Although I live a somewhat public life, I do believe that some things are sacred. And to protect those things we cherish, we must conceal them. The Zohar says, “…concealed is the place whence all blessings issue. Therefore, when the utterances of man are in secrecy, blessings are upon him.” –Zohar, Pekudei 126
On the other hand, I believe that anything I experience in life – especially , pain, difficulty, or even great blessings – are meant to be shared if, in sharing, someone can relate and be inspired to overcome some challenge in their own lives. In sharing my experience of delivering my 4th child, I hope that someone reading will find a bit of wisdom or comfort, or perhaps feel less anxiety in anything they may be experiencing.
With my first three children I tried to have natural births, meaning no drugs, no surgeons and certainly no interference from doctors. Needless to say, it didn’t quite go that way. Because wishing and desiring for something to happen is very different from taking actions to make it happen. With David, my first, I was in labor for 23 hours, with an epidural after 18 hours of dilating to just 1 cm with contractions a minute apart. Josh, baby number 2, had to be delivered via emergency C-section. That experience so shook me that when Miriam, baby number 3, came along, I was consumed by fear and uncertainty. Miriam’s birth was 18 hours of labor ‘helped’ along by petocin and an epidural after the 17th hour. I’m sure some of you may be thinking I’m a glutton for punishment to go a 4th round, but really, they are so worth it. Having had my first 3 children in my 20s, now in my 30s I felt I was a different person and was in a different place spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically – enabling me to finally have the experience I had envisioned. After all, with Miriam I had come so close. Maybe lack of certainty on some level or lack of a plan or, ultimately, lack of really not having found my strength and true connection to the Creator were the causes, but I was oh so close. In truth, I hadn’t quite decided I could do it. And in life, nothing happens until you decide. As the Rav always said, “Consciousness is everything.” No matter what I hope and wish for, unless I decide, no action will follow and nothing will manifest.
I remember in one of the last visits with my OBGYN before Abigail’s delivery date we checked to see if her head had traveled to the cervix. If you’ve ever heard someone tell a pregnant woman, ‘it looks like you have dropped’, this is what they are referencing. When we think about travel, we think about great distances. For travel to be really worthwhile we believe that we need to go somewhere far from where we currently are. But travel, movement or, in essence, change, doesn’t necessarily require a great distance for something profound to occur. Consider the journey down the birth canal. It dawned on me that although this travel is painful, long and arduous, it is a very, very short distance – no more than 4 inches to be precise!
It takes you nine months to grow your baby and ready your body and mind for the moment of labor. Then the time comes. You push and nothing happens. You push again and again, but when do you stop? You don’t, because it’s not an option – the baby needs to come out. Giving up is not an option. Your free will is exercised in how you want to experience the moment. Events may not be in our control, but we can always choose our reaction – for instance, having fear as opposed to having certainty.
With this pregnancy I deliberately worked very hard to remove the fear I had surrounding the other pregnancies. I chose to connect to her growing inside me, kicking me and giving me love. I understood that this was no longer about me or my experience. Nor was it about my body or discomfort. Rather, it was about her evolution. When I came to this realization, I decided to create a birth where she could enter this world without trauma, drama, fear or chaos. Here was my three-step action plan:
I set myself up for success by choosing a doula. I found someone who knew my story; my past experiences and my current desires. I found someone who could be my voice during the delivery so that all of my concentration and focus was on the task at hand. When an intern entered my room (an Ashton Kutcher look-alike wearing cowboy boots!) my doula knew that I absolutely did not want to feel like a science experiment and be observed as a way to give experience to a doctor in training. Knowing that I wanted to keep all my focus on Abigail’s experience, my doula politely sent him away and I didn’t have to utter a word.
I wore my own clothes throughout labor. No hospital gowns to feel and connect to sickness. No bed. I followed the signals that I was getting from my body, and as contractions came, if I had the urge to push, I did. Lying down on a bed is the opposite of my body’s desire. Instead, I did lots of moving and walking around and placed my thoughts as being one with the world (not fighting my situation).
I placed total trust in the Creator. Whatever the outcome would be, I knew it was for the best, even if it didn’t go as planned. (Luckily it did!)
I spent months working on my consciousness, but the real epiphany for me was when I was already 3 days past my due date (ultimately she came 10 days later – guess she liked it inside). I realized that the labor is not my story or my experience to think of, really. It’s not even about my pain. It’s really all about my child; her experience of coming into the world and traveling down the birth canal. It was her journey all along and I was just the vehicle in which to support her. With all my heart and soul, those 9 months of carrying her became more about this moment than anything else. It was time for her to make her entry into the world and I wanted that to be the most pleasant experience for her. And so I was able to have the natural hypno-birth I had always envisioned, and not just because I wanted it, but rather it’s because it’s what she wanted and needed.
When I counted contractions, or rather my husband did the counting, 1-10 seconds were tolerable. 10-20 and 20-30 seconds – OMG OUCH; and then 30-40 seconds tolerable again. I work out hard. I do 30 to 35 leg reps daily – each leg. Just like my workouts, everything was mind over matter. I can do anything for 40 seconds – as long as I know when the pain will come to an end I can get my head around it. Often in life we fight uncomfortable things. We fight our process – yet if we embrace it, it passes much more quickly. Don’t try to go around or avoid difficulty, work through it instead. No energy is ever wasted, and all of life is experience. All of the mental strength to get through even something as seemingly trivial as a workout can and should be applied to something for greater. Everything in life prepares you for something else, if you are paying attention.
I never even uttered a single word for 8 hours of the labor, 6 of which were at home. I’m writing about my birth experiences on the occasion of Abigail’s first birthday. She is such a blessing and brings me joy every single day. I can think of nothing more worthwhile than the work of bringing a child into the world. Happy Birthday, Giley.