"The patterns baby carried into conception, and the experience from conception through birth creates a blueprint that the child will recapitulate during life and be called to heal."
Sacred Birthing Insight

Becoming a Sacred Birthing Community Doula: My First Birth

My name is Sharon Gonsalves and I attended the Sacred Birthing Foundation’s Doula Training Program from January through April 2009. Barbara Essman was the lead instructor and author/founder/midwife Sunni Karll was very instrumental in delivering the training. There were about 10 women in the class and I learned so much from each one. Many had had their own babies and others were preparing for motherhood or healing from their own births and childhood experiences. I wasn’t sure if I’d follow through and complete the certification requirements, but once I attended my first birth I was sure I wanted to serve the community as a doula.

I had conversations with two different expectant moms before finding my first doula client. I learned in the training that it’s important that a doula be a good fit for the couple who she’ll be assisting. Although I was disappointed that those first two nibbles did not pan out, I was really happy when I found someone who definitely wanted to work with me and invited me to her birth.

My client, Joanna, was relatively new on Kauai, had 2 grown children and was about 7 months pregnant when we first met. She moved here from Denver, where she says 65% of births are attended by doulas. Doulas are not very common yet on Kauai and we’re having to educate the community about what a doula is and how having a doula can really help ease the birth process. Joanna was very sure that she wanted a doula at her birth and was planning to give birth at the Waimea Family Birth Center at KVMH. She and her husband would be attending childbirth classes at KVMH and they invited me to join them which I did.

Joanna was very clear that she wanted a natural birth without drugs. Her first 2 were natural – one at a birth center and one in a hospital – and while she knew she was able to give birth on her own, one labor went very long and she was concerned that might happen again.

As Joanna’s due date approached, we talked on the phone once a week just to check in about how close it might be and how she was feeling. Then one morning at 4:15am I got a phone call from Joanna’s husband. They were at the hospital and labor had begun. It was time for me to join them.

I showered and dressed and before getting in the car I turned on my computer and sent an email to a list of Joanna’s friends to let them know that baby Leila was on her way. I asked them to please keep the family in their thoughts. On the way to the hospital I called in all my guides and helpers, and asked spirit to surround the birth team with support.

When I arrived at KVMH, the hospital staff was expecting me and the nurses, doctor and especially Joanna and her husband, Michael, were happy to see me. Joanna was tired. She’d been up all night and was walking to keep her labor progressing. At last check she was 5 centimeters dilated and 60% effaced. Her contractions were a few minutes apart. I gave her lots of encouragement as she and her husband and I walked the halls stopping for every contraction. While she leaned on Michael, I gave her some back relief by pushing her hip bones together allowing more rooms for baby’s head to move down. We spent most of the next several hours this way. I gave Joanna water to drink after each contraction as they made her very thirsty. Periodically the doctor checked her progress. She stayed at 6 centimeters dilated for a while as she became more effaced. Her waters were broken to help keep things moving along. When she was hooked up to a monitor for a few minutes we could all hear the baby’s heart beat – the first time I’d heard that sound. No signs of distress at all.

Contractions were getting stronger and Joanna was getting more uncomfortable and more tired. She labored on a birthing ball for awhile, resting between contractions. I saw ‘bloody show’ for the first time and finally understood what that was. I suggested she try laboring in the shower for a while to see if the hot water would help her relax a bit. After her shower she labored in bed for a bit, actually sleeping between contractions as she was thoroughly exhausted. She was now almost fully effaced. Within an hour she went from 6 to 9 centimeters dilated, then things started happening pretty fast.

Joanna started feeling the urge to push and she seemed a little scared. Her contractions were becoming more painful and she said she didn’t want to do this any more. She wanted drugs. This was our clue that the baby would be here really soon.

In the doula class I learned that often as women progress through labor they start saying “oh God, please help me”. Then they start asking for drugs. Then they push and the baby is born and they are totally in love with their child. Well, in this case that’s exactly what happened.

So the urge to push set the hospital staff in motion. The bed was readied. The doctor’s instruments were laid out. The lights were turned on and the doctor was in position to catch Leila as she entered the world. Joanna was sitting up at about a 45 degree angle, and Michael and I stayed on either side of the bed and told her what a great job she was doing. One of the nurses coached her through the pushing – chin to her chest, hands behind her knees. I let one of the nurses know that they’d been doing perineal massage to stretch her tissues and no episiotomy was performed. Within 3-5 pushes the baby was out and Leila was on her mom’s chest.

The actual birth was the most intense time for me. I didn’t want to look between Joanna’s legs at all. I just wanted to stay right at her shoulder encouraging and supporting her. The pushing was a bit uncomfortable for Joanna and the nurses were so great in the way they coached her to push into the burning sensation that was making her hesitate. She did great and I was really happy for her that things had gone so well. Leila was born at 11:26 am September 13.

Then came the really cool part. Joanna and Michael met their daughter for the first time in the light of day and they loved her. Meanwhile, the doctor prepared the cord for cutting (which dad was invited to do), then he put some gentle pressure on the umbilical cord and placed a pan at the end of the bed to catch the placenta. Within about 20 minutes after the birth, a placenta the size of a very large grapefruit was expelled along with more fluid from the uterus. Wow! Fascinating!

The hospital staff cleaned up in a flash and mom, dad and baby got acquainted. Mom was encouraged to breast feed which would start the uterus contracting to stop any bleeding from the placenta detaching from the uterine wall. Baby latched on right away – a successful beginning to a new relationship.

