ELIJAH'S BIRTH STORY
Yes the baby has come!
Monday night at 9:33 p.m., September 12, 2005. The birth was magical, gentle, and graceful. Icasiana was able to continually surrender, let go and let spirit move through her as an open channel of light. We had prepared for months learning how to relax and how to be an open vessel visualizing the opening of the cervix with the contractions-expansions-rushes. When he arrived after 4 1/2 hours of intense laboring and pushing, yet without pain, he was at ease and his body showed no signs of trauma. His name is Elijah and he is contented and at ease, and we feel so blessed. He is strong and poised to claim his birthright as a divine being of light, able to be directed from within. We are in awe.
We had studied the Bradley method and particularly focused on the exercises that instructed me in how to relax. I would lay on the bed in a position that allowed me to relax every muscle of my body. Then I would scan my body and breathe into any place I felt tension, then release it, even in the forehead. This was a tremendous assist in helping me relax and stay open.
We had been preparing for months for the arrival of our baby. We intended to create an environment of love and beauty as he grew in my womb. Amidst so much fear in our culture about childbirth, we intended to find our natural rhythm and trust the process. Here is our story.
Seven days before the birth I started having gentle contractions or rushes, as we called them. They continued for 2 hours rhythmically. My husband and I prepared for the birth and readied to call the midwife, but then the rushes lost momentum. We had heard these were called Braxton-Hicks contractions and were part of “false labor”. My husband didn’t like that description because there was nothing false about it. We believed my body was readying and preparing for the birth in a gentle way. There are many women who go to the hospital, and they get shamed when they’re not really in labor as if they are “wasting” the doctor’s time. We felt this was all part of the process and were thankful that my body was preparing in such a gentle way. I had rushes or contractions for 7 days, and although they weren’t constant, they were quite gentle.
We made love twice in the morning and something felt very different for me. I felt more of an opening in my body. I felt my vagina flowering. I felt my husband going deeper into me and I kept opening and opening to the sensations.
When the contractions began gently on this day at 11:00 a.m., we weren’t sure this was “it” because this had happened before the same way. We just kept with it, being present with the rushes/contractions, breathing into the sensations and practicing the relaxation exercises. At one point I was feeling very heavy in my body after we had taken a walk along the ocean, and decided to go into the hot tub. When I went in, I felt like this whole weight was lifted up for me. I was able to breathe easier and feel light again. Even though I was only in the tub for 15 minutes it was a wonderful altering of the way I felt and related to the heaviness of my body.
After getting out of the tub I sat on a large rubber exercise ball. I was able to bounce on the ball and roll my pelvis and rock back and forth. I could feel my sacrum opening and being massaged. Then I did a spontaneous dance on the ball and I imagined it was like the movement of DNA, all the strands being pulled from heaven to earth. I could feel the energy around my body, it was like moving honey through my hands – palpable and connected. Then I brought the energy down from my auric field and into and through my entire body. I felt it in my belly and the opening started happening. I loved being on the ball, and it was the only time I was on it, but it helped me open up and I felt connected with divine spirit.
We began to realize that this was the day of delivery when Elsa got to the house at 5 p.m. for our scheduled trance journey ceremony, and the intensity picked up. As the rushes/contractions started to become more intense though, I still wasn’t sure because they weren’t consistent. I would have a light one and then a strong one. I was expecting a consistent rhythm as the sign of labor, and that’s not what was happening. When Elsa timed the rushes, they were coming every 1-2 minutes lasting a minute long and that’s when she declared, “You’re in labor”. We called the midwife and told her we believed we were in labor. She happened to be at the car wash and said she’d call back in 45 minutes. I told her it was good, this way she could come over and deliver our baby with a clean car! When she called back, I was sitting on the toilet. After we spoke a few sentences, she told me, “You are in labor”. I thought that was quite amazing that she could tell so quickly just from the tone of my voice. I was excited, but I asked her not to come right away because I wanted to do the trance posture and wanted the time to do that uninterrupted. But I didn’t tell her that, I just asked her to come later around 7:30 p.m. Meanwhile, Elsa started rubbing my feet and working on specific acupuncture points to assist in the labor. When Elsa explained that the ceremony could take a lot of energy and it might be best to save my energy for the birth process, my husband suggested we do an abbreviated version of the posture ceremony. But I felt strong and certain and wanted to do the full ritual.
