June 20, 2011

Birth of my (tiny) Guru.

I try to view every person who crosses my path as a teacher. It’s a practice that has been both fabulously entertaining and often times challenging. While it is easy to learn from some beings, others present frustrating obstacles; however when handled with a kind, open mind, appear as valuable lessons. My most recent, influential lessons came from a silent yet powerful tiny guru.

I recently embarked on a journey fully aware that I would walk away from the experience a much stronger person… I just wasn’t aware of what was slated on my lesson plan from a very special, unexpected teacher.

It started with the little white stick which read ‘PREGNANT’. My husband and I were blessed with a beautiful surprise; we would be expecting our third child in the Spring. With this wonderful news came relatively dramatic and somewhat disruptive life changes.

I had to stop working due to the possible exposure of dangerous chemicals to the baby. It was my income that kept our three and four year old boys in preschool so we pulled them out to be home with me full time. It was this decision that marked the beginning of a string of invaluable teachings which were prompted by and facilitated by a tiny fetus growing peacefully in my womb.

Lesson 1: Addressing Latent Fear

Most of us have hidden fears that sit dormant in the back of the mind. Whether justified or irrational we try not to give them much attention as it feeds the fire.  Like a weed or a cancer, they grow from the energy received… so we shove them down in the dark corners of the mind. My fears were centered around change.

I believe that change is a common fear for many people. We tend to be creatures of habit, finding comfort in the ability to predict future outcomes based on recognizable patterns. Whether consciously done or not, many tend to constantly plan the future… always looking ahead.

I came to understand that, when dropping this fear of the unknown, apparent ‘control’ over anything outside of myself was an illusion.

This realization is necessary to begin to appreciate the present in its entirety, completely independent of past experiences or future outcomes and free of expectations. If control over the external world is an illusion then why waste so much time and energy white knuckle grasping at nothing while missing the beauty of the present moment.

Lesson 2: Anger & Patience

I could recount a long list of reasons as to why I was unpleasant to be around throughout the first half of my pregnancy, but I won’t. I’ll just say that I wasn’t reacting peacefully to the combination of my two strong willed boys, pregnancy hormones and some unpleasant, unexpected life events. These are nothing but excuses. It is all too easy to blame external influences for those aspects of ourselves that we dislike; but it is only when we own those traits that change can begin to happen.

“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent at throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned” Buddha

I was put on a kind of modified bed rest at 30 weeks from experiencing painful and productive contractions when I was pushing myself physically and emotionally. Even getting slightly upset or impatient would trigger my contractions and could have potentially sent me into preterm labor. It appeared that this baby was forcing me to learn how to deal with my heated emotions.

The technique that I adopted was amazingly simple yet takes steadfast practice. Just simply resting quietly in acknowledgment of my feelings before acting on them. I found that the moment, that gap between emotion and action, is powerful enough to dissipate even the strongest of anger or frustration.

The adoption of this technique, prompted by my little baby in utero, facilitated a calmness in me, and thus my family, through my pregnancy and beyond full term. Another invaluable life lesson from my tiny guru.

Lesson 3: Trust & Belief in Oneself

It is easy to say that one has full trust & belief in their bodies, intellect, intuition, etc., but it’s when that trust is put to the test that we are able to prove that potential strength and power to ourselves.

As a doula and having assisted a midwife for a number of home births, I chose to have a calm and peaceful home birth of my own. I was aware that I would be in for quite an adventure but I had no idea that I would be shattering though a wall of self doubt to emerge a much stronger person.

To desire a home birth one must have an unwavering belief and trust in the natural birth process, their own bodies, and their mental & emotional stamina to withstand that level of pain. I thought that I was armed with that kind of strength yet I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t have anxiety in the days leading up to my birth.

“What if I encounter an unexpected complication?”

“What if I’m unable to withstand the pain?”

“What if I can’t fulfill my dream birth?”

Self doubt and what-if’s were clouding my vision but I still held firm to the birth I desired. My dream was to meditate through the labor and then deliver my child myself, into my own hands, unassisted.

2:00am my water broke and I began to manifest my plan. I labored for 6 hours in my meditation room, riding the waves of contractions by slipping in and out of a beautiful meditative state of appreciation. I explored every subtle nuance of this pain that was bringing me closer to meeting my child; and with this, my discomfort was negligible.

Soon after entering the bath I was fully dilated and ready to begin the process of parting with this tiny being. It was here that my self-doubt was awakened by the excruciating pain of separation.

“Come on mama… reach down to catch your baby.  You have to reach down now to catch him when he comes out.” My amazing midwife knew how badly I wanted to be the first to welcome my baby into the world.

“I can’t.” I moaned in between screams.  “I can’t… I can’t…” I felt defeated. I knew what I wanted but I was 100% positive that I was unable to accomplish it. There was no way.  I absolutely wasn’t strong enough.

It was then that, from a place deep inside my womb, with the help of a tiny teacher who had been instilling life-lessons in me for the past 9 months, my hands reached out and shattered through that wall of self-doubt as I caught my child.  And from that moment on, all I could feel was love…

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