Free birth, sovereign birth, natural birth, undisturbed birth, DIY birth, no matter how you describe it, the reclamation of birth by women away from the medical system is a beautiful thing to witness and be a part of as a birth partner. Today on the podcast, we are celebrating the wild pregnancy and free birth experience Tahnee and Mason journeyed through to bring their beautiful son Leo into the world the way they envisioned.
There has honestly never been a podcast that we've had so many requests for and questions about than today's episode. Over this two-part birth podcast series, Tahnee and Mason will be answering all the questions asked, plus telling the story of their journey from conception to postpartum. Recorded only three weeks after giving birth, Tahnee talks very openly about her experience of bringing her son into the world and laboring undisturbed at home with only Mason and Aiya present. Tahnee and Mason discuss how they prepared for the birth, mentally, physically, individually, and as a couple, the fears that came up and were integrated, why they chose to birth the way they did, and why it's so important to protect the ceremonial gateway of birth. There's a special guest appearance from baby Leo too, with lots of adorable baby cooing in the background (it's heart-melting), plus some suspense at the end that will have you tuning in for Part two.
"Free birthing is mother-led birth, or at least our version was, so that doesn't mean the role of support isn't a hundred percent essential, but it means that it wasn't Mason's job to learn midwifery. And wasn't really my job either. My job was to trust in physiological birth, to know that nature rarely makes mistakes. Mistakes do happen. I'm not saying everyone's a hundred percent guaranteed to have success, but the reality is that an undisturbed, physiological birth is going to be nine times out of 10, more successful than intervention of any kind".
- Tahnee Taylor
Tahnee and Mason discuss:
- Birth as Ceremony.
- Mason's advice for birth partner's.
- Birth as a cultivation of Jing, Qi, Shen.
- There is no right or wrong way to birth.
- Mother's advocating for themselves in birth.
- Ultrasounds and scans; the pro's and con's.
- What Tahnee did to prepare her body for birth.
- Knowing what can go wrong and being prepared.
- Knowing your rights when you're in a hospital system.
- Why Tahnee and Mason chose to do a free birth course.
- Fears that come up for Tahnee during birth and pregnancy.
- Energy cultivation work that helped Tahnee prepare for birth.
- Tahnee and Mason's birth with Aiya compared to Leo's birth.
- How Tahnee and Mason prepared their birth space and birth altar.
- The trauma from the western medical system inflicted on women, family and babies.
Tahnee is a self proclaimed nerd, with a love of the human body, its language and its stories. A cup of tonic tea and a human interaction with Tahnee is a gift! A beautiful Yin Yoga teacher and Chi Ne Tsang practitioner, Tahnee loves going head first into the realms of tradition, yogic philosophy, the organ systems, herbalism and hard-hitting research. Tahnee is the business brains behind SuperFeast, wife to Mason, and devoted mama to Aiya and baby Leo, the newest addition to the Taylor family.
Mason Taylor is the CEO/Founder of SuperFeast and a renowned tonic herbalist. On a soul mission to bring people back to their body and nature while bursting through dogma, he shares passionately and uniquely in his workshops, podcast, and content on how to cultivate healing and potentiation through health sovereignty. An expert in Daoist tonic herbalism, Mason has helped tens of thousands of people globally discover medicinal mushrooms, adaptogenic tonic herbs, and the healing philosophy from which they emerged. Mason is also a budding comedian; bursting the bubble on the “health scene” with his antics.
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Check Out The Transcript Here:
It's been five and a half years since Tahns and I were sat in the ground just after having a baby, doing this with Aiya.
Wow. That's a long time.
Forget how fast it goes.
Yeah. We're still we're on sheepies and yeah, we thought rather than, well, we've got a newborn, so it's not too practical to be in the podcast room at the office. So that's where we've got a nice nostalgic echo here. If you can hear that at where the rustic podcast energy.
Of the living room. Yeah, we are three weeks and two days postpartum. So our little boy Leo arrived on the 13th and we free-birthed him, is the word that people like to use. He was born at home with just Mason. Aiya and I here. And yes, we want to talk to you guys about that today and share our process around making that decision.
Obviously, a lot of people are curious and maybe concerned that we made such a choice and want to know about the details. So we felt to share that obviously being very clear that we did this because of something we wanted to do, it's not something we recommend or even think is right for everybody. We're both passionate advocates for supported birth and for mother first and baby first birth.
We really believe in honouring and supporting the midwifery traditions and the doulas and the obstetricians that are doing great work out there in the world supporting women. So we're not here to try and say that anything is better or worse. We just want to share our perspective and our experience because we had a pretty cool time. Didn't we?
Yeah, I had an amazing time. I'll do more housekeeping just before go I go all gooey about our birth experience, but the pregnancy podcasts are, they've probably been our most popular in terms of, I know the customer service and social media questions about pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Yeah, in a great way. Never ending and yeah, I'm sure we'll talk about it at some point. I've got a huge interest in SuperFeast on the community offering side of things, having a lot to do with advocating for wilderness being in birth. As you said, without an agenda, it's just to whatever extent that is appropriate for each woman, for each partner, for each family. So I just also like to point out the context of we run a Daoist tonic herb company and we offer and sell medicinal mushrooms and adaptions, but as always behind it, there's a massive philosophy behind those tonic herbs, which is the Daoist philosophy. We're not Daoists. You can hear Goji in the background.
We're not Daoist but that's a tradition and the lineage that these herbs have emerged from and we really walk it and we like integrating and exploring along that journey and birth is such an integral part of alchemy and longevity and cultivating Jing. I'm in my baby brain as well at the moment, cultivating Jing, Qi and Shen and exploring what they are. And it's not a linear journey to cultivate Jing in one way or another. If it was all about just having as much Jing as possible, you probably wouldn't be recommending women to be having babies necessarily. But when you get out of that black and whit, two dimensional way of looking at Jing and the human experience and the woman's experience, you see, ah, there's like various ways to look at Jing and what, how like putting some colour into how it's used.
And so it brings some... There's a lot of tie in to, the reason why we share this on the SuperFeast podcast that's so integral because I think it really, as much as we also just like talking about medicinal mushrooms and why you should be having those for immunity, we feel in integrity when we share the full array of how these herbs fit into our lives. And then in other ways that we explore the philosophy and integrate it into our lives. So, just in case you're wondering like, "why are you guys telling me about your birth story on the medicinal mushroom business podcast?"
I really appreciate you being here and I don't think we've ever had a request for a podcast more than when people ask like, "oh my gosh, like amazing, did you have a doula? Was it a hospital birth? Was it a home birth? Was it a water birth?" And I was like, "yeah, it was just us at home." The responses are awesome. Some people are mortified. Some people, a lot of people just in our little cul-de-sac were teary at the what it represented for them to have such a... My gosh, there was just a woman that just gave birth there last night and it was just... It wasn't an emergency. It wasn't a big thing and it was just the family and it was really, you could see it was quite cathartic to some people. And yeah, a lot of mixed emotions and a lot of excitement. So no doubt. It's bringing up a lot for people and it brought up a lot for us and thought... Yeah.
Yeah. I think that's what's so interesting about all of these conversations that are being had about birth in many different ways. And I've had them on the podcast with different people and, there is no right way to birth, just like there's no right way to live. There's no right way to parent, there's no right way to run a business. We all just have to fumble through and find our way. And for us we had our daughter at home with a midwife assisted birth through a really privileged opportunity to use the local hospital's home birth programme.
This was our first birth in case you're not following that we had a little girl five years ago first and then now got a little boy.
So our daughter was in many ways what many people would want as their ideal birth. I had people be like, "oh, that's the dream birth" and it was, it was fairly short. It was reasonably... It was not pain free, but it was reasonably manageable. And she came out, all guns are blazing, ready to go, jumped on the boob straight away. And wasn't fairly easy baby from that point onwards, but I still carried a lot of, I don't know, stuff I needed to process. It took me about four years, honestly, to really work through some of the ways that I had showed up in that birth, the patterns of behaviour that I could see playing out not wanting to advocate for myself, with midwives, allowing things to happen that I probably didn't want to have happen.
Just trying to be nice. Well, for me, it was during our prenatal care. I did the glucose tolerance test, even though I didn't want to, because I was trying to please the midwife and she was a bit upset that we'd rejected so many of the recommendations of testing that they'd asked us to do. So if you've been pregnant that there's everything from the down syndrome tests that you can do in early pregnancy, the multiple options to have ultrasounds, different measurements for, so the glucose tolerance test, which is a gestational diabetes test all the way through to just before birth, you can have scans to see where the baby's positioned and all that thing. We rejected everything except for the 20 week morphology ultrasound.
Which we had to do.
We had to do to be in the programme. So we kept that one. And then my midwife was actually on leave. The one that I'd been seeing through the whole programme and this other midwife was in there. And she was a really nice lady, even, she was really shocked at how little we'd done. And in my consultation with her, she really emphasised that the glucose tolerance test was in her opinion really important. And I'd done my research. I didn't want to do it. I knew it wasn't relevant to me. I knew I didn't have gestational diabetes, but I just did it anyway because I wanted to please her, which is one of my things.
Can I point out, we were also probably like really busy, which maybe was of like a little bit of a factor.
Yeah. I mean, I think it was the path of least resistance. Definitely.
Yeah. That's what I mean.
Yeah. It was like me going, "I don't want to deal with like the consequences of fighting this. I just want to go and do the thing" anyway. And I'm doing the thing and the guy who's administering it to me is laughing at how much sugar is in it and how he can't believe they give this to pregnant people. And it's more than seven cans of Coke or something. And I was sitting there thinking to myself, "I don't drink Coke. Like I barely consume, if I consume sugar, it's in a cake or something, I rarely eat processed sugar." Anyway. It was the only time I felt ill my entire pregnancy. And I felt so sick after it. I remember meeting Mason at a cafe and I had to lie down on the bench and just spin for about, I don't know, 20 minutes, 30 minutes until my food arrived and I could eat that and start to normalise my blood sugar.
And I didn't have gestational diabetes and gosh, one of those things. So, and there was a couple of things in birth where my midwives didn't believe how quickly I was progressing. They wanted to check me and I'd said, I didn't want any checks in my birth plan, but when the time came, I was just so in labour that I was like, do whatever you want. I don't care. But again, in hindsight getting me out of the pool where I was comfortable and happy and labouring, well to put me on a couch to check my cervix, which put, made me very uncomfortable. I was laying on my back. You know, it was invasive. Like that was not something I actually wanted or needed because I was fine. And I get that not everyone is fine. So it's one of those situations. But for me there were a few different incidents like that. Our daughter's face being blown in to check that she was awake when she was just happily looking around and...
