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CwL Ep 157 – A story from my son’s birth

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Lisa didn’t get the births she wanted for her kids. The first lesson in surrendering as a mother was in the birth of her eldest son. 

But it was the words she heard from a midwife at the hospital as she was attempting to latch her son to her breast that changed the trajectory of her parenting journey for good.

The words that she heard she’d never forget and are her compass point to this day.

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Prefer to read? Access the transcript here.

I didn’t have the birth that I wanted actually for any of my three children, but for my son, who was my first, I felt like I had really committed to being a great pregnant person. And I had prepared in all sorts of different ways for beautiful natural birth in a hospital, but natural as it comes. And it got to the end part of my pregnancy, and I realised that he wasn’t in the right position and it didn’t look like that was actually going to be something that happened. It was only when I was pregnant with my third baby that I realised my pelvis was completely out of line. And it was why both my first and second babies were sitting in what’s called transverse lie. So their head was to the side like in a diagonal and they couldn’t kind of move it around. Anyway, I was pretty tense right at the end. I didn’t know that this was a problem at the time, so I still believed I could get that baby head down. I’d been warned at that. There’s not really that many reasons why.

Well, a caesarean was absolutely on the cards and was being suggested to me, and the longer it was left, the greater the danger to the baby and to me. And I had read all the things. I knew that sometimes the medical model was not supporting natural births, and I didn’t know whether to be cynical or believe it, but I had this life inside me that I wanted to birth. And I did all the things. I mean, I was duck diving at the swimming pools at 40 plus weeks. I was drinking all the teas. I was getting reflexology, I was drinking herbs, I was doing all the things that I could do. Little did I know it was actually never going to happen, but I didn’t know that at the time. And I kept trying to relax, be chill, know my baby was just fine and everything would be okay.

And then there was a meeting that we had with an obstetrician, and he really did just kind of say that at, I think I was 40, I think I was about 41 weeks, just saying, Lisa, I don’t want it to get to the point where we are having to get a helicopter. I mean, it would be beyond ambulance if that baby started to drop and the umbilical cord was underneath it and all sorts of things. I was like, shit. And my husband is looking at me going, why aren’t we just doing the caesarean? And I wanted to hold off and goodness me, it was all of the feelings at that end of the pregnancy and I needed a caesarean and I gave in and I surrendered to what was instead of wanting it to be something that it wasn’t. And so all of the excitement of when it all just disappeared, I was booked in for two days later or something like that.

I think I was about very close to 42 weeks, which is not necessarily overdue. I mean, we all know the things that we’re told about pregnancy and that might not actually be so true. Anyway, this baby was inside me. It needed to come out luckily. Well, I feel lucky. We never found out the sex of any of our babies, so I didn’t know if it was a boy or a girl. And so we had that excitement to look forward to. I hate needles. And so the thought of that big needle going in my back, I wasn’t thrilled about it. Had a fantastic obstetrician who had music playing. It was, I mean, his birth was actually magical. It just happened in a very different way than I thought. I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe I had a baby boy. I mean, it still makes me feel emotional to think about.

And obviously if you have a caesarean, then it’s a full-blown operation and they need to stitch you all back up and off. This perfect little baby went with Nick, and when I came to, he was doing skin to skin and I was overwhelmed with emotion for the whole thing. And then there’s that moment where you have to feed that baby from your body and you’ve got no idea what to do. And someone came in and just helped me a little bit, and I was awkward and a bit confused and still very, very hazy from all the medication and the pain relief and all that kind of stuff. Anyway, we went up to the room and we were just figuring it out. I mean, what the hell even prepares you for that moment? Nothing can prepare for that moment and kept on looking at these midwives in and out. They would come wrapping this baby, soothing this baby. I thought, bloody hell. There is a lot I need to learn right now. Wow, this is real. There is really a baby. Suddenly all of the theory turns into practise in an instant, and it’s a human life, and it’s the human life you created. I mean, the stakes couldn’t be higher. And I felt myself just moving into a little bit of, oh dear, what have we done? What have we done?

And all this time, this baby needs my nipple and it’s going to be working hard to get milk. And I remember what day was it? I mean, what is that day when everything just goes whoosh, and you’ve suddenly got watermelons instead of normal boobs, and it is painful and strange and scary, and this baby needs the milk and it’s sucking and it doesn’t, I mean, it’s just doing, its reflexes are helping it survive. And I am an awkward human wondering what to do, A mother just figuring it out. And I decided to not get stressed about it. I thought, you know what? Billions of people have done this, just another one.

And I think that the karma I can be probably the better the situation for all of us. I am just going to bring a chilled vibe and see how we go. You can only do your best, Lisa, and let’s not put any pressure on it. I’d already had to surrender so much for the birth. I just brought that level of surrender to having an actual alive baby. And I remember one time a midwife came in and he was pretty calm little guy, and I was just trying to figure him out the latch, and I just kept trying. He was all right. He was definitely wanting it. And I just said, Hey, do you mind just giving me a hand? I just feel like it would be great to be shown again. And she said, yeah, of course. That’s absolutely what I’m here for. And she helped me and Ani latched and we got it.

And I said, it takes a bit of practise. And she said, it does take practise. And I’m so glad you said that because a lot of people feel like it needs to be natural from the start. And she said, your nipples will probably bleed. It’s going to get really sore, but just keep trying. And I said, I will, and I am not kind of going to get too stressed about it. And she said, as soon as I walked in this room, I recognised the golden rule, and that is calm mom, calm baby. And when she said it, I was very conscious to the fact that I had received a piece of information right there that I didn’t want to forget. I thought, wow, okay. If what she’s saying is true, then I could just work on myself being calm and that might filter through to him.

I think it’s the best piece of advice I’ve ever received in my life. Now, there have been times I have not been a calm mother. My goodness me. Wow. Absolutely. And whenever I am stressed, chaotic, whatever, I see it in the kids. It’s why I prioritise rest. It’s why I keep things as simple as possible in my life. I got rid of complications because when I’m calm, they still might not be calm their own people. At this stage, that little baby will turn 14 in September, but it’s like an anchor point for all of us, my level of calm, and it also gives me a focus like, okay, anything can be happening and life has taken some pretty wild twists and turns, and I am not calm all the time at all, but because I can’t control anything else about them, about life, this is something that I can manage, I can be conscious to and aware of and facilitate within myself, and it’s a gift not only to the kids, but to me as well.

Calm mother, calm baby. I mean, will that extend to calm mother, calm teens? Most probably not, but I can still be the anchor of calmness even when the seas get really rocky for them. I feel like that moment, hearing those words at that exact time changed the trajectory of how I parent, and I’m really, really grateful to that midwife. I wish I knew who she was so I could thank her because it was a gift to myself and to my kids to hear that. And I’ve never been hard on myself when I haven’t been the calmest version of Lisa. It’s not about that. It’s just about that’s my compass is pointing in that direction, and I feel like I’ve lived a better life as a mom because of it.

I hope you enjoyed that story. I put out on my socials the little stories, ideas, or topics that you’d like to hear stories about, and I really hope you’re enjoying this series. You can let me know if you’ve got extra story ideas. You can write to me, at I would love to feature your topic if I can think of a good story that goes with it. This one was, the topic was actually, I think, meeting your baby for the first time. And so that is the story that came to mind for me. If you want to also be able to tell better stories in your working life, then do not hesitate to join. What’s the story? Our next round is coming right up in April, and you can get all the details for what’s involved in this really four-week immersive deep dive experience with me. It’s a fabulous programme and it really gets results for participants. I would love to see you inside, and I’ll see you in the next episode for the next story.

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