The Birth That Healed Me

I needed to write a new version of my birth story because I realized there are some key pieces that I left out the first time! At the time, I didn't even realize they were important. If you want to read version 1.0, you can read it here. But here's my birth story, version 2.0.

How it all Began

The day Baby J decided to arrive,  I woke up around 7:30am, already experiencing contractions. It was the day he had "told" me he was going to be born (more on that soon), but there was no indication of labor when I went to bed the night before.

I had noticed some beads of colostrum dried out on my nipples but I didn't think much of it. I knew I'd have my baby soon because we were 40 weeks +1 day, so I inspected my pregnant boobs, gave my nipples a squeeze or two just because (this could help my body produce oxytocin - the love hormone - and possibly help to kickstart labor), and went to bed.

When I woke up the next morning, nothing felt different. Not really. I was still very pregnant. But now we were on the day that Baby J had informed us he was going to be born.

Several weeks before, when I was having a bath, I started talking to my belly, and I started asking him when he thought he was going to be born. He'd been quite active in my belly, moving and kicking, but as soon as I started seriously asking about this, he got quiet. Then I started listing off dates. I said the due date, no reaction. I said another date I thought would be cool, again nothing. I kept listing dates and the baby stayed quiet. And then I said THE date. "What about ***** **?" (for the sake of his private personal info, I'm not sharing his birth date online)
And he kicked me HARD.
I sat up and took notice and said, "seriously?! ***** **?" And he kicked me again as if to say, "YES, weren't you listening?"
It seemed to be such a clear communication that I even told my OB and he wrote it in my chart! I told my doctor that it really mattered to me that he was the one there to deliver my baby, so he made a note to be there based on my baby's "declaration"!

So finally, that day was here. Soon after waking, my husband got up and contacted his work to tell them he was staying home. I wasn't in labor (that I knew of) but he knew it was THE day, so he wanted to stay close. He crawled back into bed and told me he was staying home, and I relaxed into his strong arms. Several minutes later, he tried touching my breast (he knew the boob/oxytocin trick too) but I immediately had to tell him to stop.
Something was different.
I could feel a deep, intense aching in my low back similar to menstrual cramps, but not. And then it stopped. About 10 minutes later it happened again.

Feeling Into It

I had no idea this was the real deal so we decided to just wait and see. We got up, and my husband made me breakfast (bacon and eggs), and we decided to go to the plant nursery to get a new plant for our front step to welcome this baby when he got home from the hospital. I was still feeling this aching off and on, but it wasn't bad. I had to stop and breathe a few times while plant shopping but we soon found the perfect camelia to take home.

Once we got home I was convinced this was the real deal, so I texted my doula to let her know my suspicion, and my doula texted back with, "hmmm interesting!" 

I decided to have a small glass of my birth wine to help me relax before things intensified.

Then I went about my day. Sat on the swing out front with my husband, talked about how our life was about to change, enjoyed the last few hours just the two of us (even though we were SO excited to meet our baby). I listened to some of my birth affirmations. I danced. I listened to some of my favorite music. I tried to work with my baby and with every surge that flowed through me. Then my husband made me a rather large lunch.

I ate most of it, but soon regretted that and was hit with indigestion. I went to the restroom in our bedroom and felt strongly like I needed to poop. I knew this was a classic sign of labor progressing, but I was in denial. It's too early, I thought. That lunch upset my stomach, I thought. 
I was so uncomfortable, and the surges were intensifying.
Finally I was able to have a small bowel movement, but then I was drenched in sweat so I decided to try having a shower. It didn't really help. When I got out, I was still sweating, and I went downstairs to join my husband and try to breathe through every surge as they came.


I knelt on the living room floor with my head on the couch. I moaned. Things were ramping up in intensity, but I was in such a ZONE, I had no awareness of time passing and I wasn't worried at ALL. I knew laboring at home for as long was possible was best for the hospital birth I was planning to have, and my water hadn't broken yet. I thought I had tons of time and my husband was so connected to me, he wasn't really timing my contractions either. Finally my doula texted, "so, how are you doing?" and that triggered me to ask her to come over. I knew I could use her support at this point. I texted my birth photographer too.


They arrived and I was still quite happy, although working through some intense surges. My doula tried to rub my back and give me some hip squeezes, and I HATED it. "Don't touch me!" I said. Then another surge hit and I joked, "Ok, that's it, I don't want to do this. I'm leaving." It was kind of an inside joke because I had hit that moment of transition I suppose, and I was kind of aware of that, but again, I was in such a zone, I had no concept of what it meant. I felt fine about the situation. I just kept breathing.

