"So you have a daughter?"
"It's more like she has me."
"So you have a daughter?"
"So you have a daughter?"
"It's more like she has me."
Feeling very grateful that one of my most joyful decisions this holiday was who makes a better unicorn. What do you think?
I see it all now.
I see you cleaning up after me as I clean up after her. We're like a train moving thru the house, following one another. I pick up toys and you pick up what I put down to be there for her.
I see your sacrifices; you'll stay home tonight because I'm visiting and I'll stay home because she still needs to nurse to sleep.
I see your struggle to make everyone happy.
I see your selflessness.
I believe you when you say you'd do anything for me.
Because now, I feel the same way.
If I could pay you back for all the sacrifices I would... but I'm too busy sacrificing.
Know that I understand.
Know that I see you Mothering me.
Know that I see you.
I faced the myth of 'the perfect mother' head on this week. Eye to eye, I stared her down (for now). She's a feisty one, instilling guilt over many choices. This stare down shook me to my core as I held my sleeping baby and wept. But that perfect mother, that myth, that vision I can't uphold left me with a gift. Now, I no longer look at my Mother from a child's eyes; we are women standing side by side, in sisterhood and Motherhood held by the depth of our love, and doing the best we know how. Thank you Mama for all that you did and do.
Bless this journey.
3.5 months old: I know she looks like my husband - and I love that! But today someone told me that she won't look Asian forever because her kids started out looking that way too. She was trying to comfort me with her Caucasian child alongside.
Last week, two people asked me if she was mine.
I'm seeing a whole new angle of racism now - even in children's books which often lack kids of colour playing the lead role. World, we've got some work to do.
13 weeks postpartum. It can be isolating - there's a whole lot of her and I for most of the days. And it can joyful beyond belief for the exact same reason. Grateful for nature sits that are balancing and nourishing both of us (and some hand chewing for her too). Delicious.
As she grows, I'm watching her gain more and more strength and independence. And I’m so happy she does. Yet, as each day passes, as moments seemingly slip by, I see how fond I am of each one of them. It seems that Mothering is a big lesson on letting go. (Oh the irony in attachment parenting!)
Sundaze. Using moments like this as a portal to the purest of loves.
We're reaching new heights - her curiosity is rising and smiles come easy now (yay!). I am also reaching new heights - I found yesterday's underwear in my leggings today, bunched up into a rather large lump on the back of my thigh.
My practice right now is to see this face on everything that challenges me, and watch it turn into love. After all, it's all yoga.
I’m seeing a whole new Universe - one where she’s front and centre and we’re just in the background as support. So much of the ‘me’ that I know has been (and still is) falling away, yet so much is emerging. Who am I anyways?!
Surfacing from an abyss of 24 hour straight baby cries. Total exhaustion like I’ve never, ever felt before. And, still, the most love I’ve ever felt. Mind blown.
I’ve never felt such joy. Ever. And it was after her first pee. We even have matching diapers.
Today I walked to the front door and it was epic - I happy cried.
(photography by Calla Evans)
(the best doula services by Nicole Angela)
June 15, 2015.
It’s noon. My Osteopath gives hopeful news. “Your body is soft and ready. I’d be surprised if you don’t birth in the next 48 hours.”
FINALLY. ‘Cause I don’t know how I’d wait any longer. I don’t feel confident about caring for a newborn yet so I’d be lying if I said my only motivation was to meet her. That was there, yes, but really, I wanted to be done with being pregnant.
It’s 1:30ish. We stop at a park to eat lunch. I don’t feel like eating but I try. I should be hungry. I feel hazy and super relaxed. In fact, I feel a little horny.
(I remember this park time as the moment I began to discover labour. I was so happy to sit under a tree and watch the tall grass sway while I discovered contractions.)
I text my girls; “Guys these are actually time-able. A clear start and clear end!”
Contractions are 5-6 minutes apart for the hour at the park. Really?! But I’m totally dealing…
It’s 2:30 and we’re at our scheduled midwife appointment. I’m 80-90% effaced and only a fingertip dilated.
