Dealing with Loss While Growing a Life

Tricia was shocked to find out she was pregnant shortly after getting back from her father’s funeral. She hadn’t been really trying to get pregnant with her husband but they had agreed to go off birth control. She figured it would take a while, but it didn’t! She has a lot of feelings and things to say about grieving while pregnant, and mostly remembers crying…sleeping…working…and eating ice cream for 9 months. She is forever grateful that home birthing crossed her radar while she was pregnant and feels like the universe was looking out for her and she listened, and it forever empowered her.

Stages of Tricia’s Homebirth

Tricia’s first birth was a home birth at 37 weeks. Labor began by her water breaking in full after sleeping for about an hour, and was followed fairly quickly with consistent contractions. Although she remembers thinking she should go back to sleep, her husband and her were too excited. Justin had just come home from working all day at their bar and he popped up and made nachos for them to eat while they waited in anticipation for contractions to start. Tricia was blown away by how here body needed to squat through every contraction and felt at the end that she was back in high school playing a volleyball tournament all day. Externally Tricia’s labor looked straightforward and smooth, but internally it was an immensely intense physical, emotional, and spiritual event. She dilated to 10 cm within 8 hours of her water breaking, but then developed a swollen cervical lip and pushed on and off for 4 hours.

Her labor stalled during the pushing stage and didn’t pick up again until she was able to release some emotional energy and fears surrounding her son and her father. During her labor she saw visions of her son as a grown man, had conversations in her mind with people she saw in her neighborhood, felt a deep golden initiation into the energy that is motherhood and generally was exposed to a unexplainable dimension outside of chronological time and space. Her son was born with a nuchal hand which helped explain a little about the prolonged pushing phase. Even though her birth was smooth and healthy, the pain and sensations Tricia experienced were emotionally traumatic. She remembers clearly thinking while she was pushing and the crowning began how sad it was that Cedar was going to be an only child because she really wanted two, but she would NEVER be able to tolerate birth again. After Cedar was born though the endorphins kicked in and she felt AMAZING. To her, the feeling she got directly after birth was strangely worth all the pain during the labor.
postpartum skin to skin
The day after her son was born she found out her father in law had left her mother in law after 30 years of marriage. This devastating reality coupled with the flashbacks of the pain during labor made for a tricky first few weeks of parenting. Tricia dealt with a lot of new feelings and fears with her own mortality and felt as though she had lost an innocence to life that she could never regain. With losing her dad to suicide, losing her family structure on her husband’s side, and the normal emotions of motherhood Tricia felt overwhelmed. She credits her husbands strength and the strength she gained from her powerful home birth as to how she was able find her way and feel joy during those first few weeks.  Cedar was very sleepy and wasn’t gaining enough weight, but after the help of a lactation consultant Tricia figured out breastfeeding and continued to breastfeed Cedar for 3 years.

Tricia’s Second Birth Postdates

Tricia found out she was pregnant again when Cedar was 10 months old. She had just had one period and she had read a lot about the rhythm method and how to time conception to try for a girl. She was shocked to find out she was already pregnant and she and her husband decided to keep this baby’s gender a surprise. Tricia noticed so many differences the second time around.  Mainly toward the end she felt much softer and ready to go. Tricia kept anticipating labor coming early like the first one, but alas it did not arrive early. The due date came and went, and Tricia gained a lot of understanding for how difficult it is to pass your due date. The next day, after emotionally tying up some work related stress, Tricia’s water broke in full and labor began around 3 pm.  Contractions didn’t really pick up until after her toddler was put to bed…it’s funny how that works.

