Holding death, loss grief, joy, love and the celebration of a new life simultaneously…
My birth story with Cassius Is one of absolute surrender
My heart both aches in pain and expands from deep love whenever I sit to reflect on my experience of bringing him into this world.
Before I share the journey of my labor, there’s a few important events to note leading up to the intensity of that night.
My original plan was to have an all natural water birth at a local birthing center, we jumped through all the hoops with insurance to make it possible in the months leading to his arrival.
We were excited and doing all the prep for a magical water birth experience until…
About 7 weeks out from our due date, I got a call from my midwife informing us that we are no longer candidates for having the baby at the birthing center
She informed us that she had been reviewing my medical records and realized they overlooked my medical condition for epilepsy—
Even though I’ve only had 3 seizures in my life, the last one occurring over a decade ago, the pre existing condition automatically disqualified us for being high risk.
So 7 weeks before we were due, we had to completely change our plan and now would be mandated to deliver at the local hospital.
A lot of fears, frustration, anger, and sadness came up.
Angry at the fact that I was being told I couldn’t have the birth I wanted and that we had spent the last few months in excitement only to find out it was no longer possible.
Frustrated that there was literally nothing I could do about it.
Sad that it was because of something completely out of my control, a pre existing medical condition, that the decision was being made.
I felt hurt, even though I knew and understood it was out of our best interest and protection, the prejudice of it still stung.
After crying it out and venting to Rod, we decided to press forward with the midwife at the hospital.
Simultaneously, there was a lot we were navigating behind scenes with both rehoming my fur baby Clyde, and the massive growth my business was taking on.
I had gotten Clyde when he was just 6 weeks old and brought him with me everywhere over the last 3 1/2 years.
But he had his own issues.
Since he was about 5 months old, he started showing signs of inter dog aggression.
We couldn’t take him to doggie training because he’d lash out at the other puppies.
By the time he was a year old, he had gotten in dog fights at the dog park and we decided for both his protection and safety of other dogs, he just wouldn’t be allowed to be around other animals.
Yet, he was the most cuddly and loving animal at home and with any person. He literally thought he was a human with the way he’d snuggle up in bed next to you demanding affection.
He was a massive emotional support for me through one of the toughest breakups and hardest anxiety ridden times in my life.
We’d walk to the beach every day, go on hikes and runs together, spend countless hours cuddled up in bed, holding him when I’d be crying my eyes out over life.
He was my fur baby.
Over the last 3 years I took him to numerous dog trainers and behavioral specialist trying to better cope with his inter dog aggression.
Nothing really worked.
When I found out I was pregnant, for the short time we were living in downtown Seattle, my stress was at an all time high.
Taking him on walks just to go potty was a nightmare, my energy and strength was dwindling with all the morning sickness and I could no longer hold him back when he wanted to be aggressive and lash out at other dogs on the street.
When we had moved back to San Diego into our new space, it become more obvious the level of stress both I was under and Clyde from the lack of space, time, and energy that I had.
He deserved so much better than what I could give him and especially once the baby would arrive.
I no longer felt comfortable walking him on my own and by 5 months pregnant I made one of the toughest decisions writing a post online seeking a family to rehome him with.
I refused to send him to an animal shelter and was only willing to rehome him if I could find a family that was absolutely perfect, that could truly love him and give him a better life than what I could provide.
For months, we heard crickets.
Because of his behavioral issues with other dogs— most people just couldn’t take him in.
there were no replies, just condolences that felt sorry for the decision we had to make. At a loss we decided to consider the fact that we may just have to find a way to cope with him and the baby coming
Because a shelter likely meant he’d be put down.. anything would be better than a shelter
As a last resort we sought out another veterinary specialist who recommended medications suggesting his behavioral issues were neurological and chemically based.
We took it on to get him medicated in hopes it would calm him down in the final months leading to the babies arrival. I started to notice his appetite going down, and though he was more calm and mellow, he just wasn’t quite himself.
The idea of medicating him for the rest of his life ate at me every day. I could tell he wasn’t happy but I was at a loss.
Miraculously, Within a few weeks of starting his medication, I received a message online from a family wanting to adopt him.
My heart stopped. I was in disbelief having halfheartedly given up on ever finding him a proper home.
Over the next few weeks we arranged play dates, and sleepovers to slowly transition him to the new home.
The family was perfect— like an absolute god send for him. They were well aware of his behavioral issues and still felt excited to take him in.
They were in love with him. I was so grateful for them.