Birth Posture Trance Journey
My husband and I have been participating in Ecstatic Body Posture trance journeying work for a number of years. It’s a way of accessing connection with the spirit world for healing, inspiration, or guidance. We wanted to utilize one of the postures that are associated with the birth posture to assist me in the birthing process.
After the preparation part of the ceremony, as soon as the rattle started shaking, the baby became activated inside me, and began lunging toward the rattle. Soon after I noticed this, I went into trance. I started traveling, and felt myself riding on a magic carpet, traveling through time and space. I saw cave people and I saw women giving birth in all times and cultures, though the order was jumbled. We went to a cave and then to France and then Spain, and then into the future, and back to the present as we were flying. I saw births from thirty or so different tribal cultures, original cultures. Then as I was watching another birth happening, I realized it was our birth. Our birth was so gentle and rhythmic. It wasn’t the same postures I had seen from the others, it wasn’t squatting or kneeling, although I wasn’t able to see the form clearly enough.
During the 15 minutes we did the posture, I had 5 rushes that were very intense. I kept getting the message to breathe deep into my belly. Standing was uncomfortable during these rushes, but I was able to pull the energy from my crown chakra and through my body and release even deeper through the discomfort. I felt vibration from the ground, and it was resonating through my body and through the baby. I was conscious of really focusing on the baby’s face during the labor, and of watching the facial expressions. During the posture, I was imaging the facial expressions of my baby. I was also looking for signs of trauma or distress on the faces of women who were giving birth and then looking at my face for signs of distress or trauma.
After that I saw myself going to the bed and having the baby. I didn’t really have the baby right then, but the scene was like a passageway, a gateway opening up for me. I felt so prepared, ready and confident to give birth. There was a sense of peace in me. Spirit told me that it would be perfect, that it would be easy, and I felt that way.
I felt that doing the posture gave me courage. Spirit had said, “It’s your turn now.” When the posture was over, it was my time. So I got ready and said to myself, “Okay, I’m ready to give birth now.” Later when I did give birth, I felt like I was on the same magic carpet that I had been on during the trance ceremony.
At this point when we finished the journey ceremony, I was very far along in labor. We ended at 7 p.m. and the midwife came at 7:30 p.m. When she did come, we continued with the rhythm of being present with and breathing and relaxing with the rushes/contractions. At about 8 p.m. when the midwife checked me, I was 7 cm dilated. My husband and I looked at each other, surprised that I had come along so far already, because while the sensations had gotten intense, they were not painful, and we were just in a graceful flow. We felt very grateful that the process was progressing so well.
When the water broke, there was such an amazing feeling of gush, like a cork releasing out of a champagne bottle, shot out of it, and the fluid shot out. It was warm, and it was reassuring, and I knew at that moment that he was coming. There was no turning back. It is really happening tonight!
During labor, I do remember using the Non-Focused-Awareness technique I had learned from the Birthing From Within book. While I was listening to the sounds of people in the room, I noticed the smell of the candle, my husband’s breathing, and his touch on my back. It was very comforting to me. I felt such a weightlessness, and I had no idea of the time that was passing. It seemed so short, or it seemed so long. My sense of time and space was so surreal because I was in an altered state of consciousness. I felt no sense of self consciousness, I was there, I had an important job, and I wasn’t distracted by being open or exposed, or by having people in the room, nor did I feel that I had to perform in any way. It was perfect.
During labor I experienced a tingling heat and light that was coming through my head and it was moving through my body and massaging and protecting the baby. It also felt like this energy was moving the baby along the canal. Whenever I felt a little bit unsure, I would connect up again and bring that energy back through my body. After the birth, my friend Amrita said she had seen a light coming down from the ceiling and through me at around this time.
