An Honest Story About My Yogic Experience Of Giving Birth
Many people say: “you should write your birth story to remember the details”. Funny enough, I am not sure I want to remember all the factual details. For me, this story is about remembering how I felt, remembering that I was present through the whole pregnancy and the most intense moments of meeting my son Earth side.
All in all it took me around two years to get ready for my pregnancy. I spent a lot of time healing and cleansing my body (I had a very disturbing lower back slipped disс, but this is another story), I changed my diet 2-3 years prior thanks to yoga, I built flexibility of the joints and strength of the muscles, but most importantly I took this time to heal my soul, to get to know myself. One of the most important things is that I found courage in myself to finally leave crazily hectic life style of a career-oriented management consultant and spend the last years studying and doing what my heart was longing for.
It is possible that it is thanks to all this work, that I was blessed with a rather happy pregnancy. I felt that I had got pregnant within early days, feeling immediate connection with my baby’s soul. I felt being his Mother very early, which is why all my choices were conscious. I was enjoying these first bonding months when he was growing inside of me.
I never stopped my yoga practice, though I modified a lot. (One day I truly hope to share why popular prenatal yoga works against your body in many ways).
So, I will just list the work I did during my pregnancy months:
– Daily meditation: 2-3 times a day for 20-60 min
– Yoga Nidra
– Silent Meditation Retreats with all the walking meditations along the Bruce Trail
– Trips to countryside and nature with my husband most every week-end
– Teaching Yoga and Yoga Therapy
– I never gave up vegetarian diet
– I read a lot of books about Yoga Therapy and midwifery
– Birth courses with my midwife
– Weekly swimming
And I believe, I may be missing a lot of things. That was a quiet peaceful time.
Those who know me well, may remember that I had a lot of things planned before my baby’s arrival. As I said, I had a very deep connection with my boy and I felt he would arrive before the due date, which I always consider to be a guess date anyway. I had some Yoga Therapy projects to finish and some books to read. We also applied for a second mortgage, as we happened to find a house we liked just a month before the due date. And the last, but definitely not the least, after carefully studying the birth options, learning all possible truth about epidural, sensors, labor inducement, active management of the third stage, C-section and the atmosphere of looking for pathology almost in any hospital, I felt that the idea of giving birth at home was the safest way to go for me personally. I honestly felt that both me and my baby deserve my clear meditative presence during the labor. And never ever did I feel sorry I made this choice.
On the 12-13th of September I had a review test and two full days of study in Yoga Therapy. Since the early morning on the 12th I started to feel very strong contractions, so it was a little bit of work to concentrate on my test. The first day I didn’t pay much attention to what was going on, until the next day when after the sleepless night I came to my studies and asked my Yoga Therapist if it was false labor. I even remember some of my pals told me during the break that I looked like I was in labor, which I almost was. But I made my choice to stay in the studio till the very end, as I knew that at home I would start looking at the watch counting minutes. And I really wanted to go with the flow of Mother Nature. I believe we are nature, our bodies know what to do, we have our inner biological clock, we just have to learn to trust and surrender. I also believe I was born to do it.
I remember leaving that night saying to Felicia (my Yoga Therapy teacher): I feel it’s gonna happen soon… Funny enough, after I left she said to her husband Ante, my other teacher, that she expected me to give birth the next day. I tell this story to show what a human connection beyond words may mean…
The next morning I got up to regular contractions with some water drops, at 6:30am.
My husband did some work arrangements, while I was breathing and OM-ing through strong contractions. I remember talking to my close person Alex (the God-father-to-be) on the phone, as he was in the airport, leaving for some overseas trip, letting him know that I was giving birth. I was excited. I was happy and tired of being 12kg heavier than before. So, I was totally ready. I was preparing the pillows and linen, when our Realtor called and said that we had to give 20k deposit to secure the house on that same day, if we don’t want to risk losing it. So we dressed up and by around noon arrived to the bank. I was having my contractions around 5 min apart by then, so it was a little bit of a challenge to stay in the line without leaning against something. I remember I had to step aside from the line once to take a breath, and some women were passing by asking if I was feeling well. I probably didn’t look like I was. But I was calm and content. I knew the process well, I knew, it would take some long hours and I trusted the process. It is important to mention that in the early labour it is always good to walk, move and breathe. Or sleep if you can, and definitely not to panic.
When we were back home, I called my midwife. I was blessed to have my Russian midwife with rich home and nature birth experience, as well as both Russian and Canadian midwifery systems. When she came, she said I had hardly dilated yet, and that it would probably take me longer. So we let her go and she was back only by around 6pm in the evening.
Until 6pm, my very supporting husband and I stayed at home. He fried some potatoes and we had a great full dinner, which I will mention later. I tried all kinds of things from hot tub to special breathing techniques. I checked my blood pressure, timed my contractions and did my best to enjoy. The timing between contractions was getting less and less, the surges were getting stronger and my midwife came back. I remember my glorious heroic feeling letting her know that I had probably been fully dilated according to my timing and very strong sensations. I felt I was the queen of birthing and reported to her I was almost ready to push. As much as it sounds funny to me right now, I honestly felt devastated by her saying that she could hardly witness any dilation at all. How come?! It’s been 11 hours of squatting and dancing, where is my baby? And this was the first time I felt panic was over my head. She calmed me down, reminding me that it happened before and how many times she saw it herself. And it’s normal not to dilate according to the “book standards”, which is 1cm per hour. And that it also didn’t mean anything, as soon as the labour activity is strong, which It was. She was very experienced and reassuring, I trusted her, myself and my baby a lot. So, we decided to check me later on.