That's the... For you, it's like you had your own experience of, I'm going to use the word violation, but it's not it's not the proper word. I think what I've been thinking about is the analogy my dad used to use in martial arts about when someone's pushing up against your bubble and it's okay if someone's coming in and not like piercing your bubble, but every now and then someone's going to enter your bubble. And that's at that point, you can you develop the skills or you have a look at what the intensity is. If that person's coming at you and then you adjust your intensity to match it and make sure that person, if not invited gets out of your bubble, it's more like that. It was just...
It's just a boundary, and boundaries, as you were saying, like for different women and for fathers, the boundaries are different during the pregnancies. Some women are going to be super welcoming and not feel like that's piercing anything that like, I really, my mind or where I'm at in life, I really need these tests or I'm actually genuinely worried or I'm showing symptoms and it might actually be an issue for me, but there's a personal feeling or there's evidence that it's actually needed. But I mean, especially that one, the coming in and just the non invited, not communicated, blowing on Aiya's face to make sure she was alive when she clearly was alive. And we were having a really beautiful moment was when I felt it was an again, it was the way I felt then, and I don't want to take away the weight of the word violation, but that was the one time for, in my experience.
I was like, "wow, what are you doing in this space? You have no right to be here and you're not invited." And I can see, so there's a payoff to invite this institution, which is super useful, but doesn't like respecting boundaries. We know that. And so I need to just acknowledge what institution that is, which I don't think a lot of people are. I don't think we like really understand just what beast that is and appreciate. It's going to try and exploit any little hole. It can get, it's not going to respect a boundary. It's just going to pierce everything. It's like, yeah, "this test, this test, this test, this test", you got to have them up.
Well, it's such a difficult power dynamic because there's the educated and experienced midwife doctor, obstetrician, care provider who has seen it all before. And who's probably seen the worst things that you see and maybe doesn't know you particularly well, like has met you during your conception journey or when you've conceived. And I can see how there's a lot of eye rolling from their end and that these people that come in and think they know and all this stuff. And I guess for me, especially the second time around, it was like, "well, I'm not stupid. I can read midwifery textbooks. I can read obstetric textbooks. I can read studies. Like I can look through content and understand and discern appropriateness for myself and my body. And I've spent a bloody long time getting comfortable with my body and understanding it and trusting it."
And you know, and this is from someone who had eating disorders and took a lot of drugs and wasn't well behaved in their late teens, early twenties. So I'm really proud of the work I've done to be able to embody myself and really trust my body. So for me, this was like a really natural extension of that work that I'd been doing. And I felt like there wasn't anything I could feel into that. I could see that care provider providing us at this point that we couldn't handle. And I'm also not stupid and realise that we have a great medical system here and in an emergency, I could go to a hospital and actually be treated if I felt like there was something coming up that I needed support with. So I just...
That's utilising what we... It's a privilege. We pay for it. It's something that just because it's there, that's another thing. The medical system is that's an emergency that we would appropriately use if it was an emergency, not overreacting and not getting a treatment a certain way, just because there's a lowest common denominator and the obstetricians or the doctors, the midwives are like, "we don't have enough resources or funding to allow to take everyone else." Everyone. We through this door through a journey to see actually, what is their capacity? What's their bubble. Let's just standardise it at the lowest.
Which I look, I think it's fast food medicine, it's the same as our industrial food system and industrial medical system. And it has a place, we have a lot of people on the planet and I get why it's evolved the way it has. It's sad to me as well, that it has evolved that way, especially with things like birth and postpartum care and childbearing, and so much of that was really knowledge that was kept in local community and in families. And the nature of what's happened over the last a hundred years plus has been that we've lost those wisdom traditions, and we've lost that connection to well, your grandmother gave birth easily at home with the fire on and was cooking dinner within a few hours. And like their stories that I hear all the time when I talk to people about home birth.
Well, it's confusing. Because the rhetoric is, and if you talk to a doctor, it's like, "well look at how much better birth rates are. And we don't have as much childhood mortality."
Well, that's not true.
Let's go into that.
Yeah. I mean, I don't want to, like I said, I'm not advocating away from people using care providers. I think Mace mentioned it before and it's something I believe strongly in is if you feel that there's a diagnostic or a support person that would make you feel better and more capable of having a safe and happy birth, use them. If it's friends who had complete wild pregnancies and then later on decided with their third or fourth kid that they wanted to have a scan because they were concerned about maybe a disability or something like there's no right or wrong, you have to explore what works for you. And if I'd had a miscarriage I maybe would want to have an early ultrasound to confirm the baby's alive and doing well and has all its limbs. I've been fortunate to not have those experiences.
I've had to my knowledge, two pregnancies that I've carried to term and successfully birthed. So I don't have that fear of losing the baby or anything. I did actually have that come up more for me this time, I never came up with Aiya. I never once felt like I was going to lose her. And I never felt like I was going to lose this baby. But I had the fear of miscarriage in my head, especially the first, probably half of the pregnancy, probably because a lot of my friends had lost babies recently. And I just, I think the fear was just more real for me this time.
Can I ask you a question on that.
Do you think, would that have anything to do with in the first pregnancy? It was like we knew more or less that we would have a midwife and that we'd have that catchment and that would be confirming things. And this time there was no, there would be no one or no scan or no thing to confirm.
No, because I remember... It's a good question. We didn't get the midwives until quite late-ish because remember we were living, we were living out in the Hills and they didn't service us out there. So we had to wait till we had an address. So we used SuperFeast's business address.
Well that was accidentally, I accidentally put SuperFeast down, which was in Bowring which was fortunate because when we came in I was like, oh we're actually sorry in South Golden. They said, "oh well you're lucky you put that one down. Cause we would've rejected you. If you were, in South Golden.
Yeah it's based on where you live.
And flow with the dao baby.
Yeah, I didn't feel, and I know this might sound crazy, but I didn't feel any fear about not having a midwife at all this pregnancy, and the only two times I remember considering I don't even feel like I considered a scan for the miscarriage. I just remember knowing that if I had one, I would go through that process at home. It would be you and me together having the baby.
Which I remember you now talking it out. You, I think that was... I mean, that was actually, I do remember thinking, oh shit Tony's got a fear about something and maybe it's just going to stay there and be a fear. And we're therefore we're going to have to go and like put the fire out of that fear. But you did. I mean, that was just, I guess a good example of you following the thread of that fear to like, okay, well what happens if I could go and find out and it's alive or you know, it's not stillborn, anyway, or you don't and you just go through the process at home and you just, I guess, follow the fear thread to the end.
Yeah. I guess my process and I went through this when I thought I might have twins as well, which is around 34, 35 weeks. I think, because it was, it's like a pros and cons or a like what would I do differently if I knew that's always my baseline of how I dealt with those two fears that came up for me, the fear of having two babies, which was a lot to think about and the fear of a miscarriage, I thought, well, if I do miscarry, my plan would be to let nature take its course. And again, knowing my friends' experiences, knowing that I could go to hospital for a D and C or something if required, but I would prefer in an ideal world to birth the baby at home, speaking of babies, use herbs and you know, and do what was required.
Do you want... You happy to keep on going? I'll go. Just keep on chatting to our lovely people. I'll go get Leah.
Yeah. We'll bring Leah to the podcast. And there was a really beautiful post I actually saw on Instagram of a woman who delivered her baby around 20, I think it was around 20 weeks. I think I showed you it and they had preserved the baby and it was like shocking and also really beautiful and something that I really hadn't considered around. Like a friend of ours had a hysterectomy last year and her uterus was considered medical waste and she was devastated that she couldn't...
When she asked for it and was looked at like she was a freak and a crazy person. And which is something I didn't actually, I wanted to look at that. Whether it's for if you're into a hospital and have a stillborn what are your rights? You know, like just like losing my father last year, getting [inaudible 00:22:23] list of these are your rights in death. And this is what you couldn't ask for. It was like, holy shit. You know, I've got rights here, which just normally gets steam rolled over. I'm really curious for the uterus, what are your rights?
Yeah. I mean, I think and understand you can take babies home, but you know, I think it depends on how early the miscarriage is and you know, for women, it doesn't matter if it's six weeks or it's 12 weeks for some women it's just as traumatising as 20 weeks for other women it is less traumatising. I don't want to say it's a universal thing. It's different for everybody, but yeah. So anyway, those thoughts were there for me of like, well, I would just handle it. I actually did feel flutters in my uterus around 11 weeks. So really early this time, I think because I'd had a baby before and I knew what I was feeling for.
And so I was reassured reasonably early that there was movement and I continued to feel that not regularly, but fairly consistently until it became very regular. So just for me, it was like if the baby's moving, if there's a feeling of I'm growing and continuing to feel pregnant, then I'm confident that the baby's sticking around. So I didn't feel any desire for midwifery care. And, and certainly with Aiya, we had very infrequent visits at the beginning, if you remember. Yeah, it was not really till the end that we saw them regularly. And I think with this pregnancy, part of it was that I didn't feel as strongly connected to the baby spiritually, if that makes sense. Like with Aiya, I had a very strong connection to her and with Leo less so. Like I just, I knew I was pregnant really early, but it was all physical.
Like I just felt like my uterus was different. I was at my Pilates class with my Pilates teacher and I said to her, I'm pregnant because my uterus feels weird and my abs aren't working the same way they usually do. And she was like, "what?" And I just went to Woolworths and bought a pregnancy test and yeah, sure enough. I was so and I know people that for a while would never use a pregnancy test. They would just trust their intuition, which I knew that I was pregnant, but I still had to validate it. And that's something that I find is something I still would probably like look at as something for me to work on is trusting my intuition. And I had that come up in our birth because there was a time when I felt like maybe oh, maybe that thing the midwives are talking about last time is happening to me right now, even though I knew my body was fine.
It's just this mental thing of not trusting. I need to validate this thing with an authority of some kind, whether it's a test or a... And so that was an interesting thing for me. And I know, I mean, the podcast I did with Genty, we talked about that. She also did the test early and you know, it's just one of those things. Sometimes it's just nice to know. And so that was for me, something I did straight away when I grabbed that test and Max was away caring for his father who was in palliative care. And so it was a nice thing to share at that point with our families.
Yeah. That's I think an important one is just saying, just because you're looking at and questioning did I need that? And you're like, there's something there to explore. I think it's just like the feeling, and I know this review, it doesn't necessarily mean the outcome is going to be no test. It's just looking at like, well, why. So it's just getting, this is getting down to the core of it. And that was something I appreciate because I got to tell my dad a week before he passed that we were pregnant rather than be like, think Thani maybe is...