At 36 weeks pregnant, we packed all of Clyde’s belongings and took him to his new forever home saying goodbye and releasing ownership to the new family.
I cried my eyes out that entire way home after dropping him off and continued to grieve all weekend. Feeling everything.
I knew it’s what was best, between a newborn baby and the rapid growth of my business I just couldn’t give Clyde the love, attention, and support he needed to thrive.
We visited him a few more times in the final weeks leading to little Cash’s due date.
Each time was harder knowing he’d no longer be coming back home with me and seeing him wait by the front door wanting to go back with us literally broke my heart.
I’d cry every time we’d leave from a visit.
In the last two weeks before our due date, I started to resist going to visit him again, I just couldn’t handle the emotional roller coaster with everything else going on in the business.
We were supposed to visit him on my Birthday, the day before little mans estimated due date, but I was so exhausted that we decided to wait.
A few nights later, on Tuesday May 26, after an epic day of back to back coaching and on boarding new clients, I went to lay in bed feeling some light cramping and nausea
Within hours, the cramps turned to sharper pains and contractions
I began breathing through them, standing in the shower, practicing my Hypnobirthing meditations, and integrating teachings of orgasmic birthing.
After a few hours of consistent contractions that were now 3-4 minutes apart, we called the hospital and decided to go in
Rod packed our bags, grabbed a few last minute things and we left our home for the very last time as just the two of us…
We arrived at the hospital around midnight and by the time we had gotten all checked in, I was already measuring 4 1/2 centimeters dilated, 80% effaced.
We spent the next 8 hours laboring between the shower, on the bed, using the medicine ball with the contractions growing stronger and more painful.
I went from moans to yelling fairly quickly, having Rod push hard onto my hips attempting to relieve the pain
The hot shower would help ease the pain but my body was so exhausted from walking and standing.
I started to squat trying to relieve the pain and began feeling light headed, so i decided to move back to the bed…
The contractions began to intensify exponentially, by 4am I was feeling weaker and weaker
I had been up for over 24 hours at that point having hardly slept the night before— my mental end emotional strength were quickly dwindling and the pain was taking over…
I started wresting with myself and the idea of an epidural, feeling a sense of shame, judgment, frustration
Noticing stories of needing to prove to myself I could do it all on my own, fighting the idea of having to take any medication…
Then realizing the grueling pain I had been in for the last 9 hours knowing it was a much longer road ahead…
I had them check my dilation only to find we hardly progressed to 5 1/2 centimeters in the last few hours.
I looked at Rod and cried, feeling so weak, so helpless and unsure if I could do it.
I was so exhausted I just wanted to rest, just a little break to rebuild my strength but the contractions weren’t letting up and kept consistently coming every few minutes.
I finally broke down in tears from the exhaustion and pain, disappointed with myself asking for the epidural.
Rod held me and let me know it was okay. I was doing so great. Not to feel ashamed.
By the time they set it all up, I heard the anesthesiologists say “4:44 am, first dose administered”
The confirmation in the angel numbers on the time instantly eased my heart and mind. I felt my guides with me.
As the pain started to ease, I was able to finally rest and get some sleep.
When I woke up a few hours later, my water broke and they checked me again, we had progressed to 6 1/2 centimeters
But now, I was stuck to the bed, unable to move or get up from the numbness in my legs.
I hadn’t eaten in over 24 hours and was running on 3 hours of sleep, I asked for food but the nurses informed me I could only consume liquid juice
We moved forward for another 8 hours of labor then my midwife came in to check my dilation and started to become concerned because I stopped progressing.
After nearly 20 hours of active labor, I was still only 6 1/2 centimeters dilated
Concerned, they ran tests and found the epidural had slowed down the strength of my contractions.
By this point the only option was to now administer pitocin to induce stronger contractions and progress the labor forward.
I felt defeated.
Blaming myself for not being able to take the pain and requesting the epidural in the first place.
But there was no going back at this point so we had to surrender again as they begin administering the pitocin.
Within hours the contractions got stronger and stronger— when they checked dilation I had reached 9 1/2 centimeters.
Over 24 hours into labor, starving, running on 3 hours of sleep in the last 2 days, we began to push.
But the baby wasn’t dropping and my uterus wasn’t expanding the way it should have been.
My midwife decided to bring in one of the delivery doctors for a second opinion.
By this point we were 26 hours in, my belly was beginning to over heat, there was meconium in my amniotic fluid and they were concerned that the baby was not in the right position to keep pushing.
