Willingness is the Key: A Birth Story
By Giuditta Tornetta
Web Exclusive - July 31, 2007
'If there is a will, there is a wall'—once I heard this at my church, I could not get it out of my head. I was raised with the exact opposite dictum: "If there is a will, there is a way." I'd always pushed hard to get where I wanted to go. I had a will—a strong will —and by God, I was going to find the way to get where I wanted to be.
Instead of focusing on the strength of our will, Revered Dr. Michael Beckwith proposes that we let go of our self-will, and becoming willing to receive what we desire—instead of fighting for it. After hearing this message, I realized that even when willfulness had seemed to be working in my life, a wall indeed arose somehow, somewhere. For instance, I once tried to pressure a publisher into publishing my book. My will was strong and I engaged everyone I knew to send him e-mails, telling him to do so. The publisher initially loved the idea, but once he proposed it to his staff, they rallied against it. Without even reading the proposal the project was turned down. I'd call that a serious karmic wall!
In reviewing the births I have witnessed, and passing them through the sieve of will vs. willingness, I noticed a blueprint. If I, or a client, stand firm in our will to have a certain outcome during the birth, a wall gets thrown up. Whether it comes from the nurses, doctors or even the client's unconscious, ego begets ego and resistance is usually the outcome. On the other hand, when having formed a clear vision of the birth and having set our intentions, we enter the birth setting with love in our hearts and the willingness to be open and receptive, the outcome is a natural and painless childbirth. Shortly after learning this lesson, I had the following experience.
I worked with Mary and Jay for about two months. Among other things, in our prenatal visits, I explained the pros and cons of vaginal exams performed at every doctor's visit. Serial vaginal examinations at 36 through 39 weeks can be discouraging and have no bearing on the outcome and progress of the pregnancy. Yet, Mary would call me weekly, telling me that she had been checked again. As expected, finding out that she had not dilated and was "just a little effaced" was making her nervous. I urged her to ask why her doctor felt the needed to check her so often. I encouraged her to convey her desire to participate in the decision making.
Mary seemed unable to say "no," or to ask for what she wanted. I noticed that I was getting concerned. Under hypnosis, she revealed that her major apprehension was to be unable to stand by her decision of having a drug-free birth. Despite her strong desire for a natural birth, Mary wanted to be reassured that she could have an epidural if she felt she needed one. I told her that she was in charge of her birthing experience, and that I was there to support her decision no matter what, and without any judgments. I further suggested she should be free of self-judgment, regardless of what her ultimate decision was going to be. In other words, she would simply let the moment and the circumstances dictate the outcome. She needed to become willing to accept nature's plan for her, and so did I.
During another hypnotherapy session she had a wonderful conversation with her unborn child (named after the Balinese goddess, Sinta) who, with a mothering tone told her to relax and not worry, for the birth was going to be great. When the baby talked to her mother the room filled with a sense of quiet and serenity. Sinta was a true Goddess. She radiated self-confidence from within her mother's womb. I could tell this was going to be a very special experience.
Later in the session, Mary remembered of how she had succeeded in completing a 22-mile marathon. She recalled that during the run she had nearly given up several times, but somehow found the strength to move forward and finish. I suggested she harness that experience and transfer her determination from the marathon unto the birth.
Mary was ready; she had the skill, the intention, and had enlisted her daughter's divine power. As her doula I had to become willing to see a perfect birth for her, despite her reluctance to set limits with the doctors. Her contractions started in the early morning hours, five days before her due date. By 8 a.m., she called to tell me that the contractions were coming every 20 minutes; she was managing them and was calm. By 10 a.m. they had switched to every ten minutes, and she was happily listening to my self-hypnosis CD while her mom and husband were caring for her. At noon, she requested that I join her. Usually early labor with the first baby can last a very long time, and it is better to use this time connecting with your partner, so I was a little reluctant to join them so early. But my intuition suggested I go to her. When I arrived at her house I found Mary smiling radiantly between contractions which, at that point, were frequent and strong. We decided she needed a nap so with the help of hypnosis she rested for about an hour. We then took a walk around her neighborhood, enjoying the amazing roses in bloom. Once back home, I suggested she take a relaxing bath. By then it was around 3 p.m. She lay in the warm tub and rode the mounting waves of contraction beautifully; it looked like Mom and Goddess Sinta were dancing a private and peaceful dance.
