As I walked from the house to the car that hot night in August, I wasn't sure how I would make it on time to the hospital in downtown Los Angeles. There was a closer facility—within walking distance from my home, in fact. But it had a high C-section rate and I was deeply inspired to give birth naturally. But traffic, heat, and contractions are not easeful for a tired, weary mama. I had just spent hours laboring at home. I'd waged an inner war of expectations and fears. As we drove to the hospital, the intensity growing moment by moment, I wasn't sure who I was anymore. I will never forget these moments or how my journey to motherhood was solidified during that long, hard labour.
I remember how, at the hospital, as I found my midwife and started the necessary preparations for giving birth, a nurse on duty would not give me peace. She was quite chatty and drove me nuts. I asked my midwife to ask her to stop speaking about her day. She did. As I labored in the birth pool I realized that, as much as I thought I wanted to give birth in water, I now wanted nothing to do with the water. So I got out. A new nurse, who was not originally on my birthing team, was who I leaned on in the last moments of my labour. She, someone I had never met, held my hand. Her kind eyes gave me a new surge of energy.
I needed this energy. I needed her kind eyes. I needed someone to lean on and hold my hand because I was worried my baby might not breathe at birth. I was also holding grief for one of the women in my prenatal yoga class who, days earlier, had lost her baby in the last days of her pregnancy. During my labour I thought of her and how much I knew she would do anything to be where I was—in the deep of giving birth. I'd also had a dream that my baby was born not breathing. And sure enough, he did not at first. As I rubbed him with all the fierceness of my inner lion mama, and as my husband pumped the manual oxygen mask over his face, I realized how grateful I was to be in that hospital room. The hospital I had chosen with disappointment after my midwife shared that she was not doing home births any longer, and felt I was good candidate for a hospital/midwife birth. As the NICU team entered the room, my sweet baby opened his eyes, and looked me straight in the eye as he took his first breath.
I will never be the same…
The NICU checked him over and assured us that our baby was just fine. It took months for me to process all of it. I spoke with many of the people I trust in my life, and what helped me the most was knowing that this birth was not mine, it was my son's.
When I was pregnant with my second child, I will never forget a woman I met in the natural birth movement. When I shared the story of my first birth and how my son did not breathe at first, she told me that I had created that event with my first child. How grateful was I that I had taken the time to heal the part of me that did indeed feel it was my fault. Thankfully I had done enough work on myself to know that she was not the expert about me: I was.
It is so important for all of us to own our stories and to share and to heal. There is much so many of us feel about birthing, about mothering, about being a woman, about being a human being. We must hold ourselves in the highest place within ourselves. We must honor our journeys—the imperfection of all that it means to walk this human path. We must listen to others who are doing it differently and give them space to share without judgment. This world needs humanity to be kind and understanding in the face of our differences. This world needs all of us to love each others' children as much as we love our own.
As I watch my children grow and see all the pain in this world, I hold on with faith knowing that so many of us care. So many of us love. I am reminded everyday that goodness lives here. That within so many of us lies a deep love for all to thrive and BE loved.
When I meditate, I close with this simple, beautiful song. I share it here, now, because it is my wish for all of humanity…