by Rebecca Overson, LMT, Birth Doula, and Founder/Owner of Salt Lake Prenatal Massage
Tigerlily Alexis de Azevedo joined our family on October 9th, 2016, at 9:22pm. She is my third child, third home birth, and third water birth... but my first daughter!
I had created a private facebook group for my closest "Peeps" and we used Facebook Live Stream in that group for portions of the labor process. It was really amazing to be able to include so many people that I love and adore and who I know love and adore me. It gave me strength to know that you were all there with me. Truly a remarkable experience thanks to modern technology!
I spent most of the time laboring in the birthing tub. It was padded and warm and so comfortable. Dutch was right there with me the whole time. Though he has two children, this was his first experience with birth at home. He was a total rockstar - so loving, supportive, encouraging, and positive. There were a few times he was worried, because I just totally came unglued due to the pain, but he knew that if the Midwife was calm, he didn't need to be worried.
My brother in law Aaron Coleman was there filming (a pro videographer and totally down with birth), my sister in law Rachael de Azevedo is a birth photographer and was there (can't WAIT to get the photos!!), my longtime assistant Savannah Milligan, and my mom Linda was there to help take care of my sons, Shawn and Ryan, who really wanted to be a part of the birth and have basically been prepared their whole lives for this (because that's what you get when you are the child of a birth junkie.) I told them if things got intense or boring or whatever, they could leave. No pressure. Ryan passed the time by building the most EPIC depiction of the birth room out of Legos, complete with a birthing tub, Dutch with a backwards baseball cap, Melissa the midwife with her silver hair, the photographer... everything.
Labor was good and strong and intense. I NEEDED to move. At one point I said, "Women who have epidurals are CRAZY!" - not as a judgment by any means - but as a statement of how much I just neeeeeeded to be mobile during contractions. At one point, I was standing up, dancing to music, leaning forward on the tub, and yes... I may have even twerked that baby down. Video of THAT to come. (Not that I actually know how to twerk.)
We stopped the Live Streaming because I decided to have Melissa break my water at about 9 cm.
After that it got really crazy. I mean really really really crazy. I have never cried and sobbed so hard or screamed, yelled and hollered so loud in my life . The pain was unbearable, except that I had no other choice but to bear it. I wanted it OVER. NOW. I was in agony. My boys left the room.
This baby girl has not put her hands away from her head since birth and I am 99% certain that she was trying to come through the birth canal with her hand next to her head...hard route. Add to that the fact that she was so tiny… Honestly Ryan, who was 9 lbs. 8 oz. was my easiest birth because I think he was so big that he had no choice but to come barreling out…But She was just kind of floating around and her head was not coming down in the most optimal position. That made dilation less effective and it took a long time.
Anyway, I was begging for Melissa to do everything she could to help me get this baby out, even though it's kind of contrary to the philosophy of homebirth midwives. Bless that woman....Melissa made me squat, made me stand, made me walk, made me sit on the toilet… And finally,manually helped my cervix get complete and slipped it over Baby's head, I gave two crazy hard insane pushes and she was out. Sweet relief.
She had perfect Apgar scores. Just beautiful and amazing.
Shawn got to cut the umbilical cord. My boys were fascinated with the placenta and got to handle it and look at it. Trust me though… We've talked a lot about placentas in this household so they were prepared.
I am also so grateful for my family members who were there to provide support through birth photography, videography, helping with the boys, getting me food, being my DJ, and just holding space for me to be however I was a needed to be in order to get that baby out. I'm told at one point my mom was crying and my dad, who quietly arrived from St. George during the last hour, was just praying to God because I was suffering at epic proportions there towards the end.
I have always loved birth because it is a testament to how strong we are as women. I love that I have no doubt about my strength!! I chose to put my feet on this path once again, I thought my first time giving birth was the hardest thing I've ever done but this one absolutely takes the cake. Worth every second.
And Dutch .... You had my heart in the first hour that I met you but now... There are no words for the love and partnership I have for you and feel from you. You are an amazing man. You made my dream of a baby girl come true... a dream I grieved would never come to pass after my marriage to Rob ended. I knew there was a baby girl waiting for me. She is finally here.
At first I was a little bit shy about naming her Tigerlily but honestly it fits her so perfectly. (I had that name on a list when Shawn was born ten years ago, but he turned out to be a boy.) I feel like she and I were intertwined in an experience of strength, grace, bravery and courage. I'm not a Disney fan nor do I care for Disney Princesses - but Princess Tiger Lily of the Piccaninny tribe was a complete BADASS. She boarded Captain Hook's ship with a knife in her mouth and swore loyalty to Peter Pan by refusing to disclose his whereabouts. She nearly died. She's a native american warrior princess...the ultimate balance of fierce and feminine. I like that. Also, Tiger Lillies are a beautiful flower that symbolize prosperity. They can grow in the wild without human assistance. They embody strength and passion.
Alexis is my dad's name, and my brother as well. They both go by Lex. I love them dearly. If she grows up and doesn't like her name, she can go by her middle name, or Tilly, T-Lil, T-Lex - we have made up a lot of nicknames for her already.
It's been an interesting week and a half since she was born, and I've been very diligent about my commitment to not leave the house for at least 30 days and just be here with her and allow other people to support me. (Good thing I LOVE my house and it has LOTS of light.)
I've had all kinds of thoughts and emotions, as I have reflected on her birth and her now being in our lives, and what my life will look like from this point forward. It seems I cry at least once a day, either because of joy, or because of heartache, fear, or the raw power that came through me as i went from fully dilated, to complete birth in 2 madwoman pushes, as I screamed, yelled, cried, and pounded on the walls of the birth tub as I shook violently. I was just as certain that I could NOT do this anymore as I was certain that I MUST do it.
Honestly I felt ashamed of how much I screamed at "her" to GET OUT and how much I truly suffered for the last hour. It was like a death, once again allowing the woman-I-was to pass away, and to birth myself again as the woman I now am: A woman who now has a patchwork family of five children, a woman who allowed her beloved and her own children to experience homebirth for the first time, a woman who awaited and welcomes this tiny goddess, who -simultaneously grieves the final death of the Rebecca-Shawn-Ryan trio that will never again be what it was.
A woman who performs on stage at a Piano Bar, a woman who runs a business, a woman who is an artist, A woman who will return to the life -- and schedule -- she built, but with a babe at her breast. Everything is new.
This birth rocked me to the core. After Ryan's birth I felt I had somehow cracked the code of birth: Just SURRENDER. Let it be whatever it is. Ryan's birth (who was 9 lbs 8 oz) was painless, fast, and ecstatic; Tigerlily's birth was beautiful but NOT painless and NOT what I would call ecstatic. Yes I moaned and danced and moved, but the part that was not on live stream was not there for a reason... the last hour was ROUGH and messy and loud and out of control and there was a lot of ugly crying.
How difficult the last hour was... I had no preparation for that.
It called into question everything I thought I knew about giving birth.
I found this quote today. It softened my perspective and my self judgment. It redefines what is ecstatic about birth in such a way that I can now embrace Tigerlily's birth in the same way I embraced Shawn and Ryan's... "Ecstatic - Not in an easy way, but in a life changing, mind blowing, warrior-coming-back-from-battle way..."
I did battle. I conquered and I survived. And I am ONE. PROUD. WARRIOR. 💘