In 2015 I gave birth to my first daughter, Willow. I had a very straight forward pregnancy in which I was doing (cringe) handstands well into my 9th month. In a culture where we are celebrated for acting like we're not pregnant I was congratulated for it and my ego liked it. I don’t think I was putting either of us in grave danger, but really what are the benefits of a heavily pregnant woman doing handstand? Months later I was listening to Magamama on a podcast and she said something to the effect of "yes it's possible to handstand when you're 9 months pregnant, but is it optimal?" Boom! It might have been very obvious to a lot of people, but that was a real light bulb moment for me. In hindsight I think I was desperate to hold on to my pre pregnancy identity, as many women are.
For having such an easy pregnancy, Willow’s birth turned out to be very different. I had a lot of people say to me "you're a yoga teacher, you'll bounce back" and I believed them. Holy shit, I did not bounce back. I hit the ground hard. And stayed there for a while. Willow's birth was very long (some reasons for this probably could have been helped with better support from my care providers and more knowledge on my part, but then again, maybe not – who knows?) It ultimately ended in a forceps delivery that was very damaging to my pelvic floor. That's a whole other post but long story short, it took me a very long time to recover. Swap out 6 weeks for about 18 months. I was devastated. I had to become an advocate for myself, I did a lot of research and saw a lot of pelvic floor experts. Some were great, others not so much.
As the focus of my life shifted, the focus of my teaching followed. After we moved back to Canada in 2016 I found La Lupa Via's Prenatal Yoga training. I didn't know her or what to expect, I just wanted to learn as much as I could...The training changed my life and helped me have some huge leaps of emotional healing from Willow's birth. I remember thinking everyone at the training must have been like "please STFU about your birth" lol. Because I talked about it a lot and I cried a lot (again!) But it really helped. I will always be so grateful to Teresa for her teaching and the space that she holds for people's messy healing. Since the Prenatal training I have also completed La Lupa Via's Baby and Me Yoga training as well as her Sacred Cycles Doula training.
Having such a difficult time with Willow’s birth completely reshaped my identity and my career. 4 years out I can say I’m very grateful for it all because I would not be teaching Prenatal or Postpartum yoga had I not had such a challenging experience. It has reignited my passion for teaching and just lights me up in general! Supporting women through this huge transition in their lives has given me a new purpose that I could have never foreseen.
In 2019 I gave birth to my second daughter, Meadow. It was completely different from my first birth and a very positive experience. Because of what happened with Willow, I was hyper vigilant and probably a bit OTT in my preparation this time round. I did a lot of prenatal focused yoga (no handstands), active meditations, Spinning Babies techniques, hypnotherapy, pelvic floor physiotherapy, walking a lot in nature and educating myself on ALLLLL the options. I was very lucky in that it was relatively short, and although intense, was free of any major complications. I also had amazing support and care throughout my pregnancy and the birth this time. (I will love Jane and Talia from Matraea Midwives and all BC Midwives for that matter, forever.)
I want to acknowledge that I was very fortunate in my second birth in that everything pretty much went to plan and I was able to have the birth that I was hoping for. I am very wary of saying I did A, B and C and that’s why my birth went the way I wanted it to. Birth is so unpredictable. Maybe all my preparation did help Meadow's birth go smoother, but who knows?! Maybe it was the luck of the draw. Sometimes, especially in the yoga world, a natural birth is worn like a badge of honor, which inadvertently can make those whose birth didn't go as smooth feel shitty. (Me after Willow's birth 🙋♀️). Now having experienced both a high intervention birth and a more natural one I can say they were both really hard. Every birther deserves a freaking medal and a parade however their baby ends up coming out! I hope this non dogmatic approach comes out in my classes and everyone feels welcome.
Well friends, I think my yoga story is all up to date for now! Thank you so much to everyone who has come to class so far and all the teachers that I've learned from. I've made such amazing friends from yoga! Looking back on the past 18 years has really made me appreciate how practicing and teaching yoga has completely shaped my life. I never would have guessed my life would have turned out like this, but I'm glad it did.