everydaybalance

inspirational tools to create life balance in your everyday

birth day – finding everyday balance in may 2010

May1

It is difficult to find the words to write about meeting the most important people that come into our lives. Often the details are a blur of color and emotion and sound. On February 26th, I met my daughter for the first time. When she was placed on my chest and I looked into her eyes the world shifted with a kind of presence I will never forget. Suddenly there she was, awake and seeing her daddy and I for the first time. The weight of her body against me felt like what love should weigh. For my husband and I, there were times when we didn’t know if we would get the opportunity to meet our baby like this. Many of you supported us through this journey. Finding out that we were pregnant was one of the most poignant times of our life together and we were in awe as we watched the seeds of our dreams come true. And at 4:30 a.m. on that important morning in February we made the call to the hospital to ask if we could be induced and let the next journey begin.

When the hospital rang us back and told us that they were ready for us, I felt my body coiled with the anticipation and the power of a woman who has watched her body grow more and more pregnant for ten months. In moments like these that you have looked toward much of your life, the details of the world around you begin to shine.

Leading up to this birth day we read several books on childbirth and it wasn’t until the final three weeks that we found our inspiration between the pages of an Australian book by JuJu Sundin and Sarah Murdoch titled “Birth Skills”. Their incredible book is widely read and used in Australia and I now know why. The pages of this book not only outline how to empower yourself by using movement, sound and visualizations, but it is sprinkled with stories by inspiring women and it was their voices that lined my body with courage.

My anxiety about the birth had been escalating for weeks as by nature I am a worrier. I wondered if there would come a time when I would set the books aside and feel confident. It happened the day before I was induced. All of a sudden, there was a break in my day where everything was quiet and I knew in my heart that I was ready. There was a kind of restlessness in my hands and feet that felt the way I did in grade school standing at the beginning of the track on field days. I walked around our home gathering circular items measuring three to ten centimeters and lined them up along the wooden dining table. Before me stood perfume bottles, salt shakers, candles and chutney jars. One by one I used these items to help me visualize my way from three centimeters, which was where by body was currently dilated, to the ten centimeters that I would need to reach before the baby could be born. With my colored markers and paints, I created a multi colored mandala of centimeters to birth and in between each band I wrote phrases from JuJu’s book and my own meditations.

That same afternoon, Peter and I travelled to our doctor’s office and we found out that because of low fluid levels in the placenta, it would be safest for the baby if I was induced the next day. That evening, Pete and I took photos of my pregnant belly and went out to dinner to celebrate the months and years leading up to this moment. There was something sacred about dining that night, knowing the huge shift that was about to occur in our emotions and our relationship. Maybe it was the joy exploding from my husband’s face or the focused energy curling through mine, but I will never forget the taste of the spring rolls presented in a martini glass or the purple orchid that adorned the Panang curry dish that later that evening would rest on my meditation shelf while I tried to center myself enough to sleep.

Arriving at the hospital the next morning, we were laden with bags and expectations. The day was overcast and the valet mentioned to us that a huge storm that was blowing in. My heart secretly soared for this declaration of weather. I have always felt more grounded on rainy days and this was no exception. There is something about the low clouds and the rain washing across the windows that supports a day spent inside. Some of my most cherished days have been spent on both sides of raindrop splattered windows.

We were given a beautiful spacious room and Peter began unpacking our things. The nurse, who felt like an old friend, began the induction and labor began slowly. I was already 4cm dilated on arrival and I tried to conserve my energy by lightly walking the halls and swaying side to side in my room as I gazed out the windows. I was attached to a monitor that sounded out the baby’s heartbeat into our room and it felt like she was speaking to us in her own underwater language. The steadiness of that beat was the soundtrack for our day and night. Gazing out our windows I could see strong tall Redwood trees looking out over a lawn of fog and cloud. Sheets of rain danced the sky and all that was green became awake and alive.

Four hours into my labor the next nurse checked me to see how dilated I was. Her face was set as she told me that I should prepare myself for a C-section as I had only dilated one more centimeter and she felt that the baby’s head was not progressing. Those words hitting the air of the room slapped me awake. Everything in my body told me that this baby was going to be delivered naturally. The dunk, dunk, dunk of the babies heartbeat continued rhythmically and I asked to speak to my doctor. Dr. Chien rang me a few minutes later and she calmly talked me through some options. I took a deep breath and asked her if we could have an hour so that I could get more active and try the techniques that we had prepared. I trusted Dr. Chien and I felt she would understand that I needed to come back into connection with my body. She said yes.

