Wednesday, August 22, 2012

preparing for a journey inward

































i always have women asking me what my birth experience was like with elodie. it's a funny thing about labor. you never know what you might get and i believe it's not entirely up to us how our baby will come into this world. after all, it is not only our journey, but that of our little one as well. the first steps they will take on their own personal life path. one of the biggest helps to me was knowing that every single moment of my labor was bringing elodie closer to me. closer to us meeting and starting our life together as a family of three. labor is work. concentration. focus. surrender. lessons for my future as a parent. learning to surrender is one of the hardest things for me personally. really understanding how the way i might want things to be versus how they really are will not always align. i am grateful for how elodie came into this world, one day soon i might share, for now, here is a list of things that really helped me prepare for my labor.

my husband. he fastidiously stood besides me as i explored every possible way of giving birth. he read the chapters that i highlighted. he massaged my back. brought me ice chips. took me on a long walk to watch the sunrise as labor progressed. i could not have made it through without his love and support. my doula was also of tremendous support to the both of us. having an extra birth advocate who also suggested new positions and sat by me through my entire labor was a beautiful example of how women can be of service to one another.

dr. gowri motha's gentle birth method - this book has some amazing birth scripts at the end that my husband recorded and personalized for me a few months before my birth. i really believe having an inward place to go to during the intense contractions was a lifesaver for me. i also followed her regimen of ayurvedic vitamins and salts during my pregnancy.

creating your birth plan by marsden wagner - i was told by a few of my girlfriends that i was nuts for attempting an unmedicated birth in a hospital. i saw the business of being born of course and believed them. having a strong line of communication with my doctor, husband, and doula about my birth wishes in the form of my birth plan made all the difference in the world.

anything and everything by ina may gaskin. love her. her books gave me much needed confidence, especially this one and this one.

natural childbirth the bradley way - i didn't like the bradley method (too much lying around) but something in the way they visually showed labor in this book really helped me wrap my head around what contractions are. i'm a visual person and being able to understand what the sensations were helped tremendously.

my yoga practice. my sister reassured me that my strong yoga and meditation practice would serve me well during labor. staying present, not getting caught up in an inner dialogue of "i can't do this" or "this hurts too much" helped to keep my doubts at bay. 

lavender oil. my doula told me i went through an entire bottle. all i can remember is smelling my wrist and asking for more.

being in water and this body scrub. i was in the shower and tub almost the entire time i was in the hospital. this kept the nausea at bay. when it came time for transition, oddly enough, i wanted to be no where near water but water was a huge relief leading up to that point.

music. when "happier than the morning sun" by stevie wonder came on i sang it and wept during my contractions. i knew every contraction brought my dear daughter closer to me and that helped immensely.

my heart swells and i feel a physical change come over me when i think back to the first few minutes, hours, days together after elodie's birth. how blissed out i was. how new the world was. i am excited to take these feelings like an elixir into my next labor. a new tool to help me prepare for this next journey.

19 comments:

  1. Good luck to you in your upcoming labor. I agree with much of what you wrote here, especially the knowledge that each contraction brings you closer to the end. I kept this thought close to mind when I was in labor - I kept thinking, 'well, that contraction has gone, it will never come back, it's one closer to the end now...' and it worked. I too strongly wanted, and got, an unmedicated birth, something that was quite unheard of in the hospital and I really had to be firm with the doctors and nurses about it. I'm from England but was living in SC when I had my daughter. It's quite common to have unmedicated births in the UK and I wanted to try and have the birth that I would have had if I was back home, that is, without an epidural or pain meds. Yes, it was hard, but it was worth it and I would hope to do the same next time. However, like you said, you have to keep an open mind to how these babies want to arrive, it's out of our hands sometimes!

    You have a wonderful blog and it's a privilege to share in your journey to becoming 4!

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  2. Beautifully said! I read your blog daily and want you to know that your outlook on life and parenting are refreshing. Thanks...Kristen

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  3. every birth is different they say and that is absolutely true! i had an easy and short labour so i don't have much to complain about! hopefully the second one (someday) will be as easy :)

    www.mamajulesbrussels.blogspot.com

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  4. Hi Elizabeth,
    I think during pregnancy, mindful women naturally feel very preoccupied with how they'd like the birth to happen. For my first 2 children, I was quite young & intimidated by medical staff whereas for the third I felt strongly about "trying" for an unmedicalised, epidural-free birth. Looking back 2 years later, I realise we can plan down to the last detail but during labour we're taken to another world where anything can happen. I don't think the birth changes {our love for] our children, my 2 oldest are as fantastic & intelligent as the 3rd "natural birth" child. I do recommend Raspberry Leaf tea & Daniele Festy's aromatherapy labour oil. Happy final trimester!

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    1. thank you for the recommendations and you are SO right. we are definitely transported to another world! my older sister was also very young for her first two babies and her experience sounds very similar to your first. i am grateful for the experiences of so many women that i love that shared their insight with me to help prepare me for this journey. all we can do is pay it forward!!

      xoxo e

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  5. You're approaching it so well. I had a blessed natural birth with my daughter and I'm so grateful for that. But it isn't all up to us. Trying to stay open but prepare for the best is a wonderful approach. I'm sending lovely birth thoughts your way. Everything's going to be just the way it should.

