From Nancy Tillman’s beautiful book: Wherever you are, my love will find you
I wanted you more
than you ever will know,
so I sent love to follow
wherever you go.
…So climb any mountain…
climb up to the sky!
My love will find you.
My love can fly!
..It never gets lost, never fades, never ends…
…My love is so high, and so wide and
so deep, it’s always right there, even
when you are asleep.
Love, Cupcakes, and Fairy Sprinkles, our beautiful girl xx
Ant was born safe and well two weeks ago. A huge thank you to all the wonderful well wishers and messages of kindness and support. In keeping with what Melissa Spilsted, my amazing hynobirthing trainer, has observed about hypnobubs, he seems very calm and alert :). We are doing well and Bear is an incredibly loving older brother although protecting Ant’s young skull from the love, squashes, and attempts to hold, is a challenge.
In a few hours, I’m heading into hospital and the water that’s been around you while you have been inside me will be released. As with Bear, I’m so sorry to take away the choice of when to come into this world, away from you. I know you’ll understand, intellectually, one day, why I had to make this choice. I just hope that you know, even now, that I am doing what I’m doing in order to protect you as best as I can.
I’ve had to make some choices over the past months that others may criticise. They may tell you things about me that are not true. I hope you will always know that I did (and will do) my best to protect you and that my choices were always made with the primary aim of keeping you safe. That you have been able to get into the perfect position for birth and been able to descend more than Chippie or Bear could, that the fluid index around you has decreased so much, and that risks that were present have been decreased, is a miracle and is a sign to me that I made some right decisions. Even today, there are hard decisions and there are reasons I need to create a bubble of protection around us. There is also a lot of love around both of us and I hope you feel this love from so many people now, and that you will always know it through your life. May love always find you and may you always give love freely.
As with your brother and sister, I have enjoyed every single moment of you being inside me. Thank you for choosing my body, scarred as it is, to live in and choosing me for your mummy. Every single day you have been inside has been a gift. I want to say that I’m not ready to have you leave my body, but I’m making peace with that. I know I can’t hold you, Bear, and Chippie in my arms forever, but you are forever in my heart. I hope you always feel my love, even when you are not with me, throughout your life.
Your loving mummy
Image courtesy of Prawny via Pixabay
This pregnancy with Ant was tracking exactly like the pregnancy with Bear. The elevated amniotic fluid index at 28 weeks was exactly as Bear’s was and it was looking like I would be hospitalised at 36 weeks for unstable lie (and the associated risk of a cord prolapse) and a repeat c-section was scheduled for 38 weeks (tomorrow). At 35.5 weeks – a miracle happened. For the first time in this pregnancy, this pregnancy started following a different route. My belief is that it had to do with some very difficult life choices I had to make at that point. Ant has been able to descend further than Bear or Chippie could and has been able to stabilise with this head down. I haven’t been hospitalised and for the first time, at 35.5, my medical team and I were able to talk seriously about having a normal birth. There are a few complications – because of Chippie’s unexplained passing at 39 + 6, I can’t go further than 39.5 weeks and because of the c-section with Bear, prostaglandins can’t be used for inducing labour (they carry a moderate risk of rupture of the c-section scars). So, here I am at 38 weeks, and we’ve started the process of nudging labour. On my “Calm in a Complicated Pregnancy” CD, I have a track about making peace with The Fear – that sense of trepidation and concern. While It’s always present to some extent, it’s been amazing to feel incredibly positive and hopeful. A point I make on the “Notice and Deepening Joy” track on the C is that we can have fear AND feel joy. I feel the calmest I have in four pregnancies.
I made special playlists for both Chippie’s and Bear’s births. Chippie had a number of Buddhist chants as well as hypnobirthing affirmations, Bear’s had similar chants and his song – the Jayamangala Gatha (Stanzas of Victory and Blessing), which inspire one of his middle names. I played this frequently through my pregnancy and still play it for him. Although not Buddhist, there is a lot in Buddhist philosophy that appeals to me.
The Jayamangala Gatha are chanted on auspicious occasions to confer good fortune. They were written by a Sri Lankan Buddhist poet and they are a story of the Buddha’s victories over his enemies through the use of the virtues, including generosity and loving kindness. Here is a lovely video of the Jayamangala Gatha – I hope the song brings you peace and calm.
There has been a lot to sort in the last few months and in these final days before Ant arrives earthside, I put together a playlist for his birth which includes Buddhist chants including to Tara, the female face of the Buddha. The Green Tara is said to embody compassion and protection. My anticipation of one of his proper names, which incorporates his pet name “Ant” is Sinhalese and translates to “Stars of Peace”. I thought it might be fitting that his song, I feel, is Willie Nelson’s “From here to the moon and back”. I’ve played this from early in my pregnancy. As I embark on trying a VBAC, these words spoke to me:
I could hold out my arms, say “I love you this much”
I could tell you how long I will long for your touch
How much and how far would I go to prove
The depth and the breadth of my love for you?
