A Shamanic Birth Story

Shamanic Birth

I first met our daughter during an ayahuasca ceremony while visiting Tigre in Peru, only two months into our relationship. She was curly-haired, joyful… pulling us toward a new life. At the time, the idea of having a child together felt as crazy as it felt inevitable. After all, while our souls felt like ancient companions, Tiger and I had only had a total of 5 weeks of physical time together.

On our way to the Iquitos airport, careening dangerously in a dilapidated colectivo and surrounded by striking lightning that silhouetted jungled edges, I told him that I’d seen her; our daughter.

He looked at me with a smile and said, “I’ve wondered what you’d look like pregnant.”

Not your average response.

Two+ years, three weddings, one autism diagnosis, two houses, one miscarriage, and two blazing self-employed careers later… we found out that we’d be meeting our daughter after all… we conceived this powerful soul during April 2014’s Grand Cross and Tiger could have his question answered:

We captured photos once a week as "la bump" grew and grew.

We captured photos once a week as “la bump” grew and grew.

I deepened into Shamanic Journey work throughout the year, and once she began to grow, I felt her spark join me in the meditations. I knew she was Her long before the ultrasound confirmed it. Her energy, distinct from mine, was contributing, feeding, and being fed by the otherworlds. I knew that she, like I, has been in this place, doing this work, many times before.

During one such meditation, I received a very clear image of the bright star Vega and the idea to name our daughter Lyra appeared unbidden, seemingly welling up into consciousness right from my womb. And so it was that we began to call her Lyra; a musicalShe constellation, living in the sky next to me… the Vulpecula (Fox) constellation is close by, right above Sagittarius the Archer.

Lyra Archer Pickett: a name she claimed for herself.

As the months marched on, her energy grew stronger. I could begin to feel stones, animals, and plants she resonated with. Rose quartz. Lavender. White Sage. Our son gave her the Giraffe totem, which led us to feel into who she really seems to be: the long-legged “Giraffe Cat”, otherwise known as a Serval.

Serval photo cc by Tambako the Jaguar

Quiet, playful, considerate, feisty, long-legged, feline… yes, these have felt like her from the beginning.

“They” say our children come here to help us become who we are meant to be, to teach us the lessons we most need.

From the month+ of false labor at the end of my pregnancy, I came to see how Lyra was teaching me new levels of surrender. She came to teach me this:

It is never too late for magic.

You see, even though I tried not to have any, my prior birthing experience set me up to have expectations… My first delivery was pretty amazing: 7 hours of labor, almost no pain, and a very quick 15-minutes of pushing before Hudson was born. In my mind, even though I knew I could do it that way again, I expected this birth to be harder. I thought, “There is no way I can have it that good again. It almost wouldn’t be fair.”

But, fair to whom? Did I suddenly deserve a bad experience? And, if this birth didn’t go according to plan, would it even be “bad”? Could I have compassion for myself if a c-section or an epidural was what it took to bring her earth side safely? I’m a Shaman, for goodness sakes… I have the utmost respect for shadow work, for experiences that bring out the darkness in people. I knew that I could traverse that territory if I needed to. The thing was, I was expecting it. I assumed that “not according to plan” would err on the negative side of things.

The longer we waited for Lyra’s arrival, the more fears and expectations surfaced.

I went into what I thought was labor too many times to count. Each time, we had to pack the car, coordinate child care for Hudson, make phone calls to family, answer questions… And then cancel all of it when it was clearly another false alarm.

I had dreams of dying in childbirth, of her coming through stillborn, of vaginal mutilation to enable delivery; of all the absolute worst-case scenarios you can ever picture. I also received beautiful visions from the baby during this time – including instructions for how she needed to be born (circle your hips counter clockwise, she said)… I could visualize parts of her birth – my darkly painted nails, my face painted like a warrior… It was a time of extreme inner conflict. Daily, I would fluctuate from being serenely accepting/attuned to Source to feeling downright depressed.

But, I wanted to fill her birthing experience with intention.

So I did my best to focus my attention on making magic. I asked my friends to send me words, thoughts, and love for a birthing medicine bundle I was making:

An oracle card reading, sacred herbs and stones, and gathered intentions filled Lyra's medicine bundle to help create a smooth birthing experience.

An oracle card reading, sacred herbs and stones, and gathered intentions filled Lyra’s medicine bundle to help create a smooth birthing experience.

I was gifted a beautiful Tarot reading by a client, did energy work with a healer sister, and created a vision board to remind me to open, surrender, and trust my body. Even though I’d delivered before, I wanted Tigre to learn HypnoBirthing and refresh my own knowledge, so we took a completely wonderful class from Care Messer’s Birth Education Center. I took evening primrose oil and a tincture of black cohosh to prepare my body for birthing, asking the plant spirits to support us. This was as shamanic as I could make it…

So, as the weeks ticked on and nooooo baby, Tiger and I descended into the shadows, ascended into optimism, and walked a crazy tightrope of WHEN together.

Then, the moment came.

At 2:20am on a Sunday morning, I awoke and felt… something different. I was exactly 41 weeks pregnant.