“We’ll likely see you in the morning!”
It’s 4:30ish - I’m in the bedroom trying to nap. Caio is making our planned birth meal of lentil soup while he sets up the birth pool. It feels like 5 minutes go by before I start having contractions that wake me the eff up.
I don’t tell Caio what’s happening because I need that lentil soup and I need the birth pool. I don’t think to call my doula because I’m sure I have a long way to go.
So I labour alone.
It feels like strong pressure in my sacrum and tailbone. When a contraction hits I swing my fist back and try to get my knuckle in the spot that’s hurting. But I can’t find the spot because it’s all over. I end up rubbing with my knuckles as hard as I can while I hold myself up and breathe. I’m totally dealing but I’m on all fours, pounding the bed and moaning thru.
Caio can’t hear me because he’s got the stove fan on and the air pump going. He’s singing away.
I text my girls:
At some point I poke my head out of the bedroom to let Caio know it’s time; “This is so intense.”
I text my girls one last time:
I shake all over. However, I’m still not convinced I’m far along. I’m having back labour and I know back labour can be the most intense. I’m sure what I’m feeling can’t be a reflection of where I’m at. I do however, feel as though things are moving quickly.
My friend offers to come and help. Yes yes yes. I figure I’m not far enough to call the doula and well, this is intense. She arrives and feeds me a bowl of soup. We figure we should start timing.
3 minutes apart, for one minute each and for one whole hour. 3-1-1! This is when to call the midwife! I can’t remember who called but it wasn’t me.
My midwife says “But I just saw you! Take a bath and see if labour stays.”
7:00pm -ish: I’m in the bath laying on my side. Another hour has gone by. Contractions are still 3 minutes apart. We call again and while doing so, I feel pressure in my bottom. What a feeling! It feels very grounding but at the same time like my structure is being rocked. It also feels much nicer than just the back pain I’m having.
The midwife is in slight disbelief. She says she’ll make her way over in an hour to check on me. My doula says she’ll be here in 30 minutes.
7:17pm - Contractions are about 2.5 minutes apart. My doula has just arrived. I hear her coming into the bathroom because she’s wearing jingly bracelets. Ugh. And then I stop hearing them - another contraction.
I’m laying in cold water. She tries to heat it up and I state rather annoyed that I’m already hot.
“Let’s walk” she says.
My first contraction standing I feel a little panicked. Where do I go? What do I do? I knew what to do in the bath but not in the kitchen. It was overwhelming to think about how to deal. She feels this; “Just find a wall, a table or a chair, widen your legs and breathe.” I think I remember during that first contraction, her foot swinging between the inside of my ankles to encourage me to widen my legs.
No words, just energy.
We pace the house like this. But not for long. I wanted to sit down. I try the birth ball for one contraction and that brought pain I didn’t want to deal with. I stand up and kick it; “I hate this thing!”
And I need to pee. My water breaks on the toilet. She calls the midwife.
I have another contraction and use the wall for help. She asks me after if it felt more intense and I have no idea. I really don’t. I’m just in it.
I’m not in this world.
I’m fed chia pudding and drinks throughout. At one point I drink too fast and gag but nothing comes. This pulls me back into the room for a moment and I open my eyes to see my dear doula’s hands ready to catch what might’ve come up; “Can I get a bowl please?” Bless her.
8:30pm-ish: The midwife arrives.
“Fuck yea!” (I can’t even tell you how satisfying swearing during labour was.)
Shortly after, my body pushes. Yes my body. My mind didn’t have anything to do with those first pushes - they just happened.
“Caio, fill the pool!”
“Let’s move into the pool Mama.”
“Can someone help me get my supplies out of my car? I need to call the other midwives!”
“Call the photographer - she’s 40 minutes away!”
9pm-ish: I labour on my knees in the birth pool. The water feels good, I think. I’m so far along I don’t quite notice. Caio is behind me; his help is so loving and seamless - he’s right with my groove.
