Part 16 - Preparing for the Birth

We now had a date for the baby’s planned birth, that is, of course, if s/he didn’t arrive earlier, although I was adamant that this wouldn’t happen. I was having a hard enough time accepting that the baby would be born at 38.5 weeks’ gestation, a whole week and a half earlier than the ‘due’ date. I concluded that this ‘early’ delivery would result in the baby having fragile lungs and a dodgy digestive system and with that a week immune system and years of allergies ahead. 

The specialist had tried to allay my fears. He explained that at 37 week’s gestation a pregnancy is considered full-term as the baby’s lungs are understood to be fully developed and the baby’s gut contains meconium – the sticky green substance that forms the baby’s first poo after birth. Furthermore, while the immune system is still developing, the baby is considered to be able to survive perfectly well outside the womb without any need for special care.

That said, he was keen to allow the pregnancy to progress beyond 37 weeks but was trying to balance that up with the risk of me going into early labour and suffering blood loss as a result of the placenta previa. Thus 38.5 weeks seemed a happy medium. Not that I was particularly happy about any of it.

I certainly wasn’t pleased to discover that with my condition there is an increased risk of blood loss during the Caesarean section and with that a potential blood transfusion. It certainly wasn’t ideal and I was upset about the prospect of this. I was keen to provide my own blood in advance in case it was required, but sadly this wasn’t allowed. This frustrated me and I was adamant that I didn’t want to have to take on someone else’s blood and energy and prayed with renewed vigour for a safe delivery.

However, this was compounded a week later when I went to see the anaesthetist. She explained that the Caesarean section would be carried out with spinal anaesthesia, which involves a one-off injection in the lower spine that works quickly and gives sufficient anaesthesia for the whole operation. This would enable me to be conscious during the whole birth and for E to join me in theatre.

However, she did stress that there’s always a risk that the spinal doesn’t take properly and a general anaesthetic would then be required.  If this happened E wouldn’t be allowed into theatre so neither of us would witness the birth. The whole concept of missing the birth filled me with huge fear. I’d known this happen to friends of mine and it had taken them a long time to come to terms with this.

I knew the anaesthetist was under an obligation to inform me of the worst case scenario, but I wish I hadn’t known. It was totally irrational on my part but I couldn’t let this idea of missing the birth go. Not one single thing about the conception or the pregnancy had gone the way I intended and now I just had this horrible feeling that I wouldn’t even get to see the baby arrive Earth side.

And while I knew fear is simply false evidence appearing real, and that I should be transmuting this feeling into love instead, I was well and truly caught up in the negativity of it.  My solar plexus, my navel centre then, was certainly not happy and I could feel it gurgling as the anxiety crept in and the big black hole of despair begin to open up again. My heart didn’t stand a chance in keeping the love alive…the fear had set in.

So I kept busy. Being busy is what I do best, it comes naturally to me. And now I had a good reason to keep busy, as it would distract me from the fear I was feeling. It was good timing really that I got involved in an additional project at work that ensured I was very busy, right up until the end of the pregnancy.

Despite the need to be busy, at 36 weeks I realised that it was time to ease up on teaching yoga and channelling Reiki. I was carrying all out front and and my bump was beginning to get in the way – it was becoming increasingly challenging to demonstrate during yoga classes and the students were concerned of an early delivery in the yoga space! This gave me additional time to focus on the office work instead.

I had decided that I would work right up until the day before the planned birth. My best friend who had birthed four children by then was keen to stress the need for me to take some time out to calm and relax myself ahead of the birth but I was having none of it. I was only able to take 12 weeks’ maternity leave as it was, and I felt that I wanted to save all of that time to spend with the baby, plus I was just far too busy at work to leave any earlier than this.

As it was I didn’t know quite how I was going to get everything finished in time and as only part of my role was being covered in my absence, I was well aware I would need to keep abreast of things during my maternity leave. Knowing when I was likely to have the baby did then have its positives, in so much enabling me to plan and manage my workload.

Looking back, I realise how desperately unprepared I was for the arrival of the baby and how much I was in denial of how my life was about to change. I’d become so wrapped up in the pregnancy and the birth that I hadn’t really thought beyond this. I had overlooked the fact that the pregnancy and indeed the birth were all leading me to the ultimate dream, which had always been to have a baby.    

That’s not to belittle the experience of being pregnant, I loved it! It was insightful and beautiful and I had grown rather attached to my bump. And while the birth was still an unknown quantity to me, I was aware that it can be a hugely empowering and beautiful experience; not only does it mark the transition from maidenhood to motherhood, but it also brings new life into the world. It’s certainly a big deal.

But it had become nothing short of a huge drama in my life, and I was so caught up in it that I couldn’t see the bigger picture. It was the baby that I had spent most of my life dreaming about having. Not the birth. Not the pregnancy. And yet all I’d done for the past eight months was read books on pregnancy and birth and not one single book on babies and how to care for them. We hadn’t even joined the NCT classes.

I was also in complete denial about the manner in which having a baby may possibly change my working life. I just assumed that this would continue as usual.  My parents had already kindly agreed to look after the baby while I was in the office and E would be able to look after him/her while I was teaching yoga and practising Reiki. I just felt that my life would fairly much continue as usual, just with a little bit more organisation!

D-day – or C-day really - loomed ahead of me as I tried to get on top of my workload and do what I could mentally to prepare myself for the birth.  I didn’t feel there was anything to do physically, because it didn’t feel like I was going to be doing much birthing – the baby was going to be birthed for me. That was a strange feeling but by then I’d stopped giving it too much thought. It’s not that I’d accepted my fate, far from it, more so that I tried not to think about it too much.

My home yoga practice was essential at this time, and I made sure to get on my mat every day, as well as attending the weekly pregnancy yoga classes with Anita.  The slow pace of these classes made much more sense to me now.  My energy levels were not what they had been earlier on in the pregnancy and the bump was decidedly large and my back often ached. 

Not only that but I couldn’t get a good night’s sleep on account of all the trips to the toilet and the effort it took to find a comfortable sleeping position propped as I was with a number of pillows. Everyone kept telling me to rest and get as much sleep as I could, which began to annoy me after a while as I found it impossible to do either in this later stage of pregnancy. Still I made the most of the opportunity to soak in a warm lavender infused bath and I tried to get to bed early, even if it was just to read my book.

As C-day quickly approached the frequency of the midwife appointments increased. These were used to check my blood pressure, check for protein in my urine, listen to the baby’s heartbeat, measure the size of my bump (to check baby growing) and check the positioning of the baby – still breech!