At 2:45am, after consistent cramping squeezes that got stronger each time, I awoke Tiger and told him that this time, we were going to meet our baby. I painted my face, and put on my fox ears, feather earrings, and tribal collar necklace… I wanted every moment of this birth to feel like a sacred, artistic creation – starting with how I adorned myself.. Our daughter deserved a beautiful experience, and I wanted to feel like nothing less than a goddess.

I covered myself in sage smoke and sat in our living room, blindfolded on my exercise ball, and felt the rushing waves my muscles made as the contractions pulsed through my body. Tiger and I listened to hypnotic, trancey music and I truly felt like I was giving birth to a galaxy… with swirling hips (counter-clockwise, of course), I painted spirals of black hole infinity with each surge. It felt as though stars were pouring through me. The amount of energy + power was incredible to witness in myself.

We remained at home for just a short time before my intuition told me that we should make our way to the hospital… We called my obstetrician to let him know we were going to be delivering soon and, unbelievably, he was out of town!! (This is a Doctor who NEVER takes a vacation and has the reputation for practically living in the birthing ward.) He had a backup on call who sounded less than friendly on the phone. This could have been prime freak-out territory, but I chose not to let it concern me – I had a feeling everything would be just fine and exactly as it was meant to be. I trusted my body with all of my heart and all the fears I’d dreamed of completely melted away.

Here I am, walking down the looooong hospital corridor to the elevators, pausing for another contraction’s surging energies.

Here I am, walking down the looooong hospital corridor to the elevators, pausing for another contraction’s surging energies.

After we checked in, I found out that I was only 3cm dilated – but given that my cervix was paper thin and the bag of waters wanted to burst, the nurse knew birth was going to be soon. She was FANTASTIC. She made sure every single aspect of our birth preferences was carried out calmly. In between contractions, I answered her questions, got lab work done, and connected with Tiger.

Relaxing through a contraction while getting my initial 20 minute "strip" of monitoring the baby.

Relaxing through a contraction while getting my initial 20 minute “strip” of monitoring the baby.

I managed to change into the outfit I wanted to wear for birthing: an emerald green lace bralet and jade colored birthing miniskirt. I was determined to embody the Goddess as much as possible. Then I started to have back labor – which means the baby was face up – not an ideal position for birthing. After a short time, I asked for the nurse’s help in positioning me so the baby could turn around.

The baby turned when I lay on my side and started to come through the birth path. and I told the nurse that I was starting to feel hints of wanting to push.

I clambered to my hands and knees, leaning over the raised back of the hospital bed… swirling, always swirling with the energies. I felt no pain, just an IMMENSE amount of power.

I was like a live-wire conduit to the universe.

Nurse Sarah asked me how I was feeling and whether I thought I really needed a doctor there yet… she told us that the backup physician was not going to be as “in the flow” as our original OB… Tiger and I readily agreed to hold off on calling her in.

I started wanting to push immediately after that, from my hands and knees. My waters released and as her head and body started dropping through me, I could feel my body opening. With incredibly focused breathing, I brought her to crowning. Her head was birthed with ease – so smoothly I didn’t make a sound. The nurse wasn’t watching (she was probably calling for the doctor) and turned around with an exclamation – OMG! Her head is out! She was expecting me to cry out… but I had no need.

I waited for the next urge to push and began to push Lyra’s shoulders through. I turned slightly to my side and Tiger told me I could do it with this one push…. You can do it baby, make it a good one! he said.

So, with a deep thrust, she arrived – all EIGHT POUNDS, NINE OUNCES of her – at 6am on the dot. Our labor was 3 hours and 40 minutes, start to finish.

No doctor was present… it was quiet, calm, sacred. Lyra was placed on my belly, into my arms, and we two became three.

Here we are, the three animals meeting for the first time:

Lyra Archer Pickett's birth

In the days and weeks since her birth, I have never felt more alive, more feminine, more appreciative of my body, more filled with magic… My recovery has been as lightning fast as her birth. I am in awe of what it means to BE a WOMAN.

We have so much capacity for ecstasy.

May each of us fully know this in our own ways.

Lyra has taught me not only that it’s never too late for magic, but that sometimes, “different” can mean “better”… Her birth WAS different than Hudson’s… and my beliefs and vision were too small to contain the magical possibilities in store for us.

Lyra has taught me to live even more in the questions of life; to surrender control… to trust myself.

Lyra Archer Pickett's shamanic birth

There is no better teacher than family… and mine has taught me how powerful, intentional, gifted, sacred and magical I am. May I reflect to them their own gifts, their own light, their own power.

May I forever be an agent for good, for love, for enchantment.

One confession
  1. Cynthia

    This is hands down the most stunningly sacred birth story I’ve ever read. I am 30 weeks pregnant with a very powerful and active little boy. He’s chosen a rose quartz from week 6 and the animal we feel connected to for him is the Fox. He urges me to spend more time outside, adores physical connection (little pokes and squeezes) and makes me laugh out loud with his lightening fast movements. I am practicing HypnoBirthing and finding that I am able to fully relax. Being in-tune and trusting your body are so naturally instinctive, I’m so happy that you’ve shared this story – we need more of this to empower other women. Big love. C.x

Care to confess?