My Birth Story: Yoni and Ryan


Here goes an attempt to conjure up words to describe what I consider, up to this point, to be the best day of my life. But I’ll go ahead and make the note… that…I’m not even sure how am I supposed to find the proper words! This is Bodhi’s birth story.

               I’ll start off with a good deal of background info. (If you want to skip this, find the asterisks. That’s where the real story begins)  We had just finished thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail – a hiking trail from the Mexican border, through California, Oregon and Washington, ending 8 miles into Canada.  We had no money left and had the idea to hitch-hike down to California in hopes of finding a job as trimmers on a cannabis farm. We had plans to work, save money, and continue our travels.  It took us over two weeks to get from Canada to California; we ended up in Oregon.  We were homeless for about a month before we finally found an opportunity to work on a farm. We hadn’t been working on the farm for long when I found out I was pregnant. I’ll be truthful and honest to say that when I learned I was pregnant, I felt like our life had been turned upside down. I felt that we were in no position to have or raise a child. But it took us about a day to realize that all these thoughts we were having were just selfish.

               We were worried about money- money can always be made. We were worried about time- time is a manmade concept. We were worried about our future travel plans – maybe they’d have to be on hold for a bit, but they could still happen.  We were worried about figuring out a living situation- we’d figure it out. Regardless of it all, we knew the Universe had blessed us with quite a gift. We had placed our faith in the Universe, surrendering to the flow, for quite some time and we knew to continue our trust. I’m sharing this background info, because I want other women to know it’s okay to be a little fearful when you find out you’re growing a life…unplanned! It’s a big change!  I promise, however, that it really will be the biggest blessing and happiest happening of your life when your baby finally comes.

               We finished out the season on the farm, although work for me became tough. My morning sickness started at 4 weeks and I longed to spend the majority of my time in bed. (My morning sickness didn’t stop us from driving to Las Vegas to see The Dead & Company though! Lucky Bodhi got to be at three shows while in my womb.) We decided to move back to Georgia to be around our family. I wasn’t fond of the idea of having to be in one place for an extended period of time. But once we bought our RV and made it our home, that nesting feeling started to kick in. It felt so special to have a place for our growing family, somewhere secure & safe.

               I wanted a home birth. But we just couldn’t afford it. Not even if a payment plan were to be established. I was on pregnancy Medicaid (government insurance) and every bill would be fully covered if I delivered in a hospital. I was born at home in The Netherlands and that was just what everyone did. I felt frustrated that the United States was so different. BUT I found the middle grounds of my desires, when I found a midwifery covered by Medicaid and it just so happened that the hospital they contracted with encouraged natural births, water births, delayed cord cutting, all the good stuff. I want to make a note that although I remained somewhat fearful of having a hospital birth, it actually went wonderfully. Everything happened the way it should have, just like every other happening in life. I know that having home births in the US is on the rise, and I just want others to know that if it’s not possible for you, YOU CAN still have a beautiful hospital birth.

               In short, my pregnancy was lovely. I worked up until I was 36 weeks at a garden center just watering flowers. My baby would kick in my belly and I’d comment “yes baby! We are giving life to these flowers. Can you feel their energy?”  I like to believe I really embraced the journey. I never hurt much; I maybe only had a handful of hormonal flare-ups, and overall felt splendid! I was constantly mind-blown at my body’s ability to sustain my life & grow another! I knew that as each day passed, I was one step closer to meeting this sweet soul.

               Our little Bodhi tree enjoyed the warm oceans of my womb and stayed over 41 weeks. I wouldn’t say I grew impatient, although it was still a lesson of patience. I was aware that this was totally out of my realm. Our baby would come when our baby was ready to be earthside. I did however become filled with anticipation. I wanted to meet my baby! It’d been so long, and I was so ready to hold my baby in my arms. I did become a little anxious; I didn’t want to be induced.  After my due date, July 22nd, came and passed, my love and I spent lots of time walking, making and eating spicy salsa from veggies in our garden, making love, just doing little things to get our babe to think about making an appearance.