Our midwives trickle in while I feel and learn how to push. It’s really hard work.
I’m told to push into my bottom, as if taking a poo. So I do. And I do poo. I have no idea until the air doesn’t seem so fresh. And since fresh air is all I have to work with, I get pretty loud.
It swiftly gets removed.
My photographer arrives! She made it! I open my eyes, I think I say hi, and I remember my friend is still there because I see her in the corner. She’s staying out of the way - she wasn’t part of the original birth plan, but there she is, watching, loving and humming my birth song. I didn’t know I was using her hums until I saw her again and what she may not know is that I’m so glad she’s there.
Again, I’m labouring in cool water. They try to warm it up and I’m too hot to have any of it.
“Donna, you can’t bring a baby into cool water. Let’s labour on the bed for awhile and we’ll change the water and then come back.”
I see the daunting task of getting out of the pool and walking to the bedroom. That pool is up to my thighs and I’ve got a baby head pushing my structure apart.
10pm -ish: I’m on the bed pushing harder than before. I’m tired of the whole process and at this point give it all I’ve got.
11:11pm - ish: I don’t even think about crowning…until it happens.
This. Is. Birth.
For the first time I’m not dealing well. I shake my head and weep “I can’t. I can’t. I can’t.” I look at Caio - his eyes are holding all kinds of emotion.
I hear my midwife sternly say: “Donna! Gather yourself! You need to push into the pain!”
I hear her. I know this. But the last thing I want to do is make it worse. It burns, it stretches, I’m totally maxed out. So I push.
11:14pm. And it’s out. It’s OUT! SHE’S OUT!
I feel relief, shock, surprise, and a weight no longer in my belly but on top of it. She’s slimy, covered in olive oil, water, and all things nature intended.
“You’re real!” is what comes out of my mouth. I’m still, somehow, in slight disbelief.
I hear her taking deep breaths. Then a whimper and a small cry. It’s so pure, so fresh, so amazing!
“Donna, can you respond? Are you with us?”
I grunt. I can’t move. I’m bleeding. My mind is scared. Really scared.
I feel my body and it’s so heavy, so relaxed. The most relaxed I’ve ever felt in fact - I feel like I’m inside the mattress.
I hear voices and they’re not of this world. I can’t decipher what they’re saying but I hear them and in my mind, I let them know I’m listening. One is whispering in my right ear and another by my left foot. They are circling the bed. I kind of want to stay here.
I can still hear the midwives too.
I’m between worlds.
I remember my baby.
Sometime between midnight and 5am:
I’m stable. I’m weak. I’ve got an IV. I’m still at home. I’m being fed soup.
It’s after 5am. Everyone has left but I ask Caio if they’re still here because I’m still hearing voices. I’m in and out of sleep. My baby is on my belly.
I can only lift my head.
It’s noon the next day and the midwives are back - we’re all doing well. I’m weak and haven’t gotten out of bed since before the birth. The midwives encourage it. It takes me a long time to sit up. My heart is racing from the work. I stand and feel my feet in a whole new way. I’m using furniture to help balance. I feel like I’m learning to walk all over again, because I am.
These are my first steps as a Mother.
We’re going to be okay.
In fact, we’re going to be amazing.
5 weeks: I had a dream. Before I took the test. But I already knew. I felt it.
My response was to cry. Not happy tears though. Tears of fear, of the sacrifices yet to come. I’m going to be a Mom.
5.5 weeks: The sickness was so intense. It came from way down. Nothing would come out, yet, my body was so powerfully heaving. No sleep that night. No food or water the next day. Morning sickness?
I call the doctor and ask about Gravol. He gives me Diclectin (anti-nausea). It’s illegal in the states - I’m reluctant to take anything let alone, something that’s not approved somewhere. Maybe I can just be sick for longer? But I can’t keep water down.
I take it, fearfully, but also with hope for relief. I ween myself off it four days later.
It doesn’t feel like this time is magical. I just feel sick, so sick.
