births occur in the hospital. This all sounds like we should be the best, right? Wrong. Mother nature has created us, women, to give birth. We are literally made for it.  Technology doesn’t give birth, we do. Now I’m not saying that all women who wish to have children are ready to give birth unassisted, at home in the bathtub with lit candles and sage burning in the background. Although that does sound nice. But there are things that we all can do to empower our births and become informed health care consumers. These aren’t in any specific order as I believe they are all equally important.

1. Find out who your local midwives/OB’s are and meet with them.

The midwifery model of care holds a high standard in maternity care. Unfortunately midwives aren’t available in all parts of the U.S. so when looking for a care provider ask lots of questions. Find someone that meets the needs of you and your family. Don’t hesitate to shop around. Even if it’s near the end of your pregnancy. It’s crucial that you feel 100% supported by your provider. If you are dissatisfied with the care you have been receiving let the appropriate people know. You are the consumer. Nothing will ever change unless we facilitate change.

2. Take childbirth classes.

“An informed woman is a powerful one.” A wise woman midwife.

A few well known childbirth classes are The Bradley Method, Lamaze, IBWP (formally known as ALACE). They will usually cost $200-$400 depending on your location and which one you choose but it’s well worth it. Most of us spend that much money on cribs, clothes and car seats by the time the baby comes. The confidence and connections you develop are priceless.

3. Become involved with your birth community.

Not to say that you can’t have a baby if you don’t have community but there’s so much to be said for having women who have experienced what you are experiencing being there when you need them. Find your local birth circles or La Leche League meetings and go to a few. It’s a great way to become informed and feel support during your transition into motherhood. Other moms love to share their own stories of triumph and empowerment, but also a place to process some of the realities of birth and new parenthood that aren’t talked about in open spaces.

4. Hire a doula.

A doula can offer emotional and physical support to you and your family. They typically attend anything from home births to planned C-sections. They can be an invaluable part of your support team and truly be a guide through your own empowering experience. Check out my blog post on Doulas here.

5. Take good care of yourself.

Eat well. Be well. Eat fresh, whole foods at home. Visit local farmer’s markets and produce stands. Become a part of a CSA. Drink LOTS of clean water and herbal teas. And for goodness sake, take a good, whole foods based prenatal vitamin.

6. Get fresh air everyday.

Go for long walks outside and bring plenty of water.

7. Join a prenatal exercise class.

Yoga, bellydance, pilates… the choices are endless, really. Not only does this provide exercise but can also alleviate some of the pain and discomforts associated with pregnancy. Check with your OB or Midwife before starting a new exercise regimen.

8. Meditate. Visualize. Relax. Let your mind rest.

Find a place that you can visit when are feeling the intense rush of your labor. Do it often so that you get into the habit of it. Start and end with a deep cleansing breath.

9. Rally your support team.

Be sure that the people who will be with you during the time of your birth are on the same page as you with what you want. Emotions from others on your team can effect the laboring women, whether they are positive or negative. So talk about your wishes and needs for labor openly with your support team, have them come with you to your appointments if you feel comfortable with that. Doulas can be invited too!

10. Create a birth plan.

A birth plan is a useful tool to let your care providers and support team know what your expectations are for your birth. It can cover a broad range of topics from dimmed lights, to pain meds to how your baby is cared for in the post-partum period after the birth.

11. READ, READ and READ some more.

 

In addition to taking childbirth education classes it is a good idea to read books that highlight the positive aspects of a normal birth. Books like Pregnancy, Childbirth and the Newborn by Sheila Kitzenger and Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by midwife Ina May Gaskin. This sort of literature puts birth in a very positive light. It informs us that birth is to be respected and functions best when it is in the most natural and simple of forms.

12. TRUST BIRTH.

 

Trust your body. Know that every women before you has stood where you stand. Be grateful for the miracle you are assisting and receiving.

