Every pregnancy, every birth and every child is different and I believe that sharing a genuine heartfelt story can shed light on the experience of labour. I want to tell our story here just as I did when our first daughter Vanaya arrived into the world. You can read about our that experience here.
Having a child for the second time is definitely easier and I have to say that being pregnant during a pandemic with strict lockdown measures actually made my pregnancy and to an extent my birth a lot easier. My pregnancy with Vanaya was a lot more chaotic as we were moving house whereas this time home was the only place I could be and it meant I gave myself more time for yoga, meditation and self-care. Being at home allowed me to ground my energy. This in turn helped me to feel quite relaxed during my pregnancy and during the birth. In fact it worked so well for me that I would encourage pregnant women to go into their own 'lockdown' so that they can nurture themselves and their unborn child in the best way possible.
Rhoma was born on Friday 8th January 2021 and she arrived 12 days early and the birth was very quick! I woke up on the Thursday morning and I could feel the start of my contractions/surges. Luckily for me my husband, Rakesh was off work for the week so he was around and my daughter Vanaya went to nursery allowing me the opportunity to take things easy, have a soak in the bath and to 'enjoy' the experience. Yes I said enjoy the experience because let's face it you don't go through labour and give birth every day. Also I had been through this before and yes it is an intense experience but it is also divine, magical and miraculous. In fact I don't think this is reiterated enough as we are often led to believe other things about birth which I don't even want to mention here. Instead I would rather share a genuine and real account of what I experienced and I would also like to add that it wasn't pain free, I didn't just exhale and the baby popped out and I did experience a host of different feelings from joy and happiness to shame, guilt and upset because things didn't go exactly the way I had envisioned.
So as I mentioned the day was fairly relaxed as I was at home and able to practice yoga, self-care and relaxation while I moved through the contractions. Later in the day I managed to make a simple meal for us to eat and I really enjoyed spending a little bit of time with Vanaya knowing that shortly things will be changing for us all especially for her world. My mum then came in the evening to pick Vanaya up and when she left we definitely shared a little moment together and it felt as though she really knew what was happening (by the way she is just two years old) and she gave me the most comforting look before she left which filled my heart.
I then spent the evening watching TV, doing my evening routine which included some yoga and then took myself off into bed. I was able to sleep in-between contractions and then using my breath to move through the wave of each surge. I felt that I was coping fairly well. In fact I went into a bit of a zone that before I realised it the contractions were coming in thick and fast. I said to Rakesh we need to go to the hospital asap.
This is when things started to go a bit crazy and I lost my sense of peace and felt a bit panicked. When I look back and think about this moment of the birth I had a choice to stay home call 999 and have the baby at home as the contractions were coming so fast or to make that journey to the hospital. I hadn't opted for a home birth although when I look back now there were signs in my pregnancy that a home birth would be a good option especially given the fact that I spent my entire pregnancy at home. However for various reasons I had ruled that option out and instead chose to stick to the birth centre where I had Vanaya which was a great experience. So I made the choice to get into the car.
All I can say about the car journey is that it was intense. Not only was the journey over 20 minutes but there were road closures, endless queues of trucks diverting and I'm sure Rakesh went round a roundabout twice! The only way I got through it was by chanting and the mantra that came to mind for me was Om Namah Shivay which I repeated over and over again. I really believe the power of this mantra gave me the strength I needed to then somehow get myself out of the car and birth my child. Rhoma arrived into the world while I was hanging onto Rakesh’s arm and walking into the birth centre!
It all felt a bit dramatic and I felt totally out of control which was so different to the start of the labour where I felt so peaceful and so in control. But amongst the chaos of it all Rhoma was a beacon of peace. I felt that peace when I heard her murmur as she barely cried and her little sound felt like she was saying hello I'm here. It was so surreal and I felt pangs of fear knowing that she was there... I almost couldn't find it within me to hold her and instead the midwives had to assist me... when they eventually got to me... note that when Rhoma arrived the midwives had not quite got to me in time and I was still just hanging off Rakesh’s arm! But eventually I was able to hold her, cuddle her and whisper all the things that I had been wanting to tell her when she arrived into the world.
Birth is an amazing experience. Things might go to plan or they might not. You may feel in control or you may feel like you've totally lost it! When I had Vanaya two and a half years ago my life was so chaotic yet her birth was so serene and peaceful. While this time my life has been calm and peaceful (mostly due to the grounded experience of lockdown) yet Rhoma's birth was quite dramatic. Either way life is all about chaos and peace. Sometimes we can control it and sometimes we can't control life. Even now as I look at my life with a baby and a toddler there is definitely lots of chaotic moments yet at the core of it all there is so much peace to be felt too.
During the labour I didn't have any pain relief (although I could have definitely done with some gas and air while I was in the car) and I had no medical support around me. Also from the time my waters broke to Rhoma arriving was less than an hour. I truly believe that my discipline to yoga, meditation, eating well (I swear all the dates and ghee I ate which were ayurvedic recommendations assisted in a quick birth) and my mental strength which was harnessed from sankalpas (affirmations) and chanting made me very well equipped to give birth. That is not to say that medical intervention isn’t needed or required. Actually we are blessed to have these amazing developments that have saved the lives of babies and mothers.
I share this with you because I really believe in yoga. It has helped me in every corner of my life including birth. Practicing yoga will give you so much strength whether you have a natural birth, an induced birth or a c-section. So if you are pregnant practice yoga, if you are not pregnant still practice yoga. Just do the practice.
Finally here are a few snaps of our precious bundle of joy...