2 Powerful Homebirth Stories

by Dawn Leonard

Ezra's Birth ©Katie Klein @katiekleinsoulshine

James’ Story



I was 32 when we finally became pregnant with our first child. The journey was a year and a half long and was that first crack in the doorway that would open my world to my true life purpose. My fertility story is one in of itself, but suffice it to say that it was my first taste of how the body, mind and spirit are all intricately connected. I had an energetic block that needed to be released in order for my body to be receptive to pregnancy. But it was all on an unconscious level.


When I did get pregnant, I knew it right away, no tests needed! My pregnancy was easy, peaceful and exciting. We even took an overseas trip to Europe when I was about 30 weeks along. From the very beginning I knew that I wanted a home birth. I inherently have distrusted the modern Western medical approach (thanks to my mother’s love of plants, herbs and all things “hippie” herself). We found the one practicing home birth midwife that I’d ever heard of. On our first visit she asked why I wanted a home birth. I was a little dumbfounded… “I don’t know. I like organic gardening…?” I just knew, and I had no fear or reservations about it. And while I knew that my mother and my mother-in-law did have reservations, they kindly kept most of it to themselves. I think I have a way, when I know what I want, that my confidence assures everyone else. I think that’s the way it should be.


It was in the heat of a Southern July morning when my water broke. A big mess on the front porch but unmistakable. For a lot of people (about 10% of labors start with water breaking first) this situation starts the cascade of interventions. (An OB wants to get labor going as quickly as possible which includes synthetic drugs and often leads to the “emergency” C-section.) But a home birth midwife approaches things differently. We spent a lot of the day walking, waiting. Excited and probably a bit nervous, wondering when it was going to get going. 


Well nothing happened that first day. There was no sign of meconium or stress. Contractions were light and long in between. Eventually the midwife suggested that we use some Blue Cohosh and Black Cohosh which we were able to get from the local co-op. It was a long day, so we were advised to try to get some sleep. I think we did get some.


In the morning, with things still moving slowly we used those herb tinctures. I WAS having contractions but they still weren’t the kind that would progress my labor very well. I was hesitant to use the herbs because I knew it meant this was going to get real! And it did, but not in a way that I couldn’t handle.


The windows were open (I think everyone but me was sweltering). I rocked on the birth ball. I made laps around the house. I was in my element and in my abode and I felt safe. I was happy to finally get in the birth tub to relieve some of my back pain/back labor. The midwives sat in the room with me, knitting, reading their magazines. Someone commented about Prince George who was born a week before, but seeing that it interrupted my concentration went back to their quiet observation.


I was in and out of the birth tub, cooling off, moving around. At one point when I was probably in transition, while I was in the tub I had a momentary glimpse. I saw a vision of a man that looked like my dad (the Jewish nose) but had the curly hair of my husband. It was like a dream that didn’t make it to my conscious mind in that moment. I was getting tired, especially of the labor just going on and on! 


I really wanted to have the urge to push. Eventually the midwife checked me and gave me permission to start a little pushing. We moved out of the tub and onto our bed.


I pushed. And pushed. And moved. And pushed. And changed position. And pushed. For about 3 hours. Afterward the midwife commended me on being willing to do anything she suggested. I thought, she knew best!


Finally, the midwife said, ”why don’t you go to the bathroom. And I’ll give you some privacy.” I thought that was hilarious because I’d had my legs spread eagle to her for hours already! Why would I need privacy? So I got up and walked to the bathroom.


But I didn’t make it to the toilet. I got to the sink and paused for a strong contraction. I grabbed the edge of the sink and let out a primal sound and then yelled, without conscious thought, “the baby’s coming!” I did think to myself, I wonder if the neighbors can hear me. My husband said “tear that sink off the wall.” I must have been pretty fierce.


I felt the ring of fire and let our another wild sound. And then again, without conscious thought, I announced “its a boy!” (we had decided to not find out the sex of the baby before he was born). Sure enough, I looked down and saw out come a head full of dark hair and the scrotum. The midwife passed him through to me, I stood upright and walked back to the bed. (The sensation of the umbilical cord still connecting us through my vagina was a strange one while walking.)


It would be easy to end the story here, with the crescendo moment. The moment of bliss. But it is also a moment of death (of the maiden, the childless couple, the woman I was before this event) and transformation and for me, confusion.


All my pregnancy I was hoping for a girl. I had only sisters and had no idea what I would do with a boy!! Plus, we had only picked out girls’ names that I liked: Frankie or Chandra. What cool, earthy names. The only idea we had for a boy was James which was totally not like the progressive people that my husband and I are. James was a family name, but not one I was excited about.


So as we sat at the edge of my bed, holding my new baby boy, the midwife asked what his name was. I didn’t answer but my husband said “James.” 


Trauma is defined as anything that is too much, too fast or too soon. I was blessed to have an un-traumatic birth filled with love and support. But there was just that one moment that I look back at and wish I would have had an extra moment to say, “we don’t know yet.” It felt like there was imprint on us as a dyad that was a tiny bit of me rejecting something about him. 


Birth is an imprint. This is how it works that the astrology of the moment of birth is the imprint from which we will live out our karmas in this life. What I learned many years later, after I discovered the depth and insight of the natal chart, is that maybe it wasn’t me imprinting on him. It was the other way around. And has been all of our lives.

Ezra’s Birth

After James’ birth, his colicky newborn phase and his fiery toddler years, we finally started to get some sleep. I knew the moment after James was born that I wanted to do that again! But it took a long time to be ready for it. In the meantime I was going through my journey into the Feminine. I read all about Orgasmic Birth. I trained as a birth doula, a prenatal yoga teacher and a Reiki practitioner. In fact, I’m pretty confident that it was while I was practicing Reiki on my husband that the conception vessel opened and we got pregnant again. There was no extra preparation or trying this time.