Meanwhile the surges were getting stronger and stronger. The next thing I remember I thought I was having a heart attack. As I said, I knew the theory well, you could wake me up at night and I would tell you what happens when. So, according to everything I read, the contractions had been so frequent, strong and active, that I was sure that If I didn’t give birth right then, my heart would just explode with heart attack. I felt very tense around my chest, as the contractions did not even leave me a chance to inhale properly. But how surprised I was to learn from my soon vomiting experience, that Nope, it wasn’t the baby or the heart, it was the wonderful dinner I had before. It was around 9pm already and I remember I realized I had already laboured in the kitchen, bathroom, bedroom and now I was in the living room on a new bed we just built. My midwife rubbed my lower back every contraction and I was squeezing my husband’s hand. Somehow my wonderful husband already had a birth pool ready for me and encouraged me to try it out.
My midwife checked me again and there was some progress, but not yet fully open, as I expected again, for the second time in a row.
It was some time around 10pm when I got into the pool. The contractions were incredibly strong. I remember I had all kinds of things planned for the last stage: special breathing and sound, I had my prayer, which I constantly tried to finish in between contractions, and realizing there was not enough time, switched to the shortest one I knew. Honestly, there must be some time in between contractions, at least, that’s what they say, but in my case, there were sometimes 2, 3 and I believe I even had 4 contractions in a row. The last 4 hours of labour were so intense, the only thing I could do was to stay present, feel and control my mind. I found it amazing how long it felt in my mind, how much space and time I had to think while labouring. So, I concentrated all my will power at my promise to myself and my baby, that I will live through this experience, that I will be there for my baby with no drugs or clouded mind. And so I did. I remember catching myself on an idea, that it was a wonderful moment to control my mind. Because God knows, what kind of thoughts were lining up in my head, what kind of words were there to express how hard it was to give life to a human being… And only thanks to my practice, to my teachers and to my strongest commitment to give birth in a sober mind and in a meditative state for the sake of myself, my spirit and my family, I realized I actually had time to choose my thoughts. It’s interesting how in a situation like that you can pull yourself together and be present with a clear mind and soul. So, I stayed with my payer, knowing for sure that it all shall pass and that whatever was happening, that was exactly the experience that me and my baby needed at that moment of our lives. On the outside, I must have looked tired and exhausted. Once I actually lost it and timidly asked my husband for some painkillers (probably meaning Tylenol, as this is the only thing we actually had at home). A request dismissed without much consideration. On the inside, however, I surrendered, I experienced a higher purpose of what was happening. It was greater than my physical sensations, I found joy in being a woman, in being capable of doing the work I was born for.
I was still there, in my birth pool, sweaty, on my knees without any ability to move half-inch or change my positions because of the frequency of surges and the forces of nature inside of me. I remember I tried to sip some water, but only had time to bring my lips to the cup when another surge would catch me half way.
It was after 11 when I felt a need to push. I told my midwife about it and she tried to check me once again. I almost didn’t let her. At this point I didn’t want anybody to touch me, I just wanted to push my baby out into this world. So, I started to push and push. And as much as I tried, my midwife looked at me seriously and said: “you are not pushing”. Am I not? And then I remember, she said the thing which may sound inappropriate now, but it gave me the way. She said, push as if you are going to tear apart. And this is the moment when I actually got, what it meant to be a Mother. It meant, you must be ready to tear yourself apart. There is no other way out, you would do it no matter what comes next. You will be ready to put yourself last, suffer any pain, you will open your heart raw for the sake of your baby. And that was the moment when I knew, I was born to be a Mother, I knew I had always been one, I felt this energy in me, healing and loving no matter what. And I felt compassion. Compassion to all the women, as if at this moment I felt through my body the experience of all women before and after me. I felt compassion to all those, who chose or had to go with drugs or C-section. But what is most important, I felt a very deep connection with my Mother and compassion to her. And finally lots and lots of genuine compassion to myself. There were just several pushes before Nikolas was born. The last hour was accompanied by animal-like sounds, which I had no idea I could make. I believe the Mother Nature takes over, so the wisdom and trust come when we are ready.
My boy was born into the water into the hands of our midwife. My husband never had a chance to catch him, as I digged my nails into his arms so he could not move for obvious reasons.
My Nikolas arrived in the comfort of our home just 7 minutes after 12 on the 15th of September 2015, just on the day his 39th week in the womb would start. He cried on his own and turned pink within seconds, all the reflexes looked amazingly perfect. I was blessed to have the best birthing team for my labour: my husband and our midwife, who allowed me to be myself strong and weak, and totally supported me with my natural birth choices.
One thing I know for sure now: the birth of a baby brings the birth of a Mother, and I will never be the same again.