Rhythmic breathing was another of the tools that I used. I would breathe really deep, from my head to my toes, but focused in the center of my body, in my belly. Hearing my husband’s voice relaxed me. I had no concept of my own body, and then when my husband would say, “Relax your face,” I would remember I had a face. For an hour, the breathing was the only tool I used or needed. Then when the baby was passing over my lower back, it was very intense and the breathing wasn’t enough. (I started to recall the painful back labor I experienced when I birthed Kate and Matt). My husband would push on my back when the rush came and that would release the pressure. When I felt the intensity of the back labor I had to dig really deep. I focused on the baby’s face and remembered that I knew the baby was going to get through this canal okay and that there would be enough room for him to pass. I focused by visualizing the uterus muscles working in concert, turning inward and pushing him down the canal. I remember thinking, “I’m already at 7 centimeters and I don’t have that far to go.” I visualized the 7 centimeters and then imagined more expansion happening, enough to allow the baby to come through. I visualized the sac and the muscles pushing and working all in their natural rhythm. Everything was working in concert, internally and externally. I knew my body knew what to do and I felt so supported. While my husband was pushing on my back, Kate was working on the perineum, Elsa was working on my feet, and my kids were holding my hands. Amrita and Amber were holding space for the light, Laura was taking pictures and Amos was video taping the birth. It was like an orchestra. Everyone knew their place and part and I was directing, or was it the baby?
The most intense part of labor was when the waves started crashing and they seemed really long. I was concerned that breathing and visualizing weren’t enough. I felt myself starting to tense up as the wave was crashing over me, and then I remembered to let go, and I would surrender to the intensity, to the sensations, and it would move through me. I remembered watching my husband boogie board with my kids recently, and I concentrated on how he would get into the flow and allow the wave to carry him onto shore. I was visualizing being pushed by the wave onto the shore, the baby was being pushed by the wave, and I surrendered to it. I was conscious of not getting too much in front of the wave. The wave couldn’t do its job if you were too far in front or behind it. Some of the waves were so powerful I would be taken by them. And some were mild and I remember saying, “Oh here comes another one,” and I felt like I was a surfer in the ocean awaiting the next perfect wave. I remember feeling such gratitude to God for giving me the break in between the waves to catch my breath and to relax for a few seconds.
What surprised me most was when all of a sudden I heard Kate, the midwife say to me, “You can push now.” I thought I had been pushing, but I was mostly breathing, breathing the baby into place. The pushing felt real strong, almost like there would be too much pressure down there. The sensation was that I needed to poop, and I didn’t want to do that. Meanwhile, hot compresses were being applied to my perineum, and they felt so wonderful. I felt the pushing upward of the compress and my pushing downward was comforting to me. I felt safe – I felt supported. Once the baby crowned, I knew then that the birth was close. I felt like I knew I had to push, but it wasn’t painful. I waited for the natural sensation to push, and not someone telling me to push. I waited for the next surge and then would bear down and grunt. I didn’t want to expel all my energy too soon. I wanted it to last long enough for the duration of the contraction. I remember my face feeling contorted and that’s when I felt the bear energy coming through me and I was transported into the woods grunting, and being fierce. I remember wondering, “Am I protecting a newborn cub, or am I grunting to have a baby?” I even felt the fur of the bear and noticed I was growling like a bear, which greatly amused Kate and Matt, my other 2 children. Then I started shaking and feeling very uncomfortable about it because it was such an intense energy. My husband reassured me, “It’s okay to shake, let it move through you,” and when I surrendered and allowed myself to do what was natural, the uncontrollable shaking subsided. To describe it another way, there was this force coming and at the crest I went with it instead of resisting and falling out of sync. Once I was at the crest, the shaking took over, and I navigated a transition from pushing to letting go, and allowing that energy to move through me and guide the baby.
When the baby’s head was crowning, there was a lot of pressure on my anus and the front of my yoni, and at that moment there was a burning sensation. As Kate told me to take quick breaths, I had this image of my yoni inching open a bit more. Then when I initiated the push that pushed his head out, I didn’t even feel any pain at all, I felt full, open and ecstatically connected.