The doctor shared that we could attempt to keep pushing but it would likely be hours before we’d make any real progress and with all the other factors, there was no guarantee that it would work because of his position, it was risky.
She suggested the safest option at this point was a cesarean for both me and the baby.
My heart literally broke.
This was the last thing I ever wanted.
I couldn’t even hold back the tears and began wailing in pain, exhaustion, frustration, completely overwhelmed by what was happening
I had no control and was forced to surrender yet again.
As they prepped me for the surgery, my body began shaking more intensely and uncontrollably from all the drugs being pumped into my system.
They wheeled me into the operating room and moved me onto the operating table.
The shaking become more intense and uncontrollable.
I was terrified. Angry. Hurt. Exhausted and completely overwhelmed.
I could hardly begin to comprehend what was happening anymore.
Rod sat next to me holding me, trying to calm me down as they began the operation.
If you’ve never experienced a cesarean, the visceral experience of it is one of the most bizarre sensations. You’re numb so there is no pain but you can feel the tugging, moving, and pulling as they’re moving into your body.
Within minutes, but what felt like an eternity, at 10:50 pm, they pulled him out and showed him to us.
He took his first breath, he was perfect.
I didn’t know how to feel or what to think.
I was just completely exhausted— I ended up falling asleep on the table as they closed me up then moved me back into the laboring room we were originally in.
After checking my vitals again, for the first time they brought me my son and I was able to hold him.
It was the strangest experience, to see and hold this tiny human that for the last 10 months I had been sharing my body with but not having been able to witness him transition into this world.
A part of me felt robbed from the experience but also deep relief that we were both safe.
I held him, looked down at him, overwhelmed with so many different emotions, still unsure exactly how to feel. After an hour of bonding and chest to chest, the nurses put him in the bassinet to rest.
I asked Rod to hand me my phone so I could let my mom know I was okay and everything was good.
But when I opened it, I was hit with another wave of massive emotions.
I had a list of missed calls from the family that had adopted Clyde and a few unread messages, so I opened them both in absolute terror, shock, and disbelief.
At the exact time we were in the operation room and they were pulling Cash out of me, the family that had adopted Clyde was calling and texting that Clyde had lashed out at their son and they were on their way to the emergency room.
My heart shattered.
I couldn’t even begin to comprehend how or why let alone what they must be feeling. I wrote back letting them know we had just gotten out of surgery and was so confused, apologetic and unsure what to do but I was ready for whatever they decided.
I couldn’t cry because of the physical pain I was in, it literally hurt too much so I held it in and showed the messages to Rod.
I knew in that moment what was coming next, the very thing I had worked so hard to avoid was now inevitable when it came to Clyde.
And if we’re being 100% honest, I’ve been dreading thinking about this and contemplating if I even wanted to share this part of the story because of the level of grief, hurt, disappointment, and shame I felt in that moment.
But this is the full story.
We slept loosely the next few days in the hospital, literally unable to walk or stand on my own, I had to have both the nurses and Rod walk me from the bed to the bathroom just to use the toilet or shower.
I had never in my life felt so helpless.
I reached back out to the family checking in to see how they were doing and what had happened with Clyde, I was relieved to hear their son was okay and heartbroken to know Clyde had been taken to the shelter.
I continued to apologize out of confusion, hurt, heartbreak, still in disbelief that it had actually happened— we were all well aware that Clyde had inter dog aggression but he had never been aggressive or shown signs with humans.
I wrestled with the idea of going back to the animal shelter and taking Clyde home, putting him on medications and trying to navigate him with the newborn but there was just no way. For the first time, I was genuinely unsure and afraid of what could happen with the baby.
The guilt that came with this was tremendous.
Here I was holding my newborn son, messaging another mom about the pain my dog had caused, and feeling all the grief in knowing what was coming for Clyde, the helplessness in knowing there was absolutely nothing I could do at this point.
I shared with them my hurt and we grieved together, they truly did love Clyde and the idea of having to take him to the shelter was not easy decision for anyone but we all knew its what was best, and this knowingness is what hurt the most.
As I’m writing this, we’re coming up on 2 weeks since Cash was officially born, and so much of the emotions are still so raw. It comes in waves, like any grieving does.
The first night we brought Cash home after 5 days of being in the hospital, I cried uncontrollably because I could hardly move from the pain I was in.
He was crying uncontrollably, no matter what me or Rod did, we couldn’t get him to sleep or stop crying. We were both exhausted. Overwhelmed. and felt helpless.