And probably waiting another eight weeks, another four weeks until I'd missed two periods and definitely been pregnant.
And I think just trying to tie bows on, I guess just explaining what the process and the diversification of people's outcomes of going through just a simple process of going, "I've got an emotion about something I'm going to explore it and lead to the end and see what the payoff is and whether this what's appropriate for me." Now we've got friends who or their pregnancies, I think for her, especially, she was just like, I know it would be a great surprise of just like there's a lot going on in life. And I could just do with not having that surprise of what the gender is.
Yeah, because some people like to plan and just makes it easier. I mean, it makes it easier to spend 10 months picking your name instead of having to pick two names and then not use one. I think for me, I think a lot of the time when we feel fear, we lean away from it. And I guess the best way I can describe it is like leaning into it and actually trying to understand what's the root or the actual... Because the fear's not going to hurt you. It's just an emotion. It's just that we get really scared of it. And we are like, Ugh. And it's like, well the emotion's fine. It's actually perfectly safe to have an emotion and it's perfectly okay. And if you actually excavate around that, you might find that there's something really interesting there. So the miscarriage thing for me I put on my logical hat I suppose. And I was like, well, a lot of my friends have had miscarriages in the last two years. It's my second baby. I'm older.
You know, the reality is, and I'm not going to get this statistic right, but it's a big it's like one in four pregnancies and in miscarriage or it's some very high now it's...
I think before he was just, you forget how much like newborns are just about like chasing gas between one end or the other. He was just getting it out before.
He's a gassy little guy. I think there was just that reality check there for me, which I don't think was a bad thing. And yeah, I think when there's fear, it's really helpful to just lean into it and remember that the emotions can't hurt you and what you might learn is going to be so valuable. And I think for me, I could logically realise that a lot of my friends had lost babies, that I was older, that it was my second pregnancy. So that felt a little bit more real for me and it was just that realness that was not there with Aiya. You know, if anything, I felt like blessed with the spirit of a child with her. Like I just felt deeply like impregnated where, and really present to her spirit. Whereas with Leo didn't feel that so much.
And I guess actually the busyness I think was more real in this one. Because I had Aiya to care for, you were away. You know, it wasn't like I was up at 10 years meditating and walking and doing yoga and you know, with Aiya, I had a lot of time to really connect with her. Whereas I feel like with Leo it was like, "cool, I'm pregnant. Get on with life." And it was also if I'm remembering rightly COVID and lockdowns and all sorts of things like that. So I think there was a lot more going on and collectively a lot more fear in the field. So it was probably...
More fear in the kind of field. So it was probably all of that. Because I was also very emotional with this pregnancy, which I wasn't as much with [Iya 00:30:11].
But back to birth, the only other time there was any real fear was around the twin times. And again, whether we would have an ultrasound or not, really for me, that's when we really had that chat around like what are the pros and cons? And there wasn't really anything that an ultrasound was going to tell me that would change the decision we were making in terms of birth. So we were planning to have an unassisted free birth, a DIY home birth. It's just Mason and myself with our daughter as witness when the time came, and the dog and the cat, if they wanted to be there. And so, even if it were twins, I'd decided and maybe Mason was on board with this, I think you were from memory, that we would still have the same birth anyway. So.
Yeah. So having a scan wasn't going to make it better. It was actually probably going to make me more stressed because it was going to give me something authoritative to then go and base all my fears and breaking out over. So for me, it kind of became more about like managing myself and knowing that there was a lot of trust and faith in that moment. And I could just continue to build that and cultivate that and not bring in diagnostics. It was kind of almost the opposite of the pregnancy test. The pregnancy test gave me reassurance and like clarity in my communication and my ability to share our news. Whereas I felt like at that point in pregnancy, it was the opposite. It was more like this is going to detract from my confidence going into birth. So.
So what, because I view quite often, like I probably, like I don't know where I would've been. I guess I was in a different space and I really had like such an intense trust of you. And then when you started sharing like there's some, I don't know if it was like, and like the bubble analogy comes back. There was a space and if you invite someone, anyone, so even if it's like a really well meaning beautiful old wise midwife, they come in. It's still something coming into the space or a test. It's something coming into the space. And it was like, is that worth it? Because it's going to pierce this invisible connection that you had. It's a subtle something. It's a, I don't know. It's like a subtle. It's like a muse. Is it going to scare the birth muse off?
I don't know how to describe it, but I was like, because I'd been so intensely talking about that invisible something at super feast with the business that only I seem to be able to feel when it gets pierced. And again, I lightly use the word violated, when I feel I've allowed something to come into the space when it shouldn't have been necessarily there. And that's when you were saying, I was like, oh yeah, I like, I completely hear you.
It's a ceremonial aspect. And I think that piece that you... It's actually interesting you're saying that, because I hadn't made that connection, but I did a short online workshop while I was pregnant around ceremony and everyday life. And I think if you think of pregnancy as a ceremonial journey, which it kind of is, very slow long one. But it is. It's this kind of preparation that culminates in this ceremonial, for us, it was a night, like that big, let's say that's the big Iowaska ceremony.
Yeah. Like it sort of peaks in this moment and really like protecting that ceremonial space throughout the process. And again, this is your own definition of what protecting that means and what that feels like. But yeah, for us, I think we made that decision very early on, possibly even before we conceived, that's that what we wanted to do.
And so it felt very much like a container that we were building and I can feel, especially now having this conversation, like that we were really protecting that and that letting and we didn't talk a lot about our plans. We didn't broadcast them. We were quite careful about who we told. I was definitely really aware of, like it wasn't until I was two weeks late with him really that I even shared it to my social media what we were planning. I was very, with friends that I trusted obviously was happy to share that with them. But for some people I could just feel that it wasn't appropriate and we'd talk about having a home birth or we never lied, but we would definitely loose the definition.
It's called not lying.
Well, we just, yeah. It's like we're having a home birth. Are you using midwife? Hmm, not sure. You know? Like it was just that kind of stuff where we haven't decided yet. People were like, "36 weeks. Why haven't you decided?" I'm like, "Yeah. I haven't decided." But it's like, yeah.
I mean, the pointing out of like, it's kind of like, and of course it's an obvious defining something that was experiencing, but it's like you brought up like the Iowaska ceremony. Not then. And just so we bring it up as an example, neither of us have sat for, I mean, six years, whatever. It's not like we're, so just in case you're thinking it's one of our major practises. It's not currently. It was a great one at one point.
It's a really beautiful.
And great for analogy. And, but quite often it's like any ceremony or the passing of some kind of big ceremony, the crescendo, that shiny thing, you think, oh, that's the actual ceremony. But it's always the case, like I remember when I booked in for my DNO, my 10 day.
It starts then. Yeah.
Bang I was on. And I really didn't understand that so much when I was younger. And so I had multiple things committed to, not realising that I was in multiple ceremonies at one time. And I think that was something, this pregnancy, we just... A lot of people were asking about like, did we call the baby in or the baby call itself? And I think we kind of both slightly experienced the presence. We just kind of like, yeah, there's someone there, but it wasn't like with Iya where it was like I was having, and over in Peru, in ceremony, I was having massive like initiation feelings into fatherhood. You could feel her around in the farm and kind of we felt her. She was like going to arrive and it was much more practical with Leo. I think we had decided we're at a point where we've got our life ecosystem set up to where we think it's like a really great time to transition into having some more kiddies.
And you were moving out of the business and running the business. I was moving in so on and so forth. But that was almost, that was the beginning, when we were like, Hey, we're going to, we're really going to start. That was like the first degree of entering into that ceremony. And it is the same space as when you have that ultimate pinnacle. But when we're pregnant, boom, there's a little bit of a shift and a different bit of intensity, but it's still like, I've been talking, we're going to talk about birth partners, whether it's father or whoever. Not that I think I'm going to be dropping any truth bombs on doulas and midwives or mid husbands that have lots of experiences. This is just my grassroots like feelings.
But nonetheless, they're the empowering ones for people who aren't specialised midwives or both partners, especially for father. I felt great knowing that though that ceremony. It's not just like a great, I've got nine months to get all shit my together even though I was working really hard and going through my own business ceremonies constantly. It was like knowing that as the partner I was on and I had responsibilities and maybe they got a little bit more intense towards the end of the pregnancy.
But nonetheless, we started kind of carving out what that space looked like. So when we got further and further towards birth, it was, I felt like I was in such a familiar place. Every time I dropped into that birth space with you, that I was like, it wasn't jarring or shocking. And because it was familiar and I knew you were protecting that space and living in it consistently, constantly, I was like, yeah, you know it, you know this terrain because it's a terrain and that's when, yeah.
Yeah. Well, no, no, I'm really, because that's the question I've been asked a lot is how you were able to trust me. And I hadn't even thought about it. I was like, why wouldn't he trust me? And then I was like, oh, that's a good point. And I wouldn't mind hearing your thoughts on that. And I'm sure people would be interested and yeah, like I think I, again, hadn't really thought of it from that perspective in our relationship, but yeah, very much. I think not having that external care, I took a lot more responsibility for resting, for just I think my own like energy and holding my energy tighter than I think if we'd had outside care. I remember with the midwife I was like kind of letting them tell me how I was doing instead of really going well, how am I doing?
It's like rent a self agency.
Yeah. Like it is, and I think that's one of the reasons for me I really wanted to do this was like how honest and truthful can I be with myself and how self reflective can I be through this experience? And like, we're talking about with ceremony, can I hold that space and that container for myself in order that we bring forth this baby and I believed I could. But yeah, just I think doing it for me felt very empowering and very healing. So.
I kind of, yeah, it's good. It's bringing up a lot for me why I was able to trust. So there's probably a couple of reasons. Do you want to grab him?
No, you can have a cuddle.
I'll have a cuddle. Come here my little, my little dolphin.
One is, I mean, I don't really know much about like the free birthing community or free birthing societies and all that kind of stuff. But I know that, oh, you're all right buddy.
Might have a burp.
Oh, yeah. Chasing gas, the life of new parents. Which hole will that gas come out of? Oh.
There it is.
Goodness. That's the hole we want.
The up top hole.
So like anything that's like oh, free birth and it's getting a lot of attention and it kind of has to have its own little like branding. And I guess it's a little PR moment where it's a bit provocative and it gets attention. And that's just the nature of when things come into the limelight and get advocated for, which then tracks back to the advocacy of like, Hey, maybe we don't need to be intervening in birth in the same extent and maybe overreacting and treating it like an emergency. That's maybe where I see what's happening. But of course the shiny bit is going to turn into somewhat of an ideology. And I know that your approach wasn't... What's happening?
