By Aubrey Bamdad, Co-Founder of the Sacred Motherhood Blueprint.
In honor of my daughter’s 4th birthday on July 14th, I committed myself to revising and sharing her birth story. This is something that has been on my to-do list for years, literally. The more time passes, the more this experience becomes less vivid in my consciousness, so I felt an urgency to recapitulate it before it became a vague memory. Besides, what better way to honor my darling daughter’s life than by remembering and rejoicing in her birth! We sat together to pick out the photos for this blog and she asked me many questions, especially about her placenta which I felt lucky to be able to simply point out the window and say, “This was your companion when you lived in mommy’s belly. It is how you got your food when you lived there. See that tall cedar tree there, your placenta is buried right there and continues to be your guardian spirit.”
Nahal was conceived with great love and foresight, a continually deepened connection between her parents and much preparation on many levels: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. There were also life-altering hurdles. I will share more about my personal process of conscious conception in the future. For now, I want to devote this space to honoring the beautiful mystery of birth, as I experienced it. When we discovered we were pregnant, we were both beyond elated.
Nahal Devi came into this world during the quiet night of a full Buck moon in Capricorn in 2014. I remember that day well. We practiced yoga and belly danced in the maloca, our open-aired ceremonial temple. We watered the seeds in the garden we had planted. It was also the world cup finals. Sunshine, my midwife and Dionisio, my husband and I were thinking about going for ceviche and to watch the game to relax and pass the time as Nahal was 10 days past her due date at that point. Sunshine, whom we were blessed to have stay with us for one month, had to get back to the States and we were contemplating how to get this show on the road.
I didn’t want to rush Nahal and felt confident she’d come in her own time but being this was my first birth and we planned on it taking place at our homestead in the Amazon jungle, I definitely knew I’d feel more comfortable with her presence there. That morning she made me a terrible tasting castor oil smoothie. It got things moving.
Prior to that though, I awoke with the remembrance of a particularly lucid dream on my mind. I experienced vivid, archetypal dreams throughout my pregnancy. On this occasion, I dreamt there was a turtle in my womb. I could feel the roundness, hardness and volume of its shell and I was astounded at how I could be able to push something so big, out of my vagina. Upon recounting it to Sunshine, I remember her saying there was definite turtle energy surrounding the birth, slow and steady.
Dionisio reminded me of a profound oracular dream I had had a few months earlier, where I was told everything would be fine. He said it was the moment to trust in that message. Several of the lucid dreams during my pregnancy involved whales, which I felt were more Nahal’s totem that the turtle. That was clearly my medicine animal showing up. Another potent and memorable dream that occurred during those days before I entered the birth labyrinth was of me creating bhasmas, an esoteric Ayurvedic mineral preparation. I saw myself pulverizing powders of gemstones with a pestle and sealing them into a clay vessel, which I then buried into an earthen pit, surrounded by hot coals. Dionisio interpreted this to mean the process of gestation had come to fruition.
The days leading up to the birth, I felt quite uncomfortable in my body, which had grown and stretched beyond what I could imagine was physically possible, a significant teaching in and of itself. Everything required effort. Walking, bathing and just laying down felt arduous. I began to naturally withdraw from all my worldly duties and communications, as if an inner intelligence was taking over and preparing the space for birth to occur. As the full moon approached, we felt confident in the power of lunation to draw Nahal from the comfort of her watery cave.
Several hours after consuming the castor oil smoothie, I began to notice a pattern of frequency to the contractions I was experiencing. I thought to myself, “Okay. Here we go.” I had done so much research about pregnancy, labor and postpartum through the lens of yoga and Ayurveda. I hoped I would be able to put into practice some of what I had learned. I got out a yoga mat, put a disposable pad down and began practicing some pelvic opening positions. Sunshine came in to find me blissed out in badakonasana with my cat Chapeau sleeping on my thigh and my German shepherd Akshay seated to right of me, stewarding my process as usual. I felt psychedelic. I saw some blood and excitedly exclaimed, “It’s happening!” Sunshine and Dionisio remained so calm and grounded during the entire process. The surges became increasingly more intense. I practiced breathing into them. Sunshine and I went out to the garden. She watered our sprouts and I took my sandals off and looked up at the mountains. It felt like the earth was gently undulating from side to side. The trees seemed to sway knowingly. My cat Lele was there next to me, holding space as she always does for me, especially during my medicine work. There was an imperceptible sense that the earth movements were happening within me, not around me.