I decided I needed to stand, and I leaned on my husband, swaying back and forth with a sheet draped over me, and suddenly I felt a small gush in my underwear. "Um, I think my water just broke."
My doula suggested I go into the bathroom to check (odor, color, amount) and while I was sitting on the toilet I had another big contraction. She then asked me to reach down and see if I could feel anything.

"GUYS..." I said, "I think I feel a head!!!!!" My fingers touched something round and soft between my legs...

The Drive

Immediate panic ensued outside the bathroom door. "Are you serious?!" cried my doula. She instructed my husband to call 911. Nobody was freaking out, but everyone got into serious mode. We all thought I was having this baby NOW. I stood up and walked out of the bathroom, naked from the waist down, and my water completely broke all over the living room hardwood floor in a massive movie-worthy gush.

I had been feeling the amniotic sac getting pushed out of me! Not the baby's head.


By now my husband had 911 on the phone asking him a million questions, so I got down on all fours so he could check me and tell the dispatcher what he saw. No head yet, so it was determined we could make it to the hospital. We gathered ourselves as quickly and as calmly as possible and I was hit with another big surge except this time it was different and MUCH more intense.

"Guys," I informed them, "I'm PUSHING and I CAN'T STOP!"

It was suggested I start walking to the car as soon as this contraction was over and I slowly made my way. I had two more pushing contractions between my front door and the car in the driveway, and then I was in the backseat on my hands and knees, head resting against a pillow smushed up against the locked car door. Someone had found me a long skirt to wear.

My doula and photographer both took their own cars and followed us closely as we made the 30 minute drive to the hospital. My husband contacted my OB to let him know we were coming (we hadn't even told him I was in labor!), and every bump in the road triggered a big push as we drove. I had never felt such intensity but it wasn't "painful".

I talked to my baby the whole way and through every push, saying, "not yet, not yet, not yet. We're not there yet. It's not safe yet. Slow down, Slooooooow down," with lots of loud groans whenever a pushing contraction took over.

I've since heard/read comments from women, asking how you "know when to push". There was no question for me because my body completely took over, so it seems like a funny question. But now I know sometimes women are encouraged to push based on how dilated they are, not what their body is actually doing, and I wish moms knew that we ARE MADE TO DO THIS. Women in comas can have babies! Your uterus WILL push that baby out if you just allow your body to do what it does best. Your body and your baby know how to do this.

I had no choice in the pushing, and I was doing everything I could to NOT help the pushing along, just to try and buy myself time! I knew we could safely have a baby on the side of the road (thank you birth classes!) but I just wanted to. get. there. so I could relax.

Finally we arrived at the hospital after hitting every red light along the way. My husband totally kept his cool so I had NO idea the drive was taking longer than normal (I couldn't see anything with my head pressed against the car door), but I was so grateful to hear we had arrived. I carefully climbed out of the backseat, my pillow got stuck unceremoniously on top of the car, and I took a few steps toward the hospital entrance. 
I had a big pushing contraction right there on the sidewalk.
Then I walked inside and standing right in front of some poor lady who was waiting in the lobby, my body pushed again, hard, doubling me over as my hands gripped my knees and I yelled.
Things felt  I N T E N S E.

We were quickly admitted to Labor and Delivery and I was offered a wheelchair which I vehemently declined. I was HAVING A BABY and I couldn't imagine sitting down. Plus, I was not a patient, I wasn't broken, I could still walk just fine, thank you.

I was guided to one of the nearest empty rooms and my doula stressed to the nurse that I had been bearing down for about an hour, but the nurse basically just shrugged and nonchalantly said, "ok, we'll check her." I walked into my delivery room, and my body pushed again.
I roared, loud and low, hands on my knees, groaning as the pushing contraction filled my body. I was fully in my feeling, primal brain. All rational thought was gone.

That push got the nurse's attention. "Ok! Let's get you on the bed!" she said, and I climbed up, coming to my hands and knees (which is how I wanted to birth), and she checked me... "Yup, there's hair!"

My husband got to check me next and he felt our baby's head, but I was pretty oblivious to what was happening at my bottom end because I was consumed with the intensity I was feeling in my body. I wasn't really in "pain" the way most people talk about it. Maybe my pain tolerance is different because I've experienced the pain of breaking half of my body into a bajillion pieces, but I fully believe the work I did while I was pregnant to get the care and education I needed, allowed me to relax into the birth process and let each surge just wash over me as I used my voice, loud and low, to move through each surge. Then I could breathe fully and deeply as I rested in the betweens.