You've got spit.
There's a cloth right there. Proper parent life.
I just want to make sure Jerry will don't edit this out. This is gold.
You've done spit. Yeah.
I mean, I do have, I'm going somewhere with this and it's a really important one. I knew, maybe you know. We did a free birth course with someone who was advocating for and teaching the principles of free birth, I would say, really responsibly.
Quite late in the piece too. So that was with [Joania 00:42:15], from Wild Pregnancy and Free Birth, I think her business is called. Well, Radical Birth Collective maybe. I'll link to it in the show notes. But we did that in February and we were due in April. So. Or January?
Yeah, it wasn't like that wasn't a pivotal piece. I mean, it was more about your approach. I know how much work you've done and I know the way you approach life isn't, you don't fall and get sucked into a community that has an ideology and a set of values and a rule and right and wrongs and rules. Because I do know already that there is people out there who do have a case also, I should say, for why free birth needs to be like a standard. And I think it's an interesting conversation, but I also kind of think there's a place where that's not really appropriate for everyone. And I knew your approach wasn't just like I found the way and I'm going to just use that external set of drivers in ways that is right for birth and take on their rote talking points and then just bring those into our space, because I would find that evaluation as well, personally.
So I knew you were going through. You were just going through your own process and you're a smart cookie and I knew that you were in touch with your body. Not just going to get sucked into where this is what we're doing, because I think it's right. And I like that other people doing it and they made some good points and it makes sense. And it is logical. Because although I think going through periods like that, when your mind can't handle generating its own understanding of how to or you don't maybe have a connection to your body in a way that's intimate enough to really generate your own strong conviction and you need to use external ones. I don't really necessarily think birth is always the time when that should be what dominates, that external ideology. So I knew you weren't in that state. So I was like, I trust you.
So I knew if we got to a point and if you had feelings of maybe we needed to pivot or go in another direction, you'd have no problem because your prioritising connection above your body, our family. So I was like, I knew it was adaptable. I knew we weren't, I wouldn't be able, we'd get down the end of the road and I'd be like, if I started feeling like, oh shit, we actually... You haven't acknowledged this and your ideology has created a blind spot for you. I just, I knew. I know that's not you.
So that was the primary reason. And I knew you weren't doing this kicking back against a system. I knew you weren't rejecting something and therefore defining what you wanted to do based on like a previous trauma or general trauma that the medical system is, which is very real, just the excess amount of trauma and intervention that the Western medical system has inflicted on women and babies and families with horrific. We get the stories quite often and naturally obstetricians and that system could give me the opposite. We get these tragic stories. So I'm not saying it's a one way street. But from where we live, you could see it could be easy for us to formulate a birth plan that's in complete rejection. And because we're cynical or whatever it is about something. And I knew you weren't in that place, which makes it really, really easy to like fall in there with you as well.
I think they're probably the two primary reasons why I was able to trust you fully. And just because, and then there is just the inherent trust I have, which sometimes is a leap of faith, which men should have. Fathers I think should definitely go and explore. And doesn't mean, I think sometimes that, although I do, like I don't want to come off. I'm not advocating for being a complete beta male. I really just don't think that's useful. I think a man's instincts should be respected, but in this sense of going down.
What's a beta male? Sorry.
I mean, just a, if I could be so crass, like a male feminist.
A low testosterone, I'm going to reject my own.
As opposed to an Alpha male?
I guess it's, yeah. That's why I was like reluctant just to bring up the image of a floppy male who isn't able to recognise that he has instincts that may be useful, but also has the discipline not to spray that instinct and have to go overly alpha and I'm the man here and put my foot down.
Sure. Dominate. Yeah.
Yeah. Which is a skill. That's like what they say in psychology, as a man. And it was my dad's dojo. I think I told you. He's like in Japanese jujitsu, it's like train hard and perhaps one day all you need to do to defeat your enemy is smile. So it's like become a weapon, like become an absolute dangerous weapon, fully engaged in your masculinity and then become super disciplined in the way that you approach it and then become a Teddy bear.
Yeah. No,. Well, I think we were talking about that story about the man on the train and there was a drunk. So this is a great story from a martial arts book. And I think it illustrates what Mason's talking about. And it's what I saw you demonstrate in our birth. Was this young Western man was on a Japanese train. He'd gone overseas to study martial arts. He thought he was a gun. This drunk guy gets on and starts harassing everybody, giving the women a hard time, being a lout. And so he's ready to use his masterful skills to knock this guy flat, finally able to fight someone, justified, it's all right.
Hello, smiley baby.
I'm getting baby smiles.
So he's ready. He's really excited. He starts to get up and get in this guy's face. He's like trying to get him. If he hits him first, then he's justified in putting him on his ass kind of thing. And anyways, there's this is old, old man sitting down and he realises what's happening between these two alphas, I guess. And he gets up and he gets the drunk and he sits in down next to him and he starts talking to him. The drunks like, "Shut up you old man." And he keeps talking, keeps talking. Eventually he sort of hits on that this guy's wife's died or something. And anyway, next thing you know, the drunk guy's in this old guy's lap crying, like cuddling up to him. And the guy later realises this old man is this martial artist, like he's a really well respected high level martial artist. And he got through to this drunk and calmed him down through emotions and care and compassion, not through beating the out of him.
And he was like, it's a really good lesson for me because just because you have the skills doesn't mean you have to use them. You know? And I think that's like in birth, there's a lot of opportunity for men to be strong, but a lot of men only know strength through maybe acts of aggression or violence and it's not a space for that. So I think really understanding your own capacity as a man to hold.
Well, it's power cultivated and the capacity to hold power. It's like, okay. Let's use an example.
Yeah. Well, let's use an example. It's the ability, say a guy, it's the ability to become, to get horny and get a hard on and not just have to go and cum.
To become like can you sit with that? Can you cultivate it? Can you sustain it? Can you ride that out and see what happens when that...
Which is actually very similar to what women are going through. Like I think one of the things that really helped me be able to have... Someone asked on my Instagram around like how did I have, and I'm using inverted commas, air quotes, like how did I have easy labours, and a lot of people are like, "Oh, you've done yoga your whole life." I actually didn't do a lot of yoga, especially toward the end of this pregnancy because last time I had really bad hip, lower back and sort of pubic symphysis pain toward the end, especially when I walked on like soft sand or something.
Yeah, that's right.
And I think I was too flexible. I've got videos of me doing us in a practise like the day before I was born. And it;s, in hindsight, probably pretty silly stuff. Hip opening and things, which I really didn't need. Had a lot of relaxing and your body opens. You don't need yoga for that.
So I actually did a lot more core and strengthening work this time and did a lot of Pilates. I did yoga more from the spiritual and kind of energetic perspective and worked more on energy balance than I did on Asana per se. And not to say you can't design a really good Asana practise obviously to support strength, but yoga is so much about hip opening and all these things that I think not always beneficial. And I wasn't actually practising a lot of yin during Iya's pregnancy. I was practising a lot of more active Hatha yoga. So I was still strengthening, but there was just, I think, too much opening for where my body was at.
So anyway, all of that said, I think it's not just yoga that's helped me. I think it's a lot to do with that energy cultivation stuff, especially the stuff I've learned through Master Chia's work and through learning Qigong and learning sort of Tantric yoga as well.
I think this is where the crossover of when we talk about Daoist tonic herbalism as a mindset moving towards the cultivation. Rather than fixing problems, this is where it fits into pregnancy.
I feel like the herbs where like one of the first gateways into that for me, like I remember taking Rashi, having had like energetic experiences that I didn't really have a language for, learning about TCM, kind of starting to get a language through having acupuncture, sort of starting to understand this was all happening for me around when yoga for all was my business, was 2013. Like I was starting to really explore all of these things. And I remember having the herbs and it was like a very energetic and spiritual experience, especially with Rashi.
And that sort of started to really make me realise, similar to Ayahuasca, which we were talking about the other day, like I don't want to be taking drugs to feel disconnected to everything. I want to have that in my life through kind of more gentle means, I suppose.
Yeah. So like Iowaska and other good gateways to like the capacity. I mean, at some point, it kind of flips at one point, as those Ayahuasca people will be like, "You're never going to get the experience," like go to therapy for five years. You're never going to be able to get to where you can get to one night with Iowaska and at one stage of crack and open your spiritual development or allowing you to see what's actually possible and what the universe is or how you relate to the universe. Maybe that's true. But then at some point it flips and it's like nothing is ever going to compare to the consistency of you sitting in silence and meditation with this health and maybe going to a therapist and slowly methodically integrating Ayahuasca. It will never be able to touch, that level of integration.
So it's both correct in different circumstances and people don't yield those distinctions with precision. They just go always now plant medicine better than these things. And that's a lie.
Well, same with meditation. If you sit every day for an hour and nothing's really changing in your life, like you're just still a dick, do something else.
Maybe go get blown to the Cosmos.
Yeah. I just think...
If you're still a dick.
Well, there's one thing to like, I think, like my teacher, Paul, is super interesting. He's never had like a woo woo esoteric experience.
Paul [Grilly 00:54:22]. We'll put the link to his podcast real tiny below.
Yeah. And he has like other benefits from meditation, that his relationship is improving always and he's more calm and more steady and less reactive. So he's like there's those benefits for him, but he doesn't seem to have those energetic benefits that I've received from the practises. I am not saying you should do them for the energetic benefits, but for me, it's nice that they're there. And I also, there's that whole thing in Tantric Daoism around if you're just always chasing the high, then you're basically no better than.
Well, at some point you run on dopamine. And you get it. But it'll be nice to, yeah. It's kind of...
Well, for me, the more harmonious and like the less...
Leo is contributing his gas to the wisdom. Yeah. I feel like as I've gotten older, like the highs are less high and the lows are less low and there's a steadiness now to my mood and my energy, which you know, and that was at the start of this pregnancy. I had a lot of rage, which I hadn't felt since I was a teenager. And I was like, whoa.
That was interesting. When you had so many, like subconsciously you knew exactly how to go to the jugular of my insecurities. And you brought them out with like the sharpest fangs ever.
No, it was actually, it was fine for some reason. I did have to walk away around the corner and wait like silently.
Well, no, and I do. I distinctly remember feeling that same energy of like vicious rage. I don't even know how else to describe it. As a young teenager, like just around when I first got my period. But I'd never felt that again as an adult and I...
It's really interesting. It came. Yeah.
Yeah. And it went as well, as soon as I hit 14 weeks. Yeah.
I mean, but I've been thinking, like there's been a lot of like loop back arounds.
