Sunday, August 28, 2011

the growing and birthing of Poet Winter


It rained in October 2010. On and off the clouds grew heavy and eventually they let go. In October 2010 my parsley and mint were thriving in their terracotta pots.

She was conceived in the spring time while the rain drops fell.



Daniel wasn't convinced until I placed three pregnancy tests in front him. Two blue lines on each. I was quite certain of my dates and so I wrote, in white chalk, on our kitchen wall: 18th of July 2011. I'm the biggest sceptic of 'estimated due dates'. I don't really believe in them. But she proved me wrong. On the 18th of July 2011, just after lunch, she began her journey.

She grew within me for exactly 40 weeks. But I had dreamed of a little dark haired girl long before she was conceived. And I felt like I was preparing for her birth for many years before she entered my mind.

In my first labour, with her big brother, Che, I was shocked by the intensity and unprepared for the pain. I laboured for a good 31 hours, resisting each contraction, fighting every wave. Subsequently it hurt and although labour was strong, I stayed at 3cm for hours and hours and hours. It wasn't until I lay on the bed, curled up in the foetal position, waiting for an epidural, that I fully dilated within 40 minutes and held my first born shortly after.

It was a positive experience but not an enjoyable one.

I had prepared many women for their own birth journeys in my pre-natal classes. Week in, week out, I encouraged them to open their mouths, breathe deep, fall into the contraction and surrender to the journey. Teaching while pregnant was new to me. I had to remind myself to listen to my self, listen to those words. I was preparing too, getting closer to the transition of birth.

In the last few weeks of pregnancy I wondered whether I had prepared enough. Daniel and I spoke one night about surrender. "Just let your body do it, because it's going to do it anyway."

From the day I discovered I was growing her, I created my sankalpa. Yogis believe that a sankalpa (a positive affirmation) that is repeated daily and never shared, will always be realised. And so, every day, I said to myself, three times with meaning and emphasis: "I will carry my baby to full term and birth calmly and confidently, a healthy baby."

I always encouraged my students to do the same. And yet I knew, from all those birth stories that had been shared with me, that none of us can control our birth experience. Yes we can prepare and we can desire but ultimately we just need to surrender to where our birth journey takes us.

At about 35 weeks pregnant I decided to journey towards birth with acceptance. I surrendered the need to control. When blood tests showed significantly low iron levels my midwife informed me that I might not be able to birth at the low risk birth centre I had booked in to. I accepted the news calmly, promised I would do everything I could to increase my iron levels but, at the end of the day, I had to accept that all would be well. My baby was going to be born regardless of where I was.

Teaching pregnant women is a humbling experience. I have heard stories of troubled conception, miscarriage, pregnancy complications, pregnancy loss, ecstatic birth, traumatic birth. There were some stories that inspired and comforted me on my pregnancy journey and some stories that I consciously needed to let go of.

Some days I had unending faith in my body and its ability to birth my baby. At other times that faith wavered, particularly in the last week of pregnancy when I became bedridden with a heavy cold. On the Sunday before she arrived I cried big tears, the kind that leave red eyes and a headache in their wake. She was getting closer, I could tell, and yet I and no idea how I was going to labour while I felt so sick.

The next morning I woke to sunshine. And I felt good, really good. The best I'd felt in over a week. I was rested and happy. And I was oh so grateful for it. That morning I decided to practice gratitude in each and every contraction - gratitude for my body, my health and the opportunity to experience labour and natural birth.

I wrote a post that morning and I typed the words: " I think I've been holding on to baby a bit, because of my cold, but now I'm ready to let go and labour. "

She obviously heard me because soon after my Braxton Hicks became noticeably stronger. The sun streamed through the windows and I pottered about. I washed the bed linen in gentle eucalyptus detergent, I tended to the herbs on the balcony and I washed the dishes. I checked, once again, that my bag was ready. Che came home from Montessori and the 3 of us ate a late lunch. We were content and calm and happy and I was breathing wonderfully deep through each BH. Still, I was certain that labour was days away.

In the early evening I made dinner and listened, once again, to Che as he told me how much he loved me. He had said it so many times that afternoon, he'd been extra cuddly, never far from my sight. Perhaps then I knew that things were happening. Because in his own way he was preparing, readying himself, for the biggest change in his life so far.

