Πέμπτη 14 Ιουλίου 2011

You don't get to choose your life (and birth) lessons

Life sure has a funny,weird,sometimes even sinister sense of humor.

Consider these examples:

-A schoolboy writes what he considers to be his best written assignment ever but gets a failing mark because he is accused of cheating.

-An athlete sets out to break a world record but ends up having an accident and spends the rest of her life on a wheelchair.

-An enthusiastic graduate has a great idea and sets up a business of his own,creating lots of value and expecting to get a fortune out of it,only to declare buncruptcy in the end (this one happened to none other than great blogger and writer Steve Pavlina himself).

-An altruistic young soldier enlists in the army to help his country liberate opressed people and defend freedom and ends up shooting innocent civilians instead,which scars him for the rest of his life.

-A young woman and her partner decide to start a family;two ectopic pregnancies/miscarriages and an hysterectomy later she is told she'll never be able to have children of her own.

And the list goes on indefinitely,comprised of smaller or bigger incidents like this.

I am sure you've had a few examples of your own like the above,involving more or less heartache and pain.No matter how well-intentioned,optimistic,law-of-attraction-litterate,diligent,hard working,well-prepared you were,there were instances in your life when the outcome was completely the opposite of the one you expected,when you failed miserably and spectacularly.And you were left wondering:''WHY?''

And then take me.I've been a natural birth advocate and enthusiast all my life.My mother gave birth to me (and all four of my siblings) at home,long after homebirths became a thing of the past,an outdated and dangerous notion.But she was strong and opinionated.

She was 40 when she found out she was pregnant with her last child (me).What's more,she was devastated because she had lost her oldest son to a fatal accident a couple of months into her pregnancy.Plus,just like my father,she had to work two jobs (janitor in the mornings,cleaning lady in a school in the evenings) to provide college education for the rest of her children.A maternity leave was unheard-of at the time,if she wanted to keep her job she had to keep working until she gave birth.

Grief-stricken and overworked as she was,she still knew she didn't want a medicalised birth.So she sought out an old,retired midwife and had her triumphant,totally intervention-free(despite complications,I was born with cord tightly wrapped around my neck) homebirth.She set the example,ever since I was a kid I knew I wanted to follow in her footsteps.If my mum could do it,why not me?Same genetic pool,after all.

The problem was,when it was time for me to pick up a birth option,that there were no birth options available in my town.You either had a hospital birth or a private clinic birth,both the same variations of a highly medicalised and intervention-ladden event.(Greece has the highest rate of C-sections in the entire Europe).I was scorned and ridiculed beyond belief by both doctors and aqcuaintances for wanting such a radical thing.And I was too young back then to stand my ground.So they coerced me into having my first two children in a private clinic,where at least I fought my way into a natural,drug-free birth both times.Still,the number of routine interventions in those 'natural' births left me disgusted and unhappy with the whole thing.

When I was pregnant with my third,older and wiser myself,I took things into my own hands.Someone told me there were only two wierdos ever to attempt a homebirth in my town in the last thirty or so years,so I immediately sought them out.The first led me to the second who was a woman obstetrician,she had studied in Sweden and had had her own son at home.I (litterally) fell on my knees to make her even consider a homebirth for me.But she finally gave in. 

I had my dream homebirth:I got to spend most of my labour in the bathtub.And I actually had the baby on our couch in our living room,as planned,half seated,half squatting on my husband's lap who supported me from behind.It was a life-changing experience and we all (doctor,midwife,pediatrician and us) celebrated immediately after the birth with some nice spaghetti a la bolognese that hubby prepared.The amount of self-confidence,determination and self reliance I gained from achieving this dream  (and the unwavering support of my husband) practically transformed the insecure me into an entrepreneur with a successful business later on.

Now here comes the best part. 

Pregnant with my fourth I decided I 'd like to learn to trust life, nature and God more,by foregoing any and every prenatal test or care.I confirmed my pregnancy and never set foot in a prenatal clinic or doctor's office again.No tests,no supplements,absolutely nothing.My rationale was,if pregnancy and birth is a totally natural,sexual and normal thing then it should be treated as such.You don't go to the doctor when you are not ill,do you?Then why would you do that in pregnancy which is a state of super-health?(nature will only allow the female body to carry a baby to term when and if everything in said body is in perfect working order).