    Kacie

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  6. I just wanted to drop you a note and say - thank you! I, too, am pregnant...27 weeks. I have been an admirer of your blog for some time, but I appreciate your insights even more now that I'm pregnant and sorting through some of these issues. I love your perspective - honest, never preachy, and full of so many resources. Thank you for sharing with the rest of us --- it is truly appreciated! I wish nothing but the best for you and your growing family.

    Fondly,
    Mary Boston, MA

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    1. anytime mary!! and congratulations on your baby!!!! so exciting!

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  7. Glad to read about other women who are on the same page as me when it came to the joy of the birthing experience. Both of my children were born naturally in a hospital. The first time was with the help of my midwife, music, relaxation, birthplan, my husband, my mother and the music of Bob Marley (I listened to Bob Marley during labor and to this day his music is my daughter's favorite)... my second birth with my son was unfortunately in the middle of the night and they were unable to get my midwife and the doula was also unable to get there in time. I had a doctor who was not aware of how to aid in a natural birth - since it had only been 2 years prior (almost to the day) my husband, mother and I did it together as we had before and coached the doctor! Two very different births, equally amazing for very diffident reasons. Neither went according to what I envisioned but I accepted that would be the case as I prepared with my baby(ies) for the birth... The yoga mantra I always found power in is Goddess Love: "I am beautiful, I am bountiful, I am Bliss... I am. I am." Thank you for sharing and I hope you don't mind me sharing. Cheers, Maria

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    1. i love hearing about your beautiful experiences. and how amazing that your mother and husband were there to help advocate for you the second time around! I think one of the key things you said (which i will also take into my next birth) is to be accepting of more than i might envision. thank you for that!

      xo e

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  8. I have earmarking this for the future! I'm deathly afraid of an epidural so I may consider natural or other options for birthing. Thank you so much for sharing this. It was eye-opening and very inspiring to me!

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  9. Wow!! What nice info on this post! All information really useful. I love your stuff very much.Thanks for sharing this helpful post

    domy z drewna

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  10. Really great blog entry, Elizabeth. I especially loved your first paragraph. So, so true. Wonderful suggestions, too! When I was a doula I often recommended the same! xo-k

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  11. I wish you all the best for the birth of your baby. It´s such a wonderful thing to bring a baby into this world, it hurts like hell but in the end it´s always so worth it. I think it´s beautiful how mindful you are about the birth of your babies, I just went with the flow and followed the mid-wife on duty for all of my 3 births. For the first one I could have really used an epidural but the midwife was stubborn in making me have a natural birth and kind of strung me along, the second baby came too fast and the third one just wasn´t that painful. So I´m blessed with 3 natural births and 3 precious miracles in my life.

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  12. Thanks so much for this, Elizabeth. So beautifully written and great suggestions. This comes at the perfect time for me. Not sure if you remember me posting before here or on instagram, but we are both 30 weeks pregnant. This is my first baby. I also watched The Business of Being Born as I started this journey and it helped me form a stronger sense of what I wanted for myself. Coincidentally, I'm going to Midwifery of Manhattan and one of the midwives there was in the first movie. My prenatal yoga teacher is going to be my Doula. I have not been the best in preparing for this tremendous challenge ahead of me, as I've been insanely busy. Things are beginning to quiet down a bit and I want to take this time to really focus, connect, surrender, and believe. Warm wishes to you and your beautiful family, Kerry

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    1. hi kerry!

      of course i remember you!

      with elodie i was working full time up until the very end, so any time you have to think about the baby and connect is great! It sounds like you are on a great path for your little one's birth and i'm sending lots of good thoughts your way!

      you will be ready!

      love to you,
      elizabeth

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  13. I've had two very different experiences of hospital birth - one induction 40 hr ordeal (surprisingly wonderful experience after all) and one 4 hr all natural experience. Both good and gave the result I wanted - two healthy babies and two very good experiences. When you wrote about nausea and transition it made me think of giving birth to my second child.

    The pain held off for a long time. I could feel the contractions and they were uncomfortable but not so painful. When the pain decided to pay me a visit (at 9 cm) it was very intense - I was given acupunture and I immediately felt a "drop" and an opening up. From here on the pain intensified. During a particularily intense contraction I started to feel nauseous, I was going through transition. The thing is that I'm very afraid of throwing up, and somehow that fear made my body just cut that contraction short and held off two more for me to be able to concentrate on not throwing up. That reminded med of the minds ability to influence the body even in this most primal of undertakings. The nausea lifted and me and baby were ready - from that on I just let go - and welcomed the baby in just minutes. It was a great (as far as nausea ever can be great) reminder with a fantastic result.

    On a very different note: my prenatal class teacher told us to envision/scream out/belive in the word HUGE as the babies head was crowning. I had two very big babies, almost 10 pounds each, and a total of three stitches - and yes I was yelling HUGE (in english while giving birth in Sweden) to my midwives confusion both times while pushing :)

    //Jessica

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    1. A note on induction - I really tried to aviod it. So much that I waited 19 days after my babys due date (under close supervision) to give him a chanse to come along naturally. We got to finally meet the little miracle, 21 days after he was "supposed" to show up. Waiting was hard, but the thought of giving him a chanse to do his thing all on his own made it worth it. I got to wait again for my next child. She came 10 days passed due - all naturally. I have long pregnancies, thats all and am very greatful for the midwives and doctors for acknowledging this and letting me wait for the babies.

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