At this point I made myself scarce so that very important initial bonding could take place. Before leaving the room, doc gave me a ‘thumbs up’ which brought tears to my eyes. Everything went really smoothly.

I felt really welcomed by the hospital staff and very high from the whole experience. Some of the staff had met Barbara and Ronda when they visited the Family Birth Center a few weeks before. This really made me feel good, being associated with a group that intended to work together with a hospital to ease baby’s transitions and support mom, dad and hospital staff through the birth process. It felt like a good beginning for all of us.

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Diary of a Spiritual Midwife (part 6)

September 22, 2009

(Happy birthday dad.)

I am being taught to journey through time, space and dimensions.   What good tools I have developed to be ready for this – past life therapy, birth therapy and midwifery.  Ultimately, I am to journey for souls in birth, the birth itself, and death.  I am to go into the future/past to see information and bring back what is to be.  I am to un-wrinkle the karma in mom, or release the reason for pain…   How?

“I am your guide.  There are many degrees of openness and journeying takes different acuities.  I am the Spirit of the Journey that offers this service for your love.   I am more active in the dark.   Use me when you have questions.  Use me when you want depth.  Use me as your best friend for life.   Your love has opened you to me as your helper.”

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September 25. 2009

Dream:

We are reconstructing Telos (the 5th Dimensional city inside Mt Shasta) in our studio.   It is beautiful, perfect and meaningful in every degree, color, alignment.  It’s made of crystals and stones in perfect geometries.  Temples are in exact placement to support love in families and all individuals.   Nature grows in the exact places and ways to support human development.   There is so much excitement in this discovery.   Terri N is working on with us too.  One is invited into this project when it is time.  The city is like the body in design.  Perfection.  Divine.   One roof most intrigues me.  It is made of Crisophase, beautiful, translucent, green.  Inner authority is the most noticeable ingredient of each person in the project.   By working on the “model,” it changes our bodies.  Such precision, such delicious sweetness, such relevancy.  It all matters.  It’s all beautiful.   It’s all a temple.  It’s all sacred.   It all reflects love.   It’s rounded and made of materials we don’t know how to build with: gemstones and minerals.  They are not encased, the whole building is made from them.  There is no structure used to build it into form.  It is built of consciousness.   There are waterways the moment you need refreshment, thirst, or a change of pace.   There is a red ribbon across the front. It is cut and I walk in. I’m in kindergarten again and it feels good.

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September 25, 2009

Seven pregnant mamas, two papas, and five apprentices came to an informal talk I was invited to speak at.  What a blast!   There were all kinds of births, and all were open to taking one more step to be more gentle for their baby.  It was a lovely evening in Mt Shasta at the Flying Lotus next to Berryvale.

The river near my campsite

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September 26, 2009

I met a woman who has held a vision, since 1988, of an incredible Healing Sanctuary given to her by St Germain!  (Check it out at: http://shastavortex.com/retreat.)   She has been here working on it since then making inroads in the zoning committee.  Everything that I felt was stumping me.  She gave me the homework to create EXACTLY what I want in a Birthing Sanctuary without any constricture (is that a word) except to stay under $25 million.  What a delicious assignment.  Do it exactly as you would like it to be!  It is getting clearer and more profound.

I have been camping two+ weeks at the river,and until now, it has been silent except for the wind through the Pines and the pure water’s gurgles.  Lots of reflection, loads of letting go.  The Earth is such a spectacular healer.   Thank you Nature.  Thank you Mother Earth.  Today I’m asked to make a medicine wheel in the dry riverbed where there are millions of rock-beings just sitting in the sun . In spring, this is all under water with the snowmelt, but now there is nothing but rocks of all sizes between the two rounded riverlets of icy cold water.   I am camping on the cliff overlooking this vesica pieces of flowing water.

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Diary of a Spiritual Midwife (part 3)

September 4, 2009

At 2pm I went to have an appointment with Nicky. I was to journey (in the shamanic sense) to receive how I would use the ankh, and she was to scribe for the session. Thoth had been with me all morning; and as we sat in the gazebo of her luscious garden, Cobra came in as well. Cobra me the same pathway of energies that I had witnessed in the days before and much more. I was blown away to hear what I had seen, to learn more in depth, and recieve acknowledgement that what was coming through me was spot on. Oh why do we need acknowledgement so?

September 6, 2009

David, my birth partner who conceived Sacred Birthing with me and took it on the road as Sacred Birthing Seminars, calls me in Eugene and said he may not be going to climb the sacred Shiva mountain in Nepal because of intense headaches that he has to stop denying. Something is going on. He didn’t know what, and I may not be able to stay at his house for the 2 ½ months while he was gone. I want to camp and lie on the earth to let go, but other than a renewal, am not sure why else I am going to Mt Shasta. Suddenly the questions come, “Is he on this deathing path? Is he to be included too?” It’s difficult to think that this man, such a dear beloved of mine, is to transition. I have lots of work to do to be able to come to grips with this one. There’s lots of love and lots of history here. Can I be present? Is this really what is calling me here?

A Snowless Mt. Shasta

September 11, 2009

From Eugene to Mt Shasta. Its amazing to just drive distances after living on an island for 11 years. The mountain is as it has never been – without snow on it. Even in summer there is still snow, but not this and last year. What a shock. Global warming. I t does not seem right at all. It is not right at all, but that’s what is.

I drive up to my favorite place, Castle Lake, and camp for the first night right on the earth with the Milky Way stretched out, reflecting over the water. Wow.

David had a very infected tooth pulled out and we are hoping the infection has caused the headaches and that all will subside. He said that death has been dancing in the trees outside, not menacing, just there.

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