Monday, August 20, 2018

How I Somehow Linked My First Floating Experience with Birth

Today I "floated" for the first time. If you are not aware of what this new phenomenon is, you float in a low level of salt water in complete silence and darkness, either in a small room or pod. For all my fellow 'Fringe' obsessors, think the sensory deprivation tank without the ability to enter someone else's mind or LSD.

The tank is supposed to provide a new level of relaxation. I would like to say my experience was super zen and calm. But it was kind of a clumsy mess and I spent a lot of the time, oddly thinking how my experience paralleled birth. Because that is what sensory deprivation does, right?! #doulalife #birthobsession

Because I am a wuss and I envisioned being in the pod as floating in a watery grave, I chose to do the room. For brevity sake, use my amazingly accurate drawing to envision what the room looks like:
When you first enter the room, there is light and music playing. Ten minutes into your float, they both go away, leaving you in complete darkness. Now as a 34 year old, who still runs up the basement steps to escape imagined terrors, this was absolutely terrifying. I instantly turned on the light. Five minutes into it, I knew I was robbing myself of the experience (plus I could save myself $65 and hang out in my own bathtub). So I turned out the light and freaked out again. I fumbled for the door, I left it cracked for a while. And then slowly closed it, but kept myself tethered to the handle on the door, so I could at least know where it was and keep my bearings.

The moment I let go of the door handle, I panicked again. I finally had the thought that this was insane. My obsession to control everything was ruining my experience. I have to admit that I am a recovering type A person. I have done so much work to heal myself. I meditate regularly, have a robust library filled with self help books that teach how to relinquish control and trust in the process, and I am knee deep in crystals and candles. I love yoga and massage. And yet I could not enjoy this experience that so many claimed help them relax. I am a zen-person failure!

And so I let go of the door handle and floated to the middle of the room. I had no idea where I was, where the door was, and could not see anything; a control freak's worst nightmare. Yet, after a while, I began to love it. I trusted that I was safe, there were four walls to contain me, I was not just blindly floating out into the unknown.

During this epiphany, I began to think of how this experience related to birth. Birth is a full submission to the process. Birth is floating into the middle of the room, without tethering yourself to the door or turning on the light. It is receiving help and reassurance from your support team but knowing that you have to dig deep inside yourself and trust your body and baby.

The four walls of the room, represent your birth support team. They are your anchor to the Earth, they help contain your safety. And just as I felt the need to periodically to touch them, to reassure my bearings, I kept pushing off of them into the "unknown." A good support team knows when to help and when to step back and let you intuitively do the work that only you know how to do. They provide you reassuring words, compassionate touch, and information when needed. But they know you need to delve deep into the birth process and let you propel yourself into the unknown of birth once you received what you need. A good support team merely supplies you with a safe space instead of control of your birth.

The light, the door, they signify the need for control in birth, the need to constantly intervene. When I turned on the light or opened the door, I needed to "see" that I was safe. But that was because I did not trust that I was safe. I was so afraid of the unknown that I constantly had to intervene instead of enjoy the experience. Constant monitoring, frequent vaginal exams, controlling the way women birth, all provide a satisfaction for our curiosity but many times do not improve a healthy birth.  Of course in times of emergencies, this information can be valuable (like I would want to see the door in case of a fire). Otherwise, the need for constant information impedes on the process of birth.

The point of my story: delve into the unknown of birth. Prepare yourself with a birth team that supports and respects you. Go into the experience with love, not fear. You may be amazed at how much you enjoy your experience when you truly let go. And its wise not to shave your legs an hour before submerging yourself into a tank of salt water;)


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