I thought I was ready.
For weeks, I visualized her coming through the birth canal. I saw myself powerfully “breathing her out.”
I had done the work:
10 days of silent meditation during my 35th week of pregnancy.
Chiropractic care every week for 4 months.
Swimming days before I went into labor.
I was healthy. Strong. And according to my midwife, had a really spacious birth canal for delivery.
Everything seemed to line up for a swift and strong labor. I imagined 6 hours. Done. Ecstatic with ease and grace.
I was still scared of the unknown as confident as I felt. I cried some evenings in Brent’s arms because I just didn’t know when or how it would all happen.
On Monday March 2, my birthday, 20 women came online for my virtual Blessingway. I felt supported. I went to the chiropractor that evening and he said I had “the look” where the hormones change a woman’s face right before she goes into labor. “She’s coming soon.” I felt calm.
March 6. The due date came and went. Brent was still sick. I knew she would wait for him to get back to 100%. I felt like I needed to keep letting go and surrendering, preparing myself for this unknown passage. Listening to what my body needed. We went to our midwife, Diane, for our last pre-natal appointment and checked to find out I was at station +2 (baby was very low) and cervix was about 85% effaced and dilated at 2.
On Sunday, March 8, two women suggested I contact Kimberly for a pelvic floor massage. While it would be painful, they both swore it would help labor. My body said yes. Kimberly came over Monday night.
She worked on pressure points inside on my pelvic floor, allowing me to release any tension in the area. I felt energy free up in my entire body. I cried. I moaned in pain. I breathed through it. My body needs this. I knew she would come soon.
That night the cramps felt different, as if they were coming from the cervix. I woke up with a tiny bit of blood on my toilet paper.
Around 3pm on Tuesday, the contractions started. It felt like my cervix was opening and energy was radiating out and down. I called Diane who said it sounded like labor was starting. I should call her when the contractions were consistently 5 min apart and reached 60 seconds long.
I lay in bed breathing with each one as if it was a wave. I put on my headphones, listening to Beats Antique. Feeling uplifted and strong.
My mom and sister-in-law/doula, Daniella, came over around 11pm. Diane and her assistant arrived around 12:30am.
I labored through the night, in a hazy state of mind, drifting in and out of sleep, not remembering much.
At around 6am, I thought: she should be here already, something is wrong.
Diane told me throughout the night that I was doing great and when I asked how we could speed things up, she said we just wait and allow it all to unfold.
But in the morning, with everyone still asleep, I wondered why things hadn’t progressed as quickly as I had thought they should.
Diane checked my cervix around 9am to give us the news:
I was dilated at a 5 and had a swollen “lip” at the front of the cervix. Kali was posterior, meaning her back was to my back and we needed her to flip so her back was to my front.
Diane suggested we break my water to speed up labor and see if we could make the contractions longer which would have dilation increase to a 10.
As the water gushed out of me, the contractions increased. Each time one would roll in, I felt this urge to push overtake my entire body.
I lost track of time. I was in another realm. Everything blended and merged into one thing: these waves that made me want to squeeze everything out and down. I wanted to be on the toilet and just have her pushed out.
Diane told me that my pushing would only increase the lip so I needed to breathe.
I was laying on the bed with Brent looking at me. Diane told me to look into his eyes. Focus on our love. And breathe instead of push.
So I tried. While every ounce of my strength, I resisted the urge to push and breathed with Brent instead.
He read me affirmations that my friend had sent to me:
All is well.
My baby and I live in a harmonious world.
We breathe together in perfect harmony.
It was a team effort. As I said “it’s coming,” someone pushed on my feet, someone pushed on my hips and someone monitored the baby’s heart. We rode each wave together, sometimes me breathing through the whole thing, sometimes me screaming as I pushed down, unable to control the urge.
We checked my cervix and it looked like I had another 6 hours to go.
At that point, I hit my wall. I could not continue to be in this push-pull. I hated the feeling that ripped uncontrollably through my body. There was no way I could ride it out for another 6 hours.
I asked to go to the hospital and be done with it.
My sister-in-law had said to me that every woman finds that point in her labor when she thinks she can’t continue. And she has to find the strength to keep going.
I didn’t care anymore. I wanted to surrender … Not to this process but to the drugs and the knife. I knew the consequences of going to the hospital: the probability of getting a c-section, but at that moment it seemed like a much easier plan.