Fortunately, I didn’t bleed, which was a relief. That’s not to say I didn’t spend much of the latter part of the pregnancy constantly concerned about bleeding.  Any slight change in sensation of discharge found me dashing to the nearest toilet or to the nearest place I could discretely check whether the discharge was blood.  After the earlier miscarriage scare I was paranoid about blood and the placenta previa merely compounded this.

A few weeks before the planned birth, I was told that I needed to be on the ward by 7am on the morning of the surgery with the surgery itself scheduled for later that morning. It sounds silly but this incensed me.  I didn’t want to be in the hospital any longer than I needed to be and I certainly didn’t want to be getting up for 7am to spend a few hours sitting around in the hospital, getting tired and increasing anxious about the procedure.

I wanted to stay at home until the last moment and have time to practice yoga in an effort to centre and ground myself ahead of this most life changing event. I spoke with my midwife to see if the time could be changed but she was powerless to do anything about it. Before too long the whole ‘time to go to the hospital’ became something of a drama, because it made absolutely no sense to me and it was one thing I felt that I should be able to control, because let’s face it, I couldn’t control anything else about the birth.

I believe it was this that was getting to me. I had lost all control.  The Goddess of the Moon was dancing and I still didn’t know how to dance with her.  I didn’t know how to let go.  I didn’t know how to go with the flow. Because none of this flow was flowing the way I wanted it to.

Fortunately, my lovely doula, Anita, whose services were somewhat limited now by the medicalised nature of the birth, spoke to the Head of Midwifery and negotiated a later arrival time for me. It’s sounds silly, but this made a huge difference to my mental state and while I was still petrified about all the things that could go wrong about the birth itself, at least I had longer that morning at home.

The weekend prior to the birth I tried to prepare myself as best I could, not least in terms of getting in the sea to try and ground myself but also in preparing the cottage for the arrival of the baby and preparing my hospital bag.  A friend who had previously had a number of Caesarean sections helpfully suggested what I may need to help with this post-op in terms of clothing.  I also made sure to stock up on pro-biotics and Arnica.

I was still in some denial about what lay ahead. I had read nothing about Caesarean birth and the implications of this post-partum as I didn’t want to experience any additional fear. And while on the one hand I joked about taking my yoga mat with me into the hospital, I did exactly that because I figured I would be able to practice post op in the time that the baby was sleeping – how I laugh about this now!

I worked in the office until 5.30pm the night before the birth and continued working on my blackberry later into the evening. It felt very surreal, knowing that I wouldn’t be back in the office, well not properly, for 12 weeks and yet mentally still very much in the ‘work’ zone despite knowing I was going to meet my baby the next day. This certainly wasn’t how I imagined birth to be!

Sleep certainly didn’t come easily that evening. I was excited about finally meeting our little bean Earth side, but anxious too about the Caesarean section, and whether I’d be able to breastfeed and the fact our life would never again be the same. Of course I wanted this change, I wouldn’t have chosen to get pregnant otherwise but the enormity of it was desperately challenging and I know E felt it too.

We’d been such free spirits for so much of our lives, more or less able to do what we wanted when we wanted, that we were both concerned in our own ways about how this would be affected with a baby in our lives too. Only time would tell, and for now I was just grateful that I could begin the next day with a short practice on my mat and a moment in the garden in the cool and damp air desperately trying to ground myself.

Part 15 - the Trials and Tribulations of Pregnancy

I absolutely loved being pregnant, it had felt like a long time in coming, and I was keen to enjoy every part of it. That’s not to say it was without its challenges, not at all, pregnancy is rife with them, at least that’s my experience, but it was all a novelty to me that first time. 

The first trimester was certainly tough going - the morning sickness, the inherent tiredness and the miscarriage scare.  So too the need to pee all the time. It was crazy how often I needed to go to the toilet during the night, sometimes as much as six times! I didn’t realise initially that this need to pee is often one of the first signs of pregnancy, no one had mentioned that to me, but then no one had mentioned much to me about pregnancy, beyond the morning sickness.

This excessive need to pee seemed to be an on/off theme throughout the pregnancy depending on the hormonal changes taking place at any one time and the positioning of the baby in the growing uterus, which at times pressed on the bladder. The peeing at night thing got so ridiculous that I even stopped drinking water in the early evening and tried to reduce my consumption of high-water content vegetables and salads, as I was convinced this was compounding the situation but it seemed to make little difference.

The peeing thing certainly was my main concern when it came to our festival camping that summer too.  It wasn’t so bad at the Sark Folk Festival as we were camped in a field and I could easily pee to the side of the field without disturbing anyone else. It’s actually rather pleasant peeing outside in the darkness of the night, with the stars above and the sound of the sea in the distance.

Womad was a bit trickier. The campsite was rammed with tents so I took along a bucket and used that in the tent during the night instead. There was no way I was traipsing all the way to the communal toilets and risking tripping over tent pegs and ropes in the process. It felt a tad awkward the next morning, going to empty my bucket, but we were up earlier than most as I certainly wasn’t partying late into the night!

There was a respite during the second trimester when the peeing was replaced with indigestion and heart burn. The indigestion is partly caused by hormonal changes, and in later pregnancy by the growing uterus pressing on the stomach. Heartburn on the other hand is caused by stomach acid passing from the stomach into the oesophagus and is really rather debilitating.

The heartburn certainly challenged me because it didn’t seem to matter how healthily I ate; I’d still end up with this horrible burning sensation in my throat. I finally figured out that apples, pitta bread and eating my lunch at my desk aggravated it so I avoided that. The only way I could ever seem to relieve it was by chewing gum or, if that didn’t work, taking Gaviscon.  Neither options were ideal but it got to the point where I didn’t care too much, and I was almost overdosing on Gaviscon at times, anything to feel some relief.

There were nights where I had to try and sleep virtually upright, supported by a whole heap of pillows to ease the burning sensation in my throat. I had to adjust my yoga practice too, and ensure I didn’t eat for a good while before getting onto my mat. E got sick of hearing me moaning about it, but it’s one of those things that unless you’ve experienced it you don’t realise how unbearable it can be, especially when it happens day in and day out and you feel powerless to change it. 

Then all of a sudden the heartburn disappeared and I became consumed by the discomfort of constipation instead. Like most, I loathe being constipated as it makes me feel so yucky and I have always tried to do what I can from a diet and lifestyle perspective to support my digestive system and ensure regular bowel movement. I drank lots of water, ate short grain brown rice, consumed soaked linseeds, took probiotics, and practiced yoga poses which are meant to ease constipation but none of these approaches seemed to make any difference.

