Positive Flow Childbirth Preface
by Lawrence Vijay Girard
It was on a cool winter evening in the 1970’s that I found myself outside looking in through the living room window of a small wooden cabin in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. I was kneeling on a foam pad with my face as close to the window as I could get it – without steaming up the view. I was transfixed by the events that were taking place within the small room.
My good friend Alan was sitting by his wife, Heath, who had a look of deep concentration on her face. She was drawing on energies deep within herself and Alan was encouraging her. Heath had been in labor for over 12 hours and she was tired. Penny, the midwife, was monitoring her vital signs. Although things were going a bit slowly, everything was still within the parameters that Penny considered safe. In my mind I reviewed the circumstances that had brought me to this unexpected perch.
Alan and Heath had invited me to attend the birth of their child. But when I arrived at their small cabin it was so crowded with items for the birth there really hadn’t been room for me. We decided that when the time came I would watch from outside. Even though Alan had assured me that I was welcome, it did seem a little strange to be looking in through the living room window. But when Alan smiled at me as I watched, I felt reassured.
The evening sky was clear and the forest quiet. The air was pungent with the smell of cedar and pine from the surrounding forest, which mingled with the rising smoke from the wood stove. While time passed I thought how different this was from the image of birth that I had been brought up with.
As a child, the only exposure to childbirth that I can remember is from television. You know, a woman lying on a hospital gurney as she is hurriedly raced down a brightly lit corridor while she screams her head off and then disappears through the sacred double doors that only hospital staff can use. The husband is ushered into a waiting room, where he alternately sits with clenched jaw or paces back and forth across the small smoke filled room.
Then, it is back to the delivery room where you can see contortions of pain on the mothers face. With a final yell that no doubt strikes fear in the hearts of many mothers to be, the happy moment comes. The doctor smiles knowledgeably and pronounces the gender of the child. The mother then falls into an exhausted slumber as the baby is taken away to some unseen place. The father, having been notified, fulfills his part of the birthing ritual by grinning, while handing out cigars to anyone who happens to be in the area.
Now, for the first time in my just over 20 years of life, I was watching an actual birth. There was nothing impersonal or antiseptic about it. Both father and mother were doing their allotted parts to manage the needs of the moment and there was an aura of harmony and peacefulness that radiated from the unfolding drama. Heath was now pushing for all she was worth. Even though she was exhausted you could tell from her expression that she was determined and in control of herself. I found myself entering into her efforts and mentally offering her what strength I could.
As the birth became imminent Alan moved from Heaths’ side into position so that he could be the one to welcome the child into this world with his own hands. When the head appeared Alan’s eyes grew wide with wonder. He reached to support the little head with his hands as it began to emerge. Alan’s face beamed with excitement. Once the head was out it was only a few more moments. There was one final push from Heath: then there was a little baby boy being lovingly held by his father.
The midwife reached over with a suction device to clear the baby’s mouth of fluid. As soon as the mouth became clear we could all see the first breath of air entering into the little body, animating it with the breath of independent physical life.
With that first breath I was filled with a thrill that I shall never forget. A new life had emerged into this world. It was as elemental as the making of the creation itself. I felt in some subtle way connected to all of the souls that had come before this little baby, along with those still yet to come; eternally joined in the sacred lineage that we call humankind. I was awestruck at the thought of the universal forces that can bring such an incredible thing to pass. It must be a closed mind and heart, indeed, which can be present at the birth of a child and not perceive the miracle of it.
After cutting and tying the umbilical cord with Penny’s help, Alan wrapped his son in a soft blanket and placed him on Heath’s chest. Mother and father then enveloped their little boy in the powerfully radiating warmth of their overflowing love.
As I left them to their joy I was aware of the honor it had been to have shared this very special moment with my good friends. It was only after actually seeing the struggle, witnessing the victory of that first breath, and feeling the sacred vibration that filled the room, that I began to become aware of a small portion of the power and glory of human birth.
Since that very special day so long ago I have often wondered why so little attention is given to the spiritual side of such a momentous event. While much focus has been given by our society to the physical aspects of birth, the opportunities for greater spiritual understanding that can be gained from a close look at childbirth are not often enough explored.
Even though one of the most important keys to success in the spiritual life is to include God in every moment of every experience, it happens all too often that we put our spiritual life on hold while we deal with intense life experiences. Then we resume our spiritual efforts when we “have the time”. Remember, it is only through constant inner association with the Divine that we can begin to really explore our spiritual realities.
If we want to achieve our highest spiritual potential, we need to be ever vigilant in our efforts to integrate the time that we give to the demands and challenges of this world, with the time that we allow ourselves for achieving our spiritual goals.
Today, the advances of technology have taken much of the mystery out of childbirth. If you want, you can find out the sex of your baby before it is even born. With induced labors and Cesarean Sections you can virtually choose the day and time of the birth. Certainly it is more common today than ever before for individuals to make more of the choices about birthing issues, still, it is all too common for expectant parents to hand over decision making to the doctor. And of course, doctors are usually involved only after the most important decision of all has been made; which is, whether or not have a child in the first place!
The idea of consciously making decisions in our lives is an essential component of approaching life spiritually. While Gods’ existence is not dependent upon our opinion, our ability to perceive God’s presence and His will for us, is very much up to us. While it is true that God never imposes upon the freedom of the soul to ignore truth, remember, the door to spiritual understanding is always open to those who are interested. All we need to do is activate our desire to know truth by consciously and actively seeking it. It is in the act of trying to attune ourselves to Spirit that we open up the lines of communication with our higher spiritual nature.
Contrary to the beliefs of many, living the spiritual life is not based on the passive following of proscribed rules. It is based on experience: personal and direct. While on our spiritual quest we often receive valuable guidance and inspiration from teachers and sacred writings. At the same time, we must be careful to distinguish between our own personal perception of life and God, and the living of life based strictly on the opinions of others.
It isn’t enough to say that something is true because the scriptures, my teacher or any other source says it is so; we need to realize truth directly for ourselves. Otherwise, we may be led astray by well-meaning people who simply do not know that they don’t know – thus, the classic case of the blind leading the blind. And even more importantly, we may mistake the amassing of intellectual knowledge for true self-realization.
There is much in this world that would have us believe that it is in the fulfilling of all of our desires that we will find happiness. Society tries to convince us of this through every advertisement. But where is the real joy and fulfillment that this world offers? Those who have reached the pinnacle of any endeavor know how fleeting their joy can be.
The soul longs for a permanent solution to all suffering and to experience unending happiness. Where can this be found? There is only one place. The custodians of the highest truths – the saints of all religions – have proclaimed that the direct personal experience of God is the solution to all life challenges and the fulfillment of all desires.
It will be my purpose in this book to explore with you the connection between the underlying principles of the spiritual life and the many issues associated with childbirth. What I am offering is a framework, based on the principles of the spiritual life, from which you can make your decisions pertaining to the birth experience.
It is my sincere hope that as you read this book, you will get not only practical information that can help you in your life, but that you will also capture a glimmer of the soul-thrilling energy that is present at the birth of a child. For the coming into this world of a soul is a doorway to the most profound of all subjects: life itself.