Saturday, August 13, 2016

Avery's Birth Story

      I loved hearing about and reading the birth stories of other women while I was pregnant this past year.  As I physically, mentally and emotionally prepared for the birth of my son, it's been incredibly inspiring to learn from the experiences of others, their struggles, hopes and fears and what they held onto through the most intense experience of their lives.  I wanted to share my story not only to record every special detail I don't want to forget, but also to encourage other ladies traveling the same journey.  There is so much fear and trauma surrounding birth, and I believe that one of the steps toward fearlessly facing the unknown is to transform our beliefs and expectations about it into those of hope, empowerment and meaningful expectation.  Every woman's story is uniquely beautiful, and bringing a new life earthside is a privilege that connects us all, back to the beginning of time.



      It was a Monday, the morning of June 20, 2016. I was 40 weeks 5 days and knew our little one would come at exactly the right time.  I woke up not feeling any differently in particular, but I thought it would be amazing to give birth under the Strawberry Full Moon during the Summer Solstice, which is somewhat of a celestial wonder since the last time those events corresponded was almost 70 years ago.  I was trying not to get my hopes up, but couldn’t help but anticipate having our son that day!  Especially after Joey and I were married in Redding during the solar eclipse back in 2012, unaware that we would have two sunsets during our reception when we booked our wedding months in advance.  

      The day before he came I read a natural birth story about a mother’s first labor totaling 4 hours from the initial contraction to delivery, and I was in awe of how fast that was and wondered if my body could pull of something like that too!  So I declared that it would.  I made many verbal declarations during my pregnancy, because I wanted to have the most peaceful, fearless, powerful and healthy experience I could have, from conception to birth.  Early in my pregnancy I resolved to have an all-natural birth with no interventions or drugs unless absolutely necessary, because I wanted to feel what I was capable of and embrace every moment of the intoxicating hormones and power my body would channel through me as it was designed to do.  I don’t believe birth to be a medical condition or a threshold that should be filled with fear, and I didn’t want to miss out on anything I was meant to experience.  I feel that we as women are called to usher life into this world, and it’s a beautiful honor.

      Around 1pm, the idea popped into my head to sniff Clary Sage.  Dabbing the essential oil on a cloth, I held it to my face as I walked around tidying the house.  I must’ve looked like I was drugging myself with chloroform or something.  Later on, my usual session of contractions geared up as they had almost every evening since 7.5 months.  So I didn’t think anything of it really.  I left the house to take my daily walk by the ocean.  I hiked several miles almost every day and maintained lifting heavy weights at the gym 2-3 times a week to stay in shape.  While I was out my mom called me up and asked if I wanted to watch the sunset over a glass of wine, so I met up with her and we sat in her car enjoying the whales breeching the surface of the waves and pelicans diving for fish, it was magical.  That’s when my real rushes began, around 7:30pm.  I turned to my mom and said “I think I’m actually going into labor now.”  She got excited, and so did I!  So I walked home, but it became increasingly difficult and I had to stop a few times to breathe through the surges.  

      When I arrived home I thought I might as well pack my overnight bag, some snackage and Avery’s coming home outfit of course.  Especially if the contractions didn’t slow down and we ended up in the hospital for the night, I guess I should be prepared.  It became harder and harder to focus on anything else as the rushes came closer together with greater intensity.  I had to bring my activities to a halt and concentrate on riding the waves as they came.  My husband Joey then decided it was a good time to assemble the moses basket stand in case we brought a baby home soon.  It felt like it wasn’t long at all until I sent out a text to a few friends and family members at 10:30pm informing them I was in labor and that any and all prayers would be appreciated.  I found it nearly impossible to type that text and tap Send at that point!  Joey called my doula to come and from then on I beared down into my laboring position for the rest of Avery’s final journey - arched, leaning back on the toilet with my elbows propping me up.  Out of all the positions I knew, that was the only one that helped me embrace the overwhelming power that had taken over my body.

