I had quite a remarkable experience last night at prenatal yoga. The instructor, Megan, had invited a friend of hers who is a doula, yoga instructor, and Birthing From Within mentor to come and speak to us for a few minutes before class. I had no idea what to expect from this.
The woman, Regan, who was about my age, brought us into a meditation and spoke about the power of breath, especially during labour, to nourish us and calm us. She asked us to focus on the question, "What do I need to know to give birth?" and to just let any answers that might occur to us be accepted and welcomed. Then we spent a moment in silent meditation.
As we sat in the darkened room, our eyes closed, noises began to surface and build. Eventually, I had to open my eyes to see what was happening. It was Regan, shifting around from her meditative position, making low moaning noises that built into shouts, pounding the floor, crying in a mixture of pain and ecstasy, shouting with a broken voice, that she was going to throw up, that she wanted someone to make it stop. I could not respond to this with my logical, thinking mind, but had to accept it in my intuitive mind and respond to it emotionally. I closed my eyes again and let her noises wash over me, let her experience become my own. I felt peaceful and accepting. I felt like a strand of seaweed that moves with the tides.
After she brought us out of the meditation, we talked about what she had done and our responses to it. Regan told us that she had simulated a 90-second contraction, but that not everything she did would happen to every woman, and not in every contraction. Instead, she had aimed to roll all the experiences into one, to show us a broad spectrum. One of the women talked about her recent learning about the importance of the low moaning sounds, that they help to open up the lower part of your body and make room for the baby. It was then that I had my lightbulb moment.
I realized, in the space of a second, that I had made those low gutteral sounds before. I had instinctively squatted and rocked, moaned and shouted, even pleaded for the pain to stop. I remembered how the experience had become instantly easier to bear as soon as I stopped trying to think my way through it and just obeyed my instincts, listened to my body and gave in to what it wanted.
Excerpt from my journal, "Miscarriage Story", May 7, 2007:
When miscarriage results from a blighted ovum, the amount of tissue or "results of conception" are fairly minimal. In my sister's words, "golfball-sized" at a maximum. In my case - and in many other women's cases, from what I've read - the miscarriage can be quite a different experience. What I experienced on Saturday evening was no less than a mini-labour. I had contractions, I had to push, I was grunting and moaning and obeying my body to get the baby out. And when it finally came out, it was immediately apparent what had happened - I could feel it ~slithering~ out of me. It was without a doubt the strangest thing I've ever felt. But I was immediately filled with relief, because that was unmistakably *it*, and that meant the pain and the ordeal was over. It was done.
It was large, this fetus, this thing that had been living and breathing and swimming inside me only a week before. It was a little larger than my fist. No wonder it was so much effort to expel it.
I was glad I had read so many birth stories online. Once I started listening to my body and admitting what was really happening - "Oh. The reason my body hurts, then feels okay again, then hurts again, is that I'm having fucking contractions" - it got easier. Once I stopped hiding my pain from Chris and instead asked him to come support me, first by rubbing my back, then by pulling my arms and talking me through the contractions, once I let myself feel free to make the noises and get in the positions I needed to - it was a lot better. I felt that I was in control of the situation, and my body was in control of what it was doing, and I just had to keep up with it.
But the lightbulb moment was this: when I sat and listened to Regan simulating the same experience last night, I didn't see my past. I saw my future.
Not for one second did I associate anything that was happening with my miscarriage. I didn't reflect on the pain associated with that loss. It didn't enter my mind or heart at all. All I saw was the future birth of my baby.
Isn't that incredible?