I laid there wondering what I had done.
I sent an SOS message to my mom, a close friend, and my mentor/mastermind sisters confessing my distress and feelings of defeat.
The love I received and confirmation that it was going to be okay was all that I needed as I was reminded by each of them all of this is temporary, its going to get better, just breathe.
The first week of recovery from the caesarean was HARD.
Just trying to feed Cash was excruciatingly painful, let alone trying to stand and walk to the bathroom.
But slowly, it got better.
Every day I fell more and more in love with this tiny little human and the way more heart continued to expand just knowing he existed and holding him in my hands.
As my body has gotten stronger and felt more healed, everything has become so much more enjoyable in the parenting process.
But at the same time, I still find myself in moments of deep grief, when I look at my home and am reminded that my first fur baby is no longer here, hurting to even imagine what had happened to him…
Writing this still leaves my eyes welling up with tears. My heart hurts.
This birthing experience and transition into mother hood has been the most intense for so many reasons.
The biggest being the way I’ve had to learn how to hold so much grief, hurt, guilt, and sadness simultaneously with all the love, joy, celebration, and wonder that a new baby brings.
But this is the magic, isn’t it?
Being able to feel and experience all of it.
I’ve gone from crying helplessly, to heart exploding from love and pride of this tiny human, to frustration from the physical pain and limitations of my body recovering, to massive celebration for the magic and wonder of what’s happening with my clients and business.
If the birthing experience has taught me anything, its this.
That I can feel it all.
That even amongst all the chaos, if I can just surrender, it’s all going to be okay—
Even when things don’t go my way.
Just surrender and stop resisting.
This birthing experience has taught me that I am powerful beyond belief and also, still oh so human.
What a miraculous gift, this birthing experience.
Here we are, 2 weeks in to loving the life out of this tiny little human and I couldn’t be more grateful.
Celebrating and grieving simultaneously.
Celebrating a $21,000 Cash collected month For May in my own personal business, surpassing the $400k mark for total revenue earned in my biz lifetime, clients hitting $30k months, $15k months, filling out programs, Rod (my beloved partner) signing his first paying client in his business, welcoming in new women into my world and programs, birthing my son into existence while also grieving sooo much.
Grieving the loss of my fur baby, the life I’ll never get back. The time and freedom I didn’t truly understand I had until it was all consumed by this precious little soul, the body that will no longer be how it was before, the clients dealing with lawsuits, tragedy and pain in their own lives, the state of the world in all the hurt thats being felt…
Even with all the pain, grief, sadness, and hurt— I still feel so much love, gratitude, and awe for the magic that is my child.
So with all that’s going on in the world today, at the time in which this blog is originally written— June 9th 2020
Post Covid19 and in the midst of massive riots for all the George Floyd controversy,
Let this story remind you that you get to hold and feel ALL of it.
The joy and the grief
The hurt and the healing
The love and the pain
The sadness and the celebration.
You are both DIVINE and human.
The magic is not in separation, but integration.
The duality of every moment.
These are the pain of the contractions leading to the magic of your inevitable expansion in the midst of birthing a new world as the divine creator you innately are.
Surrender, feel it all, and come back home to the truth of your soul.
I love you.
Thank you for holding my heart so tenderly as I share the depths of my story.
Let this be the proof that strength is in our softness, power is in our shame, and healing is in the hurt as we navigate our human experience.
2 thoughts on “My Birth Story- Cassius Phoenix Rhyson”
Ah Sophie, I loved reading your birth story. Thank you for sharing it all. I’m sorry you did not get the birth you envisioned and for the feelings of powerlessness and shame it brought you. I also feel reading your words such an immense current of strength and resilience in the face of so much being thrown at you all at once. You are amazing, mama! And life will bring what it does. Cash is just perfect. Sending you love. Ché Xxx
Wow! The story of motherhood so beautifully written. It’s as if you have experienced a lifetime of what it means to be a mama in just a few short weeks.
The beautiful thing is….that you have discovered the secret sauce; surrender and gratitude mixed with a whole lot of love and determination.
You are a beautiful soul and Cassius is a very fortunate baby boy to get to call you mommy.
I’m so sorry for all of the lessons and pain mixed into such a time of joy and celebration. I can see your heart hurts deeply.
It’s beautiful though, how you are able to take the pain and transcend it and find the beauty.
You are a gift to the world.
Much love and many blessings for your lil family. Can’t wait to watch this little one grow. ♥️