As we reach the 2nd of February, a big half year mark; it is with the greatest joy and gratitude, that I 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. In the time I was writing that blog (which took me about 3 months) I fell pregnant again. This was our greatest wish, but also our deepest fear. We were over-the-moon excited, and immensely grateful to be pregnant again. But how on earth were we going to get through this pregnancy? How were we going to navigate the birth of another baby, knowing that this baby could possibly die in the process? I have always known that going through another pregnancy, and birthing another baby would be part of my healing journey. I wasn’t prepared for how deeply I would experience this.
We 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. I kept people involved in my journey with writing and pictures.
This time that didn’t feel right at all. My nervous system could not handle sharing. I started with about one share a week in the beginning, and that was more than enough. It is hard to explain, but every share brought happy tears to both messenger and receiver. Also sad tears. Every share was a reminder of what was lost.
We all needed the privacy. This was a big eye opener and a huge learning curve for me. I always used to think that it was better to share, and I did not really have boundaries. I have now learned how important privacy can be. That doesn’t mean that I kept things to myself, quite the opposite. I just chose to be very careful when choosing with whom to share. This journey was about us. About me, Dave, Jade* and Aya. A journey of keeping us safe.
Safety is strongly related to trauma. Being a trauma-informed coach I knew a bit about it. What I now realise is that it I just knew the theory. I did not really have a ‘lived’ experience to draw from. Trauma and her many triggers are the opposite of safety. A ‘trigger’ being the signal sent to one’s nervous system to inform it that one is not safe. In broad terms, this reaction offsets one’s ‘fight or flight’ mode. Sometimes the trigger can be very clear, and sometimes it happens unexpectedly.
Obviously this was a very important factor 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 the previous time. In the beginning I wasn’t sure if I could birth again in South Africa – as if I no longer trusted the system. We explored both options: birthing in my home country, the Netherlands, and birthing in South Africa. We 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 in the middle of 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.
We eventually found the most incredible team. An experienced and understanding midwife (with a medical background), an extremely open-minded gynae, an art therapist that specialises in grief, as well as an acupuncturist that specialises in women’s health. During the second pregnancy my trust in the doula from Jade’s birth healed wonderfully. We were held so beautifully by all of them. And on top of that, I was supported 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 with 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 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. I know now that this might be true for some cases, but not always. 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 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.
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. 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 birthed and born. We’ll meet you there. With the biggest virtual hug,
and lotsa lotsa love,
(and D, J* + A)