               ******************************************************************************Now for the part of the story you’ve probably been itching for me to finally get to. My apologies, I tend to give an extensive amount of detail (:I hope that those who read this, enjoy it. I didn’t want to mask this story with only my moments of ecstasy, bliss and empowerment. I wrote of my discomforts as well. I really wrote this truthfully and honestly.

               On August 1st, 41 weeks & 3 days, I was to have an appointment with my midwife for what I hoped would be my last. Ryan and I made sweet love in the morning & got those prostaglandins helping us. I began to feel similarly as if I was on my period, but it wasn’t at all uncomfortable. I rubbed some lavender oil on my belly and we went to the appointment. My midwife asked if I wanted her to check me. I was curious and let her go ahead and do it. To my surprise I was 2 CM and 60% effaced! I became excited thinking that today could be the day I get to meet my baby!

               Almost immediately after she checked me, those period-like cramps became more prominent & I had some spotting. We decided it may be a good idea to walk around, so we went to the mall out of all places.  We live in Georgia…It’s the middle of summer… I just wanted to walk somewhere with AC.. I wanted my baby to move down!! At 12:45, “I think I’m having my first contraction!!!”  I decided I didn’t want to be at the mall anymore and we promptly left. Our way home, my contractions started becoming regular by 1:30 PM. 4-5 minutes apart, lasting 30-45 seconds. They weren’t at all painful! I was just so excited our baby was finally coming! We stopped to meet up with my doula to borrow her clary sage oil, which is said to bring on contractions; however, I ended up never needing it. By 3:11 PM they were already 2-3 minutes apart and lasting almost a minute long. I could talk, laugh, walk, through them, I was feeling strong! Ryan and I decided to lie down together and attempt to get some rest, but I wanted to be upright. I got up and grabbed my birth ball, still timing the contractions, and just swayed on the ball. By 4:30 they started to get a little more uncomfortable, I had to focus more on my breath and my voice would shake a bit if I talked during a surge. At that point I wasn’t sure what to do! I looked at Ryan and questioned whether it was maybe time to go to the hospital.  Things seemed to be picking up rather quickly. We had to take traffic into consideration, and my genetics. My mother delivered me, her first, in 6 hours, and my brother in fewer than 2!!!!  We also live 40 minutes away from the hospital without traffic. We packed the rest of the hospital bag and were on our way by 5.

               We listened to Hypnobirthing in the car, the surges were still very bearable and I was stoked thinking this was it! We got to the hospital by 6 and had to spend a while in triage. I remember thinking Why do they have to ask so many questions? Including the BRAND of the prenatals I was taking. Holy shit, I don’t know woman. My midwife came in for the first time, checked me … 4CM & 90% effaced… & my surges were all still manageable? I felt like I was born to do this. I was feeling good.

               For the next 2 ½ hours things intensified gradually. My love set up the room by laying out all our crystals we chose to bring, hanging up my affirmations, placing the picture of my passed grandparents on the windowsill, and getting Native American flute music to play throughout the room. I tried to sit on my birth ball but that wasn’t where I wanted to be. I remember lying on the bed a little bit, trying to do the frog pose in an attempt to open up my hips. I felt the best swaying and dancing with Ryan; just feeling his embrace.

               At 9:30, Ryan and I got into the birthing pool. I was breathing well and moving with each wave. Trying to keep my moans low and trying to remind myself of my strength. I was constantly checking on Ryan, asking if he was okay, if he was too hot, if he needed water. He gently reminded me with sweet words and kisses that he was fine, and that we were focusing on me and baby.

