Liliane2016 Rnd

Liliane Grace, creative writing, author, keynote speaker, The Mastery Club 

I want to share a story. To me it’s a powerful story because it’s a story of mastery. Mastery and magic. I am going to tell it fast, using short words and sentences because I have no time for more. The babies are asleep and my three year old is eating an apple - of such moments is a mother’s day made.

My twins were born only a few weeks ago, and it is how they arrived which prompted me to write. I want to touch you with a tale about how it is possible to determine your experience. It takes energy and commitment, and you must work at all levels, physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.

Let’s say that my story begins on the day that the ultrasound technician murmured, “I’m just about finished… wait a minute! I nearly missed it… There’s another one in here.” Twins! My mind began to spin - this was my second surprise pregnancy, and I was still reeling from the first experience. My two year old son had been the catalyst for the biggest growth curve I had ever before embarked upon, and it had included my separation from and later reunion with his father. Our relationship was still at a delicate stage and I was still treading a hazardous path in my role as unconfident mother. Finding myself pregnant again had been a shock in itself; the discovery that there were going to be two babies was frightening. 

My mind traced a miserable path back to my first birth experience: a stumbling, frustrating, 32 hour labour, a thwarted ‘natural birth’ - that awful gush as my waters were broken to hurry things up, green waters, prompting an urgent transition to hospital where I went, crushed and hurting, a pressing lump in my anus, to be anaesthetised with an epidural and have my son extracted by forceps. I had forgotten there was a baby in there.

When they passed him to me, I was overjoyed, and the first week was pure ecstasy. But then conflicting advice about breastfeeding, clashes with my mother, who only wanted to help, a growing rift between my partner and I, and my own confused and angry-sad relationship with myself, combined to thrust me down the path of post-natal depression. I wound up not trusting myself as a mother at all. And this was the person who was now expecting twins. To put it simply, I was sick at the thought.

How was I going to manage twins when I couldn’t even manage one two-year-old? How was I going to cope with the labour and birth when I had ‘failed miserably’ the first time? How was my relationship going to cope, given its current delicate status? The last year’s worth of personal counseling since our separation had begun revolutionising my relationship, but twins!  I wasn’t ready for that... was I?

You might say that fear motivated me to prepare myself better. The growth work I had been doing in my counseling sessions had its roots in the idea that it is possible to influence ‘reality’; I began to apply these ideas to the approaching labour and birth.

When I look back on my first birth experience, I was convinced that emotional upset had kept my labour from progressing smoothly, so if I could handle my fears, my body would not be impeded in doing its job. “First in mind, then in body,” my mother had always told me, quoting Edgar Cayce. The body mirrors the mental/emotional state. I began to prepare myself.

Mental Preparation

I had an acquaintance who was a powerful advocate of home birth; I set out to make her my friend. Her home became my library and support centre, as she passed me book after book. Sure, I had read about natural birth while preparing the first time, but with a ‘see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil’ attitude. I had been afraid that if I read about having a caesarian or an epidural, it might happen to me. Now I confronted my fears and read. I empowered myself with information and with the case histories of other women’s experiences. Their stories encouraged me to begin to trust myself. If there was a message to be received from the stories of other women, it as simply this: trust yourself.

But while I was empowering myself with information, I was also alarming myself with tales of medical intervention. The discovery that I was carrying twins had put an end to my dream of a home birth. Twins, I found, are considered ‘high risk’. No-one will attend a home birth for twins, and even the hospital birth centre would not accept me, so I was destined (‘doomed’) to the hospital proper, with the daunting possibility of being attended by a GP, a midwife, a twins specialist, two pediatricians, and every other man and his dog.

Spiritual Preparation

After having a scary dream about being ‘butchered’ in hospital, I realised I had some work to do on my attitude. I began sending rose pink light to the hospital and affirming that everyone I would come into contact with would support me. When I grew angry with the hospital system for its lack of trust of women or of the birthing process, a little voice told me that my anger merely reflected my own lack of trust in the birthing process, and my lack of trust in my own body. A sobering realisation. “You don’t want to be right about hospitals,” I told myself firmly, “Make this experience a win for hearts and not heads.”

Gradually the list of things that could go wrong lost its power over me, and I found myself less affected by the doctor’s ‘just in case’ mentality. When it came time to have a routine glucose test that was ‘even more important in multiple pregnancy’, I declined, trusting simply in my desire not to have it. In the days that followed, this instance of saying no to authority based only on a tenuous feeling, was to burst open within me a self-confidence which had never been there before.

Physical Preparation

My reading had informed me that nutrition was a highly significant factor in normal healthy pregnancy, labour and birth, and I deliberately ate a diverse, wholesome diet in suitably multiple proportions... I visited both a chiropractor and a naturopath once a month and took the vitamin/mineral/ homeopathic supplements the naturopath suggested. Since I had less time to myself this pregnancy, having a young child, I did not manage to follow much of an exercise routine, but I went swimming as often as I could during the last eight weeks (one to three times a week), and found that I was able to increase my laps from eight the first time, to 20. During the last eight weeks I also gave myself the gift of a weekly massage, which I believe helped me to go full-term (unusual for multiple pregnancy).