Then the rushing contractions subsided and we all relaxed, and I let go again. Time to rest and regroup for the next rush or contraction that would inevitably follow. This is the rhythm of birth that had taken over me for this whole day, this whole week, in varying degrees of intensity – each and every time. Over and over again we all went through this powerful wave-like rhythm of life, of birth, of creation – the ebb and the flow. Now his head was already through, and one final push and his body would come out. Then I surrendered once again, for the last time as I had done so many times during this amazing journey – a continued surrendering to the intensity, the sensation, through the breath, fully embodying the rhythm of birth.
During the most intense part of labor, the visualization that helped me relax and fully embody the sensations was the image of our baby’s head coming through an open lotus blossom. This vision gave me confidence that there was plenty of room for him to pass through. I felt comforted knowing that I wasn’t going to tear, and I knew he was being bloomed in the perfect time, naturally.
After the final push, I heard the sound of him moving through a vacuum, just a beautiful kind of a cluck as he slipped through. Then the last part, his body moved through and I felt fresh air coming through and all was open. I could feel the pulsing of the umbilical cord against me. Then my husband put him against me and I saw his mouth. He was crying, but I couldn’t hear it as I was coming back from the depths of my [the] trance. I was in a cocoon, protected, insulated, impassioned, and ecstatic. I had opened up to life, and after the nine months of carrying him, my son had finally come through.
This is the message we sent to our family and friends:
Elijah Charles Russo was born Monday, September 12 at 9:33 p.m. weighing 9 lbs. 12 ounces, and 22" long. The birth was at our home and was gentle, magical, and graceful. Kate and Matt were at the birth of their brother and were very excited to see what a birth can be like. Icasiana is doing fantastic, recovering quickly, and we are all very happy. There was no trauma for Elijah at the birth and he is contented, at ease, and we feel so blessed. He is strong and poised to claim his birthright as a divine being of light, able to be directed from within.
Thank you for your prayers and blessings
love Gabriel, Icasiana, Matt, Kate and Elijah
Reflections after Elijah’s Birth
The day before the birth of Elijah, we had an amazing gift of preparing his birth space. Chime and her husband Jamyang live at a local Tibetan ashram in Watsonville. They both come from Tibet, and Jamyang is the Lama at this ashram. They presented us with gifts for me and for the baby. One was a scarf that has the eight auspicious Tibetan symbols that Chime recommended we wrap around his neck after he was born. The other gift was a Tibetan OM necklace that I decided to wear the morning that he was born, and wore it through the birth. It was a symbol that reminded me to breathe, in a vibrational way that resonated with the OM, where I could vibrate within my body through the breath.
Then they prepared the house. They cleaned and blessed the space and left an aura of radiance and that was light, that they had prepared the house as an altar, of sacredness, of readiness. They had been creating the temple for us to give birth to our child.
Preparing the temple between us.
My husband and I felt so connected throughout the pregnancy. We had even participated in a tantric workshop 7 months into the pregnancy. We believed that through our awareness and connection to the creation in my womb we created joy around the baby before he was born. My husband would sing to him, he would rub him through my belly; he would do the reconnection energy work, all preparing a way for our son to feel welcomed, connected and safe when he arrived. The feeling of trust between the two of us allowed me to fully open and surrender
Aftercare from Amos and Amrita
I must say Elijah’s birth was even sweeter because of the aftercare we received from our dear friends. This care allowed us to be totally absorbed in his presence – in Elijah’s light.
All other concerns, from tending to Kate and Matt, to matters of the house, it was all handled and we were free to devote our full attention and energy to being with our new baby. This was an incredible gift so we could be so present with Elijah so that he could feel safe, protected and adored.
The purpose for sharing our birth story in such detail is that I want to help women and their partners in truly trusting this amazing and natural process. My experiences of being so aware, conscious and connected, made childbirth even more of a blessing, a magical gentle experience of creation.
God bless all mothers – they are truly heroic women.