I work with breath every day, but today is an extra special one, a day of celebration. A human who once shared my very breath has been on the planet for twenty-one years today. Yes, I brought life into the world that day — a beautiful, blue eyed, red headed, breathing, loving, feeling human who has blessed me in unimaginable ways. And so, in honor of Madison, of life, of breath itself, I’d like to tell you a little story of how the day unfolded and why I think conscious breath is a superpower.
I came into the pregnancy a novice yogi but could not find a prenatal yoga teacher to work with me, so I did what I knew I could to stay healthy and active: early in the pregnancy, I committed to regular breath practice and walked 5+ miles every day. I had only a few complications, gained a total of twenty-six pounds and felt mostly great throughout.
On the eve of Madison’s birth, her father and I went out to eat with family and I came home to a bathtub that, to me, had to be scrubbed — nesting to the end! After the thorough cleaning, I went to bed and woke at 2:30a to contractions, but could not tell if they were real or it was false labor. My own mother was in labor for over 24 hours and was turned away the first time she arrived at the hospital. I didn’t want that for me. So I breathed.
And I breathed. And I breathed. And I breathed some more. By 4:30a, they were much stronger so I woke Madison’s dad, who HAD to get a shower. Seriously? Yep. I breathed through the pain, the fear, the uncertainty, the expectation. I breathed because it helped. I breathed because it soothed. I breathed because I knew it was what I was supposed to do. I was a week from my due date. Was I in labor? “Let’s drive to my parent’s first,” I say. And so we did.
On the drive, the contractions grew closer together but I wasn’t yet convinced the labor was real. Breathing helped a lot. At my mom’s nudging, we went to the hospital, arriving approximately six hours after the contractions woke me. A wheel chair was offered at admission. I refused. The nurses attended to Madison and I, got us comfortable, and then announced that I was already dilated to 8cm. I breathed my way, unassisted, through the majority of my labor. The nurses were astounded at my calm and composure. Yes, breath does that. It seems simple because it is, this breath, the life-giver, the superpower inherent in all of us.
While I took a lamaze class during pregnancy, it was my regular, consistent breath practice that taught me to listen, respond, adjust, and to breathe appropriately during pregnancy, labor, delivery and after. (Maybe especially after … raising a child, you know? But that is for another chapter, as is the one that begins now. If you didn’t catch the intro: she turns TWENTY ONE today.)