The bell was ringing, children rushing past. Somewhere in my mind I could vaguely hear the mumbling comments and questions “why is she lying on the floor?” but I did not care. Instead I was caught in a world of fear, strong waves of pain gripping me and passing through, my back aching, my head throbbing, feeling sick to my stomach.
Like a river parting and swelling around a rock in its way, the children moved on into their classroom. These children were my classmates. I was twelve years old and this was my welcome to womanhood.
I knew what the menstrual cycle was but I had no conscious expectation of pain. Instead, in a consciousness beyond my comprehension, I had somehow bought into resistance that was playing itself out in my experience.
But that pain became my expectation, and so it was my experience month after month. I did not understand the process of creation, procreation yes, but not the process through which we allow the essence of our life to flow. And so it is for most of us, much of our time spent in resistance than allowing.
Twenty six years on, four pregnancies lost, I had known the experience of labouring, or so I thought. The evil Misoprosal dispensed to induce the empty sack to leave its dwelling. Crawling on the cold stone floor of a hospital toilet, racked with the waves of pain that inevitably passed through. Metal bowl in hand to ensure a full evacuation.
I had heard the impossible advice “Just forget about it and it will happen” and I had felt the anger that invoked. Those false prophets that delivered that advice knew not what they spoke. It is not the way of the world, it is not the way these people are living their life, it was not their truth - yet… yet it is the truth – but it came across as hypocritical.
Having finally given up on the usual process of procreation, the inevitable happened and pregnancy number five led to my first experience of labouring a baby. I was 38. It was a Thursday evening, a wave of pain pulling me back from slumber. By late Saturday evening, after hours of not being able to pull enough air from the mask, lost in a sea of pain, with little progress being made, enough was enough.
“Take me to the hospital, I want an epidural”. But on a Saturday evening ambulances are in hot demand. Three hours later when the ambulance finally arrived I was a screaming, delirious mess. Every speed bump that ambulance crossed over on the 30 minute ride to the hospital caused me to scream out words I cannot remember. I only remember the look of fear on the ambulance man’s face as I grabbed a hold of his arm while they carried me on a stretcher.
At 11am on the Sunday morning, after hours of trying to synchronize pushes with the contractions that I no longer felt, my first beautiful baby was born by ventouse (with forceps) chord wrapped around her neck, yet as perfect and as healthy as any baby could be.
Not wishing to repeat the experience, yet not feeling the family was quite complete, I was soon pregnant again. This time I insisted on locating myself at the hospital when it was time to birth, having no wish to repeat that ambulance ride. Valiantly I agreed to try again to birth naturally.
When the time came, my midwife was out of town. Another came to visit midmorning and told me I was still in early labour. Out for a walk around the neighbourhood later that afternoon, with me stopping to breathe through contractions every couple of steps, my partner and I argued.
Arriving back at the house, I was distraught, angry and lost in pain as I worked through my contractions alone. Finally at 5 o’clock, I told the midwide that – early labour or not – I was losing the plot and needed help.
Before the midwife arrived, my mother-in-law popped in on her way home from work. Grey faced, she looked at me and said “you are not in early labour”. No sooner had she said that, the midwife appeared.
I did not know it then, but looking back it is here I began a turning point – not only in my experience of labouring, but in my experience of life. I had thought I understood how to focus and feel into the experience, I had been practicing yoga for a number of years by then. But she took a firm hold of my hips and she taught me how to rotate them in flow with the contraction.
She talked me sternly through my breathing. In those moments she taught me how to tune in and truly go with the flow of what was happening rather than to resist it and coil against the pain in fear.
Then she told me that the hospital was no longer an option, but to – half jokingly - cross my legs until we got to the maternity unit which was closer (but did not offer epidurals). She explained my labour was too advanced to dispense an epidural anyway. With both me and an abundance of towels bundled into the car, in case of a roadside delivery, we headed to the maternity unit.
That began the last 4 hours of the labour. That four hours were the first in my life that I can remember truly feeling into, and going with the flow; I had no concept of what that even meant until then. There’s a sense of energy building almost unbearably, the urge to take some kind of action is just about overwhelming, yet you are observing all this inwardly and allowing the contraction to wash through, readying baby for its departure from that cosy place.
Hours had passed and the midwife started getting me to push as the contractions got stronger. I didn’t want to. After getting into that place of allowing, it didn’t quite feel right. After a number of attempts at delivery, baby was trying to exit ‘superman style’ with one hand up, I heard her say to the other nurse “call for an ambulance”.
Inside my bubble of inward awareness this cut through, suddenly my body convulsed and our second beautifully healthy daughter was born. My first thought was on the irony of finally learning what the ‘urge to push’ feels like when I would never have to push again.
How easily I could have fought my way through two labours and never have learned the art of allowing, of going with the flow of life.
In this era of human history, it’s so easy to ‘dose up’ to numb the pain. It’s so easy to take action when none is required. Instead of having faith that my life would unfold exactly as I wanted it to, and tuning into my impulses and inspired thoughts, I had become accustomed to interpreting “if it’s going to be, it’s up to me” as my call to action to figure out just what needed to be done.
I had treated physical symptoms in physical ways, rather than recognizing I am an ‘inside out’ being, and physical manifestations are the final step in the process of creation. Yes the physical symptoms, and the patterns that sit alongside them, lured me into thinking the root cause was on a more superficial level than it really is.
Now I realise everything is born from where I direct my energy. I can choose whether to direct my energy in resistance to what I am observing, or to focus my energy in appreciation of my life and all that I am eagerly anticipating.
Instead of looking for ways to fix things, to make my dreams happen and to try to needlessly control circumstances and other people in a bid to make myself happy, I have recognised the universal truth in that well meaning advice to “forget about it and it will happen”, and applied it to my every day dreams.
Having faith that the universe has your back is an art I am reclaiming. To those like my very pregnant friend (whose Blessing Way gave me an opportunity to remember this lesson) who practice it every day, I say thank you. To those of you who feel some resonance with what I have written, I say, relax and let your dreams unfold.
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