Saturday, November 3, 2007

Post-Therapy Reflection

The birth experience was really hard for me and I keep going back to it in therapy.

I wanted to bring Carys into the world gently and calmly. I wanted to be present when she came in to the world. I wanted A (my partner) there. To greet her, for us both to marvel at the birth of our daughter in those moments after she came into the world. I wanted to hold her and nurse her right away.

I had an easy pregnancy once things got going and I surrendered to it. I felt amazingly healthy. I ate well. I moved my body. I relaxed often. I loved to feel her kicking. I loved watching body change. I loved sharing this experience with my partner.

Together we practiced hypnobirthing - self hypnosis to manage pain during birth. We had to do meditation together nightly as part of the practice. We chose music for the birthing that would have a calming effect on me.

With my group week after week I talked about how I wanted a calm birth, no intervention, non-medicated. And everyone in my group supported me in that.

L (my therapist) reminds me how I like to be in control. I like to plan. I make lists. I organize my world. I make things predictable. She tells me that you can't control birth (like I couldn't control getting pregnant)... and I can't control my child. Carys' path involves being born her way, the way she was born. Carys is already on her path and proved that to her mom and baba in a major way on September 8.

Because I like to control, however, I have started to blame myself for how the birth went. What did I do wrong? What is wrong with my body? Was it because when the contractions came they were so hard and so fast that I got scared? Did I scare my little baby because I couldn't cope? Or was it something that I did or didn't do before that day - something I did in the pregnancy? Because blaming myself is about feeling responsible and feeling responsible is about control, in this situation anyway.

And if I am to accept that I am not responsible for how the birth went that day; If I am to accept that shit sometimes happens no matter what you plan and practice for, then I have to accept that the world is a very unpredictable place. Very unpredictable. Where little baby girls are born without heartbeats and not breathing in limp bodies. She lived - but she might not have, that is how unpredictable the world is. Unpredictable is fucking scary. I mean how am I going to keep this little girl safe and well in this unpredictable world? I am overwhelmed.

I used to be very controlling in my relationship with A. She went to therapy and really started calling me out. It was hard. But I remember the day that I stopped trying to control. I realised that she was a individual separate from me and I felt relieved that I no longer had to tell her what to do and how to do it. When I realised that and felt the intense relief it was hard to go back. From that moment on the intimacy between us grew because we were on common ground, I was no longer responsible for her, she felt safe to be (defenses went down), I felt her honesty, etc. A viscous cycle stopped.

Thinking about how I was controlling in my relationship and how I learned to stop seems like a good place to start as I try to make sense of my feelings around birth experience. I just don't know where to start.

A has a different take on the whole experience - yes she would have preferred to be there when our daughter came into the world - however, she believes that the universe actually picked us up and carried us in its arms and finally set us down when Carys was well. We were cared for. We made it through. She is here with us. A never believed we could control the birth - from the very first day we knew I was pregnant she went for the ride and took every day as it came. She had no expectations for the birth. She practiced hypnobirthing with me because I wanted to, it was a fun way for us to connect, and maybe it would come in handy. [I wish sometimes I could be more like A].

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