Introducing Our Baby Girl
We are beyond thrilled to introduce our baby girl, Aalya to our Centred Tribe! For those of you who have followed our journey, you know full well that it took us over five years to get here. Suffice to say it feels incredibly surreal to hold her in our arms and we are so grateful, relieved, and ecstatic to have finally gotten here. A huge thank you to all of you for your support, guidance and encouragement over the years!!!
Call me crazy but I wanted to experience childbirth the way nature originally intended. I wanted to know first hand what the woman’s body is capable of. I wanted to feel what mothers across the globe and throughout the ages have felt in birthing their children. And so I set out for a natural, drug-free, intervention-free birth, assured in the knowledge that the interventions and drugs were there if and when I needed them.
Well, it wasn’t the smooth, quick, straight forward birth we had hoped for. Instead, I faced 43 hours of contractions with several bumps along the way. I won’t lie. It was the most intense, challenging and tough experience of my entire life. But not in the way you might be thinking. In many parts of our society, we have come to associate extreme mental and physical challenge as a struggle from which to overcome. Like a torture of sorts that we just need to survive and get through. An inevitable suffering that simply needs to be endured until it’s over.
For me, this was not the case at all… my experience was one of beauty, tranquility and flow, even in the face of some of the most intense sensations of my life. For the most part, Kevin and I were totally immersed in the moment. Time did not exist. We didn’t need to sleep or eat. We were profoundly connected, to each other, our yet to be born baby and to the world in general.
So I have come to realise that even though it wasn’t the birth I had hoped for, it WAS the birth that I needed. Those 43 hours changed me forever. It was hands down the most empowering and transformative experience of my life. I will never be the same.
5 Lessons I Embodied from my Experience in Childbirth
- The human spirit is formidable. My labour was incredibly testing. Through the peak of the most intense contractions, the doubt started to creep in and a voice inside me screamed “I can’t do this”! A familiar voice to me, as it is to so many of us. This is when the suffering started. I didn’t give into it though. And yet at the same time, I also didn’t fight against it. What I did was lean into the experience. I surrendered to it (side note: surrender is very different to ‘giving up’). The voice got quieter and quieter until it was gone. And whilst the intensity of sensations was still present, the suffering was not. There was a new voice. Louder and clearer than I had ever heard. “I can do this. I AM doing this”. A mantra that I carried with me through the rest of my journey. The American boxer Jack Dempsey once said: “A champion is someone who gets up when he can’t”. I discovered that day that I am stronger, more resilient, and more courageous than I ever realised or appreciated. I met the champion within me. And I now know she is always there.
- Vulnerability is strength. Childbirth was a wild, primitive experience where I was completely stripped bare to my soul. I felt a level of vulnerability, exposure, and openness that I’ve never felt before. After I gave birth, I was delicate, raw, and fragile. They say that the birth of a baby is also the birth of a mother. She is as tender as the baby and needs the same level of caring and nurturing as a baby does on her journey back to full strength and healing. In Ayurveda (the science of health from India), they say that the 42 days post partum is a sacred window of time which dictates a mother’s health and wellbeing for the next 42 years of her life. In our society, there is such an emphasis on a new mother’s ability to ‘bounce back’ after birth. And I certainly can feel the pull from the external world to get back into life, be of use to society, to get things done. I constantly need to remind myself to be kind, compassionate, and patient towards myself, to keep tuning in and listening to my body’s needs, to nourish and restore myself to health, to give myself permission to slow down and really enjoy this period. It’s a lesson that we all can heed for life!
- The ability to be in the present moment is key. Childbirth is such that there is a constant ebb and flow of physical sensations and feelings. The intensity of the contractions reaches a peak and then tailors off completely leaving a void of pure pleasure and relaxation. A birthing mother produces more levels of oxytocin and endorphins than she will ever experience in her life and it was quite remarkable to bliss out in that state. The trick was being absolutely present in order to enjoy it, recuperate and draw strength from it – and NOT to spend the time dreading the next contraction instead. How often do we rob ourselves of the joy of a beautiful moment by dreading a future unpleasant one? Labour has often been compared to one giant meditation and I can attest that it indeed takes total surrender, trust and acceptance of what’s arising moment to moment – not fighting or resisting the experience in anyway, just like during meditation. I needed to sink into the ever-present moment – without anticipating what would happen next and without wondering how much longer there was to go as this would simply take me out of the game. Time ceased to exist – it required absolute trust in my body and baby to work it’s magic in its own time at its own pace. I was very grateful to intimately know this experience through all my years of meditation. Who knew it would play such a pivotal role!
- The human body is remarkable. The fact that it can grow a human being inside of it and then know when it’s ready to birth that being is just beyond comprehension. The fact that it releases hormones and chemicals to stimulate the uterus to contract and assist the baby in moving down into the birth canal is wild. There have even been cases where women in a coma have carried a baby to full term and birthed it! And the fact that the body releases the exact concoction of hormones to help cope with the intensity of the physical sensations is beautiful. I have a whole new level of respect for the human body, the female body, and MY body in particular! I have a newfound relationship with my body where I have learned how to listen to and trust it deeply forever more.
- Science is a part of nature. Something that we’ve discovered through having been on a five year fertility journey and inevitably conceiving through IVF, is that there is often a conflict between science and nature (this was certainly the case for us for a long time). We no longer see a distinction anymore. We’ve come to realise just how intertwined science is to nature. It’s not one or the other. It’s a fluid dance where the glue that holds it all together is our intuition; knowing when to lean in each direction. Throughout labour, it was vital that we fully trusted the intelligence of nature (trusting that the female body was designed to do this and that our baby knew how to get herself out), and yet be willing to fully trust in science and medicine too. We were incredibly fortunate to be able to trust in the expertise and intuition of Professor Andrew Bisits (the head of Obstetrics at the Royal Hospital for Women) to guide us on when it was absolutely necessary to lean on science in order to deliver our baby safely into this world. Being mentally, emotionally, and spiritually aligned with our doctor was an absolute game changer and something we didn’t even know was possible but accidentally stumbled upon at the eleventh hour (a story for another time). We can’t speak more highly of ‘Dr B’ (as we came to call him) whose passion, dedication, and expertise is second to none!