Somehow that decision of mine freaked out family and friends,even total strangers,big time.The psychological pressure I was subjected to conform with the norm all those nine months would make any brainwashing,secret intelligence technique pale in comparison.They accused me of being ignorant,selfish,irrational,irresposible,out of my mind,downright crazy!I stood my ground.I said to myself this was the time that life was teaching me a big lesson in trust.How arrogant of me to believe I could choose which life lessons to have!Life indeed was about to teach me a lesson,but not the one I expected or wanted.

 A month or so before the actual birth,I received another blow:the doctor that attended my last homebirth refused flat out to grant me a homebirth,she said there were too many risk factors involved this time;the baby was too big,estimated at 4 kilos (8,8 pounds) and in an awkward position,I was well into my thirties.Undaunted,I researched thoroughly into the matter,joined a couple of online forums and decided to go for an unassisted birth this time(you can read about the unassisted birth movement,pretty much founded by the amazing Laura Shanley,here.This was to be the ultimate lesson in trust,letting go and letting God.Or so I thought.

I was well prepared,mentally,emotionally and practically.I had worked with my trust issues.I had the support of other women all over the world from online forums who had done this before many times.I even kept my intention a secret from most,so as not to be affected by their negativity.Then time came for the actual birth.A horrible heatwave hit Greece with desert-like temperature.Due to constant power failures (overuse of air-conditioning systems) there were long chunks of time without electricity or air-conditioning.I had been in labour for an unbelievable 29 hours.As a primigravida (woman who has given birth many times before) I should have had that baby long ago,the process was well tried and tested,d#*n it!Even with my history of prolongued,difficult labours (first one lasted 14 hours) this was taking way too much!

My husband implored me to consider getting some help ''for the sake of our children,if you don't care enough about yourself,please,Eirini,let me call someone''.Worried about the baby's safety and exhausted by the unbelievable heat and constant pain,I gave in and he called my (ex) obstetrician.She was at her beach house,she had to drive back to town like a maniac,thinking she might miss the birth.We checked in with the clinic,the midwife in attendance was laughing over the phone as she was getting instructions fom my doctor:''The doc asked us not to tamper with you in any way,no enemas or shaving whatsoever or you might change your mind and leave!''.

The doctor was worried because although the baby seemed fine there was actually no progress.Another day was dawning and my morale hit the lowest ever.In the midst of all that pain and exhaustion,I had a moment looking within and asking myself:''What am I missing here,do I need to trust more,what am I doing wrong that is affecting my body in such a nasty way?''Then it hit me like a thunderbolt!:''You need another kind of lesson,you need to let go of your obstinence and see both sides of the matter!''

I immediately called for the doctor and asked for an epidural.She was dumpfounded,she knew I was a diehard afficionando of natural childbirth,she was concerned that I might bitterly regret it and blame it on her once this was over.I explained to her that as this was probably my last birth ever,my higher self had somehow decided to give me a totally different experiene.I used to be very critical of those women 'weak' or 'ignorant enough to have medicated births,now it was my turn to experience one.Just as no self-righteous person can understand a sinner unless they sin big time themselves first,just as you cannot understand poverty when you live an affluent life,I had to experience both extremes of a birth to gain a better understanding of it.

So I had my epidural and within minutes I was transformed from a wild animal thrashing about in agony and pain back into a rational human being again.Immediately following this my body relaxed so deeply that dilation progressed rapidly and I was ready to push.What an empowering experience!What a miracle to be able to enjoy and watch the actual birth of your child without the distraction of feeling your body being ripped off from the inside!When the doctor told me that the baby was actually too big and I was too numb from the epidural to be able to push him out without the help of forceps,I told her ''Watch me'' and got my son out in just three big (and pain-free,hurrah!) pushes.

That was my lesson in humility.I thought life wanted to give me a lesson in trust and acted accordingly.But the thing is,you don't get to choose your life lessons yourself,just as a student does not normally get to choose their curriculum.Your higher self and God are in charge of this..

Here's how it goes:

-You get something and there is no need for you to have a particular lesson

-You don't get something that is important and so you need a lesson

-Your higher self decides it's time for you to have that lesson to promote your spiritual growth

-Your higher self arranges for an experience,good or bad,to teach you that lesson

-You get the lesson and so it does not need to be repeated

-You don't get the lesson the first time around and so it needs to be repeated in some other form

Whenever you find yourself in the midst of an unpleasant,problematic,nasty situation or one that doesn't give you the outcome you'd like,pose and ask yourself:"What's the lesson in this?''Chances are,as soon as you get it,you 'll no longer need the nasty experience!

Love,peace and deeper understanding


photos from here

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