21 August, 2015
The inception of our son was a terrifying surprise for my partner and I. We were not planning a family so soon and his entrance stage left snuck up behind us without much warning.
However, being of appropriate ages and in the best place a relationship can be in we chose full steam ahead in to parenthood. A decision we are yet to regret.
During the months of pregnancy the Capricorn in me was eager to read every pregnancy and birthing book, blog, philosophy, video, method and practice ever designed. My idea was the more knowledge I had, the more control I would exert over the situation. I see now, I make mistakes like the next woman.
Living in Sydney at the time, the only antenatal course I attended was the much-lauded Calm Birth. My partner, William, was less than enthusiastic about coming, but after a long guilt trip he reluctantly agreed. Pregnancy, so tough on men!
With many similarities to Hypno-Birthing, Calm Birth teaches that a woman’s body is designed to birth her baby naturally. That if you can calmly work with the process and not resist it, things will evolve effortlessly.
As an experienced yoga practitioner, these were not alien ideas to me. I had my strategy and check list. I would practice yoga, meditate every day, create a clear visualisation of a calm, easeful birth. These practices were invaluable to me during pregnancy relieving all sorts of common ailments, from back/neck pain to sciatica to insomnia – it was the perfect medicine. I believed strongly in the idea of birthing in the comfort and familiarity of your own home, that I would feel safest there to get on and do the job.
Home in Auckland I found an excellent local midwife. She was experienced in homebirths and increasingly over the months in her care I grew confident in her expertise. We asked the tough questions and she had clear, respectful answers.
My family on the other hand were gravely offended and judged us frequently. How could I be so selfish to put the baby and myself at risk? Childbirth is a complicated process, you will be safer with access to drugs and real doctors! And my personal favourite, if anything terrible happens to you, I will never forgive you ~
When I did finally go in to labour, I was exactly 14 days over due and on the brink of being dragged off to hospital for an inducement. Exhausted, battered by the wait of 14 extra long days (and approximately 62 phone calls from Mum checking on things), the process began naturally – after several amazing acupuncture sessions and stretch’n’ sweeps (sounds like something from the pick’n’mix isle – it’s not!), oh joy.
This was 10.30pm the night before Theo was born. I stretched out on all fours on a blanket leaning against the couch, utilizing my pranayama yoga breath, while William got to work dressing the house in the motivational décor I had prepared. Beautiful spiritual quotes about mindfulness and perseverance, oil burners, tea light candles, soft ambient music. The scene was set.
Please let me be perfectly clear about the first thing I learnt in my labour.
Pain is pain.
At Calm Birth they recommended replacing the word painful contractions with ‘surges’ – after my labour I felt like surging the instructor right in the face.
So I guess the conclusion I’ve come to is, labour is like a box of chocolates. One woman’s experience might be ‘it was painful but it wasn’t unbearable’ and the next ‘The pain was all encompassing’. A third might say ‘It felt like someone was squeezing my belly every two to three minutes’ and then another ‘I felt like I was being steam rolled by a freight train’.
Until you go through the experience for yourself, you never fully know, because every women and every body is different.
William and our midwife were an amazing team and we spent ten hours at home getting to 5cm dilated. At this point, completely out of my own body and mind (who knows where I was!) I told William that if he didn’t take me to hospital for pain relief I would call the ambulance myself to come and get me. I have been described as determined.
For some hours they had both been endeavouring to keep me focused on delivering at home, an ideal that slipped further and further away with each passing hour.
Once in the maternity ward of North Shore Hospital a beautiful Indian Anaesthetist with a colourful hat and bright, loving eyes gave me an epidural – and then I found peace. For me the epidural worked like a treat and within a few hours my darling Theo was born safely, naturally.
I have never for one second regretted cancelling the home-birth and moving the scene of our birth to Hospital. In the end I felt safer at the hospital than I did at home (and if I’m perfectly honest, the drugs were pretty good too).
Reflecting back now I was taught a very powerful universal lesson. When we are strongly attached to a particular outcome, not allowing or entertaining the thought of any other outcome the universe will conspire to bring us a different experience to demonstrate the narrowness of our thinking.
Conclusions? Next time around I am planning on a) lying to my mother about my due date and b) being more flexible about my labour, delivery and how the story will play out.
In my one-on-one prenatal coaching with students I am honest about my experiences and teach yoga postures and breath work that can help relieve stress during pregnancy and labour. We work on releasing tightly held expectations about how birth and labour should be, so you can open up to how it could be. However at the end of the day you can acquire all the preparation tools in the world, but you yourself will be the one that carries yourself across the threshold and at the end you will have the prize of a lifetime.
If you are interested to book some personalised prenatal yoga classes please contact me directly: Call/Txt 021 195 0220 or firstname.lastname@example.org. More information outlined on my website ayogafiedlife.com
To review more of my writing on pregnancy, parenting and wellbeing check out my blog on the NZ Bounty website here.