Here is my story. I promise to spare you the bloody (pun intended) details. Most of all, I want to share with you some of the greatest lessons it has taught me.
So just like all expecting mums, I had a plan. Although I was fully aware NOTHING in life goes exactly to plan, ESPECIALLY the birth of a child; it was nevertheless important for me to have an idea of what I wanted. A couple months into my pregnancy, I had decided that I wanted an unmedicated water birth. I had spent the better part of the last decade learning to feel my body again through yoga/meditation/therapy, learning not to numb it, so having an epidural would mean I wouldn't be able to feel what was happening to my body, and I didn't want that... no matter how strong the pain was. And why the water? Because I had heard that it can provide a natural pain relief. I'm not completely insane... I didn't want to feel ALL of it :P
Towards the end of my pregnancy, I had a lot of people ask me whether I was nervous about childbirth. Strangely, I wasn't, I was most afraid of what came after. Post-natal depression is real. And whilst some might think they are not predisposed to it, they're a positive person or have never suffered from depression, they are wrong. So this was my biggest fear. I was afraid that with the hormones, lack of sleep, HUGE life and body change (list goes on...), I would lose myself, and therefore that I would not be able to enjoy watching my little baby grow.
So I wanted to do everything I could to make sure this didn't happen. I wanted to make sure my body healed as best and as quickly as it could. Whether true or not, I was convinced that an unmedicated birth would help my physical recovery.
My labour started in the very early hours of Monday morning, the 13th November. In a matter of only a few hours, the contractions were getting more and more intense and closer and closer together. I felt so hopeful that I would progress quickly... boy was I wrong! I experienced 24 hours of the most intensely challenging labour, most of which I spent on my feet, using my breath, my focus and most of all continuing to trust that my body knew what it was doing.
It was THE most difficult thing I have ever done in my life. It wasn't so much the physical pain, each contraction I could deal with, but the mental challenge that it represented. The endurance... contraction after contraction. Here is what I think helped me above all during those long gruelling hours: my intention, my sankalpa. My intention was my rock. In the moments where I was tempted to throw the towel in and ask to be moved to the consultant led unit for an epidural, I kept coming back to why I had made that decision in the first place. I kept coming back to my recovery post-birth, to images of me and my baby girl. I wanted to be ok, for me and for her.
It was late Monday night when I was finally given the amazing news that I was 9cm dilated, and the midwife handed me the gas and air. After a few breaths, I was in la la land. I lay down for the first time in what seemed like an eternity and I relaxed my legs completely.
When the midwife asked me some time later (you completely lose the concept of time during labour!) whether I wanted to get in the pool or stay where I was. I hesitated. I was so exhausted, I wasn't even sure how I'd make the few steps to the pool. Every limb in my body wanted me to stay put, so I let go of what I thought would be my "perfect" birth, and I completely surrendered my body to that hospital bed.
The birth of my child went nothing like I had planned, and yet I am extremely proud of myself.
I am not going to lie. I catch myself on occasions wanting and needing to control certain situations. And when this happens, I quickly remind myself of how far I've come and how all of it had nothing to do with control, and all to do with trust, letting go and surrender.
Yes, certain things may be within our control, but for everything else; let go and trust that the universe has its own plan... Everything will fall into place.