               I thought I wanted the least amount of intervention, but when my midwife came in to check on me and asked if she wanted to check my dilation, I immediately replied yes. I was eager to know my progress. 7 CM. 100% effaced. 0 station. Bag of water bulging. I couldn’t believe I was at 7 CM and things had been rather easy so far! Oh I was so proud. But this is about the time things really started getting tough. I was trying to remind myself that childbirth doesn’t have to be painful. I know I felt pain, I know there were times I couldn’t get relief. But as my sweet Bodhi is lying on my chest while I type this, I don’t at all have the ability to recall the pain. The word that describes it more now is intense. I’d do it all over again tomorrow; the pain/intensity doesn’t define the experience. My baby being born is the highlight!

               The warm water didn’t do enough for me anymore. My moans were growing louder. I began standing or squatting out of the water with each contraction, slowly sitting back down, and leaning on Ryan as the surges ceased. I remembered how I’d read to RELAX, but oh it was so hard!

               Beverly, my midwife, and Melody the nurse, came in to just watch. I remember them complimenting, genuinely complimenting me on how I was laboring; my positions, how I was listening to my body, embracing the opening, bringing down my baby. Their positive words, along with Ryan’s constant support made me feel loved and empowered.

               There was talk of the powerful thunderstorm happening outside.  I heard the rain and thunder, but my mind was elsewhere. At 11PM my exhaustion began to take over. I looked at my doula and told her I was just ready to meet my baby, I was ready for the journey of pregnancy to be over. I was ready to be a mother!

               I got out of the tub in an attempt to lie on the bed and get some rest. The pain was really getting to me now, but I was also so very exhausted. My concentration on opening, breathing, and being positive grew thin..... I wanted sleep. I would almost fall asleep during the breaks in my contractions, but once the surges came, I couldn’t find a comfortable way to be. I just wanted my baby to be here.

                At 12:30 AM, now August 2nd, I got back in the tub. I had reminded myself to believe that I was strong. I said out loud “I AM STRONG” multiple times over. I could do this. I glanced over at my crystals and my affirmations.  I recall calling on my grandmother... asking for her guidance.

               The thought that everyone has in labor… the I-don’t-know-if-I-can-do-this-anymore thought came up. Didn’t this mean something…? Could this be transition?  Beverly asked if I wanted her to check me again. I became worried. Would I be encouraged? Or discouraged… it’d been 3 hours since I was 7CM. Had I progressed? Please say yes. To my dismay… nothing had changed. 3 hours of intense labor… and I was still stuck at 7. She felt that there was swelling on my cervix and she claimed it was probably due to the fact that I had favored hands and knees so much. At this point, I was defeated. I let my body and head collapse on the side of the pool as if I was giving up. I didn’t know what to do anymore. I asked for an epidural. I couldn’t believe the words coming out of my mouth. I had had the plan of having a natural birth; I had thought I was capable of it. I had gone this far, and now I was asking for medicine? Ryan sat quiet. He knew my exhaustion.  My doula said “I’ve seen it work miracles for women…” But Beverly looked into my eyes and said” I know you can do this without it Yoni. Let’s wait 30 minutes and see what happens. Let’s break your water and see if that helps things along.”

               My midwife and doula suggested different positions to help open up my pelvis. In the bed, on my side, with an exercise ball in the shape of a peanut in between my legs. My body HATED this. These contractions were the absolute WORST of it all. I couldn’t breathe. I had never felt anything like this. I looked at Ryan. He didn’t see my stare, but I saw how upset he looked. He could feel my pains. He didn’t want to see my hurting. He looked helpless.  My doula, although amazed at my strength and pursuit of these positions, glanced at my midwife and said “This isn’t working for her. We’ve gotta find something for comfortable.” Beverly suggested lunges.  I held onto Ryan as the waves would come, lunging forward. It was somewhere around this time that I began to feel urges to push. These positions were really working!!