The trouble is, during pregnancy you experience an increase in the hormone progesterone, which relaxes the smooth muscles throughout the body, including the digestive tract. This means that food passes through the intestines more slowly. This can be compounded later on in the the pregnancy by the pressure of the growing uterus on the rectum. Iron supplements, particularly in high doses can often make constipation worse, which was one reason I wanted to avoid them if I could.

But alas not.  My iron levels dipped during the pregnancy, probably a result of my vegetarian diet and also the fact the baby takes whatever minerals and vitamins it needs from the mother, often leaving her with diminished supplies.  I was prescribed iron tablets but these made me feel horrible so I stopped taking them and tried to do what I could through my diet to increase my iron levels instead.  I supplemented with iron water and Floradix liquid iron, but I was never sure these were effective.

It wasn’t all grey clouds though, there were lots of silver linings too. These conditions were all very annoying but were hugely overridden by the joy of being pregnant in the first place.  Here I was growing a real life human being inside of me, it was both magical and mysterious.  I’m astounded to this day that my body knew how to do this without me giving it any thought and without me having to truly get involved in the process – well beyond the conception and eating well.  That in itself is nothing short of a miracle!

Throughout my pregnancy I continued with my usual workload, teaching yoga, channelling Reiki and working in the office part-time.  In addition to trying to practice regular yoga nidra, I also tried to make an effort to rest during the day but resting has never come easily to me and I was grateful for the summer sun sun as it encouraged me to lie down and bathe in it.  I had to be careful though because skin becomes more sensitive to the sun during pregnancy due to rising hormone levels and is at greater risk of burning.

I found swimming invaluable while I was pregnant. During the summer I made the most of sea swimming, something which we do all year around anyway, but which became essential while pregnant, to cool down and take the weight off. It’s an exceptional leveller as you cannot help but feel more grounded, energised and uplifted after being in the sea, especially at my favourite South coast bays nestled by the stunning cliffs.

I swam in a swimming pool too to keep myself fit, and also to ease the strange sensation of the skin stretching to accommodate the growing baby. I have scar tissue from surgery many years ago now when my gallbladder was removed, and the expanding bump had to stretch through this.  At times it felt extremely uncomfortable like the skin itself would split (to the extent I thought maybe I should see a doctor) and swimming seemed to be the only thing to ease this.

While the discomfort of the stretching skin finally eased, I then experienced times where the skin over my tummy would feel really itchy and I’d find myself scratching incessantly. I massaged an organic Vitamin E oil onto my tummy each night, which I believe helped to keep the skin supple and prevented stretch marks forming during the pregnancy. It’s incredible that the skin can stretch as it does and contract back again afterwards.

As my stomach grew, I became increasingly aware of the baby’s movements. Its fairly remarkable that you get to feel the baby moving inside your tummy and it freaked E out. My Mum on the other hand loved putting her hand on my tummy and channelling Reiki and feeling her grandchild kick. It was an active baby and there was certainly lots of kicking at all times of day and night.

Sometimes it felt that I had a foot wedged up in my diaphragm so it made it difficult and uncomfortable to breathe, and other times it was back to the pressure in my bladder as the baby pressed down on it. I loved watching my tummy move, this was particularly obvious in the bath but often when I was sunbathing too.  S/he responded to Reiki almost immediately and it was a constant source of comfort to be able to feel the baby move so easily so that I knew it was literally alive and kicking.

What astounded me most was all the attention I received while pregnant, and the fact that the general public treat you so differently to how they treat you ordinarily.  Complete strangers would remark on the bump and ask after my health and wellbeing as well as enquiring into my due date and the sex of the baby – and often telling me what sex they thought the baby would be on account of the shape of my bump. It was quite extraordinary and rather entertaining at times too.

Consequently, I felt supported and cared for in a way that I have never felt previously.  Doors were held open, chairs were provided, people would offer to carry things for me - my students were great, someone would always meet me when I arrived at class to help carry things up the stairs, and in the the office the boys wouldn’t even let me empty the shredding bins – and generally people were rather lovely to me. It was marvellous and made me consider how wonderful the world would be if we were all treated with such courtesy and compassion every day!

I received lots of attention from the medical world too. Initially of course there was the IVF and the early pregnancy scans this brought with it, then the miscarriage scare and the additional scan for this, and then the placenta Previa. This meant yet more scans and appointments with the specialist to discuss the birth and what might happen if I began bleeding before then.  And of course there were the midwife appointments, which increased in frequency as the pregnancy progressed.

Since discovering the holistic approach to healing and wellbeing years earlier, I had become increasingly resistant to the allopathic world. I rarely needed to see the doctor, and tried to take the natural approach at every opportunity, embracing the concept of healing thyself.  I have always felt that there is an emotional/mental/spiritual perspective to any illness, and no amount of pharmaceutical drugs will resolve this without also making changes to our lifestyle and way of thinking etc.

So the fact I was now under the care of the allopathic world of specialists didn’t fill me with much joy and while I had little choice, I was resistant. I was still so angry about the placenta Previa, and while I appreciated that in the past, without scans and specialists, I would most certainly die at childbirth and probably the baby would die too, I couldn’t truly open my heart to the care being provided.

I was still very much caught in the ‘us/them’ world, which when I reflect back is laughable. There I was trying to be an open minded, non-judgemental yoga teacher and holistic practitioner, and yet I was being exactly the opposite – close minded and judgmental.  I could only see ‘my way’ and felt that any other way lacked the spirit of birth.

Unconsciously, I also felt I knew best and I was disapproving of anyone else’s perspective on it.  I was sick of people telling me it was all about the safety and wellbeing of the baby.  “What about me?”, I wanted to say to them, “don’t I get a say in this? What about my dreams, what about the spiritual homebirth and the orgasmic birthing and spiritual insights and awakenings that a vaginal birth can bring?”.

But the thing is, with placenta Previa you don’t get a say in anything as it’s a life threatening condition and that is what frustrated me.  I had no choice and I blamed anyone I could blame for this. I felt cheated of my dream and I loathed the fact that the allopathic world was telling me that the baby needed to be delivered early and that due to my condition there wouldn’t be the opportunity for delayed cord clamping. It was infuriating.

Admittedly, while it would’ve been easy to lose heart and get awfully infuriated with the Universe and the angels, this whole sorry situation encouraged me to drop deeper into my spiritual practice to maintain my grounding. There were moments of course when I did get thoroughly depressed and I felt that the Universe and the angels had it in for me, but actually this was a necessary part of the process, and a surrendering often accompanied this.

