A recent conversation with my yoga teacher inspired me to write about Josie’s birth and the guilt we can feel for things going well. When things feel like they have come to us easily, we have a hard time acknowledging them or taking credit for it. We hear how hard of a time someone else is having and feel we should keep our good fortune to ourselves.
I told my teacher how smoothly labor and delivery went for me and about the mama I’d encountered in breast feeding support group. After planning a natural delivery, this woman had ended up with an epidural and a C-section after 44 hours of labor. I had kept my birth story short: it was a good, natural delivery at a birth center. I felt I needed to keep my wonderful birth story to myself for fear I would make others feel bad for their less than perfect experience.
Having never been pregnant, my yoga teacher, and another student, admitted to being scared about birth. I shared that at the beginning of my pregnancy, I would get tremendous butterflies in my stomach at the thought of labor and delivery. I was incredibly anxious at the idea of having to deliver that baby out of my vagina. And I worried that if I were this anxious now, how would I find any calm in delivery?
It’s natural to have these feelings about an experience you’ve never had before. In fact, I even think it’s part of the pregnancy process. In preparation, I had set the intention to be open to however our baby decided to arrive. I had heard enough stories about birth not going as planned, that I hoped to save myself some of the disappointment friends had shared with me. That didn’t mean we didn’t have our own plan of how we hoped it would go. But hearing the stories of early delivery, unexpected C-section, use of forceps and pushing for hours with no progress, it seemed to me that birth had a way of being exactly what we did not want.
Our plan was a natural delivery at Mountain Midwifery Birth Center. After a couple of years of no faith in my body’s ability to do what it was supposed to do-make a baby, I needed to be in an environment that supported and believed in my female body. I wasn’t interested in any of the drugs available for labor and delivery because I have a low tolerance to medications (NyQuil makes me loopy) and I wanted to be present for the birth of our baby. Of course, part of being open to the process, meant I was willing to accept the possibility that we would end up in a hospital, medicated. But I knew if that were the case, it was for the safety of me and our baby.
We were required to take a series of child birth, breast feeding and new born care classes at the birth center. Courses I was all too eager to participate in. For an event that is unknowable, I wanted to know everything I could. The child birth classes didn’t focus on a specific method of delivery, but rather educated us about the phases of child birth and what to expect. After finishing our classes I didn’t feel those butterflies about labor. In fact, I felt excitement and confidence.
It’s easy for me to say, I was lucky, I had an easy pregnancy. But it wasn’t luck. I must take credit for the work that I did. One of the big things I did was focus on listening to my body. This meant taking naps when I was tired, a luxury I was able to indulge in because I work from home.
Additionally, yoga was a very important part of my birth preparation. Because I have the best yoga teacher, I chose to continue my regular class rather than attend a prenatal class. Every 10 weeks I’d notice a shift in my body’s ability to perform a pose, but I’d listen to my body, make a modification or hang out in child’s pose. My dedication to yoga helped maintain my body’s strength-I was doing crow pose 5 days before Josie’s birth- and enabled me to practice my breathing and centering myself. Often times, in class, I would tell myself that this was practice for labor.
The final part of my preparation was regular chiropractic care. For most of my pregnancy I went in monthly to get adjusted. For the last several weeks, I went in weekly to ensure my pelvis was aligned to encourage optimal fetal positioning and easier delivery.
I’ve come to see that all of the choices I made while pregnant have had a direct impact on the delivery we had, as well as how our little Josie has begun to develop outside the womb. When it comes too easily, we think it’s luck. We forget about all of the intention and preperations we have put into things when it all goes well. But we are all too eager to notice our intentions and preparations when things go poorly. We label this as failure.