She is Alive
She is Alive
S H E I S A L I V E
Half a year in.. It is with the greatest joy and gratitude that I would like to introduce our beautiful and courageous daughter Aya Rose. She came into this world on the 2nd of August at 17:38, roaring with life.
Some of you might have read my previous blog, the one I wrote half a year after the stillbirth of our first baby, our son Jade. While I was writing that specific blog (which took me about 3 months) I fell pregnant again. Our biggest wish and deepest fear. We were over the moon excited and immense grateful to be pregnant again, but how on earth were we going to get through this pregnancy? How were we going to navigate having to birth another baby, knowing that our baby could die in the process? I have always known that going through another pregnancy and birthing another baby were going to be a big part of my healing journey. I just did not know the depths of it yet.
We’ve kept the pregnancy quite private this time. With Jade I did not even think about it and shared it as soon as it felt right on social media and kept people involved on my journey. With writings and pictures. This time that did not feel right at all. My nervous system could not handle sharing. About one share a week in the beginning, and that was more than enough. It is hard to explain, but every share brought next to happy tears in both messenger and receiver, also sad tears. Every share was a reminder of what was lost. And every share touched the deep pain in my body.
We all needed the privacy. A big eye opener and a huge learning process for me. I always used to think that it is always better to share, and I guess I did not really have boundaries when it came to this. I have learned how important privacy can be. That doesn’t mean that I kept things to myself, no, the opposite. I have chosen very carefully whom to share with and whom not. This journey was about us. About me, Dave, Jade and Aya. A journey of keeping us safe.
Safety is very related to trauma. Being a trauma informed coach I knew a bit about it. I know now that it I just knew a tiny bit. I did not really have a lived experience. Trauma and her triggers are the opposite of safety. A trigger being the signal to my nervous system that I was not safe, the offset of my fight and flight mode. Sometimes the trigger was very clear, and sometimes it happened very unexpected.
Obviously this was a very important theme in creating a birth plan. In order to open up and birth a baby, a woman needs to feel safe. From the get go we knew that we needed a different team than last time. In the beginning I wasn’t sure if I could birth again in South Africa, as if I did not trust the system anymore. We explored both options: birthing in my home country the Netherlands, and birthing in South Africa. We have kept the conversation open and ongoing, and as the journey unfolded it became clear that although I might feel more safe physically in the Netherlands, I do feel more safe emotionally and spiritually in South Africa. Sometime midway the pregnancy I felt that South Africa felt safer for me, but that I needed some things in place to feel safe physically as well.
The question whether to birth at home or in hospital also came up. Normally I feel more safe at home then in hospital, but now I was not sure. What if the trauma of Jade’s birth would be triggered as soon as the contractions started? Could we take the risk, or would that be foolish? As the pregnancy unfolded we opened up more and more to the possibility to birth at home. I had a strong feeling that this baby was going to be quick, but I did not know if that was wishful thinking or intuition. I did know that we needed a good plan B. So that is how we rolled. Plan A was a hospital birth, plan B a home birth. Both plans were well organized and planned out with the main believe: the baby will show us the way.
We have found the most incredible team that supported us in these plans. An experienced and understanding midwife, with a medical background. An extremely open-minded gynea (who eventually gave us green light at 36 weeks to birth at home if that was baby’s wish). An embodied art therapist specialized in grief. An acupuncturist specialist in women’s health. And during the pregnancy the trust between me and the doula who was at Jade’s birth, healed beautifully. We were held so beautifully by all of them. And on top of that, I was supported and encouraged so strongly by Dave. The best team I could have wished for, to feel safe enough to birth again.
It has also been a journey (and it still is) of embracing the seemingly biggest opposites: death and life. Dark and light. Yin and Yang. A journey of learning to embrace that these opposites really need each other to exist. Without dark there is no light. And without death there is no life. My past year and a half was all about embodying this. A damn deep and hard journey, with so much fear and anxiety, so much pain, and so many triggers (there really should be a trigger-free category on Netflix ;). Being on the ‘other side’ I can also say: and so so so much healing and freedom. It is incredible what our minds and bodies are capable of with the right help and support.