In practice what this meant is that I reached the end of my tether and broke down in tears, sobbing on my yoga mat until there were no more tears to sob and praying for help from the angels. I was done with trying to control things (which is an illusion any way) and was passing it on to the powers that be, and in so doing, there was often a form of awakening – it was like the old had to crumble to make way for the new.

I continued to channel Reiki to myself as much as I could and especially onto the growing baby. This was certainly going to be a Reiki baby and I was excited about what this might mean in terms of future behaviour and sensitivity to energy etc. Although I wasn’t sure how much of that would be due to the Reiki or to genetic and energetic disposition, let alone part-life experience and Akashic records.

I also received Reiki regularly from a fellow Reiki practitioner, especially as the birth date approached.  I felt that the Reiki helped to keep me on relatively even keel during this unsettling time and encouraged rest and healing too. I always felt so much better after a session, and truly believe that every pregnant lady should receive Reiki during their pregnancy.  It’s deeply relaxing, non-invasive, very gentle and benefits both mother and baby.

What also helped was spending time in nature. I walked regularly through the lanes near our cottage, and out on the stunning cliffs, often with E in tow.  I have fond memories of the time we spent together walking and often chatting about how our lives were about to change, and yet neither of us really having any idea of the extent of that change. I don’t know that you can ever appreciate the magnitude of the change for you until you’ve experienced it first hand.

I’ll never forget a conversation I had with my Mum one day about how things might or might not change.  We were out walking and chatting excitedly about life with the baby and about how I was going to manage my workload. I distinctly remember hearing myself say “but it can’t be that difficult, all babies do is sleep, feed and poo, I’ll have plenty of time to work”.  She tried to manage my expectation but I was truly in denial.

By then I’d bought a lot of the stuff that friends had suggested I may need when the baby arrived. It certainly was a lot. E wasn’t involved in this process as I think it was all too much for him; life really was changing! We were fortunate that we bought most of our stuff second hand from a family friend, which helped keep our costs down. You can get really carried away with all this and I now know that actually you need very little for a baby.

We bought brand new flat pack furniture for the baby’s room as I felt the baby should have something new. I’ll never make that mistake again.  I thought I was being a wonderfully clever Mummy putting it all together one weekend all on my own, but the truth is, it wasn’t much of an investment as its never worked properly and I’ve no idea why I thought I needed furniture specifically for a baby, because we’ve actually got quite a lot of stuff to try and fit into it!

I initially made a mistake with pregnancy clothes too. Someone had told me to simply buy clothes in a bigger size, but in my opinion this was rubbish advice.  You can’t beat the comfort of proper maternity clothes and while it feels a waste of money to buy these for such a short period of time, it was well worth it from my experience. I was lucky as some clothes were donated to me and to be honest, I just got used to wearing the same things all the time, it was no big deal.

Pregnancy is funny because sometimes it seems to drag on – certainly when I was suffering morning sickness or waiting anxiously for a scan.  Then other times you just want it to last forever – I’m thinking of the second trimester and lolling around on yoga mats, sunbeds and at festivals. And then towards the end of the pregnancy, I got to a point where I was ready to get on with it and meet the new life growing inside of me.

Ordinarily, unless you have a planned Caesarean section you don’t know when this might be and there’s lots of excited anticipation around this, not only for the expectant mother but for family and friends too.  I didn’t get to experience this though as I knew in advance the day the baby would be arriving and I wasn’t altogether happy about this.

I did not want the baby being dragged out of its cosy home without any warning, without it being ready, without it being squeezed through the birth canal and gaining the benefits of this - not least in releasing the hormone epinephrine, which clears fluids from the lungs and reduces the likelihood of respiratory issues, but also in exposing the baby to beneficial bacteria to reduce the chances of the baby developing asthma, food allergies and lactose intolerance in later life.

I also didn’t want the cord cut early, nor the baby to miss out on immediate skin to skin and all the benefits that both these practises bring to the future health and wellbeing of the baby and indeed me. I also didn’t want to be in a position where I couldn’t breast feed the baby following the birth and therefore unintentionally create any bonding issues as a result of not being able to do this.

I also didn’t want to be in a hospital, I didn’t want surgery, I didn’t want to take drugs, especially antibiotics which would destroy all the good bacteria in my gut and potentially lead to all sorts of digestive issues let alone mental and emotional issues too. I also didn’t want to have to spend weeks recovering, not able to drive, not able to lift anything and not able to exercise or get on my mat. And nor did I want to feel like a failure because of all this.

So it was with a very heavy heart that I sat with E in the specialist’s office as a date was agreed for the planned Caesarean section.  It was another one of those moments that I’ll never forget. The specialist wanted to deliver the baby at approximately 38.5 weeks and with this awareness, he looked in his diary to figure out the date this would be and whether there was any theatre availability. He concluded that 12th November would work very nicely for him; how did we feel about this? 

Well it was a rhetorical question really and it struck me, that a medical professional could choose the date to bring your baby Earth side, depending on his work schedule and theatre availability, and with that affect its horoscope and its future life path depending upon the positioning of the planets on that day.

But there you go.  The date was set.  That was that. It would seem that rather than bringing a Sagittarius into the world, which would have been the case if the baby arrived on his/her due date, we would be bringing a Scorpio into the world instead. Now I just needed to make it until the date without any bleeding and without going into early labour. 

 

Part 14 - Yoga and Placenta Previa

Placenta previa or not, I was determined to continue life as normal and enjoy the magic of pregnancy. I was resolute that I wouldn’t bleed, and the baby wouldn’t arrive any earlier than absolutely necessary. It gave me a mission, and I love a mission. It also gave me the opportunity to drop deeply into my spiritual practice and listen.

Being a qualified pregnancy yoga teacher with a solid understanding of how to teach and practice yoga to support a pregnancy and prepare for birth.  However, my training centred around preparing women for a vaginal delivery, and while we did address some of the common pregnancy complications such as symphysis pubis dysfunction, we didn’t study placenta previa.

I researched ‘yoga for placenta previa’ on the internet, but found very little. I suspect no one really wants to take responsibility for advising women what they should or shouldn’t practice as there is such a huge risk of bleeding with this condition. Furthermore, many women are told to avoid exercise and others are put on bed rest for the duration of their pregnancy.

I quickly realised that I was going to have to figure this one out for myself and practice intuitively. This meant putting aside the pregnancy yoga books, and the mental conditioning I had around yoga for pregnancy, not least from my training but from teaching pregnant ladies in my general classes, and figure out what might work best to support me and my condition.