We told the nurse that our doctor had given us some time to try yoga and activity and asked her to leave us for the hour. Pete shut the door and I laid out my yoga mat on top of a blanket on the floor. Immediately the familiar rubbery texture of the mat triggered something calm inside me. I felt the power of years of a regular yoga and meditation practice greet me at the mat. Sitting back in child’s pose with my eyes closed, I knew that my first job was to let go of the fear that was clouding my body. The nurses’ words had thrown me into a defensive fearful place and I needed to let that go. I let the tears come and I cried out the fear until I arrived back into a softer place. I could feel the gentle contractions of the baby moving like waves through my body and my breath beginning to calm. The pain wasn’t bad and I felt that the baby was still preparing herself. I felt strongly that by opening and relaxing my body she would be able to move through me safely.

For an hour Peter and I worked on progressing the labor. We used acupressure points to bring on contractions and I practiced the yoga postures that intuitively invited themselves to my mat. I used chanting and movement to let go of my anxiety. Suddenly it was time for the nurse to check me again. Peter held my hand and we both held our breath. The baby’s heartbeat seemed to grow louder in the silence of the room and our anticipation. It is rare for people to admit that they have made a mistake and the honesty in those moments sometimes will disrobe any ill will that we feel towards that individual. This was one of those moments. The nurse said to us that she was surprised. I had dilated two centimeters in an hour. She told us that she was rarely wrong, but in this instance she was. We were told to keep doing what we were doing. It was working.

Over the next several hours we kept up the yoga, using the fit ball, walking and chanting. I spoke to the nurse about recipes and the weather, about our life in Australia and rode the waves through my body with distraction and movement. The pain was still very manageable and I felt inspired by where we had arrived to. The rain continued to come in waves across the afternoon sky for my eyes to play with. It was just after seven pm when I noticed that darkness had fallen. The nurse checked me and again planted the seed that a C-section might be inevitable. I was eight centimeters and she felt the baby had not dropped enough. While the nurses changed shifts, the contractions began with new intensity. During these stronger contractions I couldn’t speak and I used breathing, stress balls and movement with every contraction. The new nurse Cindy arrived and her energy was exactly what I needed in that moment. She spoke with confidence lined in softness and I knew that she would see us through the next phase well.

Shortly after she arrived I moved into the shower and labor became very strong. In that moment, my husband Peter stepped into the shoes that he had always spoken confidently of, those of my birth coach. As I write this, tears well up for me when I think about how well he guided me through the next few hours. I know that our connection as husband and wife and the deep trust we have built over twelve years allowed me to travel through those next few hours. Between my contractions he consistently brought me back into the positive by saying to me “Isn’t this amazing! This is the birth of our little girl!” and “Chris, this is incredible, look what you’re doing.” Those couple minutes in between the contractions, he focused me, over and over again, to where I was and the amazing reality of the moment. During the contractions, he told me inspiring stories of things that I had accomplished over the years that I never thought I would. He used visualizations that brought me back to Sydney where a lot of my strength lies and counted me through the sixty seconds of each contraction so that I knew when each one was coming to an end. He was there for me to lean on, to cry with and to borrow strength from. Using presence, words and energy, he danced me through to the parts of myself that held the strength that I needed to bring our baby through her last steps in the womb and out into the world.

With a kind of synchronicity that I look for in the most important moments of my life, my doctor arrived at the time that I needed her most. There was nothing that I could to do to stop my body from pushing. She guided me to the bed and confirmed that I was ten centimeters. I’ll never forget her looking me in the eyes and saying, “There isn’t time for an epidural Chris, the baby is coming now. You’re going to do this naturally.” Her words and belief in me gave me confidence and new energy. I knew that with the support I had in the room, even though it might be the hardest thing I ever had to do, that I could do it. We were finally going to meet our daughter.

With Peter holding me on one side and nurse Cindy holding me on the other and Tim Burton’s Om Namah Shivaya playing, our baby was born after twenty-six minutes of pushing. Born with the cord in the nuchal position, tightly around her neck, she needed attention right from the start. I’ll never forget Peter’s hand tightly squeezed in mine as we watched a team of physicians work on our tiny baby. And just like the miracle of her being conceived, in a matter of minutes they had the color coming back into her body and were welcoming her back into good health. I could see the wet curled hair along the top of her head as Peter and I waited for the doctors to step back. Those minutes held the most intense concern and relief we have ever experienced as a couple. When they placed her little wet body against mine and I looked into the eyes of Ruby Lanikai for the first time, with Peter’s hand on both of us, I felt a sense of completeness I had not known until that moment. Our baby had arrived to us.

