By Shannon

My birth story of Izzy (Isabella Rose) started well before our day in the hospital. From the time of conception, her biological father made it very clear that this was not what he wanted, through a series of verbal abuse and manipulation and using my newly hormonal self against me. What I couldn’t deny was that the light growing within me was more powerful and more enlightened that him, than me or that situation. Contrary to what I thought at the time, looking back I now know that no matter what I did, Isabella Rose would come into this world beaming, despite any negativity.

I remember the day I realized I was pregnant. I opened my eyes, shielding my eyes from the bright morning light. I sat up and saw light everywhere — in the hallway, in my closet, in every corner of my room. I felt warm and as if a sort of hum was flowing through me. I reached over only to find that it was the middle of the night… the light was not coming from the sun, but from my body. The light continued to shine and as I looked up into the hallway, an endless tunnel opened up, lined with people and angels just waiting to see. Waiting to see her. That is when I knew.

Everyone believes in different ways our energy was created, different ways our energy exists and all the ways our energy ascends and interacts throughout each lifetime. This, to me, is part of what makes each experience so beautiful and unique.

I spent my pregnancy as a single “mom”, working to pay for and support this new life. She seemed to draw upon the world’s energy and attract what she needed… what we needed. We were never in financial constraints or difficulty, we were never without support and love from family, from friends, from our circle of amazing women. No matter how I thought my world was crumbling or how I thought the decisions I was making could harm my child, Isabella Rose and the Devine brought together everything that was needed to create and support the most important soul in my life.

I started going to my local midwives at Woodwinds Healtheast in Woodbury, MN. I knew that I needed a healthcare approach that combined my own personal views on holistic medicine, utilizing modern approaches while integrating my own intuition and knowledge. The CNM’s at Woodwinds were amazing from start to finish and they continue to be my primary care physicians to this day.

For work, I traveled up until 8 months, flying to see clients, attending industry events and speaking to top-level executives while my belly threatened the whiteboard diagrams and the first row of listeners. It was astounding the reactions I got when walking into a room of senior management or approaching a stage with hundreds of listeners ready to judge. My fellow female leaders… some were “proud of me” while others were wondering why I wasn’t at home taking care of myself and resting. I presented myself to the world as confident, even more powerful and brilliant than before — offsetting the loneliness, the confusion and the uncertainty that awaited me.

When the time came for Izzy’s biological father to make the choice to stay or leave, he left. His violent past and criminal record emerged shortly after, along with a history of manipulation and a trail of abandonment. When he left I was given two pieces of advice — two choices. To go after him and secure “my child’s right” to his money and support, or wash my hands and let him go, free of obligation. I struggled with this decision for a long time. Pitting one decision against the other, which is the lesser of the two… which is greater? Do I choose to live in scarcity or do I choose to live in abundance and faith? When the time came, I chose to let him go, no ties, no obligations and no explanation. I learned that closure was something I would have to do on my own and forgiveness was all on me. This decision was one of the best decisions of my life — he was never on the birth certificate, he was never a part of Isabella’s life and therefore she remained in love, in light and protected from the darkness. No court dates, no fighting the inevitable… just letting go and being at peace with that decision.

My birth-plan was all based on trying to be “normal.” I wanted the most normal experience I could create to offset the rollercoaster my life was at the time. I know now how naive that is… “normal” and birth don’t belong in the same sentence! My birth-plan included lying on my back, feet in stirrups, drugs and my birth tribe holding my hands and encouraging me with all they had. What I kept in the back of my mind, though, was this mantra, “The whole goal of Isabella’s birthday is to get her out into this world safely so that she can be exactly who she needs to be to make this world better.” I said this over and over and over and to this day… I still stand by those words.

Izzy is five now and her favorite bedtime story is the one of the day she was born — she knows it by heart and I tell it like this…

My sister, Tara was living with me at the moment to help in the final months of pregnancy. A week and a half before my due date, she decided to head to our parents’ house for the weekend. I didn’t think anything of it since she was only an hour away. That night, Jason called — the long lasting love of my life who I am now married to (a story for another time). I will never forget his last words before we hung up, “I don’t think you should be alone tonight, I have a feeling.” He was right, Isabella Rose was ready to come into this world and my regular and consistent contractions started an hour later. I called Jason back to let him know and then I called my “tribe” — my mother, my sister Tara and my aunt Erin. Coincidentally my new Keens showed up in the mail and I put them on and we walked the town of Hudson, WI. If anyone knows this town, it isn’t large and there are only so many places to go. But we walked, and napped, and ate, and bounced on the exercise ball… and walked some more. Until finally, contractions were five minutes apart and it was time to head to the birthing center.