This is how yoga should be practiced ideally, aimed specifically at the individual depending on what is going on for them at any one time.  Of course there are generalisations and the energies of alignment to consider, but every body (quite literally) is different, and in an ideal world yoga should be adapted, and have the flexibility, to suit the individual student’s needs.

Once again, the Universe had provided me with a further opportunity to deepen my experience of yoga, not that I realised the blessing in the curse at the time. I’d invited the Goddess of the Moon into my life so I shouldn’t have been surprised.  She was dancing and weaving her magic in my life but I was so caught up in it I couldn’t see her light.

I was angry with my diagnosis and agonised whether I had caused it. Ordinarily, during the first trimester, one is encouraged to ease off from all physical activity including yoga, due to the higher risk of miscarriage that this trimester brings. Certainly I never knowingly accept pregnant ladies into my class before 12 weeks. However, I paid little attention to this and fairly much carried on as usual depending upon how sick and tired I was feeling.

Often the yoga practice would ease my nausea and give me a little extra energy. I found backbends helpful with this, and twists, although I was mindful of the extent to which I took these. The cells are multiplying at a massive rate during this period and I tried to practice regular yoga nidra to rest and support this process.  I attempted to sit daily too, although this became increasingly tricky as my mind would be so easily distracted by the nausea.

I like to chant mantra but during the first trimester I found that I couldn’t do this as it made me feel very sick. I suspect the energy was too strong for the sensitivity of the developing cells within me and it was only later in the pregnancy that I was able to chant again. I was keen to do all I could energetically, to bathe the growing baby with as much light energy as possible and I made sure to play uplifting music during my practice.

I researched the potential causes of placenta previa but no mention was made of exercise. Instead, research suggests that a pregnant woman is more likely to have this condition if she has had previous pregnancies, a previous Caesarean section, uterine scars, is carrying twins or more, is a smoker, uses cocaine and/or is an older mother. I certainly ticked the older mother box but that aside none of these other causes resonated with me, and I finally let myself off the hook, and concluded that it was just meant to be that way.

During the second trimester (13 to 28 weeks) when my normal energy levels returned again, I found movement absolutely essential in helping to keep my mind as strong as my body. This became even more important when I discovered that I had placenta previa, especially as I was so irritated in those earlier days, and welcomed my practice as an opportunity to work through my frustration and try and stay grounded.

It was a tough period. The pregnancy hormones alone left me tearful and angry at times and this was now compounded by the recent diagnosis.  Up until that point E had never seen me having an anger outburst and to be honest I naively thought I’d worked through all my anger issues during years of yoga, Reiki and other healing work.  I was wrong, and I was as surprised as E. Clearly pregnancy was bringing up a whole other level of stuff that needed expression.

It didn’t help that I knew that anger was a waste of energy.  One of the Reiki principles is ‘just for today, do not anger’. The reason being that anger is a destructive emotion when expressed inappropriately and can create disharmony in the body. That said I was also aware that it can be a powerful motivator for change provided you are consciously aware of your reactions and take charge of your emotions.

Essentially it comes down to expectation and the need to let go of expectation, whether the expectations are those of other people or situations, it doesn’t matter. We get angry when our expectations are not met so the idea if that we let go of expectations, just for today, and see each situation as it is right now. Needless to say I was struggling with this, and it didn’t help that I should have known better.

So I took to my mat with extra vigour.  I continued with my vinyasa practice and paid little attention to the usual guidelines as I moved intuitively. For me it felt great to practice deep backbends as they energised me and helped to relieve the strange sensation of my stretching skin. I also continued inverting as I knew I was going to be having a Caesarean section so I didn’t need to concern myself with the positioning of the baby and thus compromise a vaginal birth.

Intuitively it felt necessary to avoid the poses that women are generally encouraged to practice during pregnancy, the ones which help to prepare the body for a vaginal birth. Instead I felt that I needed to do all I could to keep this baby inside me and to reduce any pressure on the placenta, nestled as it was snuggly over the cervix.

This meant no wide legged seated or standing poses and no squatting. Instead I ended up practicing poses such as Gomukasana (Cow’s face), Virasana (Hero’s pose) and Garudasana (Eagle pose), which helped to draw everything in. I also continued with the back bends, arm balances and the inversions right up until the end of the pregnancy as these felt supportive to the pregnancy.

The amazing thing was, during the latter part of the second and into the third trimester (29-40 weeks) my body made it extremely clear to me which poses to practice and which to avoid. Not only did the bump make it obvious that poses on the tummy and closed twists should be absolutely avoided, but I started experiencing increasing sacral-iliac pain.

This is not uncommon in pregnancy, and certainly there is a prevalence of this condition amongst flexible female yoga practitioners. During pregnancy the body produces a hormone called relaxin, which softens the ligaments and, in theory, helps the baby to pass more easily through the pelvis during birth. This means that the joints can become more mobile during pregnancy and this can cause all sorts of problems, especially for the sacral-iliac joint.

Interestingly the pain around that joint was aggravated by all the poses that I had already felt I should avoid during my pregnancy.  It was genius. My body was absolutely leading the way, and I had no choice but to listen. It was deeply empowering to recognise that my body knew what was best for it in such a profound way.

It was for this reason that I made sure to prioritise a daily 20-minute meditation practice and enjoy regular yoga nidra during my pregnancy. There is no doubt that both my mind and body benefitted immensely from these practises and helped me to stay strong mentally and physically. Pregnancy provided me with an enormous opportunity to hear, listen to, honour and respect my body in a way I hadn’t done previously.

Pregnancy also helped to significantly shift my awareness and experience of yoga, albeit not in the way I had imagined, and it took me a few years to realise this.  I had been so keen to embody the teachings of my pregnancy yoga training that there was a part of me that felt cheated that I wasn’t able to use yoga to prepare for a vaginal birth as I’d seen so many others do and use it to their benefit too.

During my second trimester I started attending a weekly pregnancy yoga class taught by my doula and friend, Anita. Initially in the earlier days when I didn’t have a bump, I found these classes challenging simply because I wasn’t used to practicing so slowly and gently. But as the pregnancy progressed I absolutely loved them and they became the highlight of my week, two hours every Sunday evening to truly indulge in the pregnancy.

Anita created a very sacred and special space with a beautiful altar and candles brightening the room, and calming music playing in the background so that you couldn’t help but feel nourished and nurtured. It was a good balancer for me to be able to practice a gentler and more feminine approach to yoga movement to compliment my more active and yang home practice. It was also a real treat to be guided by someone else, and especially someone as passionate about pregnancy and birth as Anita.

