My name is Lara Carlos, I am a Doula, Childbirth Educator, Placenta Encapsulation Specialist, mama to four amazing babies and the wife of an acupuncturist. I am also the co-founder for The Barefoot Mamas‘ Network and working to take my network national. I recently had an amazing birth experience of my fourth baby.
I believe that children pick their parents before they are born. Gavin, my fourth baby, let us know he would be joining our family during a crazy and busy time in our lives. Kerry, my husband, had just graduated from Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine School and was preparing for his State Board Exam. I was busy managing a Chiropractic office, on fire with my birth work, running The Barefoot Mamas Network and was just starting back to school to finish my Bachelor’s Degree in Woman’s Studies. We also home school our children, so it’s easy to say life was busy! My pregnancy with Gavin really made me slow down. I had pretty bad sensitivities to smells and as my pregnancy progressed my body had a harder and harder time keeping up with everything. I kept up with regular chiropractic care, massages, acupuncture, ate well, tried to stay active but I was more tired and achy than I had ever been with any of my other babies.
The weeks flew by and soon I had to really start preparing for my birth journey. We are very fortunate that one of my closest friends, Jennifer Grieco-Frates, happens to be a licensed midwife! She and I have had a long journey together. We met right after we both had our third babies, and both wanted a community of like-minded mamas who also raised their kids naturally. So we joined forces and bam, The Barefoot Mamas was born! Four years later we are where we are at now. We created a huge sisterhood of like minded women and both pursued birth work. It was so wonderful to have her help me prepare my mind and body and care for me during my pregnancy.
At about 36 weeks, my cousin Audra Clark and dear friend Jenna Ventura hosted a Mother’s Blessing Ceremony for me. I have never before felt so loved and supported. I felt like a beautiful pregnant goddess with the flowers they put in my hair. I felt ready to have this baby after my blessing and couldn’t wait to tap into the love and support my sisterhood surrounded me with during my birth. My body further encouraged me to slow down with signs of swelling in my legs and feet, so my midwife decided to take me off work at 37 weeks. This gave me time to rest my mind and body and spend special time with Kerry and my older babies. We were all very curious when Gaivn would be ready to come and join us. Julie was born at 38 weeks, Ivan was born at 38 weeks and Vincent at 42 weeks with “early labor” lasting about 3 weeks! Well my body followed the same pattern it did with Vincent’s birth. At 38 weeks, I started having “regular” contractions that would last a few hours then fade away. The weeks passed and I decided to surrender my mind and have peace with whenever he decides to come.
At 40 weeks and 4 days, I was having mild irregular contractions from about 6pm – 10 pm and decided to go to bed. I slept well and woke up with a contraction around 3:45am. I felt like I needed to go to the bathroom so I sat on the toilet for a while. I decided to just sit there and relax. (The toilet is a wonderful place for pregnant women. We naturally relax our pelvic floor muscles on the toilet, so labor often progress when a mama is sitting on it.) I had a few strong contractions on the toilet and decided I needed to get in the shower to “see what happens.” It was probably about 4:15am at this point. The water from the shower felt so good and I could feel my whole body relax and then a rush came over me that took my breath away. I got through that contraction and within 30 seconds another rush came. I decided to see if I could check my cervix, I could feel the bag of water bulging. I got through a couple more contractions and started pounding on the wall to wake up Kerry.
He came into the bathroom, and asked if I was ok. All I could say was, “You have to have to help me get through these.” Kerry helped me thorough the next contraction and we realized these contractions were coming about 20 seconds apart. It’s about 4:30am, I say, “Call Jen!” and as he’s telling her we were ready for her, I have another contraction that made me make low, primal noises that Jen said later could tell was a pushing noise. I asked Kerry to start filling up the pool, I needed to get in there! Kerry was coaching me through each contraction, and also trying to set up the hose and fill up the pool.
The rushes were so strong, fast and I wanted the relief of the water, but we could only fill up the pool about 6 inches because I had used most of the hot water during my shower. All I could do was hold on to Kerry and find relief by making loud, low noises. My children woke up and asked if I was okay. We reassured them mommy was alright and was going to be making a lot of noise as the baby comes out. They decided to wait in the living room. It’s about 4:45 at this point. I knew Jen was on her way. Even though there wasn’t much water in the birth pool, it was very relaxing and I could feel Kerry putting water on my back and tummy between the rushes.
I remember telling myself, “Okay Lara, focus. You can do this. Trust your body.” I held onto my husband and he said, “You’re doing great babe, just breath.” His strong arms were so comforting. The next rush was overpowering, all I could do was yell for Kerry. It was a sensation I remembered from Vincent’s birth, so I found my cervix and could feel the baby’s head and water bag. “He’s coming babe, I can feel the bag!” Another rush came over me and I my body was pushing out the baby on its own! No one told me that I was fully dilated or it was time to push. I was guided by what my body was telling me. I asked Kerry, “What can you feel babe?” Kerry reached down to see what he could feel and says, “Okay, that’s the bag.” I reached down and felt the water bag bulging out of my body. I could feel the baby descending, and with the next rush I used my voice help me push. There was so much pressure in my bottom so I asked Kerry to support my perineum. I could feel the counter pressure Kerry was giving me and I used that to bear down through an intense feeling of burning, pressure and stretching.
I let out a roar and felt the baby’s head come out. “What was that?!” I asked Kerry. “It’s his head babe. The worst part is over. I have him. Now I need you to sit up a little bit.” Kerry tells me. I kneeled up just a little bit and with my next breath another rush came and I roared again and bore down. I felt his whole body slip out into his Daddy’s hands. “He’s here baby!” Kerry’s words brought me back to reality and I turned around and leaned back into the side of the pool. I felt my whole body pulsate as the energy from the birth circled through my body.
Kerry handed our son to me, and his sweet little face looked so familiar. He looked just as I imagined him. I brought Gavin to my chest and Kerry went to get a warm blanket to cover the baby. All I could do was stare at Gavin, what an incredible experience we both just had.
Kerry came back and put a warm blanket on the baby and I could hear Jen walking into the house. She entered the room and I immediately felt relief by her presence. I knew everything was going to be okay. I looked up at her and said, “Holy shit Jen!” She smiled and looked the baby over in my arms and said, “You know, I knew you were gonna do this! I knew I would pull up to this house and there would be a baby in your arms.”
I was in shock, but not a bad shock. I just could not believe what had just happened. Kerry and I always wanted to have a baby on our own, and the universe aligned just right so that could happen. Jessica Bingman arrived shortly after Jen did and she and Jen gave me amazing care as I snuggled my baby in my bed and listened as I told them my birth story. They made sure Gavin and I were doing well and helped me shower.
I could not have imagined a more perfect way to complete my birth journeys. I have experienced one medicated hospital birth, a natural hospital birth, a midwife attended homebirth and now an unassisted homebirth with my husband being the one to guide me and catch our son. How much more lucky could I be? Gavin is perfect, beautiful and completes our family. Thank you son for choosing me, I have never felt so strong.