And like, I mean, selfishly, there's a part of, say there's a part of death and birth and everything with like loved ones, it's about them. But then there's always a part about you where you, in your process, you can integrate something from childhood or integrate something from the past and you get to experience again in a different way and lock it in as a part of yourself. I think like...
I totally agree. And I think if I look back at that time, it was one of the least integrated and least acknowledged transitions in my life and initiations in my life and Jane Hadwick Collins, last year. So, oh no. When did we get married? Just before we got married. So.
No. September, I think.
Yeah. A year and a half ago sort of thing. No, November, but yeah.
Oh, it was November.
So right before we got married, I think it was literally the weekend before I did Jane's menarche and then shamanic dimensions of pregnancy workshops, which I to...
Like menstruation. So the process of becoming a woman basically. So she does a four seasons kind of journey through that, which is very aligned with what we teach. Mapping that sort of springtime, through the fire and energy of summer, through the middle of winter, through to the cold of, oh, sorry. The middle of autumn, the cold of winter and this sort of process of our menstrual cycles and our life path being on that same kind of process. I left out earth, but that's sort of in those mothering years, because earth correlates to the mothering energy, disciplining energy.
And yeah, so she talks about springtime being childhood, moving through into the summer where you're a vibrant young girl with lots of energy, but also burning high, burning fast into motherhood.
So we did that and we talk about our menarche story, our story of menstruation in our family. And that for me was really kind of, at the time, didn't really feel like a lot. But I think now coming back in this pregnancy, I think there was some integration there around acknowledging that energy that I'd had at that time and how I'd felt really unsafe and unable to express it and really kind of rejected by my family when I did express it, like that there was...
And I think one of the healing things was that you did hold it pretty well for me. Like I think we had maybe three fights the whole time, which is for us really rare, but still like given how shitty I was, I think it was pretty good.
And I think we did really, really well.
Yeah. And I think that was really healing for me. And I think the other, the next day was that shamanic dimensions piece, which for me, a lot of shame came up around my birth with Aiya, which like I said, didn't make a lot of logical sense because of it not really being a bad birth.
It wasn't like a traumatic, if you put it into the context of all other births.
No, and I wasn't really violated, like everything was done with my permission. I just I violated myself by not actually honouring what I wanted and being strong enough to stand up for what I wanted and what I needed. And also I think for me, there was some lineage stuff that came up around my mother line and things like that. So I felt like those particular processes, because those were actually...
Those particular processes, because those workshops really are journeys as well. There's ceremonial space and you do a lot of work in them. And we talked a lot about fear in the shamanic dimensions as well. And we talked about fear of death and losing the baby and all the fears that women have when they're facing childbirth. Will my husband still love me? Will he want to have sex with me? Will I still like myself? Will I like being a mother? And again, someone asked me that on Instagram, how did you know you were going to be okay being a mother? And so you don't know, but you sort of have to trust, if you want to do it, there's a reason.
That's the beauty of reading for both partners as well. And I'm going to acknowledge I do need to get back and finish talking about both partners because that was probably the most common question I got about that which I'm flushing out. But even reading Spiritual Midwifery and getting all those stories of just like, all right, well it's not just black and white. Oh, the baby's not coming. We better go and cut it out or put fake hormones into you or induce it. It was like, maybe there's something else that's in the way 95% of the time. It is like a subtle fear. And sometimes it was just a shot of vodka that did it. But it was just like going, wow, there's a multitude of directions that you can go in to get the birth flowing again. So yes, I just wanted to-
Well, I think one of the things that I really took away from my first read of Spiritual Midwifery is how much of birth is emotional. And I don't know if it's in Spiritual Midwifery, it might be Ina May's Guide to Childbirth, but she lists a whole bunch of resources from the 1800s. Is that 200 years ago?
[crosstalk 01:01:42] Wouldn't be a Mason Taylor pregnancy podcast without one Simpson's quote.
She talks about how many of the obstetrics texts in those days used to mention how you have to be really careful when you're entering a space. The mother's really easily disturbed. She's really easily put off labour. Her labour can regress. They talk about this consistently through these 200 year old texts, but then it's sort of like we lost that somewhere along the way in industrial birth. And again, I've never had a hospital birth. And my understanding is there's a lot of interruptions. There's a lot of people popping in. It's quite hard to keep your private space. And I remember my mom saying that to me when I was quite young, always being like, "If you ever find yourself in a hospital giving birth, tell them to fuck off and leave you alone and try and keep away from the doctors as much as you can."
Or even better have a birth partner that understands that. And there's a few points. So we're talking about like maybe a ceremonial space where, and we're talking about it a lot to try and colour it out, so we're not just saying a fluffy thing. That's like, this is real for us when people, "why wouldn't you just go get a scan?" I've had a few people like,"Why? This is insane." Why wouldn't you just go get a scan? And if I could just tell them, well, I wanted to maintain this ceremonial process that was for us, you can see there's a lot of psychological development times undergoing subtle little initiations.
And maybe what does initiation actually mean? Just some bringing up of some subconscious memories and getting some clarity on transition between girl to woman, maybe going, oh, that's what was needed in order to make life a little bit smoother, so on and so forth. But this is such a gateway as a learning experience, which is what the ultimate intention is of [inaudible 01:03:48] herbalism is to ensure that your [inaudible 01:03:51] your personality, your consciousness, your ness is so uniquely cultivated that as an elder, you actually are an elder, you've got your own agency and your own experience. That's so not based on external ideology that you just can't fuck with you because you're just so solid in who you are. And you're so adaptable in your convictions as well.
Wisdom's been distilled through living, right? It's not stuff that you read in a book.
Well, especially for mothers, it's just different... smiles again. For men, the fathers or for the partners, the opportunity is just as incredible. Maybe just not as concentrated, but that's the bubble that we're talking about. That's the ceremony that we've decided it wasn't worth having intervention if it wasn't necessary, because for us, there was a very real, so we're just kind of trying to do this with baby smiles in the background while he is wearing a clown suit. It's very cute. For us this is real. If I go and talk to an obstetrician up in Tweed, the one I think I mentioned in the last podcast, five and a half years ago that wanted to induce every woman at 38 weeks because that's Western mono crop, factory farming mentality entering into industrialised birth.
Look there's no reason not to do this because, it is so blind and kind of understand them, someone that's so indoctrinated into that way of seeing the world. This is just [inaudible 01:05:30] bullshit talk, but that's why we've got so many old people that haven't had the opportunity. I've had a lot of people talk to me about birthing stories, it brings up their own traumatic experiences. And so I think that's been really appropriately brought up in most conversations in birthing centres, birthing circles. And so I think it's only right for us to acknowledge it as well and how we think about it and talk about it and include that in this as well. I always hope that these conversations can be what I want it to be [crosstalk 01:06:06]
Productive, not here to trigger anybody or [crosstalk 01:06:14] stand on a platform and make a-
Yeah, but at the same time, it doesn't deny the fact that yes, you can go and say, go to Jane Jane's course is a great way to go. And maybe kick those initiations, if you perhaps don't think you really got them at particular point. So there's lots of ways. Thank God in our world that if you missed the opportunity after someone died to go through a process, or if you weren't able to do it during your births, it doesn't matter. You can learn from it and then continue along your journey. But it doesn't take away from the fact that invisible to the medical system is a very real space for growth and connection. That also, I think is one of the most unrecognised, I'm trying to stay away from words like sacred just for now, because for me, I might even just put it in a way that's like, it's an asset that our society requires in order to cultivate more humans that have got a bit of more of actual ability to be proper integrated adults.
And also it's an opportunity to create such a strong family unit and such an invisible connection. Nothing will ever take away from that. No one else will be able to ever perceive or feel or understand what that space was for Lego's birth or any birth and then what that birth space was. And we had different roles there, there were natural roles. There were roles based on your body being a particular blood yin governed body and mine being a yang Chi governed body. And, I went through a process that I don't think I would've been able to get really from anywhere else in that level of depth. And I know the same is for you. So I was like, oh, why wouldn't you just go and get a scan? It wasn't worth it because there's an actual asset that would've been depleted and permeated and possibly not given us a platform to launch into those processes.
Yeah. I don't want to freak people out, but they're not that safe.
You mean what?
Purely from a health perspective. I would encourage you to do your own research and do it independent of maybe the medical model, but look up how frequently some people are using ultrasound and this is correlation, it's not causation necessarily, but there are a lot of interesting rises in sort of different types of childhood illnesses and disabilities and things that are correlated to the beginning of ultrasound use. And you don't need to go too far back. It's only a couple of decades back where we weren't using ultrasound routinely. I know both my brother and I never were ultrasounded just because my parents didn't and it was quite common in the eighties to not have them, unless I think if you're in the city, it probably was a bit different, but I was born in the country and my parents were travelling.
And I think it's not to say that one or two is going to hurt your kid. And I want to be really clear that if there's a risk benefit analysis there, it's like how much risk is there versus how much reassurance and support are we going to get from this diagnostic? So my advice would just be to use it wisely and understand the risks and, I think you hear about people like Tom cruise buying an ultrasound machine so they can look at the baby every day. Don't do that. That's crazy. There's a great quote-
Yeah. If [inaudible 01:09:57] were meant to be seen inside that have windows and for all of human history, we've got by without looking inside.
So I do think it's really something to consider. I don't want to go into the risks here because I do think if you want to look at it, it's something you need to go on research and really feel clearly about not take my word for, but I would really advise to do that. And that was my experience with [inaudible 01:10:29] when we had the one ultrasound, every time that one came near her she'd fly away and the movements were not the normal movements I was experiencing. It just didn't feel aligned, from a nerd perspective, I study anatomy, I loved the process, studied embryology. I just thought it was really cool, but it was also my baby. And I was like, oh, I just didn't feel good. So I was not interested in having them unless it was really something that was really important for us to know. And there was nothing that we decided that was important enough for us to take that risk this time.
And I think it's insulting, if you do come across a practitioner who wants to steam roll over the fact that maybe there is something being sacrificed in order to do this and says, there is literally no downside to doing this. I don't understand why you would do that. That's not an appropriate [crosstalk 01:11:29].
It's like the pill, when I was 16, there was no side effects to the pill and I'm 36 now. And everyone's like, oh, there are heaps of side effects. It took us 40 50 years to really understand the impact. And we've only really had ultrasound in consistent use, from my understanding since the nineties and even more recently, to the level that's being used in some clinics. So, I think we need to be mindful that, this isn't interesting technological component to birth, that we may not have all the information on.
I'm going to mention beta and alpha male, but maybe more appropriate, those more gentle if you go and [inaudible 01:12:12] read, what was it? Peaceful warrior?