The Arrival

My nurse then informed me, "OK, you can push now." I nodded, and waited for the next surge, treasuring the moment of rest. This was HARD WORK.

My OB wasn't at the hospital yet and the nurses were running around trying to get everything set up quickly. I couldn't see much because I was leaning heavily onto the head of the bed that was raised up, but I could hear commotion behind me. Then someone asked me, "do you want to get the hep-lock?" and since that had been my plan (if I'd labored in the hospital for a long time), my knee-jerk reaction was, "yeah." My brain wasn't working AT ALL and I was running on pure instinct and reaction... Thank god my doula was right there because she leaned in and whispered in my ear, "your baby's COMING. You don't need that now."

Her tiny reminder was all I needed to trigger my deeper desire to avoid all unnecessary intervention, so I whipped my head around and said, "Actually, NO! I'm having a baby, I don't need to be poked with needles right now!" The nurse immediately backed off but now the nurses' rush was on to get a monitor on my belly to find my baby's heartbeat and see how the baby was doing.

They were also cheering me on, yelling, "PUSH, PUSH PUSH!" when a contraction would hit. I couldn't deal. For the second time, I whipped my head around and yelled back, "SHUT UP!"
I needed to focus and the physical intensity I was experiencing was all I could handle. The cheering was too much for my poor overloaded brain.

They were struggling to find my baby's heartbeat, too, (remember, he was moving down the birth canal while all this activity was happening around me), but at that moment, my OB, Dr. Nikolas G. Capetanakis, DO, literally ran into my room, out of breath, but happy and ready to rock and roll.

"Hey guys! OK! Let's have a baby!" 

He sat down at the foot of my bed and assessed everything in seconds. The nurses were still struggling with finding the baby's heartbeat and when they found one, it was way too slow. They said as much, but my amazing doctor immediately cut them off saying, "guys, it's probably HER heartbeat." That totally de-escalated the situation and the nurses were quiet from then on.

I had pushed maybe twice before my doctor arrived, and now that he was here, I focused on helping to move my baby out into the world. I wanted to meet him! Another push took over and I tried to push along with it. Suddenly I could feel the "ring of fire" as my baby started crowning, (which is a term I hate because it implies pain), but it felt just like what it is. Tissues stretching to their max, with a tight, pins and needles kind of feeling. It didn't feel good, but I kept trying to help the pushes along, and my baby's head would come part way out, and then get sucked back in. This happened three times, and I just couldn't seem to push him out!

"Maggie?." Dr. Cap said.

"Yeah?" I turned my head to look at him sitting behind me.

"I love all the vocalization, but now I need to just hold your breath and PUSH."

"OK." I turned back and refocused. The next push consumed me, and I pushed HARD.

No luck.

I realized then that I was hesitating just a little bit because I was afraid of tearing and I was afraid of pain. My perineum felt like it couldn't possibly stretch any more. But I decided, "fuck it. If I tear, I tear, and I'm in the best hands possible to take care of it. Just PUSH Maggie."

My husband, receiving our baby with a little help from Dr. Cap!

My husband, receiving our baby with a little help from Dr. Cap!

The next push came and I vocalized my effort even though I'd been coached not to, but I had a new focus and my hesitation was gone. When I got to the point where I had reduced my effort in the past, I just kept pushing, and boom. His head came out.
It didn't hurt!

Then Dr. Cap helped free his shoulder, and guided my baby boy into my husband's waiting hands. Soon I flipped over onto my back, and my baby was placed on my chest, skin to skin, and I looked at his beautiful face for the first time. He had so much hair!

I did it. We did it. Baby and me, together. No drugs. No medical intervention of any kind. He squirmed, looking for my breast. I let him work for it a bit, wanting to let him do the breast crawl, but then a nurse gently placed him next to my nipple and he latched on immediately. I have never felt such relief, and bliss. 

When we were moved upstairs to recovery, I remembered my mum's story of having to fight to keep me with her when I was born, and her nurses constantly placing me back in the bassinet. So I asked my nurses, "Can I sleep with him on my chest?" and they said as long as I supported myself on both sides with pillows so I couldn't roll over, it was fine. Yes, I could keep him with me. And so we spent our first night, snuggled up together, with his papa taking turns holding him so I could get some sleep.

