photo by Jessica Earle
My body woke me up at 1am gently letting me know that this would be the day that my son, and third child, would be born. For the past few months I had been thinking about this moment, wondering when it would come. Part of me was wishing it wouldn't and at the same time dreaming of the day that I would lay my eyes on the child I had been so close to for so long. This time around you would think I wouldn't be nervous about giving birth, but it was just the opposite. I was more nervous then with either of my other births. Maybe it was my memory of the pain, or maybe I just felt that I had been so lucky with my other 2 healthy natural births and babies, that how could I expect to get away without complications of which I could only imagine. I am by nature someone who likes to be in control pretty much all the time. This is a quality that has served me well, but has also held me back in many ways. Birth is one of those experiences that I find so scary because you can't really prepare yourself for it because each birth is so unique and must be let to unfold as it will. So, of course I tried my best to control it. I took Birthing From Within classes with my first pregnancy hoping to gain some insight and tools. Then after my first child was born I became a birth and postpartum doula hoping to help others and become more of an expert myself. I read every book about natural birth and even had a water birth with my daughter and used all the pain management techniques for labor and delivery. So, on my third go at this, I couldn't have been more prepared or more scared. At each appointment I asked the midwife for help with my anxiety. They shared with me meditation techniques and tried their best to reassure me that I would be able to do it. But when the day came, I could still feel those parts of me that still weren't sure.
I labored at home for most of the morning with my family still feeling pretty good. Later in the morning John and I headed over to the birth center and the kids followed an hour later.
When we arrived the midwives had filled the birth pool up for me with warm water. It looked so peaceful, but all I could feel was nerves, as I knew what I was about to face. I got into the pool and allowed the water to sooth me a bit. As my contractions started to pick up, I started to use the breathing and relaxing techniques I knew would be helpful. John has always been a big help to me in labor, sometimes having to press on my back for hours on end to provide counter pressure through each contraction. So this time he was ready to help as the contractions got stronger. As I started to feel the strength of my contractions increased, a helpless, panicky feeling started to rise from within. I knew that I was going into transition, but I really felt that I did not have what it took to climb this mountain. More than the pain, I feared the loss of control the panic brought with it. At this point my best friend, who was sitting nearby, said to me, "Just remember that your body won't do anything that you can't handle".
It was at this point I stopped and shifted my thoughts. I realized how grateful I was to have a body that knew exactly what to do. A wave of gratitude washed over me as I thanked my body for working just as it should. As the strongest contractions surged through me, I decided to get out of their way and appreciate them by not trying to escape, but be present to this miraculous act of nature. I just let go. I let go of every muscle in my body. I let go of all the deep breathing and everything I had ever learned to avoid the pain and slipped into a relaxed breathing pattern similar to sleep. I let go of making any sounds. I let go of needing anything or anyone to rescue me. I let my arms float up like a flower opening up to the sky. I let go. The pain stayed the same, but I was different. It did not scare me. I looked it right in the face and said, thank you. I trust you. I am letting go now. I laid there floating in the water doing nothing but trusting until it was time to push and when my son came out into the warm water I knew I would never be the same again. I had let go in the face of the biggest challenge of my life and experienced something that I would never have believed. I surrendered to the moment. No longer in battle with myself. I let my body take over, and it was in letting go that I finally felt in control.
"Being a parent is the path of learning to move away from resistance, to embracing what the moment presents you with. "
Naomi Aldort - "Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves"
Welcome Scout to our family!