Way of the Peaceful Warrior.
Yeah. And they get jumped by those drunk guys and Socrates has to take him out and Dan's like, yeah, [inaudible 01:12:24] and Socrates is crying and he's like, shut up, because this is not good. It's not appropriate. I had to do that because they pulled a knife on me and they were going to threaten their lives, but do not celebrate this. And the other one is like, it's better to be a warrior in the garden rather than a gardener on the battlefield.
But there is you, I don't know, what's the role. I don't want to get all awakening male on everyone. But in terms of cultivating a capacity to adjust your intensity for, when you do feel like you want to put your foot down or you are scared or whatever, but I think the biggest advice and I'm just kind of shooting from the [inaudible 01:13:10] here. I'm definitely not an expert. And I'm not trying to pretend to be a midwife or anything like that, but I've chatted to quite a few people about it. Now, and I think [inaudible 01:13:20] brought it up in the course, which I was like, yeah, that was affirming. Maybe don't go all hard-ass on your wife or your partner. That's probably not the most appropriate place.
Come on. Why, if there's no trust and faith, that's not what you offer up first. Why I don't want to say that's very bit judgmental. It's a marriage. If we go back to some idealism or even just playing around with the concept and you might say yes, but I am responsible for the... I can feel intensely that I'm responsible for the safety of this family. I'm responsible for ensuring that baby lives and is healthy and so on and so forth. But, I think a lot of the adjusting of intensity comes if you can create a boundary of making sure that if you are in a knee jerk reaction, potentially go and find someone else that you can go and have some chats with. Maybe it's a midwife. Maybe it's a men's group. Maybe it's a therapist, maybe it's doctors, whatever it is, but go and have that process where you run through your fear.
You run through your fears. You said Jane had a really great experience. I don't know, a few people that went to that weekend with you and had great experiences bringing up like these are my subconscious fears that would play out. That was a good [inaudible 01:14:46]. That would play out when you're in birth.
And likewise for men, if you don't address what your fears are, you're most likely going to be rendered... Maybe sometimes I feel unfairly as a beater, but you go in that direction of becoming limp and not actually addressing the fact that you had something you felt and you should really respect that. And then on the flip side, you are not really there to be lecturing your wife or your partner about what her process is. If you lean forward into trust and faith, but then don't buy into this. I have no rights to do anything in this space and become that male feminist of just like oh, it's all the moniter, no, that protective energy that needs to be redirected somewhere.
And women [inaudible 01:15:39] there's the faith and trust. If you give that faith and trust, it's just going to bolster that journey your on. It's going to increase the level of intimacy that you have with your body and with the baby. And that's better than any test, the whole reason they're trying to find out is this safe? Are we going in the right direction or not like the best barometer for that? What is it? Oh, lo and behold, it's the mother. But you need to be able to like, be free to be in that. And that's what I feel like men need to strike that balance and address your fears, engage lean forward with trust and faith, and then make sure you put up that protective boundary. You'find maybe, put your foot down strength is, it can be redirected to protecting the sanctity of that process that mainly [inaudible 01:16:31], but yourself, you coming, you're the one that can go in and out of that bubble and has that permission to go into that ceremonious place and sit there and live there at times as well.
But you just naturally won't because you're out working and doing kind lots of things while mom's there in our situation during this pregnancy as well. And it gives you a real place to direct that, we're going to use the warrior and all those kinds of feelings, but the power or that natural propensity that you have to protect your family because, if you're if you're taking the side of an institution and then you become a mouthpiece for an institutional and a societal fear, and you're projecting that on someone, who's really trying to go deep into a process where yes, you need to hold the space of logic. That's a yang masculine thing is that logic and women need to, of course in that scenario have logic be present, but it's not the dominant force when you go into so, hopefully that I'm going to stop my ramble, but hopefully that is enough of a response to those questions. Well,
I think too, it's really important that the father isn't the midwife, if you're free birthing, I want to make that really clear. And it's mother led birth, or at least our version is, so that doesn't mean the role of support isn't a hundred percent essential, but it means that it wasn't Mason's job to learn midwifery and blah, blah, blah.
That's what [inaudible 01:18:07] has said. You're not going to become an obstetrician.
No and it's not really my job either. My job is to trust in physiological birth to know that nature rarely makes mistakes. Mistakes do happen. I'm not saying everyone's a hundred percent guaranteed to have success, but the reality is that an undisturbed, physiological birth is going to be nine times out of 10, more successful than intervention of any kind. And again, I come back to mamalian and birth a lot. And again, this is probably the scientist and the person that did [inaudible 01:18:39] and I went to an [inaudible 01:18:41] school and whatever, and the cows give birth in the paddock. Very rarely do you need to support them. Usually when they're in bread and so same with all of my pets growing up, my cat would have had three or four litters.
She'd always just put herself in a suitcase, have the babies eat the membranes and the placenta lick everybody till they were clean. And then get on with life feeding and tending her babies and I watched my dog, I watched animals do this. And I just think we are mammals, irrespective of all the other stuff, unfortunately, mammals with thoughts that can really fuck with us. So I think it's important to remember that those emotions need to be dealt with and looked at, but if you can understand, and I love Sarah Buckley's work for this. She maps out, if there's no data on human birth, she uses mamalian birth to kind of fill in the gaps I suppose.
But she talks a lot about the role of the different hormones, [inaudible 01:19:43] and the sort of adrenaline precursors the oxytocin, prolactin and how they contribute to the kind of process of birth prolactin with the uterus and how that kind of gets the uterus prepared and then how that brings the breast milk on. And there's all these really interesting hormonal cascades that occur and there's even theories that the baby and the mother co-initiate the birth. When the baby's ready, it releases hormones that tell the mother that it's time and that sort of process all kicks off as a kind of a dance between mother and baby. And I believe these things personally they seem to be true to me, in my case, both my children were late by obstetric terms, that was 13 days.
That was an amazing process when to not have to buy into even that word late during it. I don't know why that just let go of this tension and made me feel it was wild and it was beautiful to not even see that as a reality. And when you look at physiological realities of saying yourself versus a couple of friends of ours that are really petite and small, you can just be like, how could you ever standardise what a full term? Is it such a massive generalisation? Is there a bell curve course there is.
Yeah, and that's again, if we look at a more nature based kind of exploration of that, it would like 10 moons was considered the normal amount of time to be pregnant. And now a lot of women I did a podcast with Eva from Dubai and she was saying in Dubai it's standard at 36 weeks to induce women. And that to me is absolutely bonkers. At 36 weeks, he was still what, seven weeks from being born or six weeks from being born and had a lot of fat to put on. And I think there's just this real craziness around not trusting babies to come. Again, there's a lot of pressure from the medical institution and during our last couple of weeks being pregnant, I got a lot of DMs from people who were freaking out about being late and how they could deal with their midwife or their obstetrician who wanted to induce and all these things and having to-
You want to talk about a violation.
Well, yeah. Having to fight at that stage of pregnancy, I think is exhausting too. And also for us, it was such a beautiful time. We were really relaxed, we were basically on leave because we thought he was due on the first and he came on the 13th.
We were young. We were in love.
Yeah. That was really nice. We went to the beach with our daughter. We spent lots of time with her. We spent time together.
That's the cultivation of family. And the other thing that birth is an opportunity to cultivate some kind of tying in of understanding because the other thing I can see just so much divorce and so much unhappiness and depression and I'm not saying Tony and I can have some [inaudible 01:23:00] fights and we're still learning. I definitely, I really don't like trying to paint a picture that we're undergoing some perfect relationship that I want to put on a pedestal and hold hands and give sermons and charge people $300 to hear us talk at you for three hours, about how to be the conscious cucumber and the clam that is having a beautiful spiritual journey together without any bumps, of course not. But it's like spade a spade, is the fact that it's worth cultivating again, whatever that is, whatever that ceremony, whatever that temple is, whatever I want to call it that space where logically you do most of your bonding because you have all these hormones running around you and that's going to prevent divorce and broken families and all that kind of stuff as well. And that was such a magic time.
Yeah. The bonding, I think that occurs, like so much of mamalian birth is around bonding. It's around smells and it's around touch and it's around these kind of non-
I'm just going to write because we were just talking about, we've got someone pregnant in the business at the moment. I'm trying to like flesh out our HR kind of like around that.
That's a good way. And thinking about how we physiologically optimise the transition from in the womb to out of the womb, I think is just really important. And so for me, understanding mamalian physiology neither of us are midwives or birth keepers in any way.
I am now the mid husband.
Mason is a mid husband, but we are not interested in this as a profession. We're not out there and I really do respect and appreciate that midwives do see and obstetricians see the dangerous side of birth and the things that go wrong. So I don't want to undermine their role, but I also know obstetrics is largely to do with surgical birth. And I would wonder how much of their course content covers mammalian physiology and undisturbed birth-
Well, and also the correlation between each intervention that they do and how a birth, what the direction of birth goes in. They seem to ignore that.
And if you look at a lot of mother led and then the evidence based practises, a lot of the stuff that's happening in birth is not really great. So anyway, that's the topic I can probably talk about for five hours, but it's not going to be the theme of this podcast.
And we'll put lots of resources under, because there are questions of people going or what if something goes wrong, what are the things or that's, I guess I'm going to just [crosstalk 01:25:47]
Well, I want to talk about the things that go wrong. I'm happy. Oh, well, let's go. We can go there.
Let's go back. Let's go there later then.
No, we can go there now. So for us, we had a holiday over Christmas, New Year, so we were home. So we decided that would be a good time for us to look at. Because Mason and I aren't midwives and I'd done a lot of reading and research, but wanted just Mason to have that experience of seeing maybe a different person's version of things. We chose to do Johny as free birth course, which went over four weeks, covered everything from sort of preconception pregnancy, birth planning-
Birth partners as well.
Yeah. Birth partners, birth itself, and then a postpartum sort of section, [inaudible 01:26:45] covers feedback and things as well. So I'd recommend you guys, if you're interested to have a look at that, there's a community element where you do calls with other people. And for me, that was really nice to hear other people's kind of fears and where they were at and different takes on things. And I was able to express my fear that maybe I had twins at that point. It turns out we didn't. And, I think that was really useful mostly for the conversations that triggered in us, around our boundaries and where we felt like we would draw a line. So for us, the 35 weeks was the cutoff for an early birth. So if he'd arrived premature and before 35 weeks, we would've transferred.