Here we go!

Laying in the hospital bed, in my room I realized that I didn’t want normal… I wanted to be in a warm tub of water and I wanted to be comfortable… which again, doesn’t belong in the same sentence as birth! I was feeling so tired after now going through over 24 hours of regular contractions and discomfort and pain and hunger. I was depleted and I had no idea how I was supposed to now go through the most physically, emotionally and spiritually challenging event of my life. I decided to have the CNM’s break my water to help move things along… the immediate burning and excruciating pain was like nothing I had ever felt. A wave of fear flooded over me… of the unknown… was this as bad as it would get… would it get worse… what was I doing… what had I done… I can’t have a baby… I can’t be here… why, what, how?!

My aunt Erin came over and held her cellphone to my ear, I heard a voice and my whole body calmed, “Do you want me there?” Jason asked. “Yes.” Without even thinking, I answered and I knew that this experience required a partner beside me who knew how to help me find peace, to ground this experience and to help me focus on my mantra. I had known Jason for many years and had loved him over many lifetimes. I believe that you can find this kind of support in any being or soul — in my case, Jason rounded out this support. He was the final link in my tribe.

The CNM’s said that a birthing tub just opened up and that they could have it ready within the hour. Out of nowhere I say, “YES!”… again, and with that, “normal” was obliterated. I eased into the warm water with the help of my tribe and instantly found comfort facing the front of the tub, on my knees. The pressure was relieved from my lower back, my sister took her place at the head of the tub, holding my hands. My mom stood back offering words of encouragement and love. My aunt Erin was there to help keep me focused on my physical task. Jason was to my right, hands and arms outstretched, catching me when I would close my eyes and allow my body to fall limp between pushes. This cycle continued for hours until a fire began to emerge within me and I screamed and punched the side of the tub. I later found out that I had ruptured the seal of the tub and water began to leak everywhere, yet at the time I had no idea the power that punch had. I channeled that energy and pushed so hard I felt a burning split and I felt Isabella’s head emerge. My body was under water and I felt the CNM’s hands applying pressure. One more unbelievable burst of energy and I pushed my sweetest baby out into the water. I saw a blurry silhouette under the water. I instinctively reached down and my hands gently wrapped around this warm, slippery being. I pulled her out of the water and put her on my chest, wiping the afterbirth and hair from her delicate forehead. She pulled her head up and looked right into my eyes and I said, “I’m so proud of you my sweetest girl, I love you so much, you are so beautiful.” Jason reached down and held her next. Since Jason is now Isabella’s dad, it is so beautiful to be able to tell her that her daddy held her next and took care of her while mommy was healing.

From that moment on it was a blur of images and feelings. My abdomen began to ache, someone said push again and I felt a hand press heavily on my already bruised and torn stomach. I heaved in pain and my placenta was birthed. I passed out numerous times as they used over 25 stitches to mend the ripping and tearing of the experience. The room seemed a complete bustle of people and energy. Sometimes Isabella would be on my chest, sometimes she was under a scope, sometimes passed around my tribe. I was shown how to walk, how to pee, how to have a bowel movement and not split my stitches. Take this, don’t do that, walk this way… until night came and I slept. By that time it was after 2 in the morning and they took Izzy for a couple hours to let me sleep. When Izzy rolled back into my room, I couldn’t believe it. I was a mother… something that I would never come back from… something I would always be from that point on… a mother. She was mine, I was hers and there was no greater intent or purpose — my life was defined and everything else melted away — it was Isabella Rose and I… and the world.

Can I just say that though some of this sounded magical, birth is messy, painful and absolutely crazy. I never thought I would see so much blood, feces, urine, oozing orifices… cracked skin and irritation, bruising, stretched skin, dark and sunken eyes — and a level of depletion and tiredness that I have yet, to this day to reclaim. I chose a natural birth — which to me means that I chose nothing to come between my child’s birth and the pain that weaved throughout that. I envy those who say their birth experience was easy, “just happened”, was the greatest experience of their life. I was in so much pain, I will never forget the burning fire of my vagina and cervix splitting in exchange for my greatest creation. The days/weeks that followed were a combination of feet up, intense bleeding, stretched skin and personal sadness combined with intense joy. Everywhere I went, I cried, I laughed, I battled with myself, I loved my new child, I yearned for freedom. My life had become a dichotomy of before and after Isabella. What was the future going to become? Who was I now? Who would my Isabella Rose be with me as a mother?

Love and light to all who have been a part of birth.