Baby #2 came 1 day after her due date after 6 short but intense hours of labor, which she describes as feeling like a freight train making it’s way through her body. She learned a lot from her first birth and wanted to try using the birth ball as a tool to avoid  squatting with each contraction.  When it was time to push Tricia raised up on her knees and was startled to hear a  high-pitched gurgling scream coming between her legs before she even knew her baby’s head was out. The next push birthed her baby’s body and everyone laughed at how funny it all was. Baby #2 was born with a nuchal hand just like baby number 1. After about 10 minutes of holding baby #2 Tricia realized she hadn’t thought about the gender yet.  She had suspected it was a boy and had made peace with being a mom of 2 boys, but as she unwrapped the blanket to check the gender, she was overjoyed to see she had birthed a daughter. The first thought that popped into her mind was, “i am so sorry…being a girl is so hard”. Tricia loves being a woman, but had an immediate feminine connection with her daughter that was different than the connection she immediately felt with her son.  Her daughter Linden breastfed like a champ right away, and other than having a tongue tie that needed clipping, breastfeeding and postpartum went relatively smoothly. At this point Tricia’s mother-in-law moved in with their family and was a tremendously help with caring for Tricia, her husband, and two children.

homebirth midwife

Fast & Furious Baby #3 Homebirth

After her daughter turned 2 Tricia couldn’t shake the fact that she really wanted to have another baby. So after working on her husband for a year, he finally agreed to go for one more, and quickly she was pregnant for a third time. Being pregnant a third time was way harder than the two times before. Chasing after two children was tiring and Tricia gained more weight than she had the first two times around. Although she was thrilled to have a third child, it wasn’t as clearly joyful waiting for baby #3 to arrive. Tricia really wanted her mother to be at this birth, but found it very stressful to try and time travel plans around a birth. Tricia’s mother came a week before the due date figuring she would go early considering how large and uncomfortable she was, but birth is unpredictable.

It was great for Tricia to have her mother’s help for her two children, and she tried to make peace with the fact that her mother might not be at the birth. For two weeks before her baby came Tricia felt contractions begin at night and so Tricia and her husband would go on walks to try and kick labor into gear, but then by the time to morning came around her belly felt high again contractions had vanished. Every time she felt a contraction she experienced a milk let down reflex sensation without actually letting down milk.  Her due date came and went and she wondered how long she would have to wait.  But two days after her due date she woke up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom, and she felt her baby’s head bulging as she used the toilet. She thought if she looked down she might actually see the head, but she didn’t!

Her baby was born after 4 incredibly short and painful hours. This birth was nothing like the first two. Her water breaking did not initiate labor, and with her bag intact she found it very awkward and uncomfortable to brace herself during contractions. The only way to cope was to get in the birth pool. She felt like a huge cow rolling from one side of the pool to the next moaning and just trying to surrender. During a contraction her water broke and then shortly after she felt a strong urge to push. Tricia was incredibly reluctant to push, as it hurt way too much and it took a lot of surrendering to go into that pain. She felt the ring of fire so intensely that she nearly ripped her husbands nipples off when she was pushing. After the head was born the shoulders hurt even more coming out. This was a new experience for her, and afterward her midwife told her she was concerned that the baby might get stuck as he might be diabetic. But he wasn’t…he was just 10 pounds 3 ounces! She was so thankful he was born safely and that her mother and two children were there to witness his entry into the world. With the birth of her son Ash, Tricia feels her family is complete.

Tricia Phillips Bio

Tricia Philips is a wife, mother of 3, and a childbirth educator living and teaching in Brooklyn, NY. She feels lucky to have birthed all three of her babies at home with the tremendous support of her husband, doulas, and midwives. Her journey into motherhood was preceded by the unfortunate suicide of her father, and the unexpected divorce of her in-laws. She often reflects on how the yin and yang of deep sorrow and pure joy felt during the pregnancy and birth of her first child paved a unique path to parenthood. Although very difficult, her experiences have given her a deep-rooted strength in herself and the universe that in some ways perfectly prepared her for the intense and gratifying work of raising children. Tricia is continuously humbled by mothering and is fascinated by birth as a spiritual event and a surrendering of “what is”. Her first birth unexpectedly blessed her with the knowledge that life comes from a powerful never ending source, and everyday since that experience she strives to stay connected to that knowing.  With each birth and each stage of her children’s lives Tricia is learning how to hold space for her children a little more, which in turn teaches her how to hold space for herself and be open to what life brings.

Birth Resources

Active Birth

Babylist

Listen to me chat with Phyllis about today’s sponsor, BabyList, at the end of today’s episode and check out my sample registry of some of my favorite items for pregnancy and postpartum!