During her bath, I noticed what looked like involuntarily pushing. In second stage contractions, the pressure of the baby in the vagina and the pressure on the rectum can cause a mother to feel a strong need to groan, hold her breath, and bear down. This urge can be as irresistible as the urge to sneeze; resisting it can be more difficult than simply surrendering and letting it happen.
As a result we realized that it was time to go the hospital. The ride took 40 minutes, and I made sure Mary had a ritual (a specific position, breathing and sound to use during the contractions) while in the car. Usually the ride to the hospital can change the tone of the labor because at home the waves maybe manageable, but a bumpy car ride can take a woman's focus away. In my experience, it is important to be prepared and have a plan during transport.
Upon checking into the hospital, the nurse casually directed us to Triage, assuming that there was no urgent need to check Mary, announcing, "She doesn't have the labor face." The expression 'labor face' is a common way that hospital nurses judge labor's progress. In other words, if you are smiling and composed (and this is your first baby) they may assume that you have come to the hospital too early, and as a result of their bias, you have to insist on being checked. Which is exactly what I did since our nurse had disappeared. I went to the nurses' station and told the head nurse that Mary was involuntarily pushing, and that someone needed to check her right away. The resident doctor came over, and as she checked for dilation, Mary's water broke in a gush. "She's nine centimeters dilated and fully effaced," declared the resident, "We should call her doctor and put her in a room."
My going to the nurses' station had raised a wall. I felt tension from the nurses who settled Mary into the room. They insisted on IV fluids, told her to stop pushing for they feared her cervix would swell up (even though she was fully effaced,) and demanded she stay perfectly still as they asked a barrage of questions. They were determined she should wait for her doctor to arrive. All these procedures at this juncture seemed to ignore the needs of the woman, giving precedence to hospital regulations. No one seemed to pay attention to the fact that this baby was about to be born and that Mary needed support, not resistance. Anger was sneaking into my consciousness which made me realize that it was time for me to respond.
So I decided to do nothing. I closed my eyes and became willing for Mary to have the experience she had desired. I needed to accept the birth that she was manifesting, and fell madly in love with what was happening at that very moment. I became willing to let go of my resolve for the hospital staff to be different from who they were. I switched my attention to infuse the room with love and gratitude. Mary was stellar: she kept using, "No, thanks," as the only answer for every question posed to her, while smiling in between contractions. Daddy and I bent towards Mary's belly and whispered ?Welcome Sinta, we are ready for you whenever you are.?
The resident doctor came back into the room, decreeing that Mary was probably ready to have the baby, and gave the OK to push. Mary had been pushing anyway; following her instincts and her body's desire. Her husband and I readied to help her hug (rather then push) her baby out. The resident was standing by, and was totally engaged; she confessed this was the first "drug-free" birth she had witnessed. Between contractions, and under the influence of hypnosis, Mary was easily going limp and loose, even nodding off to the surprise of all those present.
Word had spread through the hospital: a woman was resting between contractions; she looked like she was sleeping! This was obviously something to be seen. At one point in the room, there were three resident doctors, three nurses and three onlookers watching from the doorway.
Mary was sipping water and as the baby's head peeked in and out, I would exclaim, "Look how wonderful your baby is! She is coming out so naturally, unassisted by anyone! Look how wonderfully your perineum is stretching!" This running commentary helped to fend off doctor's meddling hands, so eager to willfully ?help the baby out." Within 40 minutes the baby was born. Total time in the hospital: 1 hour and 40 minutes.
Surprisingly and contrary to this hospital's procedure, baby was never taken away from mom, never placed under the warmer, nor bathed or measured right away. It seemed that without requesting it, hospital rules were easily changed through witnessing such an amazing birth. Mary's willingness, her acceptance, her calm and her love changed everything. I learned so much from her and from the little goddess, Sinta.
I understand now that if there is a will, if the ego is engaged, walls do come up. It is willingness we are after; the willingness to pour love into every situation, and accept and welcome the perfection that comes our way. With this state of mind, the universe always responds: all desires are met and another painless childbirth occurs!
Giuditta Tornetta is a birth and post-partum doula, a lactation educator, and a certified clinical hypnotherapist. She is the author of the upcoming books Painless Childbirth: A 9-Step Guide to a Conscious and Sacred Birth due to be released in 2008. Her CD Joyful Birth has helped hundreds of women experience a natural and stress free birth. She has a private practice in Marina del Rey, California. She can be reached through her website www.JoyInBirthing.com or by calling 310-435-6054