I loved sharing the space with other pregnant ladies as we all took the opportunity to connect with our growing babies. I loved feeling the energy of the baby inside me and I was fascinated by how this shifted throughout the pregnancy so that it became denser and more attuned to my own energy, or me to the baby’s energy perhaps.

It seemed to me that the baby had come into the world, in utero then, with its own energy field (which I couldn’t penetrate) and energetic disposition. This isn’t to say that my own energy work and indeed my thoughts and emotions wouldn’t impact on it in some way; I believe they do and there is research to substantiate this, but more so that the baby was clearly its own person from the outset and I was his/her nourishing vessel. Thus I wanted to do all I could to ensure a loving and nurturing environment for his/her growth.

This was a tricky awareness for me at times, because I was keen to do all I could to ensure that the baby didn’t absorb the anger and frustration I felt towards the placenta previa. And yet I struggled at times with this, because it then became easy to beat myself up about it! I was also very aware that I didn’t want the baby to absorb the fear I felt towards the Caesarean section, but try as I might, it was difficult not to become consumed with this. 

So my practice became important to me energetically and emotionally too, to try and shift my thinking and immerse the baby in lovely yogic and feminine energy.  Anita’s classes helped considerably with this as they gave me the space to just be with my baby and deepen my connection to him/her in utero. S/he was certainly an active baby and responded immediately to me getting on my mat or placing my hands on my bump to channel Reiki.

During the pregnancy yoga classes, Anita was keen to share with us breathing techniques and visualisations which may assist us during the birth. The combination of these and the guided relaxations left me feeling incredibly calm and nourished by the end of the sessions. The only trouble was that towards the end of the pregnancy when I knew with certainty that I was having a Caesarean section (I had been praying for a miracle, just in case!), I switched off from the preparation for birth bit.

It didn’t seem important to me to know how to breathe through contractions or how to use the visualisations to manage my pain, as I wouldn’t be contracting or experiencing the pain that accompanies this. There was a part of me that was desperately sad about this and while I went through the motions, my mind was often elsewhere, running through lists of what I needed to do that week, as my life certainly hadn’t slowed down.

If anything I became busier, it was a coping mechanism I realise, to keep myself occupied so I wouldn’t think too much about the impending birth and the Caesarean section.  It’s perhaps no surprise that in practicing a yang style of yoga daily, I was very yang in my approach to life, just getting on with it, helped by the fact my workload in the office was incredible demanding at the time.

Anita would read these most beautiful quotes during her yoga classes, which talked about the surrendering and letting go that pregnancy and birth encouraged. While I understood this intellectually I didn’t really know what she meant in practice and figured this only really applied to a vaginal birth.

I certainly wasn’t doing any surrendering and letting go, quite the opposite in fact, I was holding on for dear life.  I didn’t want to bleed, I didn’t want to have the baby earlier than necessary and I was still resistant to the idea of the Caesarean birth.

While my connection to the Goddess of the Moon in all her divine feminine beauty deepened during pregnancy, so that I’d bathe in her 28-day light and give thanks and pray to her, I still didn’t yet know what it meant to dance with her.

Anita leads regular wise women workshops too and I was fortunate to attend one of these sessions during the latter part of my pregnancy. Together we belly danced and moved our bodies, swaying and circling and enjoying the movement that resonates with the feminine aspect of ourselves on a very deep level.  We drew labyrinths and doodled on stones, and I found this opportunity for creative expression hugely enlightening.

I shall always be eternally grateful to Anita for her love and the energy she put into these sessions, to help us recognise a part of ourselves that we may not have acknowledged previously. Here we were, all pregnant ladies, embodying both the energy of creation in its most primitive sense and spirit in its purest expression. And these wise women sessions helped me to truly tap into the energy of this; the power of the divine feminine.

This is not to say that the divine feminine is only present in pregnancy however. She is present in our everyday life experience, regardless of the stage of life, whether maiden, mother, crone or otherwise. More so that it took me a long time to recognise this and to know it as an absolute truth within me. And this wise women workshop, which created a collective feminine energy that I had not experienced previously, laid a seed for the future direction that my life and my yoga practice would take.

Still, as the birth approached and I sat with the energy growing inside me, I had to dig very deep into my practice, to overcome the increasing dread I felt. It was for this reason that I kept things active right up until the end, to the extent that at 29 weeks pregnant, I attended a workshop in London with Cyndi Lee, a truly inspiring American teacher, with a sign-off from my doctor for travel off-Island

I continued teaching right up until I was 36 weeks pregnant too. This wasn’t right or wrong and certainly not an indication of what others should do, just this felt right for me during that pregnancy. It gave me a purpose and took my mind away from what was, inevitably, to come.  It unsettled one of the male students in particular though, as each week my bump grew bigger and he was worried I may go into labour during a class!

The baby was breech in the end.  Whether this was due to the positioning of my pelvis, or the placenta previa, or me inverting my body throughout my pregnancy I shall never know. But in practicing in the way that my body guided, I didn’t bleed once during my pregnancy and I didn’t have to go on bed rest or avoid strenuous activity, and the baby didn’t arrive earlier than planned either. It could just have been luck but I like to believe it was the yoga!

 

Part 13 - The 20 Week Scan and Placenta Previa

It wasn’t long after the morning sickness eased that I felt my first fluttering.  It was the strangest feeling because it was ever so gentle yet strong enough to catch my attention. You could easily have mistaken it for trapped wind, but the more it happened the more I came to recognise that it was the baby moving inside me. Quite amazing!

By 19 weeks, I was feeling much more my usual self to the extent that I even toasted my thirty eighth birthday with a glass of champagne – never has champagne tasted so good!  Up until that point the mere thought of wine and champagne had been enough to turn my stomach, but now the sickness had eased, my taste buds were back to normal again. I also had a lot more energy so I wasn’t having to crash into bed early each evening.

I was jubilant to be pregnant, although I’d come to realise that being pregnant didn’t necessarily mean that I was constantly happy as I may have once imagined. That was another lesson.  I had spent so much of my adult life longing to meet the man with whom I could have a family, that I felt my happiness depended on it. I’d searched the world twice over and spent a lot of time praying to the angels for this dream to come true.

I lost track of the number of conversations I’d had with my best friends about us finding our respective Mr Rights, and about the children we would one day have (one of those friends ended up with Mr Wright incidentally, oh how we chuckle about this!). I’d also lost track of the number of failed relationships we’d had between us in our search for ‘the one’. It wasn’t necessarily that we weren’t happy with our lot, but we figured it would make us and our lives complete to have the ‘ideal’ partner and our child in it.

