(Photo credit: www.alissaanderson.com)
I am being called to write my birth story here, now, on this beautiful morning October 2, 2013~ Naias third birthday. I have always wanted to share our story and wasn’t sure why it hadn’t happened yet until now. Several weeks ago we learned that our amazing midwife Claudia Brown had passed from a quick battle with cancer. Having been a midwife for almost 30 years, she had caught over 10,000 babies. She is truly a legend here on Kauai, throughout all the Hawaiian islands and beyond. Its hard for me to find the words to describe this beautiful soul so I will honor her with my experience of life and death. This story will go into a book being published about Claudia and her life.
We first discovered Claudia’s work when we were living In New Zealand. Agustin and I found out we were pregnant and had no doubt we wanted to have a home birth. I spoke with Claudia through Email and she was thrilled to have us coming back to the island via New Zealand. She herself had once lived and loved in the beautiful green, hot spring land of Aotearoa.
Three months into the pregnancy, we arrived back on the island of Kauai and met with Claudia at her birthing center just a few days after our arrival. I was so comfortable with her and felt an immediate sense of ohana right away. I come from a pretty wild, open and free family, so Claudia fit every fantasy of the perfect midwife possible. I could share it all with her and she totally got it and never really seemed surprised by anything. I always loved that about her. She represented the ultimate Queen in my eyes.
In July of 2010, around seven months into my pregnancy, I found out my best friend of thirteen years, Cheree, had been murdered. It was just a month before her wedding day and I was to be her Maid of Honor. I had just flown to the mainland for my blessing way and we spent the week before her passing together, sharing stories of our future with new babes and new loves. I cherish those last days together as we were truly able to say our thank you and goodbyes without even knowing it. Claudia was one of the first women I called when I found out about the passing. I spoke with both her and another midwife Terri about what was happening and they really came to hold my heart during that time. I recognized through their words that I needed to be strong for my baby. I was able to move through that life transition with ease and grace because of the support I received from Claudia and Terri. What an amazing opportunity for me to witness the beauty of life and death together as one. I was studying a lot of Krishnmurti then and his teachings on death are some of the best. Thank you K. I now had an Angel by my side, and birth was going to be a piece of cake!
The rest of that summer I ripened and grew to a full glow. Despite the recent occurrence, I felt beautiful, radiant and happy. I would take time to swim in the ocean daily and even got to swim with the dolphins multiple times while in full form. We were living on the community here on the island I often share about and there was an abundance of fresh fruit growing on the land. The Ulu tree next to our bedroom window seemed to be growing her babies with mine. In fact the morning I went into labor, the same Ulu tree dropped her first fruit. (Naia’s placenta is now buried underneath the beautiful Ulu tree that fed us for months after her birth.)
I spoke with Claudia the morning of October 2, 2010 as my contractions were light but three minutes apart. She suggested we drive up to the birthing center to relax and prepare for our journey. We stopped at the Anahola heiau to place some offerings and send out our prayers. I caught a little heart shaped seed that gently fell from the tree above into my hand and I knew it was a gift from the praying goddess just above us on the mystic mountain. Women showing up to support in all directions.
We arrived at Claudia’s around noon and set up our altar space. We filled it with spring water we brought back from New Zealand, sand from our favorite beach Larsons, candles, crystals, and flowers, lots of flowers. There was also a beautiful photo of Cheree. The sun was peeking in and out of the clouds and the weather was warm and humid which I love. The perfect day to bring forth this child.
I immediately fell into a dream state upon entering the property. I don’t really remember the image details too much but the feeling of those sunlit hours I will never forget. My contractions throughout the day slowly begin to increase and around 5pm I called in the midwives for some extra support. Sharon, another midwife came in and checked me, I was only dilated to about 2 cm but felt like I was deep in it. Several hours later my Mama and two of my dear girlfriends arrived. My sis Fiona sat in meditation while my other sis Rachel kept my Mama company outside the room where I was now in full active labor. Both Sharon and Claudia came in to check on me around 9 pm. Claudia gave me a new breath to use and I had called in Rachel to bathe me in ice water which helped tremendously. Sounds began to pour from my body like I had never heard. Pure wild, woman animal sounds that came from the depth of my being. The midwives knew from the songs coming from deep within that things had quickly sped up. Sharon checked me once again and sure enough I was fully dilated. We wanted to have a water birth so Claudia suggested now was the time to head outside into the hot tub.
In between contractions, I quickly wobbled outdoors under the starlit sky. The water in the tub was exactly what I needed. Rachel got in and sat behind me for support and Agustin placed himself in front in preparation to catch the baby. I was a little bit hesitant about giving my Mom a large task so we just asked that she just watch the clock for when Naia came out. With the shift of us moving outdoors happening, Rachel, my photographer now became my pushing support, and as day turned to night, we also needed a flashlight/spotlight. So now you have my Mom with the flashlight in her mouth, camera in one hand and timer in the other! And I have to say, she did an amazing job!! Thank you Mama!
The pushing was a relief for me as it was such a different sensation from the contractions. I truly felt I had left my body during this time and was just handing it all over to the universe. I also felt like I had waited for this moment forever. This next part was the finale! We were so close! What was the ring of fire going to feel like? How long would I have to push for? Everything I had always wanted to know was now right there waiting for me to get to work. The pushing only lasted about 20 minutes and within moments I felt my baby’s head come bursting through the fully bloomed flower. A couple of pushes more and at 11:10 pm out came our daughter Naia Atia Kumara (Dolphin from the stars, peace child) into her Papa’s hands. He quickly placed her on my chest and we rejoiced to the heavens above for this most sacred and surreal gift we had just been given.
We all dried off and went inside to warm ourselves. I had asked everyone at the blessing way to bring a candle for the birth so when we came back into the birthing suite, the room was lit with over 50 candles. I climbed into bed where I placed Naia upon my breast. It was also during this time that we anointed her third eye with a drop of whale oil. Agustin and I had been working strongly with the whale energy the previous year while living in New Zealand. Naia was conceived there and a Maori elder gave us the sacred whale oil as a blessing. We slept together for the first time that night as a family. Naia hasn’t left our bed since.
My journey as a Mother has my heart bursting and breaking all at once. As I released one best friend, I gained another. Life is living and dying in every moment. I have never been asked to show up with heart so wide open, present, and patient than I have been as a Mother. I now understand our own great Mother Earth just a little bit better.