But Brent wouldn’t have it. He looked in my eyes, tears welling up, and pleaded me to keep going.
“You can do this. I can’t let you go to the hospital. You don’t want that path.”
I felt his pain and disappointment in that option.
Diane then told me something:
“Your mother had the same issue during her labor with you and didn’t remember it til now. She had a swollen anterior lip and you were posterior which stalled her labor. You, Tanya, have an extraordinary opportunity to rewrite your family history.”
Something shifted. My ego still wanted the easy way out, to numb this pain and stop this animalistic urge to push, but my spirit was called forth.
We would wait for an hour and see if my cervix had dilated more.
I decided to try the pool and just as quickly as I got in, I got out. It wasn’t comfortable to sit in it. Nothing was. So I alternated from the bed to the toilet to standing next to the bed.
In a timeless tunnel, I kept going. One contraction at a time.
At some point, Diane said that my pushing was working … Counter to what seemed logical. The pushing was forcing the cervix open and making Kali flip.
My body knows what to do.
Trust my body.
Stop resisting the push.
Don’t be scared.
I can do it.
I got this.
Amanda Noelle posted on my Facebook wall at 2:54pm: “She’s not late…she’s just on time. It’s all about her own timing, not some doctor’s measures or predictions. This child is going to be doing things on her own rhythms, so get ready for a life of that! I foresaw that she was going to go slower than you’d want, but don’t worry, she’s coming fast!”
At that moment, Brent had checked Facebook and read me Amanda’s post. It gave me hope. I wanted to stand up. I put my hands on the edge of the bed and swirled my hips as Daniella pressed into them. Brent said he saw me back in my power … he saw it in my eyes. I gazed at him, yes I’ve got this.
Diane checked and told me we were at a 10 in the back. All we needed to do was push the lip out of the way and Kali could come through.
She asked for one push when she said “go” … And the lip was moved. In 40 years of practice, this was the first time she had ever moved the lip in one shot. A miracle.
“Ok, you can push her out now.”
What? I felt confused. Scared. I didn’t want to push. I hated the push.
And yet it was time.
I got this.
I pushed. One.
I pushed. Two.
I moved to the other side of the bed.
I channeled everything I had and roared, a scream coming out of me like I’ve never heard before. All of my strength. To push and keep pushing all the way through past my edge. Further than I thought possible.
“There’s her head! And her arm!”
“Oh, that’s what was wrong!” Diane pushed the hand back up.
She came rushing out like a slip-n-slide onto Brent’s chest. He caught her and burst into tears. My mom and Daniella crying as well.
I stood there, dazed, panting, and turned to look over my shoulder at everyone.
They got me onto the bed, put her on the side of my belly and we lay there for a moment, breathless. Kali cried a little, telling us about her experience. The cord stopped pulsing.
“Are you ready, Kali, to be separated from me? I got you. We will no longer be connected as one, you will be your own individual person, and you are safe.”
Brent cut the cord.
A few moments later, I pushed the placenta out, and they moved Kali onto my chest. Brent and I stared at her, cooed at her.
I knew in that moment, as the pain already faded from my recollection, that this was our perfect birth. Divinely orchestrated, not only for Kali and I, but for Brent, my mom, Daniella and our midwives.
Who would have known that my mom would have a transformative experience, healing from my birth 35 years ago?
Who would have known that my sister-in-law would be able to relive her own birth experience where she delivered my niece posterior after 40+ hours of labor, helping her prepare on some level to give birth again in August?
And who would have known that Brent would have this unique experience of catching her as she came sliding out, the most thrilling moment of his life?
As I transform, those around me transform. We are all one, connected in this human experience.
I was never alone at any step of the way. It was the embodiment of all that I taught: teamwork, tribe, community, partnership.
Through this experience, I was transformed into Mother.
Through this rite of passage, I got to meet myself on the other side of my edge.
Through this process, I got to see what I was made of.
I got to draw on all of the work I had done leading up to this point and use it. I recall what my friend said about giving birth and becoming parents: we are ushering in these beings who are on the edge of evolution. She’s the new generation. She’s the next paradigm. And she needed me to meet her there, in my power. Far beyond what I could have ever imagined, far beyond what I thought was possible.
Kali Lynn Kozlowski born March 11 at 4:27pm. 9.1 pounds. 14.5 inch head. 21 inches long.