Posts in Pregnancy
My Body Knows Just What To Do
 
 

When I was pregnant with my son, I repeated these words each week with eight other expectant mothers and their partners at the end of our childbirth preparation classes. We changed the emphasis to a different word each time we repeated the phrase, working through all of the words in the sentence.

My body knows just what to do.

My body knows just what to do.

My body knows just what to do.

At the end of the session, I declared with equal parts hope and skepticism, “My body knows just what to do.” Does it? I wondered. Labor and childbirth were such a mystery to me, covered over with almost mythic stories of unendurable pain, as well as lyric rhapsodies of birth as the work women are designed to do.

I wasn’t ready to commit to either side just yet.

When it was time for my baby to arrive, my body took over in a way I had never experienced. I labored for days, walking the stairs of my midwife’s old Victorian house, where my husband and I had chosen for our baby to be born. I clambered into the shower, where the hot water massaged my taut lower back.

Even when I tried to rest, my body kept on with its faithful work. The night before I met my son I straddled the toilet facing backwards, my head resting on the toilet tank, the only place I could find relief.

“How is this baby going to be born?” I whispered to Gina, our doula. “Your body knows what to do,” she reassured me.

She was right. On a Tuesday afternoon, my son and I worked together as he entered this world, surrounded by my husband, Adam, our midwives, and Gina. They held sacred space for my body to labor with the pain as I did some of the best work of my life, delivering my son Julian safely into this world.

That was sixteen months ago, and in the time since then, I have developed a whole new appreciation for my body’s work. I see my whole body and spirit giving birth to my precious son, my breasts swelling and leaking in the early days as Julian and I struggled to learn the rhythm of nursing, my hands smoothing Johnson’s baby lotion on his strong legs, my ears straining to hear the tiny noises of his sleep, and my arms carrying him across the room so he can climb up the stairs on his own. Daily, Julian becomes more aware of the power and mystery of his body, and so do I.

Last night Julian woke at midnight, with sharp, inconsolable cries. Adam changed his diaper and handed him to me. I was sitting in our gray armchair, ready to comfort him. But Julian refused to be comforted. His body stiffened as tears streaked down his small face. He did not want to nurse, did not relax when I sang him lullabies.

I did not know what to do, but I kept going. A tiny part of me softened, in the midst of concern for my boy. My brain slowed down, just a bit, as I let my body take over. My hands brushed the hair out of his eyes, stroked his back. My voice sang the love song that we made up for him as a newborn. My heart spoke to his. “Mama is here. I love you. I’ve got you.” The rhythm of our breathing filled the room.

Over time, Julian’s sobs quieted. I offered to nurse him again, and this time, he accepted. I shifted in the chair, and cradled my little boy in my arms as his body relaxed. Mine did, too.

Julian drifted back to sleep, and I gently placed him in the crib. As I crept back to my own bed, a well-loved refrain drummed out its rhythm.

My body knows just what to do.

My body knows just what to do.

My body knows just what to do.

JOURNALIST: Jordan Miller-Stubbendick

Photo: Anna L.

WE ARE 1 IN 4
The aim of this campaign is threefold: (1) to model that there is no shame in loss, by sharing my story - the intimate details - despite the fact that psychologists typically don’t share the contents of their “personal” lives. Given the fact that approximately 20% of pregnancies result in loss, I don’t only see this as a personal issue, but a political one as well. (2) to de-stigmatize, de-shame, de-silence this very common reproductive occurrence and in so doing, inviting others to be inspired to share their stories or at the very least, to know they are not alone in their grief (3) shine a light on a taboo topic with the hope of changing the cultural conversation surrounding loss. Bringing it out of the shadows through story telling, communing, and connecting.
— JESSICA ZUCKER

Jessica Zucker, Ph.D. is a psychologist and writer based in Los Angeles who specializes in women's reproductive and maternal mental health. Since her own loss, she's written extensively about the pain and politics of love and loss. Her words have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, BuzzFeed, TIME, and elsewhere. She is the creator of the #IHadAMiscarriage campaign as well as a line of pregnancy loss cards. Jessica has been featured on Good Morning America, NPR, and CNN. Dr. Zucker earned advanced degrees from New York University and Harvard University, and you can follow her series on loss on Instagram: @IHadAMiscarriage.