I tucked him into bed extra tight that night, kissed him some more and picked up the books that were scattered on the floor.

And when he was settled and soundly asleep the Braxton Hicks became mild contractions.

Daniel and I started to get excited but I kept reminding him that it could be days away. I honestly didn't think she was so close.

We watched some TV and went to bed. At this stage the contractions were about seven minutes apart, lasting for about 40 seconds. At 10pm we messaged Daniel's Mum (Ommi) to say that I was in early labour and asked her to keep her phone on.

Daniel fell asleep and I dozed in and out of slumber, waking with the waves. I breathed deep and by 11pm I was moaning. It felt good to make noise. I was on my knees on the bed, resting on my forearms, rotating my hips and keeping my mouth open and soft. In between contractions I fell into the pillows, mentally travelling around my body to ensure I wasn't holding any tension. I felt good. I was confident.

At midnight I asked Daniel to phone his Mum. I still wasn't sure if this was the real thing but I knew I'd feel better if she was here, to be with Che. In the fifteen minutes it took for her to get to us I didn't have any contractions and yet when she looked into the bedroom and said "hello" I experienced the strongest contraction yet. Time went by, Daniel lay beside me as I contracted and I reminded myself to let go, to be, to just go with the flow. I started wondering whether I should call my midwife. It was late, I didn't want to wake her unnecessarily, I still wasn't sure whether I was in labour. Sure the waves were getting closer and stronger but I wasn't feeling a great sense of urgency to get to the birth centre.

I suddenly felt the urge to go to the toilet, a pressing down into my bottom. My body was clearing out and then the contractions became stronger once again. Ommi suggested I call the midwives - apparently the noises I was making had got deeper and longer in the time that she'd been with us.

I phoned Marianne, the midwife on call. My midwife, Val, had promised that she would be with me at my birth even if it was her rostered day off. I had two contractions while chatting with Marianne and she encouraged us to come in. She promised that she would call Val. At 2am I kissed Che goodbye, message my parents to tell them baby was on its way, and Daniel and I drove off into the night.

Ommi lay on a mattress beside Che's bed all night. She later told me that he moaned through his sleep, making the same noises I was during each contraction.


We passed four cars on the way to the birth centre. What was usually a 45 minute drive only took us 20 minutes. When we pulled into the car park there were three rabbits on the grass, illuminated by our headlights. The little suit I had packed to dress baby in had three embroidered rabbits on the front. I smiled at the coincidence.

We went into the Emergency Department and waited for our midwife. I was swaying and moaning through eah contraction, physically and mentally falling into each one. I was smiling, Daniel told me, and all the on-lookers smiled with me.

The nurses in ED laughed while they warned me that they weren't trained to deliver babies. And I, being the passionate natural birth advocate that I am, informed them that I was the only one that could deliver my baby. In labour and still willing to voice my opinion.

The nurse walked us through the corridors to the Birth Centre. The lights were dim. I stopped once to squat and sway and looked up to see a painting of butterflies, similar to a painting I contracted in front of when I was in labour with Che. When Marianne welcomed us into the Birth Centre I noticed the butterflies on her shirt. We were the only ones there and when I walked into the Birthing Suite I cried. The room was calm, the lights dim and there was a photo on the wall of a little boy hugging his Muma's pregnant belly. He looked just like Che.

The downward pressure in each contraction was incredibly strong. It literally pulled me towards the earth. As I felt the next contraction arrive I reminded myself how lucky I was, to be so in my body, so full of faith, working together with my baby. Marianne checked my blood pressure and the baby's heartbeat. All was well, as I knew.

Not once did I feel fear.

Daniel set up the cameras, I sipped water, Marianne quietly busied herself.

I was leaning against the bath, facing away from the door when I started crying again. I turned around and Val was there. I began to realise what an intuitive experience it was. My senses were heightened yet my awareness was steadily moving inward, downward.

At this stage all the pressure was in the front of my pelvis. I was squatting and swaying and it felt really good to rub my belly in a downward motion, encouraging her to move earth-side. An internal confirmed that I was 5cm dilated. It was 3am.