The birth of a family

I found out that I was pregnant with our first child when I was 19.  Young and a little terrified I wanted to do everything right.  Fate brought me to a job as a barista at our local co-operative grocery store just weeks before, where I was fortunate to be surrounded by women in my community that believed birth to be a normal life event and pregnancy a gift.  I was connected with local midwives and took childbirth classes and read everything about being pregnant and giving birth that I put my hands on.  Time went on, months and weeks passed, we waited on the arrival of our baby.  I wondered about eye color and how big it was going to be, what color hair he or she was going to have. We had decided not to find out the sex of the wee one so it could be a surprise. I feel like it’s one of true surprises left in life. My sister who lived in Arizona at the time was called me to tell me she would be here on the 22nd and to hold the baby in until she got here. My response was a sarcastic… Yeah, okay. My “due date” was on the 24th so it seemed possible that it could happen.  After a few nights of what I thought was labor, which turned out to be those tricky braxton-hicks contractions, I was convinced the baby wasn’t ever going to come… maybe I was just ready.  I talked to him and told him we had a name picked out and that we were ready for him to come when he thought it was time and that our life would be safe and full of love.  Then after a night of no sleep and what seemed like constant trips to the bathroom to pee, I had my first real contraction at 5:47am.  (Coincidentally, my sister’s plane arrived in the state only a few minutes before, I guess the baby listened.)  Whoa, I thought, I don’t know if I can do this. I sat in bed for a while trying to get my wits about me. This is it, the moment of truth. I tried to rest for as long as possible, knowing I was embarking on a journey that would need my full strength, but that seemed impossible. I was too excited. I finally woke Derek up at 7 and we sat there together in bed. I called my mom and told her to come on over.  At some point we heard a small chirp and to our surprise there was a grasshopper in our covers. She assured us this was a good omen.  I called my midwife to let her know (about the baby, not the grasshopper). It seemed like she already could tell by the sound of my voice… Is it time? She said with excitement in her voice. All of these things were reassuring but I was still scared.  Scared of the change and of the pain. As the morning past I showered, and cried a little. I walked around the block a few times, I rocked on the birth ball, I rested, I ate and drank whenever I needed. I called my friends to tell them to send some good birth energy my way.  With every passing wave* I said to myself I can do this.  Then it got to a point where I stopped talking and just started doing. Rocking, walking, rolling with it one minute at a time. We kept in contact with our midwife and collectively decided it was time to go to the hospital.  We got there and I refused the wheelchair because sitting and being still was painful, walking felt good.  I got to the labor and delivery room and my midwife was already awaiting our arrival. She did a cervical exam and was excited to say I was at 6cm. Time wasn’t a factor, I was still able to keep my concentration despite the questions and the poking and monitoring that was required of the staff. I showered and layed on my side in the bed. At this point I was experiencing an intense case of chills and warm blankets were piled up all over me like I was in a nest. It felt good. I felt warm and safe. I realize now that I was in transition. The place of rest before the work of pushing out a new life began.  Then my midwife noticed my sounds changed from moaning to grunting. She asked if I felt like pushing and I said I thought that I did. I started to push with the urge. This is actually a relief, I thought it would be the worst part, but now I felt like I was able to deal with the sensations in a more active way. After a few hours of position changes and lots of cool wash clothes on my head I finally assumed the squating position on the floor, holding onto the side of the bed for support. My whole family and midwife were all on the floor with me. Finally his head emerged and I felt the ring of fire, that’s what birth professionals call the crowning of the largest part of the babies head. You slow down and feel the burning, the stretching of the skin. With a few more pushes I reached down and grabbed my baby and pulled him up close to me.  I didn’t cry, I didn’t know what to feel. I kept saying “It’s a baby” like I didn’t previously realize that it was going to be an actual human being. I really was a little shocked it was a baby. He was boy. Perfectly pink and chunky. He had a head full of thick black hair and his eyes were those of an old soul. He was perfect. We named him Oliver. At that moment my whole life was filled with a love that I had never known possible, a new view of the whole world and everyone in it. A new inner strength and confidence of what I had just accomplished, a birth free of medical intervention and medication. You can’t recreate that kind of empowerment. It was a completely unique and beautiful experience that I will forever cherish. I can look back and say with pride that I made choices that ensured full support of my body during this time. I surrounded myself with people that respected me and my instincts, despite my age. I can truthfully say that the night my son was born, so was I.