Emotional Preparation

So many of my fears were being handled, but several powerful ones remained: How would I cope with a second birth? I couldn’t exactly stop after Twin One was out and say, “I’ve had enough”! And what if I didn’t even let them out?  I was feeling so daunted by the idea of looking after two newborn babies and a demanding three year old... and if the body reflects the emotions…? And if the babies felt they were not welcome...?

I spent several evenings talking through my fears with my mother, and also healing the rift between us that had occurred during my first parenting experience; clearing up misunderstandings and communicating what I needed from her in the way of support. I had ‘employed’ a childbirth educator, a wonderful encouraging woman, in order to have someone with me at the hospital who would understand hospital dynamics and birthing dynamics, and be able to speak for me. Now it was getting close.

‘D-day’. How would I fare? My fear of the unknown was still there. Was I crazy to believe I could influence my reality? Was it all about to explode in my face?

Four weeks before I was due, I woke in the middle of the night with this poem in my mind:

The pain begins,
and she throws herself away...

Now she is carried,
light as a bubble,

by the raging torrent.

Sharp edges erased,
she knows no resistance.

She is the river.

The persona melts.

Sound takes over:

she groans,

she bellows,

swept away, driven along, tossed hither and thither...

No desire to push or strain;
she fills her mind with images

of opening,

flowers opening,

buds unfolding effortlessly.

Her babies fall out,

soft as butter.

The previous day I had been recalling my experience of board-breaking during a Neuro-Linguistic Programming workshop, where the facilitator had urged us to think of hitting the floor, rather than of breaking through the board. I had begun to toy with the image of the babies ‘hitting the floor’, rather than trying to visualise them emerging from the vagina, an image I found terrifying every time I watched a birthing video. Now I found myself dreaming about opening, unfolding, falling out…

On Tuesday 7 March, at 7.15 a.m., I went into labour. I was 39.5 weeks pregnant. I remember sauntering to the toilet and telling my partner on the way, “I think today’s the day”. I rang my mother with the same message. I rang my birth support person, and then went back to the toilet, feeling slightly alarmed by the strength of my contractions. By now it was 8.00 a.m. I had given myself permission to make as much noise as I wanted, and I began to do so.

Sound takes over:
she groans,

she bellows,

swept away, driven along, tossed hither and thither...

I was beginning to feel afraid - these contractions were excruciating - nothing like the dull aching I had experienced during my first labour. How would I possibly last a whole day of this? How would I withstand pain-killers? I couldn’t even stand up, my legs were shaking so much! And they were coming so close, there was hardly time to recover -

Now she is carried,

light as a bubble,

by the raging torrent.

she throws herself away...

By now I was yelling for my partner each time a contraction hit, too overwhelmed to go through them on my own. I felt like I needed to push. “Don’t push,” he said, “it’s too soon.” Don’t push, blow, I remembered reading. Only push when it’s irresistible, I remembered reading. Damn it, it’s irresistible! I pushed and, my God, there’s a head here! I stood up from the toilet and in the next contraction the head emerged; there was a pause; in one more contraction the body was born. Emma Louise had arrived, weighing 6 lb 2 oz.

Exhausted, I sank to the floor outside the toilet while my partner wove the crying baby around my leg and laid her on my thigh. The umbilical cord was so short she could not reach any higher. While I lay there panting, and stroking colour into her, he called an ambulance. More contractions were coming but this baby was still attached and I was so tired!

Finally (ten minutes later) the ambulance men arrived and clamped the cord. I got onto hands and knees for Number Two, and Lesley Ann shot out in one contraction, a skinny slippery 4 lb.13 oz, but fit as a fiddle.

I was wiped out and blissed out. They hoisted me into the ambulance and we headed off for hospital, I don’t know why since mother and babies were fine, but who cares? I was in heaven. You couldn’t get the smile off my face (except for when the after pains started, but that’s another story!).

So what had I wanted? A home birth. Got it. A short labour. Got it. No intervention. Got it.  No drugs. Got it. No unnecessary monitoring. Got it. An ecstatic conscious un-anesthetised second stage. Got it. An un-managed third stage. Got it. (They offered me oxytocin as soon as I arrived in the delivery suite, which I declined.) And... one night in hospital, which I’d been kind of looking forward to ‘for the experience’!

Do you know how utterly moving and empowering it is to create an experience exactly the way you want it? Let me tell I’ve been charged up by this adventure for all time. Whenever I think ‘I can’t...” I look back on this experience.

I wanted to share a story.  I wanted to touch you with a tale about how it is possible to influence reality. I particularly want to reach other women and urge them to believe in themselves, to trust themselves, to cease surrendering their power to authority figures, to throw yourself into the task of removing any obstacles from giving birth exactly the way you want to. It takes energy and commitment, and you must work at all levels, physical, mental, emotional and spiritual, but you can do it. Trust yourself.

© Liliane Grace 1995.

First published in the July-August 1995 issue of Whole Person.

You are welcome to share this article so long as you republish it verbatim, in entirety, with the following attribution:

Liliane Grace is an author and speaker and mother of three home-educated teenagers. Her prize-winning novel for youth,
The Mastery Club – See the Invisible, Hear the Silent, Do the Impossible, is an Australian best-seller. She has also written two children’s picture books in The Champion Series, which is about modern day leaders who followed through on a childhood dream. Liliane is a Writing Coach and teaches Writing courses and Mastery Club programs.