I journeyed from standing to sitting on the ball, leaning over the bed. Val knew when to rub my back and when to stop. I felt blessed to be with midwives who had the utmost faith and trust in me and my body. Val was in tune with my needs; she was calm, grounded and supportive. She spoke when she knew I wanted to listen, was quiet when I needed space. Most of the time she observed. After one particularly strong contraction she rubbed my lower back and asked me if the pressure was there now. And it was, it has shifted. She knew from simply listening to me. I didn't need to question whether I was progressing because I could feel it. The pressure was steadily moving deeper into my bottom. I stripped off my shirt and put my hair up in a bun.

"She means business now," said Val. Humour; an essential part of an enjoyable labour.

I hung off Daniel's neck, my squats getting even deeper, I moaned deep and long to ensure I was letting go with each outward breath, the vibration in my body was powerful from those noises, and they were sending her down. I kept my mouth soft and open, my eyes closed in each contraction so I could internalise and focus on my breath. Daniel was so proud of me, I could see it in his face. He just kept smiling at me, rubbing my back, getting me what I needed. So much love.

Just before I got in the bath I remembered the faces of past students and their inspiring stories. Natasha, Belinda, Mel, Sara, Ashley, Sarah, Jacinta, Meagan, Antonia, Amanda. They were all there in the forefront of my mind, encouraging me. The wisdom of the women who had birthed before me. I was still smiling, still enjoying it, happy to be in it. So very grateful for the opportunity to be birthing my baby and to be supported by such wise, loving midwives.

I instinctively knew it was time to sink into the warm water (buoyancy!) and when Val asked me if I'd like Daniel to get in too, I declined. "It's so nice to stretch out," I said. I wasn't willing to share the spacious bath with anyone. It was 4.15am.

I lay on my side, desperately needing strong, long back rubs during contractions and completely softening in the resting space between. She was oh so close, the pressure in my bottom was powerful, I could feel her head pressing down, and hard. I moved onto my knees and leant my torso against the edge of the bath.

Although each contraction was long, deep and almighty, the space between was lovely. I only had a few contractions in the bath before I felt her descend. I was still falling down into the contraction and now, so was she - it was 4.40am. I asked for a cold face-washer and I crunched ice between waves - the cool sensation was welcoming. I didn't have to push; the noises and their subsequent vibrations moved her down. She was almost here. As she was crowning I noticed the silence and asked for music to play.

She was born to Sacred Earth's "Ancient Mother" and the words: "Ancient mother I hear you calling me, ancient mother I hear your song, ancient mother I hear your laughter, ancient mother I taste your tears."

At 4.47am she swam into Daniel's arms. "It's a girl," he said, his face was beaming pure joy. And then he passed her to me. She was here and she was beautiful. "A girl! It's a girl. My baby girl!" She was chirping little noises, she was pink, covered in vernix. She was wide-eyed and alert, lifting her head off my chest to see me. I kissed her, held her, couldn't quite believe she was here.

Poet.

Daniel took photos and I was deep in the just--birthed-my-baby haze, those hormones lifting me high. I understood what joyous birth felt like. Yes some of the contractions were painful but I wouldn't describe it as a painful experience. It was an honour and a privilege, to be so in my body, with so much faith, working with my baby as we travelled through the transition of birth.

I hardly bled, my body protecting itself because of my low iron levels. I stepped from the bath, my baby girl and I swathed in warm towels. "I feel like a princess," I said to the midwives. "You are," they replied. They helped me onto the bed where I lay for the next few hours. I delivered the placenta twenty minutes later.

Poet was calm and alert and attached easily. She fed for two hours, her eyes open the entire time. We bonded, chatted and fell in love. And then we went home to a warm house where Che cuddled up to her and said: "You're home now baby."


She was home. And we were four.


79 COMMENTS

  1. Just...

    Just every kind of right. x

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  2. Beautiful. Tears in my eyes. What a truly wonderful experience.

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  3. Such a beautiful birth story Jodi. (In that second photo of her on your chest she looks so much like you!)

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  4. this brings tears to my eyes. thank you for sharing such a beautiful story. just beautiful. x

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  5. She is beautiful, what a blessing she is home with you and arrived in the way you had hoped.

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  6. Beautiful, thank you so much for sharing

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  7. so beautiful jodi! i'd love to know how you chose the name poet, if you care to share... xx

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  8. wow, how moving. you write beautifully as always. so heartfelt and true to who you are. a talent indeed. thanks for sharing.