In 2015, Jessica launched a line of pregnancy loss cards with the aim of providing a concrete and meaningful way for loved ones to support grievers. So often we are at a loss for words in such a charged time of grief and loss, and these cards aim to acknowledge the full spectrum of emotions felt in the aftermath of pregnancy loss.

I thought these cards needed to be part of mainstream culture because so many pregnancies end, stirring countless emotions. This year the campaign focuses on pregnancy/motherhood after loss as well as promoting intergenerational conversations about reproductive histories. I made a line of tees and totes that honor rainbow mamas and babies in an effort to further de-silence pregnancy loss by putting a face to the statistics.
— Jessica zucker
There are many routes to motherhood. These items acknowledge the journey and provide a way to connect with other loss moms. We are 1 in 4. Too many women report feeling isolated and even alienated after loss. I hope to be part of changing the cultural tide, even just a little bit.
— JESSICA ZUCKER

 

You can connect with Jessica Zucker, Ph.D. by sharing your story @ihadamiscarriage, follow her on Twitter: @DrZucker, or purchase her cards and tees online.

 

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

UK

https://www.tommys.org

http://www.miscarriageassociation.org.uk/

 

USA

https://pregnancyafterlosssupport.com

http://www.mend.org

http://www.returntozerohealingcenter.com/

 

AUSTRALIA

http://www.sands.org.au/

 

INTERNATIONAL DIRECTORY

http://www.pregnancylossdirectory.com/support-organizations/

10 Secrets to an Enjoyable Labor

1. Connect

With your body, with you baby, with those important in this process. How?

Daily walks can be so peaceful, they help make you in tune you with this new form, an extra perk is feeling that babe sway in your belly. Get on your yoga mat place your hands on your belly connect, savor these moments of unison between the two of you. Come to know that little one through your body.

Also make valuable bonds with those that will be present at the birth, you must feel safe and connected to each person present.

2. Be open, Be honest

This is so important! Allow yourself to be true, if there’s fear allow it to be heard. Tell you partner everything your feeling about birth and pregnancy. Allow yourself to get to know your midwife or obgyn on a more personal level if possible. You want to feel comfortable when laboring, so now is the time to make the foundation for trust and openness.

If all else fails in this area, hire a doula they're made for you to be able to be open and honest with.

3. Upbuild

Surround yourself in the ones that believe in you and what you want for your birth. Don't give energy to those that do anything but upbuild what you want on that day! You need to feel like a goddess going into this, you need to feel you are nothing but strong. You need A team just as focused on the choices you've made for your birth, so when it comes you can be confident. Even if things “go awrye” from that plan, well then you’ll have your up builders right there to keep you going.

4. Comfort

Be it your home, at a birth center, or hospital, you need comfort. Find essential oils that calm you, get a soundtrack of calming nature, or a personal favorite of my husband and I’s is a making a playlist of songs we've accumulated over my pregnancy, make an affirmation banner (this helped me tremendously to stay centered in my second birth), these things will center you of why you are here, and they can also make a lovely keepsake afterwards. 

5. Savor

During early labor, enjoy it, this can easily apply to those last weeks too (especially if your labor is quick), spend time with your partner. Get yummy take out, lay in the sunshine together, finish or make a playlist, the later is a personal favorite as we would add a few songs to our birth playlist in the easy moments of labor. Watch a comedy, enjoy laughter. 

These moments will allow your body to do what it needs and the more relaxed you are, the better. Don't allow yourself to want it to be over too soon, you’ll look back with fondness if you get a little sentimental with it. Be present.

6. Accommodate You

Theres nothing that'll make things harder if you’re not taking care of yourself and your baby. Don't feel obligated to have visitors during this time, after all you are in labor. If someone in the room is making you feel uncomfortable, don't feel bad for asking them to leave, its okay. Its important you feel at ease, even if it hurts others feelings at the time. I personally noticed in my first birth I had too many people too soon, it made me feel as I needed to perform and that in the end stalled things. So have the ones you need, follow your intuition.

