This week, in honor of the birth of my son, I am going old school and writing a blog instead of sending out a video. I’ve learned some critically important lessons over the past few days about how to bring into being what we want in life– so much so that I wanted to share them with you right away.
The story starts here: this past Monday, Ronan Bishop McLaughlin arrived one week late, weighing 9 pounds 2 ounces and 21 inches long. He is a big boy, so very sweet, and very very hungry.
His birth, however, was far from what I said I wanted this time around.
You see, sixteen months ago, my daughter arrived into the world by Caesarean birth. She had been breech, and while her birth was spectacular and spiritual and everything I could have asked for in that manifestation, this time around I was determined to have a natural birth. So hell-bent was I on this outcome that I planned to birth naturally no matter what, no matter how long I had to wait, entirely drug and intervention free.
In my usual Type-A control freak way, I did everything imaginable to try to achieve this goal. I researched and read everything on post-Caesarean natural birth that I could get my hands on. I made strict and healthy choices for my body in all respects. I did a ton of acupuncture while pregnant. I engaged in an in-depth, pre-birth meditation practice. I hired the best pro-natural birth doulas and doctors I could find. You get the picture.
So strong a force of will did I throw behind this path that I just knew it would lead to the exact outcome I wanted.
Then, starting last Wednesday, I had days filled with on/off contractions, sometimes for hours at a time. On Sunday, I launched into what eventually became twenty-one hours of labor, with literally bone-shaking contractions that took over my body from head to toe.
Fourteen hours into that labor, after five days of contractions and just when I thought I could stand no more, I arrived at the hospital to discover that I had dilated (wait for it) exactly half a centimeter.
As the contractions continued, what became clear was that I was about to be faced with an extremely difficult choice: either a predicted two to three more days of active labor with no guarantees that I wouldn’t need an emergency Caesarean at any point in that process (and this in a body that already hadn’t slept in two days), or an “elective” Caesarean birth first thing Monday morning to bring my son into the world– the exact outcome that I had sought to avoid.
Throughout the night at the hospital, I considered my options. I cried through more contractions. I commiserated with my husband, our doulas and our doctors, all of whom assured me that they would be behind me 100% regardless of my choice. I checked in with the little boy inside me to see if I could intuitively get a read on what he wanted. And at my most difficult point of the night, I asked the Universe for a sign as to whether I was meant to keep going down this path, or to choose another option.
What I got was six more hours of contractions, with no progression.
At 5 a.m. Monday morning, while my team sat curled into tiny chairs desperately trying to rest, I watched the sun rise from a hospital bed in midtown Manhattan. And as the sky got lighter and lighter, I gradually found myself at a place of letting go of what I had said I wanted for so long.
Monday morning at 9:05 a.m., with the help of a brilliantly sensitive and supportive medical staff and with the magnificent man I married by my side, I gave birth to Ronan by Caesarean. Our son met the world gently and carefully, in an environment filled with profound respect, care, kindness, many tears of joy and no small amount of spirituality and ritual.
It was a beautiful birth. I have no regrets.
. . . and why are you telling me this, you might be thinking? Smile.
Well, here’s the thing: as with any profound life experience, the last few days have caused me to question a lot. Oddly, I found myself thinking about three specific questions I often ask my clients when it comes to goal setting: 1) what do you want? 2) how badly do you want it? and 3) what are you willing to do to get it?
These questions tend to lock people into their goals pretty darn quick, and that’s a good thing. However, what I have realized in the last few days is that for us Type-A control freaks, these questions also tend to lock us in to a particular path to get there, often to the exclusion of all others.
In thinking back over my son’s birth, I found myself pondering how I would have answered these questions for the last nine-plus months. What I said I wanted was a “perfect” “ideal” drug-free natural birth. I wanted it so badly I was willing to do almost anything to guarantee that result. By sheer force of will, I believed I could control the outcome.
What I realized from that hospital bed early Monday morning, however, was that my rigid, unrelenting commitment to that path alone had actually completely obscured the higher goal, the true goal, of what I was after. What I really wanted was a birth that was spectacular, meaningful and healing, and that most importantly brought forth this precious being into a place where he knew immediately how much he mattered, and how much he was loved.
And it turned out that once I truly let go of my desire to control the means to get there, and my belief that there was only one way to do it . . . well, I got exactly what I wanted, immediately. Funny that.
For each of us the path is different, but this is what has become clear to me as the primary lesson of the past few days: without a willingness to be open to possibilities as yet unknown, the most easeful path to what we want may not emerge– nor, for that matter, its most beautiful incarnation.
And so, this week, I invite you to the following exploration: Take a look at what you want to give birth to in your own life. Engage in a deep and careful evaluation of your goals and the means you are employing to get there. Question thoroughly any place where you feel stuck, frustrated, in a place of no progression. And then ask yourself this: what happens if I relinquish control of the path? What happens if I invite in, instead, the higher goal, the most easeful means, and the lesson that this experience is meant to teach me? What if I step into a place of trust that I actually can have exactly what I want without having to control the means to get there? What then?
Then maybe, just maybe, you’ll get exactly what you really want, what your soul is crying out for, what you welcome with your whole self, faster than you ever might have imagined, and in a manifestation so beautiful it nearly breaks your heart.
With great love and gratitude for this week that has changed my life,
PS. Next week, we’re back to video, when I’ll be tackling a big issue: how to deal with shame. Until then, have a powerful and beautiful week.
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