From here to the moon and back
Who else in this world will love you like that?
Love everlasting, I promise you that
From here to the moon and back
From here to the moon and back
On the topic of birthing and pregnancy resources, I have to mention my amazing, generous, and kind hypnobirthing trainer, Melissa Spilsted, who has been emotionally and spiritually present with me throughout all four pregnancies, even though we are geographically separated. Melissa has an amazing wealth of resources on her website, including online resources. I was drawn to hypnobirthing after reading Sarah Buckley’s “Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering”. The opening line remains with me “Gentle births give rise to gentle people”. Despite their differences and the complications, both Chippie (born normally) and Bear (born by scheduled c-section) had beautiful, dignified, calm births.
Did you have a playlist for your birth?
Image courtesy of Jan Mallander via Pixabay
Yesterday The Fear visited again when I couldn’t quite feel Ant (as baby has been called since week 5 of pregnancy to avoid using “It”) and Ant’s movements, when I did feel them, were reminiscent of Chippie’s movements, our daughter, rather than Bear’s. Logically, I know this is a different pregnancy and, rationally, I stepped into the plan I had devised: (1) check the time, (2) use my home Doppler, (3) sit down/slow down and count any movements (4) plan to redo in 2 hours. (Incidentally, I have a low threshold for contacting my very understanding midwife and obstetrician – I didn’t feel this was a situation where I needed to contact them). Ant has been steadily moving, especially to music.
I knew The Fear would be a constant companion from even before Bear was conceived. The Fear is, as many of you who have complicated pregnancies know, is a million different things – it’s the thoughts of something going wrong, it’s holding your breath at an ultrasound, it’s searching for information, and more…
In any case, given what I know about thought suppression and Acceptance Commitment Therapy, fighting The Fear doesn’t work. Instead, I try to make room for The Fear, acknowledging it is there, acknowledging that there are sensible things I have put in place to assess and respond to situations objectively, and acknowledging where in me it comes from. As I can, I try to treat it with gentle humour. I label it in capitals as part of seeing it as something separate that is not part of who I am as a person, that I can choose how to relate to.
One of the first tracks I recorded, for my Calm in a Complicated Pregnancy was “Living with the Fear” (approx 4.5 mins) which is a visualisation/meditation where I invite you to be with the Fear and, rather than fight it, change how you relate to it. I’m really excited to announce that the CD is now available on Itunes (and hopefully on Amazon, GooglePlay, and a few other places). This exercise is also one of the ones I’ll be discussing at my workshop on staying calm in a complicated pregnancy.
I know the temptation is to fight The Fear and so much of our culture is about getting rid of “negative” emotions. However, they too have a purpose and so much of our pain can be about the struggle against them. It’s not easy, living with The Fear, but it’s possible and even possible to make friends with it ;).
Those of us with a less-than-straightforward path to/during pregnancy aren’t alone. There are so many ways in which pregnancy can be complicated!
I’ve finished recording four CDs this week with the lovely and talented Paul Sammes at Arthouse Media (Dunedin). One of those CDs is a collection of coping strategies, visualisations, and meditations for women who have a complicated pregnancy.
The desire to do this has been in gestation since the birth of my daughter, who was born, at 39 weeks, 6 days, after she unexpectedly left this world. Since then, I have been pregnant three more times. My second pregnancy was ectopic – in the course of life saving surgery, I lost a fallopian tube and was told that the chances of conception had essentially halved. During my 3rd pregnancy, I was diagnosed with polyhydramnios (excess amniotic fluid) which resulted in lots of testing, hospitalisation for almost three weeks, and, after lots of discussion, a planned c-section with an increased risk of needing a hysterectomy if things didn’t go to plan.
There are so many things outside of our control and circumstances that mean we cannot always be calm, nor is it an advantage to always be so. However, there are many times when being calm, being present, being connected to our baby, can help us and, I imagine, our baby. There are also strategies we can use to help with those feelings of being overwhelmed, panic, overthinking, being not present, and making predictions. For example, in this free sample track (available on one of my other CDs), I guide you to centre yourself and be in the actual moment, rather than in your mind. In conjunction with my CD, I am planning on a 2 hour workshop in Dunedin, on the 14th of February, 2016, where I’ll be covering those strategies. Workshop participants will get a free copy of my CD.
Overthinking? Going over and over negative scenarios in your mind? Rehashing things that have happened (or might happen?). I’ll be running a 3.5 hour workshop on dealing with overcoming overthinking on Saturday, 13th of February, 2016. I’ve just recorded an accompanying CD which will be free to participants. We’re just putting a package together for the combined workshops/CDs. Drop me a line (firstname.lastname@example.org) if interested in the workshops! Please spread the word if you know anyone who might benefit! It can be a lonely and anxiety-provoking road having a complicated pregnancy…and there are things we can do to look after ourselves.