9 weeks: Sometimes I feel crazy. I cry when others laugh. My breasts are tender. My nipples are itchy and darkening. I’m either bloated, nauseous or tired - often all three. And then sometimes I feel great and it scares me - am I still pregnant?
I’m excited to meet the baby and hold them. Sometimes I feel connected and other times, disconnected. I can feel my womb constantly. Like a spiral of energy. I like to unbutton my jeans after eating now.
12 weeks: Whirlwind. Holy. I’m so happy to be coming out of the first trimester of nausea and exhaustion. There were times when I had no idea how women have gotten thru. How can one feel so sick, and so tired yet keep on keepin’ on?! One evening, I fell asleep eating. No joke. Face in bowl.
Even though I’m feeling so much better, this weekend I’m held back from my travels to the USA because of health issues.
A sacrifice. Motherhood has begun.
I unexpectedly can’t urinate. After time, a few tests, and my own internal adjustment, everything is fine. On the drive home, also unexpectedly, we find a new home.
There seems to be a plan…
16 weeks: Sleeping amongst boxes ready to move. My heart is in the new home but my body is stuck in this old house. So much anxiety right now. Moving while pregnant is not fun so far, yet, I’m excited to be somewhere that will fit our new family.
My practice is to trust.
18 weeks: Expanding in so many ways and faster than I thought. The removal of my bellybutton ring feels so significant; growing out of the role of ‘maiden’ and stepping into the role of Mother. I’m not sure I feel ready quite yet.
20 weeks: (Half way!) Time feels equally fast as it does slow. My centre of balance is totally different - obviously. Feeling excited, overwhelmed, terrified and deeply blessed - all at the same time.
We’re in the new home! I washed and folded my first set of baby clothes - they’re so small how do you even fold them?!
Pregnancy comments are…interesting. Such body judging revealed:
“I thought you were really letting it hang out!”
“You don’t even look pregnant - good for you!”
22 weeks: I don’t understand how to merge my life with a baby and be a Mom in a way I can feel good about. In a way, I’m pre-mourning the loss of friends. I have to keep reminding myself that it’ll be more of a shift in how we interact, not so much a loss.
23 weeks: This is getting harder! It’s a funny thing to be growing a belly that moves, kicks and off centres itself. How is it that there’s a whole new human in there?!
Motherhood feels daunting. My body is pregnant but my mind not quite yet. How can I prepare? I try to imagine the future and its so foreign I can’t. Who will you be? Who will I be?
I can’t wait to feel love deeper than I’ve ever felt.
23.5 weeks: When your wolf shirt becomes 3D - celebrate!
6 months: I even surprised myself with this practice! Some days sitting in stillness feels amazing. Other days, like today, I wanted nothing more than to be upside down.
I feel a major shift happening; there’s more excitement and less terror. I can do this thing called Motherhood. And it helps to have caught my husband in a private moment holding a onesie to his heart. When he saw me he said ‘I don’t know where all the love is going to go - my heart feels so full already.’ Aho!
6.5 months: Belly and sunset blessings from the ocean! Resting, reading and sunshine feel so good right now. So good. We saw dolphins and I cried. A lot. But it was a happy cry. So grateful for dolphin medicine and this play time.
7 months: I was told no more planks or hands & knee positions as my abs have separated (this is common and normal) - 'front loading’ positions can make it worse. The pursuit is on to find yoga poses that I can do safely, while feeling challenged.
And.. the belly officially has a mind of it’s own! It’s amazing and bizarre all at the same time.
The call to be at home just gets deeper and deeper. I’m cancelling travel plans moving forward - that was no easy decision. The ‘old’ Donna wants to go, but my current self is happy at home. It’s no longer a sacrifice.
30 weeks. Only 8-12 weeks left of sleep ins… for a very looooong time. Also, I have a cold and can’t take anything for it.
32 weeks: I feel huge - I’m not sure where the rest of the pregnancy will fit into my body? And.. I know it just will.
Sleeping is getting harder, baby is getting smarter.
And.. we’ve got the best name picked out. Best name ever.
I still have a cold.
