And I return to my mat. Each day, this is what has given me solace. Through every season, through each change, I know I can come to my yoga mat and receive exactly what I need. Nataraja. I never thought that this symbol which presented itself nearly 5 years ago would come to mean so much to me.
Creation, sustenance, destruction, regeneration. Birth, life, death.
I walked into my appointment with my therapist that day, pregnant and feeling as though I was on auto-pilot. Balancing on one leg and holding many platters… this is why the statue of Nataraja appealed to me. Although I had a yoga practice, I had no idea who this statue was and what it represented, all I knew was that it called to me. So in that moment, I placed Nataraja in a circle of sand with other ornaments around it, “creative therapy” my therapist called it. This would return to me one day in the most clarity I could ever imagine.
Fast forward 5 years and after the birth of my daughter; deep into our family’s cycle of life.
I have never been so happy to welcome my monthly cycle. It has come for four months now after nearly 5 months of waiting…. patiently waiting for my miscarriage to complete. When I saw the 2nd line on the pregnancy test almost a year ago, I was overjoyed. We were ready, ready in our heads anyway. When we found out I was pregnant for the 2nd time, it had been almost 3 years to the day since our daughter was born. Her birth changed us, like all births do, but this change in me was immensely profound. It rocked me to the core and shook the ground I walked on. It literally birthed me into a new woman and set me on an entirely different path in life to support and empower other women AND rediscover my own power. But, that is another story you can read a little more about here.
That story is connected to this story however; it is a part of the continuum of birth, life and loss – the symbolism in Nataraja. It is important because it has brought me to where I am today and without it, I am not sure I would have had the trust to wait out the completion of my miscarriage. It took me almost the entire three years to feel ready to have another baby. In those three years, I dug deep and unearthed some things that were buried in the depths of my soul. I educated myself. I took back my power. As a mother, as a couple and as a family we worked on healing. So, when we consciously chose to conceive another child, we really felt ready for this. We were ready in our heads, but I suppose our hearts needed more work.
I was so excited for my first prenatal appointment with my midwife, my home birth midwife! We were doing things different this time around. I had my husband, my midwife, my doula, my friend (also a doula who would be there for my daughter and me)… my birth team was in place. I had the external support I knew I needed and the well of support within me was bubbling. We were ready. But there were these thoughts, “This baby isn’t going to make it.” “This baby is only here for a short time”. These thoughts, that as a mother, you don’t want to give much energy to. So, I acknowledged them, I welcomed them and then I let them go, continuing on with my pregnancy. When at 13 weeks, I began to have spotting, I knew. Two days later an ultrasound confirmed, the baby was not alive.
So where do we go from here?
Well, for me, there was something deep inside, a knowing, that comforted me. It helped me to trust that everything was just as it should be. It was so important to me to let this unfold naturally. With the support of my birth team, I chose to allow my body to work through this miscarriage at home, in my own time. During those first few days the love and nourishment I received from my doula and dear friends enabled me to rest and take a break from the world. When you experience a loss of any kind it feels as though the world around you stops. Friends brought food and helped take care of my daughter. My doula brought me herbs and self-care items. An acupuncturist friend gave me a treatment, at home… in my own bed. Ahhhh…. these women, who are part of my tribe, loved me unconditionally and let me rest, let me breathe. A week went by. I grieved and I moved on. Then a month or two went by.
I knew it wasn’t over, that inner knowing again. But, I moved on, continued with life. We, as a family moved on.
Three months later, when I had anticipated possibly being pregnant again by now, I took a deeper look.
An ultrasound and blood test revealed that my miscarriage had not completed. This really wasn’t “news” to my heart, but rather news to my brain I suppose. At this time, my medically inclined husband began to express his concern. He was worried. I respected that. I fully understand that medical interventions such as a D & C are put into place for reasons. I had done my research. I knew the risks and benefits to me both physically and emotionally. Although he never put pressure on me to do anything, he needed a timeline to feel comfortable and I needed to NOT have that timeline. Navigating these differences helped us grow stronger together.
But still, there was something inside of me, “the good girl” saying, “what are you thinking, just go get the D & C and get this over with. You are putting yourself at more risk by waiting, it’s been THREE months.” AND then there was the other voice telling me, “YOU know. You knew when you heard this voice telling you the baby wouldn’t stay with you unitl birth and you know now. Listen to me. Trust me. I am you. I am your knowing. I will guide you if you let me.” My yoga practice continued to deeply support me. The time on my mat with the asana, my breath, my meditation practice and Nataraja helping me stay grounded and centered during this time of confusion and unknowns.
