A Tale of Postpartum Bliss
I am about to celebrate my daughter’s 4th birthday, so it’s aptly timed to share about the rich journey of embracing her so wholly into my life.
I appreciate retelling the story. It constantly reminds me of how wise we are; how innately intelligent my daughter is, and how full of gifts and devotion my body is.
It causes me to pause and for a moment, allows me to re-awaken in my cells the profound and sacred medicine that was accessed during those first days and weeks of blissfully falling in love with my daughter.
I began my Motherhood journey before I ever considered Motherhood myself.
I spent most of my 20’s serving birthing women and families through my work as a doula and student midwife, and learning about the mysteries of women along the way.
I just loved it. I loved birth. I loved the magic of the process. I loved learning how intelligent the body is.
I loved how it all worked so successfully…especially when well supported and otherwise left alone.
Once it was my time to be initiated, I planned to birth safely at home as my own care provider.
By this time I had a pretty rich understanding of the ways one sets themself up to thrive postpartum and wasn’t shy about asking for exactly what I wanted. I knew I wanted to be in bed naked with my newborn for at least two weeks. So, with the help of a friend, I put together a long handwritten letter to send out to my friends and family to support making it happen. In addition to the typical baby registry, my letter asked directly for support with finances and meals while highlighting to my community why it was so important for me to have this time.
The response was overwhelming: We secured what was necessary to make the vision happen.
About three weeks before I was due to meet my tiny soul mate, my partner at the time and I had fatefully secured a place to live and nest for the short term future. The room we occupied in this shared house was perfectly cozy and had a connected private bathroom with a tub and shower. It was a perfect birthing nest. I decked out the bathroom with supplies for all the teas, herbal baths, yoni steams, sitz baths and compresses a new mother could dream of. A box of loose leaf herbs, a hot plate, holistic postpartum books and other objects of beauty lined the shelves and counters.
In addition to a beautiful nest, I had a list of trusted supporters identified to call on for physical and/or emotional support during labor if I desired their presence.
I felt held, relaxed and nourished as I awaited the birth of my soul mate.
When the time came, the labor and birth couldn’t have been more sweetly straight forward. I labored for all of early and active labor alone, calling on my partner to wake up and join me once transition came. I worked hard to keep focused the whole time, especially during transition. I was able to hold myself as if from a distance and remind myself that “yes!” this is the way to my baby, in and through the intensity. I nodded Yes in between roaring pushes.
It was the monumental existential challenge labor is supposed to be and I was forever transformed.
Once my body started pushing, I reached in and to my surprise, felt her head just at the end of my vaginal canal. The actual moment of birthing my daughter and picking her up into my arms rocked me. I wailed as I rubbed her sweet, squishy, and wet vernix-covered face all over mine.
I claimed her into my arms, into my mind and into my heart.
Immediate postpartum continued to be straight forward. Around five in the morning, a few hours after birth, my friend and fellow apprentice midwife, Jen, arrived joyfully to my home. Her presence was so sweet. She held my baby while I showered, made me my placenta smoothie, burned the umbilical cord with us, happily assessed my yoni for any tearing at my request and was just the bright nurturing presence I knew she would be. I was so glad to have her on my team.
For the next few days I was set up to continue to fall in love with my daughter while riding the waves of the postpartum.
I was visited daily by friends either to drop off a meal, meet my baby and listen to my birth story (which I LOVED telling!) or to offer support. I sat in bed, resting skin-to-skin with my naked baby and breastfeeding her as needed. I stared at her for hours and cried rivers. I listened to new-age-spiritual-love songs and cried even more. I left my bed only to use the toilet, have an herbal bath or do a yoni steam in my adjoining bathroom. I made bedside compresses to tend my healing yoni and engorged breasts.
I found myself frequently overwhelmed with love and utter awe that this child, to whom I had been so taken by at first sight, who I only just met and was flying head first into epic love with, was born through my body.
I wept often realizing this miracle, the miracle of Life.
I remember one moment within the first 48 hours vividly — I was waddling back from the toilet. My body hurt. My yoni itched, burned and ached. I had huge hemorrhoids. My breasts were painfully engorged. I felt like I’d been ripped open and a rich sense of gratitude for my body overcame me. In spite of experiencing these physical discomforts which were beyond anything I had ever experienced up to that point, there was a feeling of honor that accompanied and even transcended the sensations. All in that moment, a song that I had been carrying through the weeks leading up to birth came into my head…
“We all came to welcome you, we all came to your birth
We all came to welcome you, to welcome you to Earth
I was there to love you, yes I was there to love you
I was there to love you, and give my body for
Your quick and easy entrance here
Through heaven’s open door..”