33 weeks: Preparing the house now. Baby has hiccups often and responds quickly to my husband’s voice with active movement - almost as if excited. We still have the best name picked out. Best name ever.
I still have a cold.
34 weeks: My category of belly down yoga poses has grown exponentially.
Feeling almost ready but not quite yet - this pregnancy is growing me as a Mother as well. Singing and reading to babe before bed has become so sweet. It’s exciting and scary all at the same time. Love is overcoming all however.
I still have a cold?! What the…
Almost 35 weeks: Today, I don’t understand how I’m supposed to have 1.5 months left. Or even 1 month for that matter. So for now, breathing in the sunshine and practicing calm.
My lips are swollen.
My ankles are swollen.
My feet hurt like crazy.
And, I’m okay.
My cold is gone, but it lasted one whole month. Jesus.
People are asking if I’m having twins.
35 weeks today: It’s amazing what a good night’s sleep can do. Staying home is very exciting to me now. When I’m away from home, I just want to be back home.
There’s a new energy moving in. I dream every night of birth starting. Braxton & Hicks contractions are frequent, but not painful. They just make me feel like I have to pee. Sometimes they’re even 4-5 minutes apart.
My dreams are meaningful and confusing.
36 weeks: Almost there. I keep thinking of the moment I’ll meet this being - the first glance, our first moment of eye contact. What do they look like? Do they have hair? Chubby cheeks? I can easily fall into an endless state of wonder thinking about this moment. As of now, it feels like it might be similar to that moment in E.T. - first touch, fingers coming together, light all around.
36.5 weeks: Belly blessings served up by the bestest friends ever. Taking it all in, loving it all up. Such sacred times carrying a brand new human within - words fall short for all the magic and mystery.
37 weeks: There’s no baby yet, but the time has come for me to stay home. Earlier than I thought, but I’m listening…
It seems as though I have high blood pressure and the midwives have invited me to stop working and start resting. A lot. I’m quite afraid that this might get in the way of the home birth we have planned. I’m feeling afraid and I know this doesn’t help my blood pressure.
Last night my husband and I sat face to face and invited the baby to come Earthside. We lit candles, held hands, sang and chanted to let our baby know how welcome they are to join us.
38 weeks: I think. I’ve lost track. I’m so ready. Yes I know baby will come when they want to come and yes I know it’s a waiting game and yes I’m hanging in there - but this might be some of the deepest yoga I’ve done yet. And I know it’ll only get deeper.
I don’t feel like going out, talking much, or even seeing my friends. Who am I?!
So much anxiety. How do I just forget about the high blood pressure and move on?? This is now my yoga…
I’m afraid I won’t know how to care for a newborn. I’m afraid how much this will change my life. I’m afraid of ‘failing’ at a natural birth. Failing who I ask myself. Failing the image I have of myself as someone who ‘should’ be able to do it. This is an ego death.
Pregnancy brain is in full force. I can’t quite orient myself. I can’t quite find words.
I’m using acupressure, nipple stimulation, sex - all to build oxytocin and encourage labour. Trying deeply to respect when our baby wants to come too.
LOVE is my mantra. Loving it all up. It calms me although I often don’t feel in love with the anxiety/fear, saying I do does help. I’m praying that when labour starts I’ll drop in, ground and focus.
39 weeks: This is going to come out right?! Limbo is a weird place to be. Between worlds, old and new. I’ve left the familiar shore and am crossing over to the other - but don’t yet know how or when I’ll get there. Do I co-create or surrender and let it all happen on its own? I’m not looking for your answer, I’m looking for mine…
This waiting is so hard. And my blood pressure is still high.
Swimming was an absolute gift.
Heartburn is an absolute drag.
I’m putting castor oil on my belly now (not drinking it) in hopes to encourage labour. My girls and I sat together tonight calling in this baby. C’mon baby!