7. Surrender

You cannot run from birth, you cannot fight birth, you are here, this is now, you are doing one of the most magnificent things you will accomplish in your life. Bring out your inner strength, allow this strength to be with your baby and body, you are strong enough. Let the waves (the contractions) carry you, know you'll come to the surface, you'll succeed.

"With my second birth I fought the waves in the beginning, they were uncomfortable and tiring. But I realized I cannot fight the tide (labor) they are coming whether I like it or not. I surrendered and it felt so good, it was still an effort, still hard, but much easier at the same time."

8. Embrace support

Allow your partner to be there for you, maybe you wont want his touch, or maybe you'll want a full on massage 24/7, but embrace the strength found in your birth partner. 

9. Together

 Kiss.

 Laugh together.

 Be strong together.  


Find THAT thing, “that” thing that helps you progress to the finish line, the thing that makes you open up allowing your baby to make its way to you.

10. Inner voice

It's so easy to become more and more vocal. But if you can, bring that energy into deep inward moans, find a mantra to mumble, it will allow your body to do much good, and also your energy level will also appreciate it. I figured out the magic of this and stillness with my second birth and its like gold to me now!

The after

YOU DID IT! Now is now… my last piece of advice is when you’ve got that beautiful babe don't feel rushed to share this moment. Bask in it. You have every right to this, every reason to be just you and your little family in these moments after. Be skin to skin, inculcate your bonds in these moments. There is time, everyone will meet this new little one. But first take care, of yourself, of your baby, of this moment.

Happy birthing.

Journalist:  Michelle Findley

The Power of Hope

I have hoped for a lot of things in my life. The best and the biggest thing I have hoped for is my baby, my Rowan. 

I have been forced to see hope differently, being sick can do that to you. I have delved deep into a relationship with hope. I have pushed it away and begged and beckoned it back, like a lover. And like so, it has broken my heart, but rarely has it left me in my darkest hour or my greatest need. Hope and I, we have been intimate for awhile now. 

I had cancer when I was nineteen and there were a lot times that I shouldn’t have had hope, but I did. It was a constant companion during those times. My mom hoped for my future and my future children, because I was nineteen and those thoughts hadn’t occurred to me. I hoped for long hair, and my eyebrows to return. 

I have been sad a lot in my life, but there was one specific time that I was so sad I would cry myself to sleep every night. I hoped for things I shouldn’t have hoped for and I was blessed with my hope deferred.

When I tried to get pregnant, I hoped harder than I have ever hoped before. I pleaded with God and asked Him to make me the mother I knew I was in my heart. There were so many times I wanted to give up, but my hope didn’t abandoned me. For two years this hope was my devoted friend.

I read this book about a doctor talking about the power of hope. He found, through his research, patients whose doctors gave them false hope when there was no real hope to be found, that those terminal patients did not make it. The terminal patients that were given the correct prognosis, and told that there was not much that could be done, those were the patients that were more apt to survive. He credited it to hope.

I found out I was pregnant on a snowy Monday evening and I sat on my bed and wept. After pouring my body and soul into believing him into existence, he was here. I wept for the beauty of the dream fulfilled, this dream and future dreams that this little being would create. I sat on my bed and shook. I have never been more happy and more humbled by the power of hope than I had in that moment. I had waited for that moment and the magic of that moment changed me. 

There is power in hope. There is power in believing against all the odds. It transcends this world. It aligns our heart, soul, and spirit, it’s otherworldly. There is something in the desperation we feel, the yearning in our bones. There is something in the tears we cry, the blood we shed. 

I hoped for so many things when I was pregnant. I hoped that he was healthy and that he knew, even then, he was loved. I hoped for a good home to bring him home to. I hoped to be a good mother. I hoped to make the world a better place, and I hope that he will too. 

The world is always going to be a sad place, hope is our weapon. I don’t know the answers, and I don’t have a formula, but I believe in the changing power of hope. I believe in the painful birthing of dreams that spiritually mimics the labor of bringing our babies into this world. There is power in childbirth and there is power in laboring our dreams forth, there is power in our hope. 

I want Rowan to be a boy who hopes for his future, and a man that hopes for the unknown. I want him to believe in things unseen. And I pray that he, too, has hope as a constant companion and a devoted friend. 

 

Village Journalist,

Laura Robinson