And now here I was pregnant and with a loving partner and yes, there was a certain feeling of completeness that came with that, but it didn’t mean that I was constantly happy. There were days when I was very happy and incredibly joyous about he new life growing inside me, but equally there were days when I felt out of sorts and a little miserable and I found myself praying to the angels for guidance.

It reminded me that our state of happiness and sense of wellbeing is not dependent on anyone or anything else, but on our state of mind and our perspective. After all we choose the thoughts to which we give our attention.  So, even pregnant, I still had my moments.  Plus, I may well have realised the dream of meeting my partner and becoming pregnant, but now I dreamt of a home vaginal birth – there was always another dream, something else to work towards.

The truth is, I thought that a vaginal home birth was the only way I was going to experience the spirituality in birth. I had this image in my head of me birthing on my own in the darkness of the bathroom, all primal and earthy.  I expected to drop my awareness deep into my body and into the sensation of the pain I would inevitably be experiencing so that I could gain insight into the very essence of life and the birthing process. In so doing I imagined a spiritual awakening, a journey into the light, a state of enlightenment.

E wasn’t so sure about this home birth malarkey.  Understandably he wasn’t particularly bothered about my need for spiritual awakening, he was more concerned about the health of the baby and s/he arriving Earth side safely. I was concerned about this too, but it wasn’t my only consideration. I was adamant that the only way I would experience what I wanted to experience was in the home environment. I certainly had no intention of birthing in a hospital as I wanted zero intervention.

Little did I realise how much I was setting myself up for a fall. I figured I was being all spiritual and open minded about birth but now I look back, this was farthest from the truth.  I was in fact incredibly close minded and judgemental.  I just couldn’t understand the reason women would choose to birth in a hospital, and I certainly couldn’t get my head around them choosing to have a Caesarean section, or induction and would be a little vocal about this at times.

A week or so after my birthday, we had an appointment for the 20-week scan. As the date approached I became increasingly anxious and short tempered. It was ridiculous really, but I couldn’t help myself.  I felt on edge and no amount of praying to the angels or Goddess of the Moon was easing this.  I certainly couldn’t sit still to meditate and I was distracted in my yoga practice too. Fear had taken hold and I couldn’t seem to shift this.

We were greeted by the same Australian sonographer who had undertaken our twelve-week scan and her colleague who was undertaking some training with her. This scan is carried out in the same way as the twelve-week dating scan with gel on the tummy and the sonographer passing the ultrasound device backwards and forwards over your skin. I proudly bared my just visible baby bump and lay back on the bed with E sitting beside me.

This scan looks in detail at the baby’s bones, heart, brain, spinal cord, face, kidneys and abdomen, and allows the sonographer to look for physical abnormalities in the baby and specifically for eleven conditions, some of which are very rare. In most cases the scan will show that the baby appears to be developing normally but sometimes the sonographer will find or suspect a problem – some problems can be seen more clearly than others.  

This scan also tends to present the opportunity to discover the sex of the baby, although this isn’t the intention of the scan per se and there is no certainty that it will be 100% accurate.  I’ve known two couples who were told at the twenty-week scan that they were carrying girls, only to end up with boys upon delivery, causing quite a shock and a little adjustment, certainly in terms of pink themed nurseries and pink clothes!

We didn’t want to know the sex of the baby and made sure that the sonographers were aware of this. This didn’t stop me being curious however, especially as the image of the baby was so clear on the screen. It was amazing really. Here was our little bean visible to the naked eye, wriggling around and doing his/her thing and looking like a proper baby. It was very exciting.

The lady sonographer guided us through the process as she carefully checked the baby’s organs and took the necessary measurements required by this scan to determine the size of the baby and check everything looked well. The male sonographer had a look too and fortunately the baby appeared fine, no obvious abnormalities were found. However, the lady sonographer was concerned about the positioning of my placenta, which was still lying low in my uterus.

I’d already researched this a little and had read that one of the most common problems spotted at the twenty-week ultrasound is placenta Previa. The placenta is the pancake-shaped organ, normally located near the top of the uterus, that supplies the baby with nutrients through the umbilical cord. Placenta Previa is where the placenta is nearby, or actually covering some or all of the cervix.

It’s a potentially dangerous condition because if the placenta covers the cervix, it blocks the baby’s way out, requiring a Caesarean section to deliver the baby. More seriously, as the cervix dilates towards the end of pregnancy, the placenta can be torn and bleed, which can be life-threatening to mother and baby.

Complete or partial placenta Previa, where the placenta covers at least a quarter, or even all of the cervix, occurs in around 1 in 200 pregnancies, and requires careful monitoring by a doctor. More common is a marginal placenta Previa, where the placenta is close by, or touching the cervix, but not actually covering it.

At twenty weeks, when the placenta is relatively large compared to the size of the uterus, many women appear to have placenta Previa. However, as the uterus grows, the placenta moves further away from the cervix and by the time they have another scan, 90% of women with marginal placenta Previa at twenty weeks, will likely be given the all-clear and be able to try for a vaginal birth.

Sadly, it looked unlikely that I would be in that 90% as my placenta appeared to be completely covering the cervix. This meant I had to have yet another internal vaginal examination so that the sonographer could be absolutely certain of this. It wasn’t quite what I had in mind that morning and I was slightly daunted by the fact there were two sonographers present, but one does what one has to do in the circumstances.

Much to my utter dismay, the vaginal scan revealed my fears; I had complete placenta Previa. This meant that the placenta was completely covering the cervix and in such a way that it was very unlikely it was going to move from this position. I knew that it wasn’t going to move, I could feel it in my heart, and no amount of people telling me it would, or praying to the angels and the Goddess of the moon was going to change this. It was my fate.

Clearly there were still lessons to be learned on this quest to procreate and become a Mum.  Going through IVF was not enough. And in many respects looking back, I can see clearly the potential blessings in the curse. But back then I was absolutely bereft and it was all I could do to hold it together in the scanning room as the sonographer told me that I would be referred to a specialist and that I should immediately telephone the hospital if I started to bleed.

Once outside the hospital building I burst into tears.  Poor E had no idea what was going on, as far as he was concerned the baby was okay, so why was I crying? And that was the point I missed.  Of course I was delighted that the baby was healthy, but if I’m honest, I fairly much took that for granted.  I hadn’t anticipated a problem with the baby, and perhaps I wasn’t as grateful as I should have been.