So as hard as it was, but as real as it was, I listened. For maybe the first time in my life as an adult woman, I listened only to me. I LISTENED. I LISTENED TO ME!!!!!!! And I waited. I waited. I gave my body the time it needed. I waited patiently and I vacillated between trusting and jumping to the step of taking an action, because that is what we beautiful amazing crazy human beings do… we want to take action! I am so eternally grateful to have had care providers who were patient, trusting and willing to give me the power – letting me decide the next steps. I am also grateful to myself for trusting and my circle of friends who believed in me.
Over the next two months, I waited. I called upon my inner resources. I turned within. I wrote. I meditated. I came to my mat and back to Nataraja and what this dancing Shiva represented. Om Namah Shivaya became my daily mantra. I didn’t try to understand, but tried to accept without judgment or attachment as to what our family was supposed to be and the path I was on.
And then something amazing happened – something shifted in me. I was ready.
Combined with the acupuncture I was receiving from a true healer friend, Maya abdominal massage, self-care, patience and encouragement from herbs my body began to respond. It took five months, but finally my body and heart decided it was time to let go.
When I got that first “period” or “monthly cycle” I wanted to shout it from the mountain tops!!! I wanted to share it with everyone I knew, even though over half the people I knew didn’t even know about my pregnancy and miscarriage. It was triumphant! It all came back to that “knowing” and Nataraja – birth, life, death, re-birth. TRUST. IN. THE. CYLE. OF. LIFE.
Months later, I still have never been happier to have my monthly cycle as a woman! As much as I would never wish pregnancy loss on any family, I know that this experience in the continuum of life has enriched us as a family and has provided that last ounce of trust I needed in myself to move forward. I was able to call upon my own inner resources, and for that, I am eternally grateful. To this babe, who graced us with his presence for such a short time in limbo in my womb, I am grateful. You taught me to trust, to listen and to know that each cycle of life is equally important.
So here I am today, back on my mat as like yesterday and as like tomorrow. I turn to that quiet space within where I can calm the chatter and listen to that inner knowing that guides and supports me. I am still surrounded in a circle of love – my husband and daughter, my tribe of women friends and care providers… ready to grow our family.
I share this, not because I believe this is the right choice for you… only you know what is best for you and if you sit still long enough you will hear that inner knowing as well. I share this because as I waited, I searched for other stories from women who have also waited for many months for a miscarriage to complete. There are not many.
Namaste. OM Shanti Shanti Shanti.
Sarah Oakley is one of our contributors and guest bloggers at DTI. To learn more about Sarah’s amazing work and offerings at MamaBirth YOGA, click here: www.mamabirthyoga.com
With the birth of my daughter, I was born into a new woman. This profound journey inspired my path into sharing yoga for the childbearing year with other women. I deeply understand the incredible, sometimes challenging, yet joyful transition through childbirth and into motherhood. Therefore, I strive to provide a safe, nurturing and empowering space for women to connect with their body and baby in preparation for this sacred rite of passage.
Above all, I am a mama to my sweet, strong and spirited young daughter and partner to my loving husband. I have found my calling in teaching perinatal yoga and teach from my heart with respect for the intuitive wisdom within every mama and baby. I find inspiration and joy in my teachers, the mamas I have the honor to share space with and my daughter – the best teacher of the yogi way of life.
I am a Certified Prenatal Yoga Teacher through The Seattle Holistic Center where I studied under the guidance of Colette Crawford. I am sincerely grateful to have trained, apprenticed and taught with Camille Mulchi of MotherWise Yoga in Portland OR. Additionally, I draw upon the experience of birthing my daughter, motherhood and yoga practice of more than 10 years in Anusara, Hatha, Vinyasa and Kundalini Yoga. In addition to teaching perinatal yoga, I am a founding member of BirthNetwork CNY and Co-Leader of ICAN of Syracuse. Most recently, in keeping with the spirit of adventure, I have trained with one of my teachers, Kim Fischer of Lotus Life Yoga Center, to become an Aerial Yoga Teacher.
My greatest hope for my work is that I am able to offer women yogic tools for embracing a conscious and empowering pregnancy, birth and motherhood.