Practicing to accept
I thought I was prepared for everything. I read the books, I watched videos, I talked to friends. After three years of infertility and a rough pregnancy with eight months of nausea, I was so ready and excited to give birth. I couldn’t wait to have that intense experience of birthing my baby. I looked forward to contractions, I looked forward to pushing, I looked so so so forward to having my baby land on my chest. Wet, sticky, warm.
None of that happened. Instead of that beautiful, natural experience, my son was born through an emergency c-section and was rushed away right after birth because he wasn’t breathing. For what felt like hours, we could only hope he was alive. Finally, he started breathing on his own and I got to see him for a brief moment, before I was put to sleep and he stayed with my husband. No skin-to-skin for baby and me and no breastfeeding until hours later when I woke up and was brought back. We cried, he latched, and for a moment all the pain disappeared.
What followed were weeks filled with nursing and bonding, and my son was doing exceptionally well. I, on the other hand, was having a hard time dealing with the c-section. I felt weak, I was in pain, and I was disappointed in my body. I wasn’t able to birth my baby myself and I felt like I hadn’t given birth. Somebody else took him out of me. Somebody else did what my body should have done. But then, after six weeks, yoga came back to me.
From disappointment to pride
It wasn’t just the space I created in my chest, the softness in my shoulder area, or the strength I regained in my stomach area. It was all of that, combined with the soft voice of the teacher that held space, the giggling babies when we lifted them on our legs, the nursing break while we sang mantras, my baby on my chest in savasana.
If it wasn’t for yoga, I would have been been stuck. Mother-baby yoga taught me that my body could move again after all it had been through, it showed me the power of moving together with other mothers and their babies, I learned that there was a form of meditation - or at least mindfulness - even when the babies were there.
Half way through our third yoga class, my teacher picked up my son and danced around with him while I flowed through a modified sun salutation. Suddenly I felt so present. That moment was everything.
Through yoga I learned that no matter how we all got there, when we are in a room with other mothers and their babies, we are all the same. All one.
What was it exactly that helped me move from disappointment in my body to feeling proud about the birth and the scar on my belly? It’s hard to pinpoint this to one thing, but I feel it’s the combination of feeling that my body could move again, even if it was so different from my yoga practice from before my pregnancy, and the smaller things that happened between asanas. Things the teacher said like “No matter how you gave birth…”. Or the way she recognized our motherhood experiences. The gratitude practices we did. The body scans. And deep breathing with our hands on our bellies: the place where we used to grow our babies.
That weekly hour of yoga felt like an hour of honoring our mother bodies.