Ruby’s middle name “Lanikai” means heavenly sea. We named her after the beach that we spent so much time at when we lived in Oahu in our transition between Australia and America. Peter and I have always had a connection to the ocean and we have lived near the water through most of our relationship. It seemed right to name our little one after a peaceful beach set between her two countries where we had seen the sunrise so many times promising a beautiful day. The time that we spent in Lanikai was touched with a kind of special presence that happens during a transition. The days following Ruby’s birth in the hospital had that same kind of presence. There was a slow and easy balance between the three of us and the staff that cared for us at the hospital. When my parents and sister visited, I felt a deep breath hit my heart as I watched the line of our family extend. As each email and phone call arrived to celebrate Ruby’s birth, I felt another piece of love welcoming her to the world. I knew that her family already extended way beyond that room.

The days and weeks since Ruby’s birth have unfolded with the greatest emotion I have felt in my life. The immediate overwhelming love for a person so small paints our days with a purpose beyond ourselves. Her presence changes everything, from the taste of a raspberry to the presence of a slant of sunlight that catches her eye as it falls on the couch. My formal meditation practice on the cushion has turned into a meditation of the rituals that we move through slowly each day. Feeding Ruby, I concentrate on my breath. Finding a moment to shut my eyes and sleep, I am present for the fact that I am able to sleep. Waking up in the night to her cries, I bring myself back to the presence of this beautiful baby who for so long I wondered if I would have. I have never experienced such fatigue, such joy, such overwhelm and such connection all at once, and in the midst of this I am in wonder at how time moves so quickly.

My husband’s father, David, said to Peter after Ruby was born that “ten years looking forward is such a long time, but looking back happens so quickly.” As children’s books crowd our shelves and little tiny socks sprinkle our laundry, I already wonder at how the last nine weeks have passed. In this I understand again how important it is to be aware of the present moment.

This month I invite you to look back on the times in your life that changed the tide of your feeling. Those times that stand out as if colored in a different brighter hue. This may be when you moved or met an important person. It may be after experiencing a birth or a death. It may be a time that you were on a holiday or an afternoon that lives in your memory because of circumstances aligning. It may be as simple as a walk you took or a conversation you had. The times in our lives that our most important don’t take the time to explain themselves, they simply are important. The heart decides.

When you have reconnected with this time, grab a journal or a few sheets of paper and allow yourself the freedom to revisit the vividness of that time. You can spend a few minutes or a few days exploring between pen and paper and memory what this time held for you. Let it unravel as if you are shaking out last season’s sheets that have been tucked away for some time. Let the details recreate themselves without editing. You can compliment your words with photos and even use the thick blank pages of a photo album to soak up the ink of your words. As you write, you will be surprised by the details that revisit you. Allow what was important from that time to be as important now. Notice after writing if anything has gotten lost, if you have started to take whatever once inspired you for granted.

If you are recalling the time when you first met your spouse, let that memory allow you to see them again in that fresh loving light. If it is the time when you first discovered what you wanted to do for a living, let that memory return you to your earlier passion for your work. If it was a time when you felt happy simply for a beautiful holiday, let that lead you to remember how important taking time out can be for you. If you connect with and enjoy this type of writing, begin the project of writing down more of the milestones in your life. Your words are treasures and the details you collect now will sing to future generations. Don’t be afraid to line your shelves with the chapters of your life that you and others would like to read again and again.

Notice if in recalling these details there is a moment during your experience where you are in contact with a stronger sense of self. Often in our day to day movements we lose connection to this part of ourselves that knows what we need and how to ask for it. It may be through routine or lack of interest, but often we set ourselves on autopilot and let the tide carry us along. Welcome the feeling of your stronger sense of self back and explore it in the days to come. Start small by giving your full attention to something that is important to you each day. Explore using your voice to ask for what you need around what is important and watch as more of your time unfolds into a place where you are experiencing what you had hoped and dreamed of.

We need not wait for the times in our lives that have a spotlight on them for us to feel the ecstasy of what is real and important to us. This month you will find me cherishing the new sounds and smiles of my baby, watching my husband grow into a father, enjoying the weather becoming spring and being present for what surfaces in me in the new role of a mother. I will be using my voice to explore what I need in this new role and using my pen to record the amazing details. Throughout this I will be present, breathing in and breathing out in each moment, knowing that this life that I’m living today is the only one worth wishing for. I look forward to imagining you doing the same.

This monthly inspiration piece brought to you by author Christina Adler at ‘everyday balance’. If you would like to share your experience with these tools, please feel free to email me by visiting the contacts section on the home page. To subscribe for a monthly reminder for these inspiration pieces, simply fill in your name and email address on the home page under “subscribe to everyday balance.” For information regarding life coaching appointments in person, by telephone or online, visit the ‘for life coaching’ section of this website. Photo taken by Christina Adler in Half Moon Bay, California.

posted under 2010 life balance