If he'd come at 35 weeks or over, we were happy to try a home birth and know that we may have to transfer due to immaturity of his lungs or other things that may occur with early babies. So luckily we didn't have to deal with that. And the other thing that really for me and Mason in our discussions was a bit of a no go, I guess, was a cord prolapse, which if you don't know, is when the cord comes out before the baby and the risk there is that the cord gets pinched by the baby coming through the canal and therefore the baby's lifeline, which is that connection to the placenta. And that ability to not breathe obviously becomes compromised. And that's something that I would find scary to deal with at home on my own. You can try and push the cord back in. And I probably would've tried that first, but the reality is, I think if that hadn't have worked, I would've wanted to go probably to hospital to be checked out and decide what to do from there.
Usually my understanding is that does end in caesarean, but like I said, it can be sometimes sorted out with a clever person who's able to return the cord in and the baby's able to come out with that happening.
That's also worth looking at the percentage of the common act like how common that is. And especially if there is a correlation between particular medical interventions or psychological things going on.
Yeah. And also understanding Chinese medicine prolapses are typically Chi issues. The Chi's not strong enough to maintain buoyancy. And I, again, really am an advocate for being prepared for birth by resting, because it's a lot of energy and really kind of not overdoing it in those last weeks, especially. So we felt pretty confident that those were the two things that were really concerning to us. And other than that there wasn't much else that I felt like we couldn't deal with. People have asked about Nuchal cord. Leo had one. One twist of the cord around his neck-
Which is apparently a good prevention for the prolapse.
... apparently a good prevention for the prolapse.
Yeah. Well, might be a biological imperative to protect that, but it's also, again, statistically rarely an issue. Can be an issue, but like I said, rarely is, and I know people that have had three wraps around. Especially if you have a shorter cord, which Leo did have, it was a bit tricky getting him, he was... Oh, I know. He was posterior, which is... This is the big reveal really I think with our birth because Leo was posterior, which we didn't know obviously. I now think in hindsight there were so many obvious signs. I thought I was having twins, which was really because his little legs and feet were facing out so he was kicking a lot, so I felt like there was lots of limbs moving around in me all the time. The kind of feelings I was having in labour where every time I emptied my bladder I could feel a clunk of a bone hitting my pubic bone, which at the time I assumed was his head, but I didn't make the connection to that actually being him being back to front, I just thought he must have been in a funny position because I was on the toilet. So, there was a few things like that now I know I was like, "Oh, that's so obvious." But again, I'm not that experienced with posterior babies, I certainly didn't expect to have one. Aya was anterior and in perfect positions, so I just didn't know that that was going to be the case with Leo, and we hadn't had that ultrasound that lots of women have around 36, 37 weeks to get the baby's position nor did I have a really experienced person palpating. I was doing my palpations and probably don't know what I'm doing. I definitely now can remember feeling all of those limbs, so now I know what that feels like for next time.
That was probably our biggest surprise with this pregnancy and this birth. Look, the challenge obviously with posterior is it's not an optimal position, I suppose, according to the texts. Again, I didn't really find... It was just a very different birth for me. I didn't feel like it progressed the same way. I felt like with her moving through the canal I could really feel her coming around the bend and those kinds of things. Whereas with Leo, it didn't feel like that. It felt a little bit strange, it felt like I wanted to push for a lot longer than I had with Aya. I only wanted to push with Aya at the end, whereas with Leo I felt like it was a good couple of hours there where I really wanted to push.
Labour itself, we wanted to share the birth story with you guys. I guess one of the special things about Leo's birth was that he was posterior, which means that he was effectively reversed in the womb and in the birth canal when he came out. In hindsight, I can totally see that that was the case. There were multiple signs, including in early labour when I went to the toilet I could feel a head banging against my pubic bone every time I emptied my bladder, and the whole thing about twins, feeling all those lumps and bumps in my body when I was palpating my abdomen, now in hindsight realising that his spine was against my spine, so I was feeling all of his arms and legs.
Did it tickle?
It did not tickle, it bloody hurt. I went into labour... So, Leo was due on April 1st on April Fool's Day, which was funny-
Yeah, inverted commas. We did know the conception date, so it was based off of those online calculators, honestly. I did the 10 moon calculation which brought it to April 16, so there was not a sense of urgency by any means from either of us, and Aya had been nearly two weeks late as well. She was around 12 to 13 days past her due date, so we both felt pretty relaxed about that whole thing. We really used that time, like we were saying, just to enjoy being a family and finish up some stuff that we had to do at work and around the house. The Tuesday morning on the 12th, I started to feel quite intense labour. I'd had a lot of Braxton Hicks, so when I woke up around 3:00 AM on the Tuesday morning with some pretty heavy cramps, I realised that it was now real labour, so I was kind of prepared for that.
I did try and go back to sleep and by about 5:00 AM I couldn't really get back to sleep, so I got up and had a bath with Aya and we had a really nice time just hanging out in the water. I went and watched the sunrise and took some photos, and then we also did have a lot on that day though. We had a cleaner coming to the house to get the house ready, and Mason had some stuff at work to deal with, so I think a part of me just wasn't really ready to be in labour at that point because we had stuff going on. Around sort of early morning, maybe seven or eight, everything kind of stopped and I decided to go have a rest. Mason took Aya to the markets. We had our beautiful cleaner come and do some work in the house. I fell asleep around lunchtime and woke up around 4:00 PM, and we kind of decided that we were having the baby, I think.
Yeah, and it wasn't just all roses. There was something that came up at work on the day that he was due that was like a spanner in the works, but thankfully I'd been in the pregnancy space enough and already transitioned there that I wasn't sucked further. I was like, I know what my boundary is and I know what my priority is, and I'm going to appropriately step out of the bubble and go and address that. I wasn't willing to sacrifice myself being present in that space, which was a massive distinction for me because if I'd already been at work and I was like, "Right, due day," because it came up at tools down 4:00 PM on a Friday the day I would've technically been going on leave if I hadn't taken a little bit, but I hadn't started winding down, and it just would've made me gone, "Oh no, no," and go and spun into that.
I think we handled the work balance better this time than with Aya. With Aya I think we were both working until we didn't, and then we kind of-
It was kind of survival.
Yeah, it was a totally different situation and we didn't have another child as well. Obviously, Mason has been way more hands on with Aya this time than when we last time we didn't have anyone else so it was a little easier. I think that didn't feel disruptive to me in any way, it felt really divine. I needed some sleep, I had those four hours of sleep, and-
I went and did my thing, I got back you were still asleep.
The house was beautiful and clean. It just felt really nice.
Yeah, something flowed with that. Didn't it?
Yeah. We started setting up the birth... The birth pool was set up, but Mason filled it and did the heating. We kind of got our beautiful friend who also happens to be our beautiful neighbour to take Aya for dinner. We were able to have a couple of hours maybe from like 6:00 PM until 8:00 PM of just smooching and hanging out.
There's been varying degrees. I haven't brought up the Qihua. I've brought it up in other podcasts before, but Qihua is, what's been lost in modern mechanical Chinese medicine versus daoist shamanic classical, effective, holistically effective Chinese medicine. It looks at the transformation of chi from one form to another rather than, oh, you're deficient or oh, you're excess. That's qihua, and I think this time what you really mastered was that the transition from not being pregnant to being pregnant, that was a phase rather than focusing on the not being and then pregnant. That deficient and excess, you transitioned really smoothly. I think that was a real key for bringing a grace and a smoothness, and it doesn't mean each sector of the birth.
Yeah. I think we transitioned out of that too. We went from pregnant to birthing, to birthed really smoothly too.
You brought up that we filled the birth pool and we didn't use spring water this time, but we've got a-
We have a whole house triple filter.
Well, we learned our lesson of having three weeks of spring water sitting, four weeks of spring water...
I still think it was good. I liked that first one, I just didn't want to do it. It was the tending to putting oxygen in it, and putting hydrogen in it, and stirring it, and vortexing it, and all that kind of stuff. This time we... I'll put the link to the filter we have. It's like [inaudible 01:40:08]. It's not the [inaudible 01:40:10] mushroom, but its something like that, and then we have a whole house vortexing unit. I think water is very important. I think there was a lot of aspects of setting up the space including the altar, and the water was very important. Just using town water wouldn't have had enough magic there for me. I'll put the link to that vortexing unit that we have, all of our water goes through it and you can feel a magical difference.
If you're in the [inaudible 01:40:38], we also use Birth Afloat so I can put their details in, but for the birth pool. Aya helped us with our altar. We had a beautiful collection of different cards, which I can link to some of those as well. We had all different treasures and gifts, and personal treasures from our families and from ourselves on the altars. We had a really sacred, beautiful space, and it doesn't take much to set that up. It's just a bit of intention.
And probably just setting up an altar, an altar is just about having skin in the game. Maybe you just want to make it ornamental and something nice, I wouldn't say that's not altar. But for us it was, I had a sword representing my father, he'd just lost him. I jumped a little crystal that jumped out when my mom had her aneurysm 10 years ago. I didn't grab that one because that one broke at the hospital in a very pinnacle time. It was just too much symbolism and synchronicity, but I saw a little heart crystal. Again, it reminds me of when I talked to her when she was dying like, "I wish you could have seen your grandchildren," when we thought she was dying, and I had that crystal with me and it represented that. It gives me juice to keep on going further and further into her recovery and her living because it just ties... It was like, get skin in the game when it comes to an altar. Things that are a motive.
Totally. I think speaking of water, we had water from Glastonbury in the birth pool from the wells there. A friend of mine brought that back for me years ago, and I was able to use the last of it in the pool.
It was so, so nice.
The bees wax candles.
Bees wax candles, which we had from our wedding. We had a rock from [inaudible 01:42:35], which was a place we went with Aya on walkabout. It's a beautiful piece of land a bit north of here and inland, and also where the birthing pools for the mob up there are located, that was a gift from someone. A beautiful drawing someone did for me, lots of just beautiful things.
The [inaudible 01:43:00].
Yeah. I also arranged all of her stuffed animals to bear witness, so we had a bookshelf full of toys watching us.
And also nice for us having the five elements present on the altar, just kind of reminds you of the cyclical nature of ceremony, the cyclical nature of life. It's not just all statant doesn't, doesn't just stay in one element in one propensity, and one virtue or one challenge. It's like, this too shall pass.
We had Masons beautiful altar cloth from Peru. So, lots of important things that meant something to us. Gifts from friends, like I said, flowers and things. We had all that set up. Mason lit all the candles. We set the space, and I was pretty comfortable at that point. We were just kind of, like I said, hanging out, making out, enjoying each other. That was a really nice psychedelic couple of hours, very relaxed and comfortable.