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  9. Amazing.
    Such a beautiful moment in time.

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  10. Stunning photos, stunning story. Always beautiful to read these kinds of experiences.
    Lila

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  11. Amazing! Such a precious story x

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  12. Full of love. Thank you so much for sharing!

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  13. i didn't really feel like crying tonight, but here i am wiping tears from my face. again. over this same story.

    so moving Jodi.

    xo em

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  14. beautiful photos. beautiful words. thank you for sharing.

    Fine

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  15. No words. So moved. What a transcendent story. xx

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  16. I'm so happy Jody, that you experienced this kind of powerful birth. Thank you for sharing your story and beautiful images of it. xxx

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  17. Oh me oh my, I loved reading this Jodi. SO beautiful. Thank you for sharing, and that photo of you holding beautiful Poet. Stole. My. Heart. x

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  18. so glad to read this beautiful story and see the amazing pictures. so glad to be part of your community of strong empowered women. thankyou!

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  19. I read this in the middle of the night while feeding Elodie. Thank you for this reminder of our day, 5 months ago. It has been awhile since I have revisited all those emotions, again.

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  20. so perfect.
    thank you for saying this - that birth can be enjoyed an not feared.
    my births were just like this - the more you surrender, the easier, quicker and less painful. in my last 3 births i have never once felt a moment of fear.
    and then pulling that babe up through the water to my chest..best thing EVER. hands down :)
    thanks for sharing X

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  21. That is such an amazing birth story. It sounds like an incredible experience. Thank you so much for sharing.

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  22. You continue to inspire me and if/when I birth a third child I will be coming to your classes in preparation and absorbing all your wisdom and calmness :-)
    I'd love to see more photos and hear the song that she entered the world with.

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  23. What an amazing post and experience x

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  24. So lovely and so right. The opposite of my birth with Cohen. I hope I can surrender when the time comes this time. xx

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  25. My arm hairs are on end. You make me want to do it all over again... such a beautiful and inspiring birth story. I can't find the words to tell you how this has made me feel.
    Beautiful you. Beautiful Poet. xx

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  26. Oh how I have cried while reading this - What a lovely family you all are!

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  27. What a beautiful story. I loved, loved, loved reading it.

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  28. absolutely beautiful jodi. birth can be so joyful and powerful and i'm so glad you shared your joyful and powerful story. it made me shed a tear...but then i'm always shedding tears at births ;-)

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  29. I loved this story Jodi, hung off every single word. What a pleasure to read. I admire you so very much. Your babies have an incredible Mama and family to be a part of. What a special experience to share with us all. Well done in every way Jodi xo
    Your photos are simply divine.

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  30. tears in my eyes, that was beautiful, I read it while nursing my child. :)

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  31. Thank you. This is so beautiful.

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  32. I still love reading birth stories...even though those days are behind me. I'm so glad it all went smoothly for you. I remember when I found out I was pregnant with my third I panicked a little as my second birth had been fast and somewhat furious and I never felt in control.
    At about 7 months I read a book about yoga and pregnancy and in it I got a gem which helped me in labour. The line was something like..."this pain is a good pain, this pain is bringing my baby to me". It was fantastic. I didn't need to fear the pain, I just needed to embrace it. And that line, coupled with water made for my best birth of all.
    Poet is absolutely gorgeous.
    Congratulations to you all.
    l
    x

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  33. Thank you for such an inspiring and amazing birth story, Poet is so beautiful and blessed to be in your loving arms. X ashley

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  34. Thank you for this post. Such a beautiful and inspiring insight. I am yet to have children, but I thank you for already guiding and preparing me for what is to come some day.

    Elise x

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  35. What a moving birth story, it's hard to read it and not shed tears..just so beautiful. And that first image of you...gorgeous!
    Thank you for sharing :)

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  36. i believe this may be the most beautiful birth story i've ever read (and i've read a lot). natural birth is truly the most amazing and empowering experience of a woman's life. congratulations!

