Updated: Jan 4
Both my children were born at home and this is the story of birthing my first.
In 2017-18, I was pregnant with Rehan and I hadn't yet given birthing a serious thought. However, that changed, as I was sitting at my desk right after a jaw-dropping session with my first BURP client who was expecting her first child. Through her inner journey with her unborn child, I too had traveled into a deep space within my womb connecting with my baby who was about 12-15 weeks old.
In some indiscernible moment during her process, my son's birth flashed before me like a bolt of lightning. Just like that, I knew in every fibre of my being that my baby wanted a home-birth.
Having wrapped up my session, I sat at my desk staring blankly at my screen. Wondering where to begin from. From here on, something far more powerful than any amount of inner strength, determination, willpower and one-pointedness I could ever imagine possessing, took over. I still believe, it was the power of my son's desire (to be born a certain way) that took over.
I googled "home birth". I had no idea where to begin from. In my mind, there was no question of whether it could be possible or not, let alone how I would pull it off. The question was just how to get to where my baby wanted to take me.
Filled with cautious optimism, I bumped into many a "dead-ends". The midwifery community in Mumbai had effectively shut shop in 2016. I even explored traditional dai's momentarily but had concerns over hygiene and safety. I knew I needed to find a qualified and experienced midwife. But this looked completely improbable then.
I got in touch with every midwife that had ever been in India or associated with Mumbai Midwives or Birth India (the only two midwifery organisations that have ever existed in this city). Each call lead to someone I had already spoken with or to a dead-end. The bottom-line: there were no midwives in Mumbai. One day, one of the midwife's I had spoken to multiple times during this period asked if I was open to flying a midwife in from another country. This sounded like a long shot, an arduous (and expensive!) one at that. With great hesitation, I said, "maybe". So she promised to put in a word and see if someone shows up.
While the search for a midwife willing to come to me for my birth continued, my options were reduced to going to one of the natural birthing centers in Kochi or Goa. But I knew my baby wanted to enter this world in the sacred space we had created within our own home. There was no budging from that. All the energy work I do in my home-based-centre creates an unfathomable sacred vibration that radiates throughout our home (you've experienced this if you've visited me!). I knew this to be the best place in the whole world for me to birth my son. And so I was determined.
At about 25 weeks (not having made any headway, and yet telling everyone I was planning a home-birth) I stumbled upon a natural birthing centre within the city. However, it just did not feel like the place my baby wanted to be birthed. By this time, my husband was also more comfortable of the natural birth idea, hallelujah! While we both agreed that this was not the place for Rehan to be born, we signed up because we had no other choice!
Two months before he was due, we travelled across the Indian Ocean for our Baby Moon. Upon our return, to my utmost horror and devastation, I found out that I had contracted a contagious vaginal infection. My OBGYN (a very senior, world renowned doctor who respected of my autonomy to decide my child's birthing environment) gently suggested that if this doesn't clear up in the next few weeks I might have to elect for a C-section to avoid transmitting the infection to my son (in case of a vaginal birth). I was beyond shattered, confused and devastated. A hospital birth, leave alone a C-Sec had never, ever crossed my mind. It had just not been an option. This was the nature of my single-pointed focus on having a home birth. How could there be any other possibility, I thought. How could I be shown that my baby wanted to come this way only for it to lead to this? It did not make sense.
I was riddled with all sorts of emotions, from severe anger to sadness, fear and even rage at my body, at the situation and at the doctors and anyone else I could direct my emotions at. I went through a couple of weeks of this mayhem. One day, as I sat on my sofa staring at the sky and thick foliage outside my living room window I decided to take charge of the situation. There's only one way I know how to sort out a messy situation, and that is by getting to the root cause and healing all that I am feeling. When the messy emotions are out of the way, it feels just the way the sky must when the sheet of clouds is swept away.
In the quiet of that afternoon, I sat in the presence of my breath and became aware of all the emotions that were wreaking havoc within me. For the first time, I allowed myself to really feel and acknowledge them. It was like standing witness to ones' own core . What a powerful way to objectively witness what is going on inside. Several revelations took place in these moments, like my anger towards the media, medical community and general mainstream view about child birth, more specifically the fear that is induced in women about it. My anger and judgment towards the medical community for (often) propagating cesarean sections, filling the body with "pain killers" to numb the power (not pain) we experience during child birth. I consciously and whole-heartedly chose to forgive them all. To accept their contribution for what it is and to let go of the fear I harboured about the viral infection. I allowed myself to acknowledge the great work they do in emergencies and situations where women and babies survive as a result of what medical science has achieved. Using the tools that are my lifeline, I finally forgave my body. I asked my body to reveal the true reason for manifesting this infection.
What did my body really want to convey through this?
I knew my body was speaking to me through its unique language of pain/illness/imbalance. Obviously, my birthing dream had come to a screeching halt, at least for the foreseeable future. As soon as I wrapped up my self work, a huge weight was lifted and I felt like I could see more clearly.
I suddenly realised I hadn't spoken to the doctor I had enrolled with for my natural birth. I needed to update her of the situation. When I called her, I was still raw after all my inner work. Especially tender after bearing witness to my innermost self. I think this is why the shock at her response was registered ever more strongly. Not only was her response cold, it felt rude. It lacked empathy you'd expect from anyone, leave alone your birthing partner! She said I was overreacting. That women with far more serious complications had "risked" natural birthing with her and I was making a fuss over nothing. I was aghast. She was telling me to birth my baby vaginally inspite of my knowing that I would (most likely) transmit a contagious viral infection to my new born baby?! I very quickly went from feeling confused to shocked to seething with rage. I knew I just couldn't birth with her. I cancelled my registration with her and was back to square one. But relieved at not birthing with someone I just didn't resonate with. This is when it hit me. I had lost sight of having a home-birth. My baby didn't want to be born in some birthing centre. He wanted to be born at home! Our home! In our centre where years of spiritual, high vibrational work had been done. How could I have lost track of the plot entirely? The virus was showing me my way back to my baby's message.
The search continued with even greater vigour now. Now I knew this infection would clear up and I would have a home-birth indeed. I followed up with the midwife who had enquired whether I was open to flying in another midwife. But there was no progress on that front. That day, I surrendered to my baby's plan. And I just dropped trying to fix it.
A short while later, on June 24 precisely; as I was winding up a Reiki workshop, I noticed a message from an international number. She was a midwife.
[Look out for the next chapter in this story...]