I discovered that after I gave birth, ALL of my remaining sequelae (lingering symptoms/effects) from my traumatic brain injury were GONE. Completely. No more fatigue or brain fog, no more confusion, none of the things that made me doubt my ability to be a good mom and fear for the safety of my child. I had a postpartum doula lined up to help me, but it turned out I didn’t need her in the same way I thought I would. Everything flowed MUCH more easily than I had anticipated! My whole experience of pregnancy and birth HEALED me. It also showed me that I was most definitely NOT broken, despite everything I had endured.

**I also know now that I was doing everything right when I was pushing and holding my breath to PUSH was NOT in my best interest. It actually contributed to my being unable to control when I passed gas for YEARS after giving birth. All had to do was commit and allow, NOT push while holding my breath. Be aware of your body, honor what it and your baby are telling you to do. Women in comas have birthed babies, You don’t need to force it.


It's HERE! Beautiful Brains, Bellies, and Babies

You've probably noticed a few changes around these parts lately. 

If you've been with me since the beginning of this blog and business, my passion for health, wellness, healing, and recovery is obvious. I've "been through it," overcoming that whole severe traumatic brain injury, coma, broken in at least 18 places thing. I know how it feels to be so physically weak you can't even walk at a normal pace, let alone climb stairs normally. I know what it's like to be in pain all the time, to not trust my thoughts or the words that come out of my mouth because I'm aware of how my brain confuses most things.... and I know what it takes to heal and overcome all of that.

When I launched My Whole Healthy in 2014, I was pregnant with my son. This blog, website, and business was borne out of my desire to help people heal, get healthy, and share my story in the hope that it might inspire someone who needed to hear it. At the same time, I also became a certified personal trainer, and dove headfirst into honing my skills to gain more knowledge and expertise in nutrition and wellness. 

Now, I am a pre and post-natal corrective exercise specialist, and I am SO excited to finally be launching my coaching services in an online format, as well as in person! I know good help is hard to find, ESPECIALLY when it comes to finding a personal trainer you click with, so it brings me so much joy to offer my coaching to the incredible souls I meet here in San Diego, and around the world. My Whole Healthy lives online, and I have connected with so many bright spirits in the online world. My husband being one, as well as many dear friends.

I know that very real connections can be made online, and I know that I can be of service there, too. With the quality of online video conferencing now, it's like we are sitting across the table from each other, and I am fully able to coach you on correct form and function by giving you easy-to-understand cues and tips.

CLICK HERE to visit my appointment scheduling page, and please feel free to share as much on social, and in person, as you like! I can't wait to help you reach your goals.



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Valentine's Day Recipe - Chocolate Love Bites

Cooking has never really been my "thing" but lately I've been having a blast creating healthy, delicious, EASY, recipes to share with you! While you won't catch me slaving over a hot stove all day, it's so much fun to whip up delicious food, FAST, and share it with you.

I won't slack on using quality, nutrient dense ingredients though, even when it came to making a sweet, chocolate Valentine's Day treat!

Instead of buying chocolates for yourself or your sweetie this year, make these Love Bites instead.
They're rich, delicious, sweet, and satisfying, AND TOTALLY HEALTHY! So treat yourself, love your body, and (if you're pregnant or breastfeeding) love your baby, too, by giving them nutrients they need through you, instead of sugar they don't.




Blend all ingredients in a food processor until smooth and completely combined.

Line a 8x8 brownie pan with parchment paper.

Spread brownie batter evenly into lined pan with a rubber spatula

Place pan in the fridge for an hour to set.

Cut brownies with a heart-shaped cookie cutter.

If you want to give these Love Bites as a gift for Valentine's Day, keep them chilled or they will melt.

*** Store covered in the fridge or freezer ***

The ingredients matter!
If you want to make sure your chocolate treats are truly healthy and taste good, that is.
I have linked the exact brands I used above.
If you can't use these brands, use what's available to you but seek out the highest quality and cleanest sources you can!

Love your body, love yourself, love your baby. 



"Instant" Bone Broth

I made real, honest to goodness bone broth for the very first time!

I've had incredible bone broth from Pasture Bird but I had never made it myself. I was too intimidated, and I felt like it would be a big hassle that I didn't have time for as a new mom. I had visions of a messy kitchen and a fussy toddler, so I just didn't even seriously consider making it myself... until now.

