Last night our doula took us through a guided meditation, but it was one I’ve never done before.
I wasn’t sure what kind of meditation it would be, as the context was “Reframing Your Concept of Birth”.
Growing up my mom and dad hardly ever spoke about my birth. All I knew was it happened vaginally in the hospital in the morning (although my dad had thought it was in the afternoon). I’ve never spoken to my mom about her experiences of early labour, interventions, fears, worries, complications or how her postpartum recovery process was.
What I did know was that I was “immaculately conceived” – meaning that my mom couldn’t recall having sex with my dad to actually conceive me. I also know that one of my aunts thought she should consider having an abortion.
Postpartum, the only thing my mom reminded me of was my incessant need to be carried up and down the stairs (I was already coaching fitness and health as an infant). The moment she got to the top of the staircase I’d start to whimper and point down. At the bottom of the staircase I’d cry if she stopped and point back up. Over and over again.
My Concept of Birth Was That it Happened in the Hospital
I had no real reason to think that babies were born anywhere else than where I was born. I was the youngest of 3 and never exposed to little babies besides one cousin who is 6 years younger than me and another who lives across the country.
It wasn’t until I attended Naturopathic medical school that my eyes were open to another way of birthing. In Maternal and Newborn Care class we watched “The Business of Being Born” and talked about homebirths, circumcisions, emergency vaginal births, etc.
WHOAAA… and then my colleagues and girlfriends started having babies. I’m fortunate to get the experience of at least a dozen friends who have had all sorts of births:
- planned home births
- planned water births
- planned vaginal hospital births
- transferred vaginal hospital births with epidurals and intervention
- and a handful of emergency c-section births
So my perspective of birth and labour has really expanded over the last few years. I feel confident to set a flexible birth plan with the main goal of healthy breathing baby and mom.
What I Didn’t Expect with the Guided Meditation
And with the guided meditation I was completely open. I had done a number of guided meditations previously and really enjoyed them. I’m a very visual person so I find it effortless to get into the process and lose awareness.
My husband, Jon, on the other hand has a hard time shutting down at times.
So we started by getting into a comfortable position. I dimmed the lights and we started to breath slowly through our nose. Inhale-2-3-4, exhale-2-3-4-5-6-7-8, inhale-2-3-4, exhale-….
Then the guided meditation began and I got a bit lost.
“Imagine you are floating in a safe body of water. You breath in the amniotic fluid and hear the sounds of your mom…”
Wait what? I’m the fetus? Who’s the mom? Am I my own baby listening to me? Or am I me as a baby listening to my own mom?
I was confused at the exercise but allowed myself to go through it and not over-think.
I was me, but in the womb being birthed by my own mother. And since I didn’t know much about my own birth story, I had to imagine what it was like. I had no preconceived notions and I didn’t want to consciously “make up” the story, I wanted to let the guided imagery take over and have me experience the sensations, regardless of it they were accurate or not.
So I let myself go.
I imagined that I was a fetus in the safety of my mom’s womb, but it wasn’t very relaxing. It felt tense and uncertain. I felt my mom was worried. My parents weren’t in the best place for their relationship, my conception was a surprise and I could feel the added financial and emotional stress to my mom.
She felt alone and had the burden of being the bread-winner of the family. With 2 boys already to deal with her plate was full and she was nearing 40 years old.
When it came time to deliver, again we were alone. My mom was scared, anxious and yet had so much strength in her that she never complained or asked for help.
As I was being born into the world I felt a strong sense that I needed my mom as much as she needed me.
I relied on her for safety, nutrition and guidance.
But I also needed to be strong and supportive to a mom who rarely asks for help.
To this day, I am still protective of my mom.
And as I was handled by the doctor and nurses to get cleaned up, weighed and swaddled I needed to be brave. As they passed me to my mom for only a few minutes it felt awkward yet comforting. There was hesitation from my mom as she found the strength to hold me. It was just the 2 of us and we were going to make it together.
A lot can be said from this guided meditation. I’d never done anything of this nature before and it gave me a perspective to how I act and live my life now. Nurturing, protective, strong, independent and I too have trouble asking for help.
I can’t wait to chat with my mom to see what her experience of my birth was. I wonder if it was anything similar to my image?