This awe inspiring story recounts the intuition and spiritual guidance that led an expecting mother to deliver her breech baby naturally. Ayn Cates Sullivan, Ph.D shares how she requested the assistance of her spiritual midwife, and how the guidance of this spirit ensured a safe delivery of her baby, and how her story inspired changes to a hospital policy.
Becoming a mother is one of the greatest events of a woman’s life. In many ways it is an initiation, and the birth of my son demanded the courage, intelligence and wisdom to trust my intuition. My first delivery was with a midwife in England. My baby girl arrived after an eleven-hour natural labor on her due date, my milk flowed easily and I experienced no unusual challenges.
I expected that my second labor would be similar and perhaps even shorter. We had planned a gentle home birth with a midwife in Los Angeles, California. During my eighth month of pregnancy I began to have dreams that my son was concerned about his delivery and was requesting a doctor. When I went for my 32-week checkup my mid-wife was concerned that the baby had not turned and suggested that I lay with my feet up or do shoulder stands against the wall. I followed her advice and two weeks later I began diving in a hotel pool, which my daughter found hilarious. I’m sure I created quite a spectacle.
I continued to be visited by dreams from my baby in which he communicated to me that he was frightened. When I discussed it with my midwife, she suggested having the baby manually turned by a doctor. I reluctantly made the appointment, but on the day I had a strong intuition that I should cancel the appointment and I did. On my 35th week visit to see my midwife she told me that it was against the law for a midwife to deliver a breech baby (a baby born bottom first) at home in the state of California, so I would have to find another option. The normal procedure was to schedule a Caesarean section.
I have always been interested in healing and natural ways of living. My husband at the time was a Naturopathic doctor and while he was not against a C-section as an emergency procedure, we both felt that selecting that option was not correct for us. We wanted to do a natural delivery despite the odds. I read everything I could about breech births and decided that the best option would be to deliver standing up. While we could find no doctor in California who was “willing to risk their license,” we did manage to find a birthing center in Portland, Oregon that did occasionally deliver breech babies. My sister was attending college there, so we chose to make the sixteen-hour drive during my 37th week of pregnancy. We made two stops, but my feeling was that we needed to hurry along because the baby would come early.
My mystical inclinations directed us to stop at Mount Shasta (an active volcano in northern California which is also considered a New Age power spot) to pray for spiritual assistance in the birth. Luckily it was still summer and we could drive quite far up the mountain. I was very large with the pregnancy and did not want to do a strenuous hike, so just walked to a quiet area and turned my awareness within. I prayed that our family would be led, guided and protected. I was nervous about the upcoming event and asked that a spiritual midwife come with me from the mountain and show me how to deliver this child. It seemed as though some air stirred in front of me and I thought I had the glimpse of a light being, but it was gone in a flash. Yet in my heart I felt some sense of relief, because I knew that when we ask the Light for help we will receive what is for the highest good for all concerned. We spent that night in Ashland, Oregon, and pressed on to Portland.
The next day I met our doctor, who also suggested that we turn the baby. I was quite adamant by this time that the baby was coming breech because he was meant to and I announced that I would give birth standing up. The doctor looked at me and raised his eyebrows. I smiled and told him I knew all would be well. I’m not certain he agreed with me, and could sense that he felt responsible for the event. Yet in my mind I was the one who had been given the task of aligning with this birth. I had my homeopathic kit, all the items and salves I might need, and also spiritual assistance. I felt prepared.
Right at midnight someone touched my shoulder and said, “Your water is going to break, go to the bathroom.” I rose and sure enough water began to trickle down my legs. I told my husband what was happening and he groaned and turned over in the bed.
“Every time you have a contraction say YES!” I looked for the source of the voice but saw no one. I closed my eyes and could see a woman who looked like an ethereal nun in a blue robe.
“What is your name?” I whispered.
“Barbara,” she replied.
“Thank you,” I said with pure gratitude in my heart.