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  37. I'm at a complete loss for words. It's so special to read a story (written astoundingly beautifully) which shows birth as it is. A powerful, wonderful experience. Thank you for sharing. You're an inspiration to women and mothers. Poet is beautiful. And she looks exactly like you. Kellie xx

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  38. Oh Jodi - reading that beautiful tale filled me with so much joy. The photos are stunning, and you look incredibly content and peaceful. Poet is just beautiful and your story has made me even more clucky that I already am! xx

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  39. I love birth stories. And this one is beautiful, joyous, and full of heart. Thanks for telling it.
    (PS I dreamed of my girl, too, before she came - a red haired, curly headed sprite. She also arrived on her due date. It was a full moon.)

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  40. I love birth stories. And this one is beautiful, joyous, and full of heart. Thanks for telling it.
    (PS I dreamed of my girl, too, before she came - a red haired, curly headed sprite. She also arrived on her due date. It was a full moon.)

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  41. Wow. This is amazing. YOU are amazing. xxx

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  42. You fill me with hope that one day i will have the natural birth i have always dreamed of, that my body to can birth without intervention.
    You have such a way with words & i thank you for sharing such a private, intimate time of your life with us.

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  43. Thank you for sharing your story, it's beautiful. I'm 4 months pregnant with my first child and your words are inspirational to me, thank you.

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  44. Yes, I just sat down and thought "i'm not really emotional tonight, I'll be fine" but here I am with tears in my eyes. I am so happy for you. Blessed are we to be able to experience that kind of living. May your story inspire many more mothers to have the strength and courage to have the birth of their dreams. Love to you all. xo m.

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  45. i must admit, i am kind of addicted to the power and beauty of birth, not to mention that first sweet moment when you lay eyes on your baby. you've captured all of that so perfectly here. thanks for sharing something so special. xoxo

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  46. I'm so pleased you kept some of you for you. Enjoy the wonder of four. xxx

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  47. I have tears in my eyes, such a beautiful story, has me thinking of my own stories. than you for sharing your beautiful family with us. x

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  48. so beautiful to share such a story Jodi. I am due to have my first baby in 2 weeks and your words have filled me with so much confidence about having a positive and beautiful experience. So happy it was just as you'd dreamed and HUGE congrats on the beautiful little poet!

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  49. Hi Jodi. Saw you left a comment on Claire's blog regarding Poet's cradle cap. Ruby had cradle crap quite badly and whilst I chose not to do anything about it in the first few months, I did find that Organic Olive Oil worked beautifully to clear it up. I just gently rubbed it into her scalp at bath time. It's natural and chemical free - and good for the skin.

    Hope this helps!

    Jade x

    Oh - and finally put my birth story on my blog today. no amazing pics like yours though, I think I was naked in every single shot - not something I really want to flaunt!!

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  50. Oh Jodi, that was simply stunning. You certainly have a way with words. I would love to have the opportunity to birth as you did with my next bubba, whenever that may be. You inspire me, and many others too I am sure to strive for what I would love to achieve when I have the chance to bring another babe into the world. (And if it doesn't go as perfectly as yours did, I will still be happy too).
    xx Rhi xx

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  51. Beautiful Jodi, just beautiful. Through writing that and sharing it you are sure to inspire so many more women on their own natural birthing journey.
    Thank you.
    xxxx

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  52. wow. just awesome. And funny, I had Sacred Earth playing while I was in early labour and I only just put it on again last night for the first time since then (7 mths) and it took me straight back to being there birthing my baby.
    Thanks for sharing...

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  53. I've been reading so many birth stories, and this has to be one of the most inspiring. The words you've written will help me, i'm sure. I've already printed this off for Ben to read, as he has with all the other stories I've found, to understand more about what will happen and what I want to happen.
    Your positive attitude and story is what I want to immerse myself in during the second half of my pregnancy. To let go and let my body do what it was built to do.
    Thank you Jodi, and such happy congratulations to you all again on beautiful Poet and the birth that you hoped for xx

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  54. So so intimate, breathtakingly beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing. I have remembered my own 2 birth stories, and some of yours are very similar to mine. I am in awe of your strength and poetry.... you have named your daughter well. Lou x

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  55. So so intimate, breathtakingly beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing. I have remembered my own 2 birth stories, and some of yours are very similar to mine. I am in awe of your strength and poetry.... you have named your daughter well. Lou x

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  56. So so intimate, breathtakingly beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing. I have remembered my own 2 birth stories, and some of yours are very similar to mine. I am in awe of your strength and poetry.... you have named your daughter well. Lou x

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  57. Thanks for sharing your birth story. Beautiful. My last was born at 4:40 and I thought it was lovely to birth through the quiet of the night.

