With Deva lying here next to me, her name is spoken into being. It is real now that she is earth side.
“Deva” (pronounced "day-va") means goddess. “Katherin” per her request (as was her first name) means pure. “Sage” for her brother Sable, born last March.
Her birth story is simple as birth stories go; I went into labor, and within a few hours she was here, as I had always seen. It was amazing. It was just birth.
So, her story isn’t really only just the story of her birth, it’s what came before and what in pregnancy shaped the birth experience. It leaves me with more questions than I had about birth, like, is our experience random? How can we separate it from the web of life that we have already lived? Is it possible it’s just the culmination of whatever “theme” ran through the pregnancy? How does loss influence our next birth?
And our intentions when anticipating the landscape of birth. How powerful are they?
Deva has been in my periphery spiritual vision for a few years now. With an early loss, and then the loss of our son, Sable, I wasn’t sure I would ever see Deva here. After Sable’s birth last March, her energy and intention became increasingly strong. I wasn’t even sure I could do pregnancy again, wasn’t sure I had that much strength or could accept that much risk, again. But Deva was persistent, a bit impatient, and her confidence was really all that I had. I had to trust, and deep down knew the truth.
Some babies stay, and some babies go. Deva very much wanted to join us. (We expected her in early April, and I find it really awesome that she ended up choosing March 31; to me, a nod to her big brother and his own timing. It’s bitter and sweet to see this intertwining of life and death; even though we know they are so connected. It will probably amaze me forever that without him, I would not have her. And vice versa.)
I’ll eventually write more about pregnancy after loss, but for now, it was intense. There is no one way or a way to navigate it. Every day was different, and in the end, again all I had was trust. I trusted her to tell me what I needed to know. I trusted, because I had to, that she would stay.
And so the gift in all of that that was my connection with her. I don’t think I had ever worked this hard on developing a bond with one of my babies, although I never had needed it so much. We were truly a team, and when things came up that challenged me emotionally and mentally in pregnancy (and they did), I had this bond and connection with her that reassured me. I was tempted, as many women are, by the lure of technology and whatever I could have done, really, to feel “safer” and to tell me everything was ok. I see why people choose those things, but ultimately for me, I had to come back to Deva. We had a constant dialogue, both in the real world and the dream/spirit world, and it was this connection that showed me what she wanted. A fiery spirit since before conception, Deva guided me through many choices and situations. She told me countless times in utero that she was great, fine and wanted nothing more than for me to relax and trust in that. She told me very clearly she didn't want any anything from anyone else! Deva’s birth, as simple as it was, ended up demanding this same trust from me, and has truly changed my life once again.
I didn’t really do anything to prep for this birth, as far as labor. I barely made time to plan a basic postpartum (which still turned out really well since I can sit here with my new baby typing this story in a quiet house, rested and fed!). I knew that her birth would be perfect, and that I had absolutely everything I needed to know.
Truthfully, and bluntly, birthing a baby that isn’t alive isn’t much fun and is pretty challenging.
I didn’t want to overthink or overplay this one. If my body could do Sable, it could certainly birth easily with this little girl participating. My intentions were to enjoy all the feelings and sensations, to not add the element of “rush” or “time” (a bad habit of mine in past births) and to fully be in JOY with Deva’s coming earthside. (I actually recorded a podcast chat (to be released soon) with a friend just about 6 hours before she was born. It was totally impromptu, fun and helpful to speak these intentions out loud, and I think was a huge part in making them manifest in this birth.) I know FOR SURE that the entire pregnancy, plus these intentions, completely shaped this birth.
Even though there is some AMAZING footage (a mini movie, actually!) that Margo shot during Deva’s labor and birth (also to be released super soon), I want to record her written journey as well.
After an intense few days of our Indie Birth Midwifery Conference, I was hoping for a few days “off”. The conference ended on Monday, and my plan (hah hah) was to not rest quite yet but to tie up loose ends, last prenatal client visits, and the like to end the week. I did complete a few tasks (in hindsight, with an unusual amount of fervor) and see a few of the mamas, but Deva had other plans. On Wednesday (March 29), I noticed a huge chunk of bloody mucous plug in the evening, strangely coinciding with an emotional breakdown of sorts. Hmmmm. I was shocked that this might happen, how could it happen when I was not ready? The answer was to get ready, and that I really was ready. In the next day, I experienced sporadic but intense contractions and went into overdrive gathering supplies and notifying people, like Margo (who was a few hours away). Within 24 hours (and with the help of a 3 year old nursing child), I was officially “in labor”. It became a sure thing around 8:30 pm on the 30th; striking me as altogether crazy since I have never birthed in the middle of the night, and I also just could not wrap my head around that this was happening!