Feeling the surge of the first contraction beginning I said, “Yes!” And noticed straight away that in not tightening against the contraction that I felt a pulling sensation, but not pain.
“Go for a walk in the night time air,” said the spiritual midwife. “That will get everything moving.”
I followed her advice and walked along the street saying yes every time a contraction came. The contractions were coming every three to four minutes and lasting about a minute. My husband came outside to ask if I could keep my voice down. I said, “No, I am following instructions.” I will give him credit, because he knew better than to argue with a pregnant woman and simply accepted that I was in tune. I knew this birth was going to be fast and at about two a.m. I asked him to take me to the birthing center. We called the doctor and I balanced on all fours in the back seat saying, “Yes!” to the entire experience.
Around three a.m. I crawled down the hallway of the birthing center saying, “I cannot walk. I am fully dilated and the baby is coming.” The doctor confirmed what I already knew to be true. Then with the help of my husband and my brother-in-law I stood for the delivery. I could immediately hear Barbara, my spirit midwife, who was telling me to lean forward slightly, then to shift my hips to the right and left. After about half an hour the doctor said he wanted to examine me and I was so intent on my inner voice that I pushed him back and said, “No, I need to listen!” To his avail he sat on the floor and simply watched with a few other colleagues who seemed interested in the process.
The pushing was the hard part of the labor. It wasn’t painful, just moving so the baby’s head could slide out of the pelvis was a task. Barbara stayed with me whispering the entire time. I heard her say, “Tell them he will need oxygen,” and I passed along the message. Soon I could feel the baby’s feet kicking. With one final push my son came into the world. He was blue and rather quiet but breathing slightly. I put my hands on him and willed him to live, and then the doctors were right there with the oxygen. I never took my hands off of the baby and I prayed and sent life force into him. Never for a moment did I think anything was wrong, for in truth it was all perfection. In a few minutes the baby was breathing normally and his skin took on a rosy pink glow. We all clapped and celebrated.
He was a big baby and although he was two weeks early he weighed in at just under ten pounds. The doctor exclaimed that if he had known the size of the baby he would never have agreed to delivery him naturally. We had to laugh, because all was well. We had followed our guidance and although we did push the edge, all had worked out well. The lights stayed low as we all welcomed our beautiful son into the world. I wanted the umbilicus to stop pulsing naturally before severing it, so we took our time.
Much of the mystery behind the breech position was revealed when half an hour later the afterbirth was expelled, followed by a second placenta. The doctor looked at them and shook his head and grew rather pale. Then he said, “I am going to change the policy at this hospital about turning breech babies.”
He showed us the two placentas. We had felt early on that I had been pregnant with twins, but that feeling had faded later on in the pregnancy. Clearly one baby had been reabsorbed, which is not uncommon.
“The baby was large because he was being fed by both placentas,” said the doctor. “But for some reason the umbilicus was only held by threads to both placentas.” The baby’s umbilical cord was normal, but he showed us how only thin veins attached to the placentas. “If I had turned your baby these veins would have broken and he would have died almost instantly. I will never again try to turn a breech baby.”
We looked at our big beautiful baby who was now busily nursing and simply breathed a sigh of relief.
“By the way,” the doctor added. “I really like your spirit midwife. Do you think you could ask her to stick around, because there are many women who could use her advice?”
“They have to ask her directly,” I said. “And when you ask the Light with an open mind and an open heart more often than not we are graced by unusual blessings.”
Ayn Cates Sullivan, MA, MFA, Ph.D. is an inspirational author and teacher. She holds a master’s degree in spiritual psychology from USM, and a masters and doctorate in literature from Columbia University and King’s College London. She currently lives with her husband, two children and variety of horses and pets on a ranch in Ojai, California. Her educational experiences coupled by life lead her into the study and practice of what makes one whole. Ayn’s many inspirational books include Tracking The Deer, Consider This, The Windhorse: Poems Of Illumination, Initiation At The Well and, Sparkle & The Gift, the first of a children’s story series about a girl who refuses to forget that she is a light being.