Since I got my amazing Instant Pot (click for Amazon listing) , I feel so much more confident cooking delicious meals with some of my tougher cuts of meat (when you buy a full 1/4 beef once a year like we do, you get cuts you aren't too sure how to cook). 

I was able to throw everything for a great bone broth into the pot, turn it on, go for a walk with my son, and come back to fully cooked, nutrient dense and delicious broth ready to be strained and stored in jars.

Did you know bone broth is full of collagen, minerals like calcium and magnesium, can help reduce inflammation and joint pain, helps you grow gorgeous, strong hair, nails and skin, can help you look and feel younger, and can help boost your immune system?! It's so easy to make is it will save me a boatload of money compared to buying it pre-made.

There was no complicated prep, no standing over the stove, no entire days in the slow cooker. All I had to do was push buttons and leave it alone.  SO EASY! If you don't own an Instant Pot yet, it's one of the few appliances I can wholeheartedly recommend to help make your life easier, and more nutritious.

Easy Whole Healthy Bone Broth:
• Bones of 2 chicken carcasses (3-5 lb chickens)
• 2 leeks
• 2 large carrots
• 2 medium/large stalks of celery
• 2 bay leaves
• 2 tsp sea salt
• 2 tsp black peppercorns
• 1-2 TBSP apple cider vinegar
• fresh herbs as desired (optional)
• fresh, filtered water

Put the chicken bones into the stainless steel pot. Add chopped carrots, celery, leeks (see how to chop leeks here), and remaining ingredients.

Fill the pot with water to about 2/3 full. Close the lid.

Using the manual setting, set time for 120 minutes on high pressure.

When the Instant Pot time is finished, wait for it to fully depressurize before trying to open the lid. This may take close to an hour. Just wait, it will be worth it.



When the pot is cool enough to handle, strain the broth into a big glass or stainless steel bowl, straining out all the chicken bones and other chunky ingredients. Throw this stuff away.
When the broth is cool enough, pour from the bowl into clean glass mason jars and freeze or refrigerate for later use.

Voila! You just made your own bone broth! *Does a happy dance for you*

When you make this, make sure you come back and tell me how it went! I can't wait to celebrate with you. 

XO Maggie

This post contains affiliate links which means I make money on purchases made via these links, which helps support this blog. I never recommend anything I don't use and love myself. All opinions are my own.
Superfood Antioxidant Berry Chocolate Paleo-ish No-Bake Brownies

These brownies have so many virtues, I couldn't leave them out of the name, but if you have a clever idea, leave it for me in the comments!

brownies, superfoods, antioxidants, paleo, healthy, berry, chocolate

I went on a mission to make a GREAT brownie that was actually HEALTHY, that tasted amazing, and would make people feel good!

I have a serious love for brownies but I don't love how the usual junk ingredients and sugar make me feel. I could also never bring myself to share a recipe with you that could harm your health or set you back in your journey to whole health.

I wanted brownies that satisfied me, and didn't tempt me to eat the whole pan in one sitting (I know you know what I'm talking about!).

And... drum roll please... I DID IT! Here's what you need:

Blend all ingredients in a food processor until smooth and completely combined.

Line a 8x8 brownie pan with parchment paper.
(Use a slightly smaller pan for thicker brownies)

Spread brownie batter evenly into lined pan with a rubber spatula

Place pan in the freezer for an hour to set.

*** Store covered in the fridge ***

To ensure you get the healthiest, best tasting brownies, the ingredients matter! I have linked the exact brands I used above. If you can't use these brands, use what's available to you but seek out the highest quality and cleanest sources you can.

These brownies are dense, fudgey, and decadent. They will totally satisfy your chocolate cravings, without causing a sugar hangover, and they are PACKED with antioxidants from the cacao, cocoa, and the raw organic grasses and reishi, maitake, and shitake mushrooms in the greens blend (that also add iron and B vitamins).

The greens blend has a subtle berry flavor that comes through in these brownies and reminds me of chocolate lava cake with raspberries! It also made me think of chocolate and cherries, so you'll just have to make it and decide for yourself. Either way, it's delicious.

The dates also add natural sugars, fiber, potassium, copper and a variety of other vitamins and minerals, and the coconut oil adds healthy fat that is rich in medium chain triglycerides, may help prevent atherosclerosis, and has antiviral and antibacterial properties, among other benefits.

After you make these brownies, be sure to come back here and comment to let me know how much you loved them!

This post contains affiliate links which means I make money on purchases made via these links, which helps support this blog. I never recommend anything I don't use and love myself. All opinions are my own.