There have been some exciting developments in our lives this week. Mostly on the inside - attitude changes. For example, Chris is really starting to change his attitude about his involvement in preparing for labour. We have collected quite a number of books, and he is reading them if not quickly then at least enthusiastically, and is becoming impressively informed. It is now rare for me to mention a pregnancy term and for him not to know what it is. I started asking him recently, instead of just assuming he didn't know. For example he brought up a customer of his whose daughter had had an induction. "What do you know about induction?" I asked. "Well, I know that it can make labour really intense really fast, instead of allowing time for a ramp-up," he responded. It's great to be able to have these discussions with him. We are both looking forward to taking our prenatal classes together in the New Year and role-playing some of what we will need to know for labour.
I've undergone some changes as well. At the same prenatal yoga class where I had that amazing lightbulb moment, my instructor mentioned something in a very casual, throwaway tone but it has stuck in my mind ever since. She always leads us through a very relaxing meditation at the end of class - we will be lying on our backs with the lights dimmed and our eyes closed, bodies loose across our mats, breathing deeply in the quiet room. This time, she led us through the same meditation but in a seated position, because she wanted us to be able to get into that relaxed state in any position, in any place. "During labour, you won't always want to lie down. Or maybe you're not able to. And late in labour when the contractions are coming quickly, I want you to be able to get into your meditative state quickly, so you can let go of the contraction as soon as it leaves, get some mental and physical rest, and get ready to welcome the next contraction." I was shocked by that phrase, "welcoming the contraction". Why would you welcome it? It means pain, noise, clenching, weariness! Who would welcome such a thing!
As if in answer to the question I hadn't even asked, the instructor continued, "You welcome each contraction because with each one, you are closer to your baby's birth."
It was so simple, and yet I'd never thought of it. What a vast improvement that attitude and mindset could make, if I was able to learn it and truly internalize it. What an incredible way to get through labour.
That is the labour I want!
There is a third member in our birthing team, Janice, a good friend who has an amazing instinct and knowledge about infants, children, and family dynamics. She mentioned to me that she wanted to become a doula, and I all but insisted that she do so, and become *our* doula specifically. She graciously accepted. It is hard to tell sometimes who is more gratified and honoured by this agreement, me by her agreeing to assist me in such a personal way, or her for being asked to participate in such a life-changing event. In any case she is preparing diligently for the experience, both by talking to me (and listening to me, hoo boy she does a lot of that) about what I want from her and from labour, and by reading and learning all she can.
Janice has just informed me that she has found a doula workshop that fits into her schedule, which is thrilling for both of us. I am also planning to register Chris and I for a Birthing From Within workshop in the new year. My hope is that after all three of us have taken our various workshops, we can gather and spend some time together, sharing what we've learned, our hopes and goals for the birthing experience, and our plans for how the various roles will be fulfilled.
(By the way, I heartily recommend The Birth Partner for purposes of figuring out how labour works, what will be going on at each stage, and what a dad, doula, or other support person can do to help. It's an invaluable tool, and will likely be even better in the next edition (Feb. 2008).)