               At 1:45, Beverly checked me again. 8-9CM!!! As she is telling me this, I couldn’t believe it. I’d made so much progress in just one hour! I had felt so defeated an hour ago and now we were here! These urges were real; I now knew I had gotten past the toughest part of labor. I now knew I really could do this. Although I felt the urges, I still couldn’t focus on them completely. The contractions were still very strong in the front of my stomach. Beverly told me it was because my cervix was still swollen and his head was a little stuck, right where it was swollen. As she was checking me, she asked if I wanted her to try and move the rest of my cervix over his head.           

               IMMEDIATE success! She beamed as she said “I got it Yoni. You can feel the baby’s head. Do you want to feel the head?” I was baffled. It seemed as if my body just needed these bits of extra help, and boy was I thankful to have a midwife who helped me. I put my fingers inside, and almost started crying. I could feel hair!! I was touching my baby! I was so close. 10 moons of being in the womb, and I was about to bring this starchild earthside. I looked at Ryan, asking him if he wanted to feel. It was all so real now. We were in the home stretch!!!

               They asked me how I wanted to be and I responded that I only wanted to remain standing. Beverly laughed and claimed she hadn’t delivered a baby standing up in a while! I had wanted Ryan to catch our baby, but I understood that me standing wasn’t necessarily the norm. The squat bar was fixed to the bed, and preparations began to be made in the room.

               I pushed for about 30 minutes. I felt my baby moving down. I felt my body preparing, opening!! Like a flower. I tried to focus. My breathing becoming too quick. They reminded me to sloooow down. Ryan beside me, humming along with my roars and moans, reminding me to keep them low. I heard my doula say “I see the head! You’re almost there Yoni!” I could feel the burn as he crowned and then… I cried in happiness “RELIEF. OH RELIEF” as his shoulders and the rest of his body emerged. My legs shaking, adrenaline pumping, as I turned around to see my baby in my midwives hands.  Ryan telling me it was a boy. Oh the tears started flowing. I cried “My baby! My baby! My baby!”

               On August 2nd, 2016, at 2:28 AM our son Bodhi Lotus Nuri Rivers was born.

                My midwife proclaimed the cord was very long and was wrapped around his neck a couple times and that they were going to have to cut the cord and take him to the warmer because he wasn’t breathing. I gasped… “Are you sure? You can’t just leave it attached. I want to leave it attached. I won’t be able to hold him right away?” “You will in a few minutes.” I think that was the hardest part of the birth. I was ready to hold my SON.  As they cut the cord, and walked a few steps… My son started crying. Oh how I wish they would have just waited a few seconds. But I stayed calm; he was in good hands, Ryan by his side. My sweet Bodhi was wailing. I got in the bed, and the nurse was beside me as I delivered my placenta. My tree of life! The beautiful organ that gave nutrients to my sun! My midwife and nurses were amazed at the thickness of the veins in my placenta. They’d never seen anything like it.

  Beverly returned with Bodhi, and I got to hold my newborn son on my chest for the first time. His eyes wide open. Taking it all in. The love I felt for Bodhi was indescribable. I had absolutely, never in my life, felt such a love.  I looked at Ryan. My lover, my partner. And now the father of our son. WE had done it. Not just me. We had ridden the waves, him engulfed in aiding me in every which way, and we brought our son into this world. My love for him had grown to new levels. I felt my strength. I felt SO empowered. My baby boy, lying on my chest, hearing my heart beat on the outside…. I was his mother. I had prevailed. I had had the natural birth I desired. Everyone had believed in me, and now he was here. He was actually here. I had completed the sacred path of maidenhood to motherhood. I was now complete <3

                            I finished this story as my sweet Bodhi Tree was waking up. His eyes trying to open, he sees me, and starts smiling. He drifts between the dream realm and this reality as I continue typing. I feel my necklace get tugged on. I look down and once again, a smile. His eyes greeting me so warmly. I began to nurse him and I continue to get bashful smiles. I hear the door to our RV open and my love comes walking in after a day away at work. My family is whole again! My heart is happy. I have nothing to ask for. These two boys are wildest desires. I am blessed <3