6 hours on…..
There’s a baby sleeping soundly on my chest. A creature who has only been in this world for 6 hours and has changed my life in ways my imagination can’t fathom. She’s tiny. She has no agenda except to live. She’s perfect.
Pregnancy is one heck of a journey. I learned so much along the way; about focus, letting go, trusting my body. It taught me to pay attention what’s really important and wonderful about being human; that there are some miracles and mysteries that a conditioned, biased conscious mind can’t interfere with. It was one of the most valuable undertakings of my life so far; and I didn’t think anything would better it as a lesson in humility.
I was wrong. Lesson one. Never make assumptions. Lesson two. A baby is a miracle. Nothing comes for free. And there is a lot to learn before you can say that you deserve to be a parent. Nature, as always, has its design. And it designed the ultimate lesson.
Childbirth, for a first time Mum, is just like opening night of a theatre show. You’ve spent loads of time rehearsing, prepping, getting ready physically and psychologically; but you don’t actually know what will happen. You can’t. It’s an unknown entity, free to live out its own life organically in the moment, and you simply ride the wave. Labour isn’t predictable. You don’t know what it will feel like, what audience you will get, how your fellow cast members will react to the madness and the vulnerability and the inescapable nature of the event. It’s unpredictable, has major consequences, and changes you. Childbirth has changed me. I already feel it.
Here’s the thing. My pregnancy was planned carefully to allow the continuation of my creative projects for the year. My daughter didn’t protest; she worked with my self managing unconscious body processes and created herself right on time, posing no complications whatsoever. She positioned herself in a neat bump so that physically I could keep mobile until the very end of pregnancy. She even got on stage with me and supported me through something that many would have argued was crazy. And she made her entry into the world an experience to behold; on the day that work stuff had been wrapped up, and I had a chat with her telling her I was ready, and Dad was ready…. In other words, she was right on time.
But clearly, she felt she had some time to make up. So when she decided it was time…… She kicked off her journey at 8pm, giving me a clear sign that I needed to get to the birthing centre, and things moved so quickly that we went from start to finish in a mere 4 hours. But there is a price to pay for this kind of efficiency. Letting go of any notion of pride. Trusting your body completely to work through its process. And there is pain. A legendary pain spoken of by many, but accurately described by none. It is a humbling pain. One that tests the limits of your determination and belief in the natural process of the body. One that will eventually become so intense that it will force your commander in chief to send the signal….
This is too much. We need an intervention. Let it go.
I didn’t want a Caesarean section. I endured 3 hours of accelerated labour with only gas & air and was willing to keep marching, primally through the pain. But truthfully, I was a wailing, animalistic mass of tearful, overstimulated, terrified, excited animal instinct by that point and the baby probably made the right decision for us. Sheer pig headedness wouid have stopped me from making the choice, but I’ve learned a lesson. It’s okay to change tack. It’s not weakness. It’s accepting that you can’t know, or plan for everything. There are some things your imagination simply cannot fathom. Accelerated labour pain is one of them. So you need to let go of the idea that you can imagine every scenario in life. Well, I did, anyway. It turns out, I don’t have a bloody clue.
My imagination wasn’t able to predict, for example, how unbelievable the labour experience would be for me as an actor, or writer, or honest human being. I thought I was able to reveal myself truthfully in some way; but I didn’t know what that even MEANT until I found myself so deeply absorbed in the primal sensations of the body that there was no control any more. It was pure, raw instinct, and despite being in tears, having what I perceived to be my mortality flash before my eyes, seeing my husband and wanting to lose myself in him and beg him to make it stop, there was a deep part of me that felt privileged. THAT is freedom. When you let yourself go so much that you don’t know who you are anymore, and freed of that identity, you are truly in the moment. Showing your fear, pain, doubt, vulnerability, tears in such a raw form to the whole world and having no inner voice to question… That’s what I’m aiming for. And for the first time, I experienced it. It was hellish, but what an education. What a thrill. What an aspiration.
Anyway….. Someone seems to be waking up! Time to go.
Phew. This is it. Writing out the madness happening as my brain attempts to process everything seems like the only way to handle the onslaught of sensation and thought and unfathomable emotion I have coursing through me. And it’s now 7.18am, so I haven’t slept for 24 hours. So it’s all a bit hazy crazy.
And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
To the next adventure!