Birthing Without FearApr 12, 2015
On the day of my impending due date with my third baby, I’m aware of my impatience and my fears. I thought I was waiting patiently and without expectation in how this journey would unfold once again, but I realized a few days ago when I suddenly broke down in tears while washing the dishes that I have been holding onto something so tightly that it’s preventing my birth from happening. Although crying unexpectedly is fairly normal for most women 39 weeks pregnant, I was overwhelmed with a raw sense of fear I’ve yet to experience. I have a wonderful group of family and friends on hand and willing to take my other two children should I go into labour. I have the most supportive, loving and caring spouse who’s constantly worried about my well-being and panics with each phone call I make while he’s at work but despite all of the above, I feel alone. In 2012, I lost my mother, suddenly and without a proper goodbye. I received a phone call from a neighbour who couldn’t get ahold of my mother one Saturday morning and when she finally did, my mother was incoherent. I was teaching a class when I decided to answer my phone, something not feeling quite right. I assured the neighbour I would send my brother over to check on my mum and be over as quickly as I could.
When I did arrive two hours later, my mum was being whisked away by Ambulance and my brother was beside himself with emotions. I arrived at the hospital and instantly noticed my mother was not herself. Frantic, confused and scared, her body was riddled with a bacteria and slowly entering the realms of septic shock.
The Dr. almost instantly asked me to contact any immediate family to tell them that the situation was indeed life-threatening. My father, on a trip at the time immediately booked the next flight home as well, my eldest brother and my mum’s sister made the trip from England the next day. My father made it just in time for my mother to see him, she looked so relieved and happy and squeezed his hand ever so tightly. She was then medicated and became reliant on a breathing tube.
A week in ICU passed quickly with little results or changes. Her body willingly tried to fight off the now diagnosed Pneumonia, but with almost 10 years of chemotherapy and organ removal, the infection was winning. It was a gruesome observation to watch the effects of how inhumanly the human body begins to decompose. We were constantly reminded by the specialists that if she were to survive this battle, her life would drastically change. Knowing my mother’s request, none of my family members wanted to make the decision she had requested time again if she was ever in this situation. For our own selfish reason, we kept her alive, hoping that she would make her triumphed return as she had done so many times before.
Her medication was lifted after the week and my mother awoke. Confused but with a deep sense of connection, she looked around the room cautiously and at each of us individually to read our deepest thoughts. I watched her first reaction was fear, looking at the machines, knowing she was in ICU and being kept alive, she knew she was in trouble. For a split second, her soul spoke and said “I’m not ready”. When she looked around the room and tried to speak, she read our hearts and said “ok, I’m ready”. It was the most amazing example of surrender and courage I have ever witnessed.
We began to have a conversation with the use of a spelling board or course the practicality of my mother soon emerged when the first word she spelt was “Mastercard”, wondering if my father had paid the bill. It was the only moment of laughter we had in days – she was back! My family and I left that evening with an abundance of hope, but the truth about the outcome and her quality of life tomorrow haunted our spirits.
The next morning we arrived at the hospital hoping to great my mother with smiles and love only to find out all the machines were removed and my mother was again, in a deep, peaceful sleep. We were bombarded by a roomful of doctors, specialists and nurses who informed us that after we left, my mother spelt on the board “I’m done” and requested herself to be taken off support. She looked so deep into our hearts and knew that we didn’t have the courage to let her go.
It only took three days for her to take her last breath. Her suffering was over but our seems to just begin. After her funeral, I feel into what I like to call a mild-functioning depression. I lost all hope, drive and exuberance for life. My work, which I was so passionate about because inauthentic and unsatisfactory, my spouse and I separated and I was yet again, alone. My only sense of sanity where my two small children who allowed me to stay present for moments at a time as I watched them play or answered their many questions about their curiosity for life.
At the beginning of 2013, my spouse and I, who never stopped supporting me throughout my darkest moments, re-connected. He encouraged me to face my fears and my feelings of abandonment and was patient with my healing. We found out I was pregnant with our third child only a month later.
A bit baffled by the timing, I instantly knew this was no coincidence as I always wanted three children. I still tell everyone it happened out of divine intervention.
