A PowerYoga Birth Story
Came to L.A. over a decade ago.......I was alone, completely alone, no friends or family. I began to build my own relationships; there was this group of amazing, funny, fit women I started to hang with; they had this ritual of Bryan's 10:45am class. They spoke of him like he was some kind of god or Something; I had to go and check it out just to satisfy my curiosity. When I saw him I was far from impressed, maybe because he looked like a couple of guys I already had dated. My friend drove, so I was stuck for the hour forty five minute class. Yoga had been prescribed to me by my cardiologist years earlier, but I just couldn't get into it. I usually don't overdo things, so I wasn't extremely sore, but I did sleep better that night. Hmmm sleep was good; I noticed I began to have less mental background "noise" during the day too. I started to go to class without my friends; it was a ritual for myself. I'm in LA like many of us for entertainment purposes, so going to class for me was a grounding force. I remember one time Bryan was talking us into a pose, the power went out we, stayed in that pose in the dark almost the whole class. It put all the day’s crap into perspective; this space at class was truly a playground for practicing life situations.
Time passes, and I find myself pregnant. I still went to class, got to know a new body, prepared by breathing a lot; it took the fear away. I had to deliver at the hospital because of my heart condition, so a home birth was out. I went into it breathing, and just relaxing, my body knew what it was doing; I just had to listen. Like on those days where you just barely make it to class and you’re a little flustered; at first it can be hard to calm down and just breathe in child's pose, "coming down off the ledge" I like to call it. I was so relaxed during labor that the nurse thought I wasn't. All the monitors kept telling them that I wasn't having any real contractions to speak of. "Do you want to have this baby? We can't be waiting around for you? Do you want to go home? We need to give you pitocin." With all these wonderful comments coming from the medical staff it was like going to class, when someone leaves their god damn phone on you wanna be like “oh I'm in the zone nothing can touch me,” then the phone rings again just to push your focus, it took me a while to realize it isn't losing focus (that's going to happen no matter what), it's how long does it take to regain it. My birth plan was no birth plan, I had no preconceived ideas about what I wanted the birth to be, I just wanted to be present in making active decisions for myself and my baby. I asked them to let me walk around a little, came back to the room a few minutes later, and the doctor finally came into see how far along I was. Shock literally smeared all over their faces, I was already fully dilated and ready to push; apologies ran for the next twenty minutes as I delivered my daughter drug free, fear free. The ice chips were a god send, and I ain't gonna lie it hurt, but the pain ends and the elation floods in.....I feel that experience set up the strong bond my daughter and I have today; we work well together. I love her; we know each other deeply.
Two years later I find myself in the labor room again.....this time things aren't going as smoothly. They told me I had to get the baby out immediately: she was too far down the birth canal or they would have sliced me open right then. The doctor was preparing a vacuum to suck her out. I just kept going back into the zone. Just breathe.....like that person next to you in class who has a cold and they just keep blowing their nose the whole time. Don't be afraid to breathe. I sat straight up, waved the doctors away (at this point there were 9 medical staff in the room), told the nurse I needed ice chips, told them I would push her out right now, and everyone needed to back away from me. I guess they’re not use to someone talking to them that way, and they all took a step back. I pushed her out right then and handed her over, again they were shocked, because of my haste I tore my side glute muscles, my leg dangled; damn it, I should have gone to more evening classes with Bryan, now I'm gonna have more work to do! They whisked my baby girl away, she didn't look so good... very different experience. The hospital wasn't use to handling genetic anomalies, especially after I had an amniocentesis that showed "normal" 46 chromosomes. They stuck me in a room that was for storage of over flowed things, beds, baby cribs, etc. It was the closest room to the NICU. I hobbled over to see her; things weren't looking so good. The doctor came into see me in my storage room with a list in his hands of things wrong with my daughter. He couldn't even look me in the eyes when he went through the list, only after when he said, "We really don't know what is wrong with your daughter." Thanks a lot!!!!! I had my daughter on the weekend, so for the next two days moonlighting doctors argued in front of me about what organs were malformed and what drugs she needed. No one seemed to care that she maybe needed to eat? I pumped my milk, and stock piled it over in the NICU refrigerator, went through the motions of life not really feeling, you know sometimes you gotta go through the vinyasas just to go through the action or sometimes you gotta just do a pose until one day you really feel it, maybe you might get a helping hand from Bryan, oh yeah that's what the pose is about.....
I disagreed with many of the doctors, and their decisions, I had to constantly modify my position like modifying a pose in class to bridge the communication gap. Her first meal was Zantac, and the nurses were giving her formula instead of my milk that was in their fucking refrigerator. I had to go on virtually no sleep. I was really starting to apply dead man’s pose to my daily life. I was spending 18 plus hours a day in the hospital; the staff was annoyed I watched everything, because they were changing ideas constantly throughout the day. I had to flow with it and not get attached to it because the next day it could be completely different, just like every day we truly have a different body that practices yoga, some days more flexible, other days stronger, some days supple. With a hospital transfer and a surgery avoided, I finally got my daughter home. Her doctor told me "I'm surprised you took to your daughter so well, many parents don't bond to children with these sort of problems."
She was so fired!!!!!!
Once my daughter was home I started to take her off of the drugs. She was on some anti-seizure medication that I had to very slowly wean her off of. With my ill daughter I gained weight, stopped sleeping, just aged. I would laugh to friends and say her first year took ten of mine. Her eyes started to clear up; the needle pricks and bruises began to fade. I had an intense discussion with her that she had to breast feed because I couldn't pump, measure ,and then feed her anymore. I began to really find the line between not enough and too much in my actual life, damn it yoga was really sinking in. I couldn't push myself to just take care of everything, and yes my mate would have to take up some of the slack. Ah yes, my mate!!!
At first he said he thought I was handling everything beautifully; yeah I would of bought that idea in the past, but not anymore. I would see sometimes as many as six different doctors a week, plus work, and take care of the bills, house, kids; what do I need you for, sex? Well, I wasn't getting that either; ladies, take your man to yoga if not just once, you can learn a lot about him. Mine never did well in class: always pushed himself too hard, whined on the way home, was sore days after. I began to realize it wasn't my responsibility to make him happy. I can only be responsible for what takes place on my mat, nothing beyond it. I find myself looking around the room much less now, and living without him has been better for all involved.
Over the last three years I lost 80 pounds, I'm finally starting to feel more normal, more gray hair but I'm getting a couple years back. Things are more than ok, but great with my life. My younger daughter has her challenges, but we face them. My older daughter has challenges; we face them too. I don't run from things as much anymore; I realize how much energy it takes and wastes. I say no a lot more and feel better with myself for doing it.
I'm finally playing in my life like I play in class, like in airplane (pose) I'm always falling, laughing and getting up again........ a lot’s changed in my life for the better.......I think I reversed what Bryan says in class "my life is finally becoming play" like in yoga class. Thank you, yoga, for bringing a smile to my face when for many there would be none.