      I’m not sure when we headed to the hospital exactly, sometime around 1/1:30am.  I had previously emphasized to my doula to time our arrival at the hospital for when I was 8cm dilated, because I just wanted to get it over with and push Avery out once I was there and do all the laboring in the comfort and peace of my own home.  When she gently said it was time to go I argued, why couldn’t I just have the baby in the shower?  She told me she didn’t want a surprise home birth that night, so Joey took the initiative and dressed me since I was incapable of putting on any clothes at that point.  I whimpered for them to please let me have Avery in the bath tub, I did not want to deal with going to the hospital!  

      I crawled into the truck, and Joey attempted to buckle me in but soon realized that wasn’t happening.  We sped 95mph to the hospital 40 minutes away, making it more of a 25 minute trip.  Careening by a cop, I’m not sure how we didn’t get pulled over.  I was yelling something fierce, moaning and making all kinds of primal noises and lip raspberries in the passenger’s seat because I was in transition and it took all the strength I could muster to endure the bumps and jolts of the road.  I’m certain I traumatized my husband, he was such a trooper.  When we screeched up to the labor and delivery emergency parking Joey quickly hopped out of the truck and called to the nurses to hurry because his wife was about to have a baby.  They didn’t take this very seriously, maybe because many women don’t make their grand entrance during transition?  Once they heard me yelling they picked up the pace and grabbed the wheelchair, opening the truck door to have me sit in it.  I was in the middle of a contraction and screamed at the top of my lungs “SHUT THE F***ING DOOR!!!”  The door shut immediately.  

      Once in the wheelchair they whisked me up to the delivery room, where the lights were dimmed and the midwife and nurses were waiting quietly.  Helping me out of the wheelchair, a nurse tried to seat me in the hospital bed but I would have none of that, I pointed to the guest chair at the far side of the room and saw the look on their faces as I leaned back and propped myself in the metal chair with one leg up, like I had been arched on the toilet seat at home.  When the midwife measured me she looked surprised to find that I was 9cm dilated and Avery was about ready to make his appearance.  

      Within minutes I entered the pushing stage and screamed at one of the nurses to stop touching me.  She was shoving the baby monitor against my stomach and the last thing I wanted was to be poked and prodded as I could barely keep my head above the waters of oblivion.  Thankfully I wasn’t pressured to take an IV or anything else up in my space, I had specified not wanting to be bothered at all in my birth plan and they were kind enough to respect my wishes.  Really, if I could’ve had our son unassisted in the bathtub at home that’s what I would’ve chosen, hands down.  Joey was a godsend, massaging my shoulders and being the steady, stable support and protector I needed by my side to conquer this mountain.  

      I had previously envisioned the pushing stage to be my favorite part of the birthing process, but I just wanted the little guy out.  Now.  I asked Joey to play “You Make Me Brave” on repeat on my phone.  The song felt divinely inspiring and helped me focus in those final moments.  I kept asking the midwife “do you see him yet??” and could feel myself grasping onto the outer edges of my consciousness for dear life as I willed myself to open up, to be swallowed by the raw power enveloping my being.  Between my loud moans and cries I focused on blowing raspberries with my lips because they relax and open up the body.  I could feel Avery moving down the birth canal and as he reached my perineum I felt what they call the “ring of fire.”  It was now or never to push him out because I didn’t want to feel that burn any longer!  With a final resolve I gave our baby one last push and Joey caught our son as he emerged, gently lifting him up to lay on my chest.  As Avery came toward me he looked up and held my gaze, staring into my eyes for what felt like a timeless moment in eternity.  It was supernatural, words cannot do it justice.  I held him to my chest and as he was physically in front of me for the first time, it felt exactly like when he was inside me except that my arms could cradle him close, my fingers could caress his tiny toes and my chin rest on top of his precious head of hair.  Here lay a part of my soul outside my body.  It was the ultimate high I cannot describe.  

      After a 7 hour labor, Avery James Brooks kissed the earth with his presence June 21 at 2:23am, our Strawberry Full Moon baby. 

"Luna" watercolor by Kelly Murray


  1. Beautiful story Jennas💗💗💗

  2. Jenna, thank you for sharing your story. I only wish we had met 21 years ago when I gave birth to my first of four. Your experience is what you made it to be- uniquely yours and yet familiar. Giving birth, no matter how we do is an honor and unforgettable. Continue to inspire! Welcome to our world Avery!

    Much love and respect,