It was a happy moment but also one filled with an overwhelming sense of fear, how could I possibly go through this journey of motherhood without the love and support of my mother. I had already felt such a deep void without her presence, knowledge and wisdom, this would surely be more difficult. At the time of my mother’s sudden illness, she was retired and undergoing a study trial for a rare form of abdominal cancer that had affected her for the past 10 years. I spent a lot of time with my mother, especially since the birth of my son in 2008. When I became a mother for the first time, our relationship changed as I finally understood the great lengths a mother will endure to protect her children. I finally understood the term, ‘unconditional love’. I learned to forgive my mother for all the overbearing moments throughout my childhood and her role as both my protector and my guide.
Being that my son was her first grandchild, we spent a great deal of time together watching and being a part of his milestones together. My mother was indeed the gloating grandmother or Nana as she liked to be called. On her good days, she would take my son for a walk around the lake showing him the ducks or include him on her shopping days which she would always laugh when she reenacted his shouts for “Nana” if she would walk away from the cart. She was there for his first swim class, first haircut, first sports enrollment and his first day of pre-school. He brought her so much joy and this made me feel completely whole and proud.
When I found out I was pregnant for the second time, my mother revelled in the joy of determining the sex of the baby in advance as we both anticipated a girl. So much so that I found out and didn’t tell my spouse, it was our little secret. My mother was over-the-moon after finding out I was having a girl. She would start every conversation with “oh look” if she found an adorable outfit when we shopped and told me stories of her excitement when I was born, being the 3rd and only girl. We hid all the belonging at her place and would look through the pile with excitement.
My daughter was born in June of 2011 and my mother was ever-so-grateful when my spouse and I decided her middle name would be named after each grandmother. It was a beautiful and shining moment for all. Our daily rituals of watching milestones and making memories continued until that Saturday morning.
With my children being three and nine months at the time of my mother’s untimely passing, I felt I could keep her memory alive by recreating stories and reminding them, especially my son, of all the fun we shared with Nana. So, when finding out we were having a third, my instant reaction was sadness as my mother would never physically hold this child or create so many fond memories.
This pregnancy has been the most challenging. I’m older with two small children to tend to all day. My mother was a huge help and a great inspiration in my life and without her presence, I felt overwhelming. I miss so many things about my mother but the hardest has been her ability to instill confidence in my ability to be a great mother. She was very wise, didn’t over-react and spent a great deal of time sharing her mothering moments with me, both the good and the bad. She was a courageous role model and for the first time in my life, I wanted to be just like her (I wouldn’t have said that at age 20).
My mother was present for the birth of my son and it was such an honour! So, as I approach this auspicious day of the 18th of October, my heart reminds me that she will be at the birth in spirit. I’m trying to stay connected to this knowledge and know that everything will unfold as it’s intended too, but I can’t help the longing for her hand to hold or the memories of her tying my hair back or rubbing my back while coaching me through my 1st labour.
My current fear is not having the courage to labour without her presence and knowing that from this day forward my 3rd child will have no memories of my mother and that they never had a chance to meet, physically.
My deepest fear is letting go completely! Letting go of my mothers’ hand and labouring without her guidance and encouragement.
I understand my mother has never been responsible for my mothering, nor would she continue to be if she were alive. It was the nurturing approval and reassurance that I was making the right decision for my children that made me feel whole. Perhaps this divine intervention/3rd pregnancy is my mothers’ way of saying, “you can birth without fear and you will”.
A few weeks ago a friend posted a conversation with her mother and asked for her advice on how to remove grass stains from clothes, her mother replied: “I don’t know, google it”. I laughed so hard I began to cry, realizing at that moment that I need to trust my own innate wisdom and that what I seek has already been discovered deep within.
Trust. Embrace. Let go.
Clare Newman, E-RYT 500, RPYT, Aromatherapist
Mama x 3. Wife. Yogi. Tincture Enchanter.
I’ve discovered the hard way that family comes first and my purest intention and authenticity is when I’m in the presence of my wee family. I’m forever grateful for the gift of motherhood and for a loving and kind spouse who puts up with my adventurous and scattered mind.
I love watching my kids discover new, exciting life treasures and hearing stories of their wild and random imagination. One can often find me in my kitchen, where my hands are often kept busy either cooking and creating good food, baking delicious treats or concocting healing and enriching skincare products.
I will admit that yoga saved my life in more ways than just 100. The entire practice of yoga keeps me connected to something greater than myself and when I stand on my mat I feel serenity and contentment.
Creativity is my passion, teaching is my art and cultivating human goodness is my intention.