I had given my body for this life, for my soul mate, to join us here on Earth. The massiveness of this thought hit me and I wept fiercely and humbly for the gift my body had brought and for the sacrifice that such a gift required.
What an honor it was, I thought, to be such a vessel.
This understanding brought my self-care to a whole new dimension. I so willingly and gratefully tended my tender body, the bearer of my one true love.
While those first couple days postpartum were rich with nourishing self-care, tearfully falling in love with my babe, and having lovely visitors delivering tasty food; I also faced challenges.
Breastfeeding had become so painful, I would unlatch her before she was done and I’d dread her inevitable return for more. The insane lack of sleep while recovering physically was wearing on me. This initiation was cracking me, slowly pushing me to my edge and through it. I leaned into my support team for help.
Jen came by after a brutal night of no sleep and painful breastfeeding. She understood the struggles I faced and compassionately listened and affirmed my feelings. It sucked, it was hard and I loved my baby. She knew it so completely because she had been there before, too.
Then something miraculous happened.
Jen suggested we try a baby-lead latch technique. It’s a way of getting babies to latch onto the breast that I idealized, and had tried once immediately after birth but had too much anxiety to stick with it. I needed direction and encouragement. Now was the time and I was eager to try.
With her patient and excited ways, Jen pointed out every little intuitive movement my daughter made. From the way she threw her head forward with her mouth agape, to the way she pushed up with her arms, and kicked off my belly with her feet; her innate knowing was illuminated. She knew how to latch onto my breast. She could and would find her way to my nipple and latch herself without any help from me if I was somehow unable to help her after birth.
She was fully equipt with intrinsic wisdom and was born to thrive. All I had to do was sit back, trust her, and allow her primal wisdom to shine.
I sat reclined, and positioned her against my belly in such a way that her feet and hands were most easily utilized by her efforts. I remained mostly hands-off, keeping her on track when it was helpful to. Jen reminded me that I too was equipped with knowing and could listen to that inner wisdom while supporting her. Slowly, she made attempts towards latching. We attentively held space for her process. At times she would overshoot and I’d reposition her in a helpful way. Other times she would get so frustrated, she’d get tired and rest for a period of time.
Then it happened – just like birth! – we worked together and in a moment of aligned efforts, she latched on!
I started weeping. It was almost as momentous an experience as giving birth was.
WE DID IT.
Not only did I get to witness direct evidence of my newborn’s ability to shine her innate God-given wisdom, but the latch was deeper than any I had ever achieved and it alleviated the pain enough to continue to work on getting it even more and more comfortable as time went on. I was so moved and inspired. I felt so blessed by this experience and continue to reference this moment when I want to remember how wise and capable my daughter is.
I cried a lot and was just absolutely BLOWN away to see her God-given tools work so amazingly. She KNEW!!! Just a tiny little thing full of such knowing! Wow! It also empowered me immensely and warmed my soul.
I consider my postpartum experience some of the best days of my life, mostly because of the depth of love I was able to drop completely into during that time.
I also remember early postpartum as some of the most challenging parts of my journey as a parent. I was able to persevere because the village had come together to support me.
Because I was supported, I was fortified by the challenges, not devastated by them at an already vulnerable time.
I will forever have reverence for the vastness of will and devotion this vessel is capable of. I will forever have reverence for my daughter’s innate inner wisdom. This is intra-generational healing – community coming together to support a container in which a mother can fall so deeply in love with her babe that it strengthens her roots, giving her nourishment to draw from for years of parenting to come.
I had the tools, the knowledge, the support, and the devotion needed to bask in the bliss and face the challenges.
And I did.
Following her internal guidance, Dani Stormes experienced a joyful, undisturbed, and primally satisfying birth along with a blissful immediate postpartum. This empowering passage informed the mother that Dani is today, and she is forever connected to the power of intuitively-guided pregnancy, undisturbed birth and blissful postpartum.
Currently, Dani is working to balance her passions of earth-based living and eco-home schooling, traditional postpartum care practices, folk herbalism, and pregnancy release companionship (including preparation, process, & postpartum, birth, miscarriage, abortion, & infant loss).
Dani is available for guidance and consultations. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org and www.bornbodywise.com.
Photo credit: Karen Prosen