Sunday, May 10, 2015
On Mother's Day, it is helpful to remember that, although it is difficult to be separated from your children, for whatever the reasons, being a mother is not about personal comfort, but about walking a spiritual path. Being a Mother is a spiritual endeavor. You learn during pregnancy, labor, delivery and during the joyful days and years of child raising, that your life is not meant to be entirely your own. To realize that you temporarily have no freedom to live life on your own terms, or comfort level, or time schedule, can be intimidating and frightening. Who wants to surrender their self-centered existence? However, loving someone else unconditionally, as happens when someone depends so entirely upon you that your forget your need to come first, turns out to be one of the finest blessings of life. You realize that you will survive the temporary loss of control when you are in the midst of a great and noble enterprise. My daughter Lily's birth was such an occasion. Every birth is a blessing, but some come with trauma that leaves a lingering presence upon a person/people, and ultimately is an immense gift. William James talks about the 'deep deflation of ego' which happens during a spiritual awakening, which allows a person to fully surrender their internal consideration and concern for self, in order consider the best welfare of another. When Lily was being born, there was a sense of growing concern because things were not proceeding swiftly. She was large; I was narrow in the birth canal. She had to adjust down a difficult channel and when she finally was crowning on the third day, she and I were both at the end of our energies and she needed to get out another way and quickly. I had an emergency cesarean performed by an doctor entirely unsympathetic with our effort to have a home birth. He later wrote in the newspaper, warning off others who might try to follow our example of trying to have a vaginal birth after a previous cesarean, which I had with my son Jesse's birth after I developed toxemia five and a half weeks before his due date. It required an emergency c-section and he was unable to be with me, while I was in intensive care for 3 days, recovering. Determined not to have a repeat of that life-threatening situation, I was fiercely focused on taking all possible precautions and measures in order to have the perfect birth with Lily, who I knew would be a girl. Expectations are dangerous things. I believed that where there was a will there was a way. It didn't go the way I anticipated, because we ended up in the emergency room after three and a half grueling days. I woke up after it was all over to find that the only person in the room was the nurse, cleaning up, who gave me the play by play. Lily was not put into my arms until after I had to watch as they gave her a very painful shot with a needle inserted into her finger, filled with antibiotics. It was not easy for her; she was in acute pain when she and I were finally able to bond, after her marathon birth and the insulting shock of the injection. Despite this, she, in fact, did get a chance to go through a 'trial of labor' as the doctors put it, and she came out safe and alive, despite some stress at the end of the birthing process. We did survive the ordeal of the Doctor's letter to the editor, casting aspersions upon us for trying to go it outside the confines of the hospital. Because of this denunciation, we felt more protective of our family unit, more sensitive to Lily's birthing and the impact it may have had on her, and our own need to heal from the wounds of surgery and the chagrin of public censure. Some post-partum depression ensued but there was eventual healing. Lily was a great joy as a child, very much her own person from the beginning. If I believed in mythological beginnings, I would say that she was a little Buddha, very self-contained and full of a powerful presence. She had a mighty spirit, which continues to this day. Sailors are intrepid souls, and she sails upon the celestial seas. Thanks for being my first born daughter, Lily! Also, thanks for requesting that I write about your birth. Uncharted waters are before you. More shall be revealed!