All I cared about in that moment was the fact that I was going to have to have a Caesarean section. The baby was going to enter the world in the completely opposite way to the one I had intended, namely early, in a theatre, with lights and noise, and drugs and strangers. This was absolutely not how it was meant to be. I wanted spiritual music and candles, the darkness of the bathroom, and the opportunity to truly go within, birth without fear and have a spiritual experience.

I had a lot to learn.

The Goddess of the Moon was dancing, but I most definitely wasn’t dancing with her.

I telephoned my parents from the car and burst into tears all over again.  They were concerned something was wrong with the baby and were relieved when they found out the problem was with my placenta instead. They tried to help me realise that I should be feeling relieved, not distraught. But I just couldn’t see beyond the Caesarean section, it was like a neon light in my mind flashing, “Caesarean section, Caesarean section, Caesarean section”.

I was angry, very angry. It just didn’t seem fair. What was the Universe playing at? Not only had I had to have a clinical conception (albeit conscious, but it took me a while to recognise this) but now here I was going to have to have a clinical birth too. Plus, there was now an increased chance of painless vaginal bleeding during the third trimester and with that the risk of being hospitalised.

The bleeding happens when the cervix begins to thin out or open up (even a little), which disrupts the blood vessels in the area. What happens after this would depend on the stage of pregnancy, the heaviness of the bleeding and how the baby and I were doing. If the baby was still premature, s/he would be delivered immediately if the conditions warranted it or if the bleeding was so heavy that it didn’t stop.

Otherwise, I would be watched in the hospital until the bleeding stopped. If the baby was less than 34 weeks’ gestation, I would be given steroids to speed up the baby’s lung development and to prevent other complications in case s/he ended up being delivered prematurely. If the bleeding stopped and I remained free of bleeding for at least a couple of days, then I would probably be sent home (it’s likely that the bleeding would start up again at some point and, if that happened, then I would need to return to the hospital immediately).

However, if both of us continued to do well and the baby didn’t need to be delivered right away then a Caesarean section would be scheduled at around 37 weeks, unless there was a reason to intervene earlier. When making the decision, the medical staff would need to weigh up the benefit of giving the baby extra time to mature against the risk of waiting, with the possibility of facing an episode of heavy bleeding and the need for an emergency Caesarean section.

Furthermore, after a baby is delivered by Caesarean section, the obstetrician delivers the placenta and the mother is given medication to encourage the uterus to contract, which helps stop the bleeding from the area where the placenta was implanted. However, with placenta Previa, the placenta is implanted in the lower part of the uterus, which doesn't contract as well as the upper part so the contractions aren't as effective at stopping the bleeding. This may result in heavy bleeding and the need for a blood transfusion.

Also, women who have placenta Previa are also more likely to have a placenta that's implanted too deeply and that doesn't separate easily at delivery. This is called placenta accreta, which can cause massive bleeding and the need for multiple blood transfusions at delivery. It can be life threatening and may require a hysterectomy to control the bleeding.

Finally, if you need to deliver before term, there is a risk that the baby will be at risk of complications from premature birth – such as breathing problems and low birth weight and the need for neo-natal care. It wasn’t ideal. Certainly not the stuff of dreams and it brought with it not only the anger and frustration, but a huge amount of fear too.

Once I’d calmed down and accepted my reality (as much as I ever truly accepted it), I realised that I needed to do what I could to limit the chances of bleeding.  I absolutely didn’t want to end up hospitalised and I had no intention of the baby arriving early. I had read far too much about the implications of premature delivery on a baby’s gut and lung development and the resulting affect this would have on their overall health and wellbeing and I didn’t want this for my baby.

I resolved therefore, that my baby was not going to be delivered early.  I was going to make it my mission to carry on life as usual and do what I could (intuitively) to ensure I didn’t bleed. I was still very angry – and would be for a further three years – but I came to recognise that this condition presented me with yet another opportunity to drop deeper into my spiritual practice and be guided by my body and the messages it was conveying to me.  

Crying on my yoga mat was a good start and from there I resolved to figure out a yoga practice, which would help to keep the baby inside me for as long as possible.  This meant practicing in the completely opposite way to the usual pregnancy yoga sequencing which aims to prepare the body for birthing vaginally and opening everything up accordingly. It was time to put the books aside and go within again.

 

 

Happy Ostara - the Spring Equinox

The word equinox comes from the Latin word meaning ‘equal night’; and means that day and night are of equal length all over the world. For us in the northern hemisphere, the days will get longer and warmer and the nights will get shorter. This is therefore the festival of balance, the balance of the masculine and feminine, light and dark, expansion and contraction, conscious and unconscious, the inner world and the outer world, the joining of the unconscious and the unconscious.

Officially acknowledged as the first day of Spring, this is a very powerful time in nature as there is a major energetic shift from winter and if we are aware of it we can harness the new, fresh energy that this season offers. This is a fabulous time for new beginnings and for sowing new seeds, both physically and symbolically. The plants that grow from these seeds will represent that for which you are working. When the plant bears fruit at harvest so too should your intention manifest in physical form.

In the Pagan tradition this day also celebrates the union of the beautiful spring maiden with the young ardent male.  As Glennie Kindred writes, “Their union makes all of nature fertile. Here we can make contact with their archetypal energy within ourselves, no matter what age or gender. Many women are now seeking to balance their male and female sides within themselves and are looking for the same balance in men. The ardent young man, who is non-aggressive, in touch with his instincts and can show his feelings, is a precious image to hold. The Greeks gave us Pan with horns and hooves, part man, part animal. The Celts gave us Cernunnos or Herne, also with horns, in touch with his animal instincts, wise, magical, the master of the three levels of existence, playful, sexual, sensuous, spiritual. He was outlawed by the church who changed him into the devil, the root of evil, thereby denying men an essential part of themselves. We need to reclaim him. Men need to connect to his life-giving instinctive nature. Women need to find him in the men they know. Here lies the spark, the power in their joining and their joint potential that will change the future”.

This is therefore the ideal time to balance these energies within ourselves regardless of gender. So this means balancing the masculine and the feminine, of joining together the rational conscious mind with the intuition and inner wisdom, to create a new way of being that is more aligned with our higher selves and more in balance, not least within ourselves but in the world around us too.

It’s all about listening. Dropping within and learning to listen to that inner voice that already knows everything. And then learn to trust in this voice and act on its wisdom and create new beginnings that help to bring your light into the manifest world. In so doing, we can create a more harmonious and balanced way of living, that creates a more harmonious, love-filled and balanced world in the process.  Amen!