When I was pregnant of Jade I thought that I could do it on my own. Maybe I even thought that to be a powerful and earthy woman I needed to do it on my own. There is a big trend in empowering women, and also empowering births. I knew I needed Dave and also a midwife, but I was also touched by the romantic idea of an unassisted birth. At that time I did not even know what an unassisted birth means, I just thought if I breathed well and stayed as relaxed as possible nature would know the way and the baby would be born without any assistance or intervention. I thought I had all the things needed and that I was strong enough to do it. I literally believed that if you can breathe and know how to relax that you can birth a baby. Just like that.
I know now that this might be true for some cases, but definitely not always. Especially the first time. I thought I had an idea of what to expect, but I did not have a clue. I also know now that for me in order to feel safe and open up to birth something in the world, I do need support. Doing it together gives me a sense of safety, and also a sense of joy and freedom. I learned that it is okay to be held. That this doesn’t mean that I am less of a woman. That being powerful doesn’t mean doing it on my own, but that being powerful means knowing what is my truth. Not the truth of somebody else.
It reminds me of the words that made it onto a collage that I made a little while ago:
It’s about truth.
It’s about revealing yourself
and feeling confident enough
to be exposed.
When it comes to pregnancy and birth that means different things for different women. One might feel safer in hospital, the other at home. One might feel more safe with a caesarian, the other with a natural birth. One woman might feel safer being coached in the process, another woman is better off doing it on her own. I believe in informed decision making. And I really wish for a pregnancy and birthing world where information is shared without agenda, that professionals start to really listen and ask the right questions without judgement, but with a curiosity to get to know the mom and her partner. To make them have their story and experience, not the one of someone else.
We have been extremely lucky to have found the people that could do this for us. The gratitude for this is deep and goes beyond words. To be heard and seen in this, like this, is the deepest healing experience I have had in my life so far.
I have been invited to write this blog a few months ago and it is only now that I feel the space and time to sit behind my laptop since becoming a mom of an earthling (sometimes with Aya sleeping on my chest J). What a transition. Having seen mostly serene and picture perfect images on social media, it came as quite the surprise that our fourth trimester was mostly messy and chaos. I know now that this is pretty normal, but I didn’t before. As usual I stick to a romantic view, until reality kicks in. Also, as you might understand, our focus was primarily on birthing a healthy and alive baby. So next to setting up a meal train, and setting boundaries to have the first 40 days mostly to ourselves with a few people, we didn’t really prepare for what would come after. And to be honest, I don’t think it is something you can really prepare for. You really need to experience motherhood and go with what comes your way. Every baby is different, and so is every mom, dad and family.
‘The wheel weaves as the wheel wills’ became our mantra (which comes from the book series ‘The wheel of time’ that Dave has gotten himself into). Because if there is anything that I learned is that over certain things we have very little control. Learning to live with that, and trusting life no matter what happens to us, is one of the greatest challenges for us earthlings (if you ask me). And it might be crazy to say, but I am very grateful for this journey. For all that has happened to us. There is so much more to say on why I feel so grateful and to whom. And I think I will share, in time. When I am ready and with that I mean, when it feels safe enough to do so.
I would like to end this blog with some words of Rumi. Jade’s death was a call for us to come back to the middle. Over and over he showed us, and still does, to come back to it. To not make one thing better than the other, to not make one opinion more true than another. He is the greatest teacher in coming back to our middle and to make decisions from there, no matter what other people may say or think.
Out beyond ideas of
wrongdoing and rightdoing
there is field.
I’ll meet you there.
That field, beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, that is where Aya was conceived, carried, birthed and born. We’ll meet you there.
With the biggest virtual hug,
and lotsa lotsa love,
also from D, J + A,