And then it started to get harder, as it always does, and then it very much feels like it is happening. My memories of the labor are so pleasant, though. I felt completely calm and centered, really, totally fearless and I swore I would have FUN at this one. It was so great just being in my bedroom space, with my husband around as a quiet presence. Even the kids (plus a friend of the kids) were awesome support, and the dogs too. No one bothered me, and eventually they all became quiet as bedtime came. Having your best friend here (who’s a midwife) but who’s really just your best friend IS the best thing ever. Even if she follows you with a camera, because she knows you really want photos this time. (Truly, I did not feel bothered or interrupted by her or the camera; an interesting subject when you think undisturbed birth can’t mean those things. Really, it’s just about the woman feeling private and loved and supported. There was not one interference or intervention on my process. Not a touch or word spoken that wasn’t needed. I was truly independent, yet cushioned with love. I knew I could shut the door (and did a few times) when I needed to, and I am truly grateful to have had this amazing support in a way that I feel EVERY WOMAN should have access to.
Complete trust and confidence and love.
I am also grateful for having captured memories of this experience as it was something I have always desired personally, and creating quality birth footage has increasingly become one of our prime goals and projects here at Indie Birth. I'm also pretty sure that Margo could teach a beginning cinematography course for midwives which would be pretty radical. For the right women, to be witnessed in such a way by their midwife might really continue to shift the paradigm of birth, but I digress:))
I really enjoyed the labor and felt like the coping was just easy; physically, it was becoming harder but I kept a couple of things in my mind’s eye. First, holding this baby. That has always seemed so abstract but this time, it was super meaningful. I had a few mantras that just came up in the moment, but again, mainly consisted of working with and talking to Deva. I felt this supreme connection of teamwork and honestly that made it more than do-able. Second, I had visualized this birth millions of time, literally as a profound but simple event. And third, when I felt intensity or pain, I asked her to fill that space. I worked with her every step of the way, and at one point, remarked to Margo how it felt so much like this beautiful dance with her. A little nudge, a breath. A push. No, not again. Wait. Breathe. We danced. I listened and remained patient, trusting her. Trusting me. All in time, no rush. Perfection. All is as it should be.
We had some ridiculous moments, like the amniotic sac emerging on its own a few hours before she did (good laughs and photos there!) and generally just enjoyed the process until the typical half hour or so before birth. (Sable's birth, although obviously a completely different experience, also included a similar bit of time that was the amniotic sac protruding. Coincidence?)
Timing is a bit hazy, but it was probably around 1 am that I did shut every one out and labor in my tiny dark bathroom. Once again, I talked with Deva and within minutes felt her move into my pelvis. At last! I felt my bones start to open and that slight burning and waited a few more contractions before coming back out into my room. I wanted her to be born in my room, but wanted to know it was really getting close. I reached up and felt her wrinkly scalp. Yep. Close.
Her descent into this world is where words seem to stop; I only remember feelings, and roars and the primal sounds of life. With each intense surge, I tried to just hang on with my breath as my body was doing every ounce of the work and shoving her downwards. It seemed like one continuous contraction, me breathing and roaring, and Deva descending. It was absolutely so powerful and magnificent, and even with all of my births, I had never fully “allowed” the process in this way.
I really did smile through, just blissed out and knowing it would be moments before I could hold her. Her head being birthed rocked my world; shattered my old self in pieces, and is that feeling you never forget. I was soon holding her whole head in my hands, and I moved to a runner’s pose. Never in my life have I anticipated such delight; within seconds I felt her shoulders rotate and my body threw her out into my hands. Oh Deva, baby goddess, guru, teacher. I have waited what feels like SO LONG for you.
I don’t have too much more to say, because it was that perfect.
I will always miss Sable, and didn’t know how this birth would figure into the story, but it just did. Deva just is, and her story is her story. She couldn’t have come without loss, but she came with an intense mission all her own. I am grateful and humbled to be her mother/vessel in this life, and am profoundly grateful for all of her teachings so far. And for this profound, outrageously beautiful birth experience that I think will help me change the world. (And Deva, too! I know she is ok with her birth video showing more women and babies how powerful they can be!)
I love you, little Deva Katherine Sage, and honor you in all your wisdom.
Women (and babies) own birth.