We went back inside. I lay on the bed and cleared my mind of thought so I could carefully perceive the frequency of the surges. Then I heard a “pop” and water dribbled out of me. “My water broke!” I exclaimed. Sunshine affirmed that the fluids were not urine. From there, the experience took on a different dimension. I became less and less aware of what was going on around me. The surges became stronger and came faster. I felt like I was trying to keep my head above water at that point and was aware that I could no longer dominate the experience. I just tried to hang on. I began to feel upset and emotional as I felt so exhausted already and there was barely any time between one contraction and another to catch my breath. I couldn’t get comfortable. I kept flipping my huge belly from one side to another. I felt extremely nauseous. I thought I was going to vomit. Sunshine held beautiful space for me in this phase. Her presence was non-interfering yet strong, stable and knowing. She sat on the floor quietly. When she spoke, she said I was trying to escape the surges and I needed to breathe into them. I felt completely overwhelmed by the experience. Nothing I had read or learned, nor all the years of intense yogic and shamanic training had prepared me for this. Then, in an instant, things mellowed out and I was able to catch my breath and rest briefly. I felt a deep peace wash over and through me. It permeated everything in the room. I felt as though there was a palpable, living, breathing consciousness moving through and weaving together all the objects in the room, sentient and insentient alike. The space felt simultaneously empty and full and the entire ambiance of the room as well as everything within it was held in that animate matrix.
Dionisio had been preparing the birthing pool, heating up water and filling the pool, bucket by bucket. He came in to let us know the pool was ready and I could get in. They held my hands as I entered the pool, which Sunshine had filled with ayahuasca flowers from our land that bloomed only at that time of year. The garden was bathed in the luminous light of the waning full moon. The cactus in front of the house seemed to be standing sentry to the sacred portal that was about to open. The warm, fragrant water felt wonderful.
I turned over and over in the pool. Dioni came out with his buffalo drum and began to play. I was dilating rapidly. The body had its own urge to push. Sunshine said I needed to wait but it was almost beyond my control. Being in vajrasana, on my hind with my knees splayed, felt the most comfortable.
Nothing comes close to describing the experience of full dilation, where you, woman ceases to be a person, an individual and instead is transformed through an archaic alchemical blueprint into that holy, perennial channel, the portal between matter and spirit. The dark descent each one must take to birth a being involves an excruciating and simultaneously exhilarating physicality, a widening of hips, loosening of pelvic bones, a tearing of tissues. The portal opens wide and the soul we are in sacred contract with begins the journey from the comforts of our womb space, the very altar of conception, of life, and descends down the birth canal to emerge into the world of light and air.
During my birth process, I had felt the presences of different beings: ascended and earthly masters, animal spirits, my dearly departed relatives, the elements, earth herself. When I arrived to the moment of full dilation, there was a merging that occurred. There ceased to be anything separate from myself. I was alone, yet not alone at all. The juxtaposition of singularity and plurality at once. I touched my yoni and felt the crown of Nahal’s head emerging. It was soft and pulsating and that sensation sent shivers through my spine. In a split second that still feels completely timeless, Nahal spiraled out of my body into the water and into the hands of her waiting father, who cried upon receiving her. He was the first to see her as she emerged as I was in vajrasana, so my back was to her. He whispered, “She’s so beautiful.” And I turned to glimpse her under the surface of the birthing pool, moving towards the light of the moon to draw in her very first breath.
Aubrey Bamdad's body of work bridges the fields of Ayurveda, yoga and their corresponding Vedic technologies with traditional Amazonian medicine and the shamanic realms. She is a mother, writer, teacher and visionary, as well as an Ayurvedic practitioner, yogini, and contemporary vegetalista with decades of immersive experience in these respective wisdom traditions. She has founded and co-directs the Sacred Motherhood Blueprint, the Eleusinian Mystery Field School, Qori Inti Amazonian Herbals, for which she also formulates and creates their product lines and co-directs Yacumaman Sanctuary for Integral Shamanism with her husband Dionisio Santos. Aubrey is a sought-after and well-respected teacher the world over. Her approach to motherhood is completely unique to her and stems from her experiences, studies and the result of a life passionately and spontaneously.
If you enjoyed this blog, please check out our Musings pagefor other related topics from the Sacred Motherhood Blueprint. Our new course, Diet and Nutrition for Conscious Conception will be open for registration soon. If you know any women embarking on the path of Sacred Motherhood who are looking for guidance in nutritional preparation and practices for conception, this course is the most comprehensive of its kind!