My pregnancy wasn’t quite as easy as the first one. I was 38. I had an 8cm fibroid hanging out in my uterus that was discovered on our 19-week ultrasound. The OB warned that it might interfere with labor and require a C-section. I used the spiritual healing tools that I had access to and prayed that it would all work out. At our second ultrasound around 30 weeks he informed me that the fibroid was not in the way of having a vaginal birth. 


However, the fibroid coupled with unhealed abdominal separation from the first pregnancy made me feel bigger sooner and all the way through pregnancy. By July I could barely waddle down the street to visit with my neighbor-midwife to chat without getting winded.


This labor was really fairly straightforward. We had our bed made up for birth and an inflatable birth tub in the other room. I was really hoping that this time I could actually give birth in the tub. I started having contractions late in the day and I saw evidence of my mucus plug coming out which I had not seen in my first labor. It was thick and brown which worried me, but I was assured that it was not meconium since my water bag was still in tact. I’ll never forget the calm reassurance of my midwife. 


I said “so you don’t think I need to worry?” 


And she said “I never think we need to worry.”


Early the next morning, after labor begin picking up, I went outside to do some sort of ritual for the baby. I don’t actually remember what I did, just that I wanted some time outside in the cool, pre-dawn time to connect to Mother Earth before birth. 


We finally stopped using the stupid contraction timer when the midwives arrived later that morning. (I recommend NOT using a contraction timer. It gives a false sense of understanding and prevents the birthing person from getting into the timeless place that makes contractions just seem like waves moving through you.) 


This time the midwife brought with her an assistant midwife and a doula! We also called my mother-in-law to help with James. He was very curious about the whole thing and I was happy that he wanted to see his baby sibling be born. And we called in the photographer. We weren’t going to miss capturing the experience this time! Plus she was a friend and a reiki practitioner. I felt SO supported in so many ways in this labor. 


With so many people in the house you would think it was a party. But I kept into myself most of time, making laps around the house. I eventually stripped off all of my clothing (just a big pillow-case of a dress and underwear) and got into the tub. I was in and out a few times. At one point I just really felt the need to stretch the front of my hips, which the midwives comments about. Ultimately I realized that the inflatable birth tub just wasn’t the solid strong support that I needed. My 5-YO and husband visited me on and off. And I know my husband supported me physically all through the labor, silently. We have photos of it anyway.


The first stage, once I was in active labor, wasn’t terribly long. I just really wanted to be able to push. But I don’t think that I understood, in either of my labors, the profound difference between first stage and second stage of labor. I’m really good at getting into the “rest and digest” mode. I can easily go into a meditative state, especially in labor. I know how to use my breath to stay relaxed. What I didn’t know was that pushing energy is “get up and go” energy! That part wasn’t as natural to me. 


Plus, as it turns out, my habitual sway-back posture put my uterus and baby in a les-than-optimal position. This was true of my first birth as well. So I pushed and pushed and pushed. We got to the point where the midwives did give me permission to actually rest during several contractions. I was getting tired! And frustrated.


My photographer friend had left to let her dog out which I only noticed when I wanted some spiritual guidance. And at one point I heard my mother-in-law’s phone ring. I yelled out into the hallway “no! the baby’s not here yet!” I knew that it was her husband calling, looking for an update. 


I finally gave into the intuitive prompts to ask for help! My sacrum was screaming at me, so I asked for some counter pressure. The doula stood behind me with her hand pressing into my sacrum while I lifted my belly in the “lift and tuck” move that we had been doing. In that contraction, I heard a POP and splash of water between my legs! I yelped at how loud the sound of my water breaking was! We also laughed at the enormous mess on the bedroom floor.


While that didn’t immediately bring baby down, it had to have helped. The midwives and I all did wall squats while I lifted my belly during contractions. I was still hard work and I was still using my (fairly weak) abdominal muscles for pushing. 


I joke that the Birth Shaman comes down through my bathroom exhaust vent (a joke that probably few people get) because it was when I moved to the bathroom, again, that things shifted.


I was straddling the toilet backwards when my sounds changed. Later I was informed that the midwives were eating when they heard my tone change. They said “now, THAT is the sound of birth!” It is the sound of the fetal ejection reflex. The kind of instinctual movement that arises naturally from the body in order to do what it is designed to do!


Sure enough, on the next contraction, I stood to lean on the sink. I made that deep guttural sound again and the midwife said, “the head is out.” I was surprised that I didn’t feel the ring of fire that time. I reached to touch the baby’s head since I couldn’t really believe it. 


On the next, relatively easy push, the midwife caught the baby and passed him through. I sat down on the (closed) toilet, holding my baby. I felt the sweat, tears and snot dripping down my face. I looked down to see if it was a boy or girl. With the biggest grin on my face, I looked up and announced “its another boy!”

Dawn was also a featured guest on our podcast, Orgasmic Birth.

Listen below!

About Dawn Leonard

I have been on a path of healing my womb space (my physical uterus and the energetics of my “second chakra”) for over 10 years. It began with fertility and has led me through pregnancy, birth, loss, menstruation, ceremony, energy healing and the initiatory experiences built into the body of a woman or person with a uterus.

Now as a Women’s Wellness Educator, I care deeply about leading people with a uterus into understanding and positive relationship with their Feminine, cyclical nature. It pains me to see women and people with a uterus suffer from painful and difficult cycles, infertility, traumatic birth, isolated postpartum and distrust or misunderstanding of their bodies.

Through my work as a prenatal/postnatal yoga teacher, childbirth educator and energy healer, I am creating a community of people who are growing into positive balanced relationships with their bodies and each other.

Women’s Wellness Educator with Sacred Rhythms.

Website design and development with Orb Weaver.

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