I brought up the Qihua transition because I really appreciated that we... It was a phase, and I know a lot of people experience it, but it just flowed into it so naturally. It was really [inaudible 01:44:15]. This isn't a live or die by this statement of like, "Is your birth space somewhere that you'd feel comfortable having sex?" And sex wasn't a part of this birth for us, but it was like making out and being sensual. If I knew that a nurse or a midwife was about to come in, I probably wouldn't have felt as comfortable doing that and that continued through the entire time. It was a subtle thing, but there was such a comfort there in that space.
I completely agree. I think, for me, that was such an epiphany. I think I read that somewhere. If anyone knows the reference, let me know. But, it was such an important take home for me because I thought you're going to open up in such a way, and be so exposed and vulnerable. It's sort of similar to sex, like if you're not completely in it and relaxed and in the flow, it's hard for it to become a peak experience. I think birth is really similar. Same with any other ceremony, right? You need to feel safe, and held, and contained, and not interrupted, and all those things.
I think as a birth partner, because I think majority of midwives their role is to understand that space, I'm talking about more of an independent midwife maybe especially around Byron Bay, maybe I'm ignorant on that, but I don't want to just say all midwives are going to burst in because a lot that I talk to are like, "Of course," and they will leave you to it. Even if it's to have your own birth, and for it to just be a completely mother-led birth with the father there supporting, then that's the kind of midwife I love and that would be, if you're taking that approach like, "It'd be great to have someone here who knows what they're doing," That's a really great boundary to put up. Be like, "We want to be comfortable and know that if we're in the middle of something, we are completely free and intimate, that you're not just going to pop your head in and say something," because subconsciously it hangs there and it stops you really fully expressing yourself.
Yeah. I think that's probably the biggest piece of advice is, know what you need. That takes some self reflection, and for me, I do need a lot of privacy. I need a lot of safety. That child is very noisy when he's sleeping. I need to not be watched. Mason's one thing, it's fine for him to watch me, but I know that if other people had been there I wouldn't have felt as comfortable and as safe as I was. Which brings me to the actual birth, because probably around 8:00 PM or 8:30 PM ish I think... I got in the pool at some point. We weren't really checking the clock a lot. Probably around 8:00 PM because I was coming home with our friends, and I sort of had a soak.
They read Aya some stories, Mason put Aya to bed, and we agreed Mason would go have a rest because if you've ever been in the birth arena, it can go on. He went and had a lie down. I didn't feel like I could sleep anyway, so I was happy hanging out. I did some journaling and listened to music. We just had a Spotify playlist that we'd co-collaborated on and put a bunch of music on, and I don't know, hung around in the pool for a bit and felt very relaxed until probably about 11-11:30 PM where I started to think, "Oh, it would be really good if Mason woke up now." Anyway, sure enough, he popped his head around. We did have a plan for me to call him and be the one person that was allowed to-
I wasn't just trusting phases of ceremony to wake me up like, "Oh, I can feel we transitioned." It did, of course, but I was like, "This is the logical part of me as a birth partner. Here's your phone, it's close."
"Use it if you need it." I was sort of at that point where I was like, "Oh, using my phone's going to be difficult," so I was glad when he just walked in without me having to. He reset the candles and we kind of got into it. By about midnight I think I was in active labour. What had been unique about this birth so far was that the contractions were quite painful and really weirdly timed. I actually gave up on timing them because I was getting the shits with like, they just weren't complying with any of the standard contraction models that I was seeing in books and stuff. So, I just ignored all of that.
Well, if we had a hospital connected midwife with us, that standard would've been something that would've got brought up I imagine.
I don't know what they would've done, but obviously I've read since that it's common with posterior babies that the body gets kind of confused because it's not moving quite the way it's supposed to. I don't know, anyway, it just was what it was. I felt like I was in labour, so I didn't worry too much about it, but I definitely felt much more pain than I remember feeling with Aya. I know it's not just not remembering because I still remember the pain or some of the sensations very vividly, but I really, really felt this to the point of it was very visceral and very uncomfortable. It was a bit confusing because like I said, I couldn't feel like I could get purchase on her moving through the canal It just didn't feel the same. Oh, sorry. Him through the canal.
It didn't feel the same as Aya's birth, so that bit for me was a bit confusing and that was where some of those thoughts about the midwives, maybe my cervix isn't opening or maybe that thing they talked about last time is happening now where the cervical lip is stuck over the baby. I was kind of going through some scenarios in my head, and anyway, I think I had mentioned it to Mason once and he was like, "Do you think that's the case?" And I was like, "No." That was my recollection of it, we went back and forth about whether it seemed like that was likely and neither of us really felt like it was. Neither of us felt a sense of urgency or panic or stress, so I kind of filed that away as, "Thought, not useful. Go away." But what was-
That was massive. That was pivotal, I feel, for the energy. You could feel it kind of coming up.
Yeah. I think that was the time I felt very much like my mind... And I remember that with Aya. I remember one of the midwives saying, "Oh, the baby will come around the bend." I was like, "Why is there a bend?" And I started getting all in my head around anatomical. I was like, "Why would there be a bend? It doesn't make any sense."
You're saying like, even though it was a, "Ha, ha, ha, isn't this funny?" Like you were saying, why are we built this way? If you're going to make a joke, it's subconsciously something to be considered about.
Well, and mentally I didn't want to be thinking about my anatomical studies at that point. I wanted to be feeling my body and in the moment of birth. I think that was probably where I went from having logical, lucid thinking to more of an open, non-logical thinking space and kind of felt like I was in the place of, no, we're here. We're trusting the body. We're going to do this thing.
And then, other look from a birth partner perspective. I'll go a little bit more into it, but simpler the better. For me it was just like, "Hey, if there's no red flags. You're doing amazing. Let's just keep on trusting your body," and that was it. It's always, for me, I'm always like, "God, do I need to be saying more? Do I need to be dipping into the cause?" It just feels boring and benign to say, "Breathe again," but I'll talk about that later. I think all I could deliver was a sense of solidness because you just needed to run through your process. As long as I didn't [inaudible 01:52:54] into any drama. Just being like, "Oh, okay. What do you think? Is that real?" And you were off, back in the body.
Yeah, and I think that's, for me, the best type of support is that mirroring of your process and the steady confidence in the holding of the space that's non reactive, it's not believing you are buying into your... Because you can be dramatic when... I can be dramatic when I'm labouring, and especially this one hurt. I was like, "Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow," sometimes. If Mason have been like, "Oh my God, are you okay?" And getting involved on that emotional level, I would've probably freaked out a bit because he was so like, "Yeah, and?" I don't mean that, but it was very much like, "You've got this. You don't need me to tell you're okay. You are okay."
It's like, "Oh, stop winding. It's just pain, mate."
No, he was not like that. He was very, very beautiful and aware that it was painful, but that I could keep doing it. I think that, for me, was really helpful. So, basically I laboured for probably a couple of hours and I really felt the need to push and couldn't seem to get this sense of him moving. We did try moving around a few times. I tried going to the toilet. I think I unsuccessfully tried our brand new shower that I thought I may want to be in at some point, but I didn't-
I've never seen a decision get made quicker. You said, "Nope," and just [inaudible 01:54:26] waddled back.
Yeah, I don't know you've ever been in labour, but moving around is pretty funny.
I kind of acquainted it to when I used to go shoe shopping before I just wore one type of shoes. I remember going... I can't remember where I was, in Sydney somewhere, and the first shop I went to, I was like, "Oh, that's the pair," and that's like the birth pool for you. And then the person I was with is like, "No, we got to go and try six or seven other shops." I'm like, "No, but this is it." Sometimes in birth maybe it's like, "No, you've got it."
No, I do feel like the toilet... Our crappy second toilet, not our nice new toilet.
I think I did joke about the fact we just did this huge bathroom reno, and you've gone and used our shitty little... I can't even fit in there [inaudible 01:55:09] a massive belly.
But it was perfect because it's so narrow that I could stick my arms on either side and bear down, and actually I think for me, I made progress. Even it was only three contractions on that thing, but it really helped. Anyway, that was the only other place I felt happy.
And that was twice that you used that, and then the third time you went to go back, you'd got out of the water, we took two steps and you were like, "Oh God, no. No. Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck." You just quickly get back, and both your legs cocked. You were an isosceles triangle just waddling back as fast as possible getting back in the pool.
Yeah, I think that third time I realised I was on so I didn't need any more help. Then I think once I felt the sac, which was great... I so far have never had the experience of waters breaking or anything, I just never had a mucus plug come out. Basically, my contractions change and I know I'm in labour. It's just a funny feeling that I have that's different. I don't know how to explain it, but so that's the same as this time. I could feel his bag coming through, and that was-
That was a huge moment.
... a wonderful experience because then I was like, "Cool, cool, cool, cool. I can totally do this now." I think up to that point I was like probably 80% I can do this and 20% like, oh my God, this could go on for the rest of my life and I'm never going to get through it. You know, all the drama that your brain likes to throw at you.
Which is, I think, that's the limbo.
I'm glad I've done heaps of meditation because I'm like, "My brain can be a fucking idiot." I remember the first I went to [inaudible 01:56:53] and all I wanted to do was go and eat avocado toast. Why? Because we were eating porridge every day. There was like literally for three days I was obsessing about avocados and I'm like, "Is this the best I can do?" I've got hours of the day and I just think about avocado toast. I think about running away, and I think about Alanis Morissette, and I repeat Jagged Little Pill from start to finish in my head. This is my brain, this space. It was terrifying and embarrassing, so that experience... Now [inaudible 01:57:23] is totally different for me, but that first time I remember being like, "Oh my God, what an embarrassment." I think I'm so smart, and the that shit comes out when I'm alone with my thoughts is deeply dull.
Isn't it ironic?
It is ironic. I knew this whole concept of thoughts and not reality, and just because I'm thinking something doesn't make it real, and just because I'm having the thought doesn't mean I have to buy into it emotionally, and all that sort of stuff. I remember one point thinking, "Lol, if I had to transfer I'd have to sit in a car having these contractions that hurt like fucking hell." That would be much worse than having the baby here through the pain. I'd rather be here having the baby through the pain than gone, get it cut out. So, you know, those kinds of thoughts that occurred to me. Anyway, and then I could feel his sac. So, that was great. I was doing all kinds of crazy dance moves to get him out.
Roaring and biting. I was biting the edge of our birth pool, which had these great soft foam noodles on the edges so I could bite down really hard. I accidentally bit Mason once. Sorry, Mason. I just kept dancing until he was crowning, and basically we kind of clocked at some point that we needed to wake Aya up, which Mason went into her room and grabbed her, and she kind of was hanging back for a bit, and then for the birth she came over to the side of the pool. She sat on the bed and watched for about half an hour.