Hello Baby! Practice After Birth

May 16, 2017

I am now about a third of the way through the 4th trimester and in some ways this has been the most challenging aspect of this journey with baby.  Since I ended up experiencing the exact opposite of what I had hoped for and envisioned with my loosely written "birth plan" with a crash c-section, I have found this particular aspect of the journey to be the most tumultuous time, fraught with self doubt yet highlighted by moments of discovery. 

Patience. Compassion. Flexibility. Acceptance.

These are the new lessons that I bring onto the mat.  Coming back to the mat post baby, and really, after any major change to the body - any major illness, injury, surgery allows us to see the practice from a very different lens.  

"The body is a treacherous friend." 

The mind is powerful. I've come to realize that the outcome of the events around Mila's birth were a direct result of a seed that was planted in my mind. I doubted that I could birth the baby naturally and I allowed fear to take over when my provider hinted that my baby's head would be much larger than my first two children. I allowed those words to stick in my mind like glue and doubt drove my decisions around whether or not to proceed with an induction, rather than allow nature to takes it course.

The thing is - there is no telling what the outcome of my baby's birth would have been had I decided differently. The only reality that I can work with is what actually occurred.

Like some women post birth, I have had bouts of remorse as to how the birth experience turned out, and yes, since I've birthed a healthy and beautiful, baby girl I find myself releasing this remorse by being grateful that she was born without complications. 

Update: October 2017

I realize that it has been 6 months since baby Mila's birth and I am returning to writing again on the blog.  I also realize that the words I wrote above were quite painful for me as I was working through the initial phase of healing and recovery.  I was in immense pain, both physically and emotionally and ended up leaving the draft for this post to age as I found it incredibly difficult to share what I was experiencing just two months after Mila was born. Everything felt raw and fragile at that time.  

A girlfriend recently asked me if I ended up with any depression related to the trauma that I experienced with the birth. I believe that all women go through some degree of altered mood post baby.  There is no "normal" birth experience and of course my response to her question was a resounding yes.  It took me a while to let go of the disappointment and frustration around the decisions that I made towards the end of the pregnancy and to practice acceptance. Acceptance continues to remain a daily practice.  Acceptance of the mistakes that I make and of mistakes of those around me.    

Everyday there is an opportunity to continue to reflect on how habits and patterns we've built up affect the flow of life.  I pause a lot more now and am less impulsive with my reactions to stress.  Of course, there are some moments when I revert to previous habits, but I am grateful for the major lessons that this birth has enriched me with. 

If you are interested in reading my birth story, you may take a look at it here.  

All of life is precious.  Love is truly what connects us.  It is exactly those who we feel don't "deserve" our love that need it the most.  The pain and fear that others experience affect us all on some level.  We are not separate from the rest of the creatures that inhabit this earth.  Can we endeavor to practice in a way that does not continue the perpetuation of fear, ignorance and hate?  Can we explore all the way to the root of the illness that we are all suffering from and break the cycle? How do we truly meet hate with love and not just more hate? These are questions I continue to ask myself daily and I am still on the search for the answers.  

Now that I am back to a somewhat "regular" practice, meaning I find some small amount of time to step on to the mat to breathe and reconnect with my body, I am realizing that my relationship to the physical practice has changed.  I'll be writing about this in a later post.  

During the birth, as my vitals started crashing with my heart rate increasing, oxygen saturation dropping and baby's heart rate dropping, an oxygen mask was thrown on my face as the team of nurses rushed me into the OR.  Another mask was put on as I was being transferred onto the table.  There was one thing I was holding onto and that was someone's voice repeatedly yelling into my ear to "BREATHE, BREATHE, BREATHE!!!" I was fighting for every breath not knowing if I was actually taking one or not. 

In retrospect, all those days of practice was a preparation for this moment - when fighting to breathe in the face of fear before losing consciousness really mattered the most. I  truly believe that the practice, and in some ways my teacher saved my life.  All those times pre-baby where my teacher would encourage me to "breathe, breathe, breathe" during back bending became a mantra that helped me survive the crash c-section.  I used to hold my breath during back bends and there was so much fear and anxiety that would rise up.  All those days of practicing how to breathe through that fear helped me survive the operation.  

Yoga is truly a spiritual practice first and foremost.  The outer form of each posture is not the primary focus.  When we connect to this principle our practice begins.  I thank our baby and the universe daily for this gift of a renewed perspective and this gift of life.  All of life is precious. Lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu. 

With love, 

Charina