My Monkey Self
This is an excerpt from Birth Journeys. Christina’s journey is one of healing and accepting responsibility for her wellbeing and birth. After a traumatic first birth in hospital and the break down of her relationship, Christina moves to be near her family. She is pregnant with her second child and now faces pregnancy and birth on her own. Her baby is born in a beautiful water birth in a birth centre just as she had planned and dreamed.
Although I knew I was in labour, part of me was still in denial. I had been waiting for this moment for so long that I was beginning to think it would never arrive. When I phoned my midwife, I told her, in between contractions, that I might not be in labour. Anna laughed and said that I was definitely in labour and to meet her at the birth centre in 30 minutes.
By the time we arrived, the contractions were a couple of minutes apart and very intense. I promptly vomited! The midwives Anna and Penni were wonderful. They were very relaxed about the birth. Anna filled the most amazing bath I have ever seen, and I gladly stripped off and hopped in.
Kneeling in the bath, with my arms resting on the rim, was the most relaxing pose. With each contraction, I would lean over a bit more and Penni would massage my lower back. These massages were heaven. I would concentrate on the feel of her hands, and before I knew it, the intensity subsided.
After a little while, Anna asked me to lean back into a squatting position. She was unable to see what was going on and wanted me in a better position before my baby arrived. I really didn’t want to move. I was so comfortable.
At first, the contractions were hard to cope with as I had lost my focus – I started fighting them. I said to Anna that I didn’t think I could do this, and she replied, “Of course you can. You’re designed to. Women give birth every day. Why do you think you can’t go on?” I really needed that. With Lucas’s birth, when I said I couldn’t go on, no one talked me through or encouraged me. They just got the drugs out.
I remembered my little chant – “my monkey self can do this” – and I felt strong and empowered. Of course I could do this. Amazingly, the contractions slowed down. I relaxed and listened to my body. I even fell asleep between contractions. I was enjoying the experience again.
Every feeling was intense. It started raining heavily, and the rain on the roof was like a drumbeat that went through my body, relaxing me even more. I was able to sense my baby. I knew where he was, and I was able to visualise him moving down. I lay back in the bath and thought, “How beautiful! Here I am, lying in a warm bath with scented candles all around me, soothing music in the background, the sound of rain on the roof, and I’m bringing my baby into the world.”
Soon my waters broke, and all the pain melted away. Time seemed to stop. I was able to reposition myself so that I could reach down to touch my baby’s head – very much an out of body experience. I watched his head pop in and out, before coming out fully. All the pushing stopped, and I breathed my baby into the open. I watched in amazement as he turned around and slipped gently into my hands. It was a beautiful, heart-stopping moment.
I placed Noah on my chest straight away, and he stared intently into my eyes.
You can read the complete story of Christina’s journey to this beautiful water birth in the Birth Journeys book.
Christina’s story is called ‘My Monkey Self’ because this mantra helped her to refocus and surrender to labour when she was feeling vulnerable and overwhelmed.
She explains, “Positive affirmations were important to me. There was a quote in Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin – ‘My monkey self can do this!’ For me this meant that monkeys don’t think about birth or fear it, they just do it, it’s a natural part of life.”
What mantra or phrase do you plan to use or have you used to help yourself, or others in pregnancy, labour or in everyday life?
Share your mantras and positive affirmations in the comments below.