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  58. Beautiful birthing story Jodi. x

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  59. Tears in my eyes. Photos totally amazing. Birth story superb. xxx

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  60. Hi Jodi, I just found your blog. I am one of the girls from your pre-natal yoga class. Congrats on your gorgeous little girl, I wish you all the best!!! (I had a little girl too, in March).
    Agnes

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  61. a beautiful birth story...and gorgeous blog ....you have such a peacceful meditative quality to your writing, reading it is a bit like having a chai in the sunshine. I also love your parenting philisopy. You would love reading Heart to Heart Parenting and Parenting for a Peaceful World - when you have time!

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  62. beautiful photos. congrats on poet. what a great name! wow, takes me back to those newborn moments....how can 9 months feel so long ago? thats right :) cause i've aged 9 YEARS in that time!

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  63. i am truly inspired and will be thinking of your birth when my time comes later in the year. thank you for sharing this beautiful birth story jodi.

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  64. p.s. i love that first photo of you, you look like the most peaceful birthing mama, i swear i was the polar opposite when i had piper!

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  65. beautiful story--thank you for sharing! it's inspiring me to get my own down on the page after 2 months of dreamy newborn fog.

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  66. beautiful and touching story. thank you for sharing jodi.

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  67. Your photos are so special.
    I appreciate you posting them and they mean so much to me after only just going through my own birth.
    My own birth was so so quick that we did not even have time to think of cameras etc...
    But we do have the just after birth shots and they are so so very special to us.

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  68. Wow. This is one of the most amazing things I've ever read. I felt like I was right there with you through the whole amazing and empowering experience. The photos are as beautiful as the words that accompany them. And that first pic? Well, we know where Poet gets her lips from!

    Poet is a true blessing and well done you for doing such a wonderful job of birthing her! xx

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  69. Gosh - I don't even know what to say!!! That's probably the best blog post I've ever read. Resonates so much more as I'm 5 months pregnant with my first and doing my research into ante-natal classes now. I'm going to go down the "Calm Birth" route which sounds similar to yours - trying to have a natural birth and being aware of the natural things we can do to deal with the 'good' pain of labour. Your story is amazing and was an absolute treasure and inspiration to read!! xxx

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  70. My first visit to your blog and I am gifted with one of the most beautiful birth stories I have ever read. I found myself smiling and tearing up, overwhelmed with how beautiful Poet's birth sounded.

    Congratulations on becoming a family of four. I can't wait to hang around and learn more about you. Che looks beautiful, and your little girl...sublime.

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  71. I read this and immediately sent it to a friend of mine who I know was due any day. A couple of days later we got the message that her baby boy was born and that she had received my email and read your story while in early labour. It was a wonderful thing for her to read. Thank You.

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  72. So inspiring and incredibly beautiful. I am really looking forward to this wonderful experience and whatever it might bring. Thank you!

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  73. wow jodi. so many things you wrote, I smiled so many times knowing just how you felt. the joy, the pain, the trust in your body, the knowing. I was very very blessed to birth my three completely naturally. many say I was crazy, why on earth would you choose to do that? to feel every minute of that beautiful miracle, nothing compares. beautiful words yet again. x

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  74. Just read this again Jodi, for inspiration. I'm just a few weeks away from giving birth and I remember how amazing your story was when I first read it. So I came back. And it's really helped me feel more confident and focus on the natural birth we're so hoping to have. So thanks. Your words are so reassuring and inspiring xx

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  75. struggling to stop crying at this beautiful piece of writing, then I remember to surrender and just let myself cry! Stories like this make me want to give birth - only 39 days to go!

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  76. finally for around to reading this...trying to catch up on what I missed before I found you.
    now I'm crying a lot.
    birth is so magical.
    thankyou. X

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  77. I've read this beautiful story before, but here I am again. Now that I'm expecting a little one myself, it takes on a whole new dimension. Of course, I'm crying.

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful journey. I'm going to come back and read this more than once again, I'm sure.

    Melania

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