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Embracing the waves

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by Jess Duffy, Inspired Yoga Plus

“My Mother was my first country. The first place I ever lived.”
- Nayyirah Waheed

It was a pleasure recounting my pregnancies and births. I went through the photo albums I created beginning from first ultrasounds and announcements to those close to us.

I enjoyed pregnancy, and prepared for birth with prenatal yoga, introductory classes for HypnoBirthing® and breastfeeding, along with reading Our Bodies, Ourselves: Pregnancy and Birth by the Boston Women’s Health Collective by Judy Norsigian. Rikki Lake's documentary, The Business of Being Born also had a big impact on my decision to switch to the midwives with my second baby.

I formed a page of “Birth Wishes” which served to set my own intentions and help to make informed decisions known to all relevant parties helping with my births. Ultimately, I wanted to allow my body’s natural process to happen. And I wanted an un-medicated, natural birth, without any unnecessary routine medical interventions.

I can't imagine what this would have been like had I not taken prenataly yoga with Elise Bowerman. Honestly. NO IDEA. I just want to cry (okay, I do) every time I think about it. I am so grateful. 


Jackson Edward Duffy was born July 10, 2015 at 8:29pm weighing 7lb 11oz, and was 21 in long.

10pm, 40 weeks and 2 days. That’s when I started experiencing mild cramps and diarrhea. I thought at first that I had eaten a bad oatmeal cookie! The cramps continued, though, for 15-20 minute increments throughout the night.

The next morning, my husband and I agreed that things were indeed in motion but that he was good to go into work for a half day. He had me check in with him once an hour with any changes or not. The contractions started to become stronger and closer together throughout the morning. I did cat-cow and “walked the dog” by leaning against the back of a chair.

Just before 3:30 my husband came  home, and I retreated to our bedroom to meditate and rest. I listened to a HypnoBirthing link my friend sent me to get in the mindset. As Elise says, too, ‘my baby and my body were so smart and knew exactly what to do and all I needed to do was breathe.’ I really kept focused on my contractions and my breath being two very separate things.

My water hadn't broke and the contractions seemed inconsistent, but they were getting stronger and closer, so I waved my husband in from working on the lawn and we called the hospital. In a delusion I said they were still 10 minutes apart but had 3 contractions while on the the short phone call with her... LOL... so the nurse said to come in.

Riding in the car was surprisingly smooth and I explained to my stepson (7 yo) how my muscles were working hard and it hurt a bit so I was going to make some loud noises and he was cool with that... I didn't want to freak him out with my low  "OOOoooo" sounds. He was comfortable, since we talk about how our bodies work in our family, and super excited to be a big brother.

By the time I was checked in triage I was dilated to 6 cm. I opted to walk to my room because I knew that A.) would be better for progress and B.) once I was up, it was easier to stay there then sit down and get back up from a wheelchair. They literally assigned me the furthest possible room and it took a half hour to get there because I stopped every 3 or 4 steps to grab the arm rail and breathe/moan through a contraction. The last 3 contractions I started to sweat and feel like I was going to puke and the nurse asked if they were changing - which they were. If she hadn’t asked, I’m not sure if I would have noticed myself. I had entered the 'transition' phase!

When we got to the room, my husband turned down the lights and turned on my Spotify yoga station going (which apparently really did help set the tone for the room. I had to tell the doctor I couldn't hear her at one point!) I ripped off my hospital robe and flung myself onto the bed on all fours. I was dilated to 9 cm!

One more contraction, then I pushed. My doctor asked "Are you ready to push??" (Um yes!) "Then I'm going to need to break your water." So she did and that was so quick and I didn't feel anything. She said to push like I was having a bowel movement.

They placed an oxygen mask on me. Maybe because things were moving calmer and quicker than what they’re used to seeing. An IV and the heart rate monitor were on; which I kept grabbing and saying "I don't like this." (It was not a welcomed sensation wrapped around my stomach.)

Baby's heart rate began to drop so my doctor asked me to switch positions: laying on my side/back holding my knees way back. I expressed my concern that the position was not working with gravity and she said I'd be fine... but she'd like to use the vacuum. It only took one more push to have my sweet baby earth-side.

In short: 15 minutes in triage, 30 minute walk to birthing room, 1 hour in transition and pushing phases. All unmedicated, no episiotomy. Skin-to-skin was immediate, yet brief, as they didn't have time to let the cord stop pulsating. Out of a possible four degree tear, I tore to a stage two. I understand how fortunate I am to have most of my birthing intentions come true!


Ryan James Duffy was born May 1st at 10:23am weighing 7lb 5oz and was 20.5in long. 40 weeks and 4 days.3

Once again, late night light cramping started on April 30. About 2 in the morning I woke unable to sleep or lay down through the contractions. They were about 10 minutes apart and I LOVE to "walk the dog" holding onto the stair rail, back of a chair, or the bed. It really helps me manage the sensations. I did my yoga breath, focusing on the inhale expanding (allowing space) and exhale (releasing baby) and repeated mantras. "My baby and my body know what to do." "The power and intensity of my contractions cannot be stronger than me, because it IS me."

About 9:30am we left for the hospital as the contractions were a bit closer (about 6 minutes apart.) My intuition was telling me it'd be best to just be there, even if I wasn't far enough along yet. I hadn't had any signs such as losing my mucus plug or waters breaking, but once in triage, I was checked by the midwife and dilated to 7 or 8 cm! YAY!

And again, I walked down the hallway to my room, stopping to "walk the dog" through contractions along the way holding onto the railing. Right across from the room I felt what has been my sign of transition now for both births - feeling as though I'm going to puke... and was ready to push!

My midwife suggested continuing to stand, as it was working well for me, so far. They raised the bed and I stood on the side of it. My husband was behind me applying pressure to my lower back to help with the sensations. I quickly lost my mucus plug, water broke, and yes - I poo'd!

(While in the pushing phase all inhibitions go out the window!) They clean it up super fast, anyway :-)

Then baby was on his way! My midwife encouraged me to do a few smaller pushes; which I believe helped me to not tear very much. Within minutes, he was out! It was an orgasmic childbirth. I laid down and we did skin-to-skin; leaving the cord intact for as long as possible. It was a calm, beautiful, empowering experience and I am SO thankful!!!

Thank you, Elise, for all of your guidance and for creating this community! Namasté

Photo credit: Light Wings Photography

You can connect with Jess Duffy as she stands as a teacher guiding prenatal and postnatal yoga classes in Southeast Michigan.