The filtered, ready-for-Facebook pic:
The unfiltered, should-I-even-share-this pic:
39.5 weeks: It’s nice to get out of the house for short trips here and there, especially when I’ve been resting for days. However when I do get out, it’s as if people have never seen a pregnant woman before. Seriously. Yesterday was the first time a woman commented as well.
Comments range from “WHOA!” to “You’re ready to POP!” to “It’s a boy/girl!” to “That’s the roundest thing I’ve ever seen!” to “You’re huge!” to “Holy shit!”
It’s been a great reminder how much our society is concerned with body image and a certain look. Body comments, of all kinds, are not okay - ever. Not when someone has a great ass, or is really thin, or pregnant, or disabled, or old etc. Strangers, please use your inside voice.
40 weeks: It’s my due date today. Everyone warned me about not keeping that date too close to heart. Why didn’t I listen? I am getting better at this limbo thing though - colouring books are my new best friend.
I’ve now been told to side-lie. My Osteopath thinks this will help with my blood pressure and it has so far. It’s still high, but low enough to try for a home birth. Feeling blessed with that news.
40.1 weeks: Passed my due date. Yesterday I had acupuncture and drank black and blue cohosh tea to help induce. Today it feels like my sacrum is splitting in two. C’mon baby! Feeling introspective and motivated.
It turns out, this was birth day!
Words don’t come close to describing the experience you gifted me, but I feel like there’s so much beauty to remember that I wanted to try.
(art by Damien Leggett)
You laboured for 18 hours.
You pushed for 1 hour.
I saw strength, raw emotion, faith and surrender. Yet, the word that keeps coming to mind when I think of Elisa’s birth is grace.
You birthed a beautiful baby girl, and you birthed yourself as a Mother.
When you looked at me in active labour, you had the brightest eyes I’ve seen you have yet, but you were tired. You said “Donna, this is very hard.” I heard you, yet as you said this I also heard a deep trust and a depth of wisdom that I hadn’t seen from you before.. and I knew you were going to be fine.
At 7:30pm you were 5cm dilated.
At 8:30pm you were 9cm dilated.
Within this hour, you did everything you needed:
And then you needed to push.
When you felt the doctor wasn’t coming fast enough to check your last centimetre of dilation, you raised your voice just enough to send the nurse out of the room immediately after that contraction.
Your ability to stay clear and connected to exactly what you needed had me in awe.
The doctor arrived and after a lesson on how to push, you nailed it. “Push into the pressure” is what you were told. You likely didn’t notice, but all the medical staff’s eyes lit up with that push. They were impressed. I was beaming.
It was an hour of hard work, but there were moments where I saw your Mother, hands on her cheeks, pushing right along with you. I saw the same face in both of you and it was then that I saw the true beauty of womanly wisdom moving through the generations.
Between pushing, you had to catch your breath. It was in one of these breath catching moments that I had to catch mine. It took everything in me to hold back tears of sweetness when I saw you turn to Sean, catch your breath, kiss his hand and whisper “my love.”
Breathless I was. But not surprised. His depth of support was awe-inspiring. He held your head, massaged you, fed you ice after every contraction, rocked you, and counted for you to name a few. His support was so unwavering I felt the need to make sure he was taking care of himself. He was. He was so solid. I think I took doula lessons from Sean that night.
Baby Elisa’s head was half out at this point. The feeling was so intense you went with the doctor’s suggestion and instead of waiting for another contraction, you went to push. Deep breath in, Sean lifted your head, you gazed down and instead of pushing said “Oh my God! Oh my God!” It was your first sighting of Elisa. The innocence of the moment made everyone chuckle, but it made you push Mama.
(art by Damien Leggett)
And it was with that push that Elisa graced us with her presence.
Sean revealed her gender to your total surprise; “Oh my God, we have a baby girl! We have a baby girl!” To say the moment was emotional was an understatement. And this is where Elisa’s Grandmother knew to step up, showering both of you with love.
Annie, you beat the statistics at the hospital and you birthed without drugs. You didn’t even ask for them. Your strength was awe-inspiring.
Thank you for letting me bear witness to this beautiful event. That night, you birthed me as a doula.