The childbirth class we took was kind of meh, but there is one thing the instructor said that so perfectly illustrated something I’ve been thinking about a lot.
“You have to invite all the fairies to your birth. The ones you leave out will tend to come anyway, with gifts you don’t want.”
Is it Sleeping Beauty where the parents fail to invite one fairy and she, offended, curses their daughter? At any rate, whatever story it is, that’s what I’m talking about.
Not as weird as it sounds…
The crazy thing is that I’ve seen this happen. In birth and out of it. But the most stupendous examples are in birth.
The couple who wanted a homebirth above all else.
The hospital was their absolute worst case scenario. Since anything can happen at a birth, I suggested they go tour the hospital just so they could see it wasn’t the evil awful place they feared. They had an appointment scheduled, but went into labor early. The labor didn’t go as planned, and they ended up making the difficult decision to give birth at the hospital instead of at home.
The woman who wanted an epidural above all else.
She wanted to avoid any pain if she could. At at her birth things moved faster than expected, the anesthesiologist was busier than expected, and she ended going through an extremely fast and painful labor with only a few doses of narcotics at the beginning (you can’t have them towards the end or your baby may come out too drugged to breathe). No epidural.
In both cases they managed beautifully.
I was blown away by the courage and strength everyone showed, and the two babies involved were born healthy and thriving.
There’s that moment in every birth I’ve attended when a mother decides be bigger than she thought she could. In the first case, it was when she lifted her face, streaked with tears, and said: “Okay, I’m ready to go to the hospital.” In the second case, it was when she reached out to grab me in one of her most painful contractions and just…roared. Totally in her own power.
But the thing that niggled at me afterwards was that in both cases, I knew what would happen beforehand. I knew just listening to them speak that this thing they didn’t want to face was, when push comes to shove, exactly the thing I’d be supporting them through.
So when the childbirth instructor talked about birth fairies, I finally had words for this experience.
The fairy you most want to exclude from the party is the one who’ll show up anyway, bearing gifts you might want to avoid.
Invitations for Fairies
So it seems rather prudent to invite all the fairies to the party. To make space for the big dark fears before push comes to shove so maybe you won’t have to face them there. So that if you do, you’re ready.
I’ve had two pretty big ones come up for me recently. First we found out our baby was still breech (butt down) past when she should have turned. A breech baby can still be born vaginally if you have a practitioner who knows what they’re doing (I do), but there’s an increased chance they’ll…you know…die. Which is why most people with breech babies opt for a c-section.
I realized that epidurals, c-sections, and inductions were all part of a big fairy I wasn’t inviting to my party. Most people I talked to tried to calm me down, tell me “everything will be fine,” and it felt like they were telling me to exclude this particular fairy from the party. Instead, I curled up in a ball and thought back to what I knew about my own birth. To my surprise, “memories” came up (I don’t care if they’re “real” memories or other kinds of fear).
I felt a little baby girl, inside the womb, her head and neck cocked at a funny angle, affected by narcotics, being hit hard against an unyielding cervix again and again. I felt cold air as she was lifted into the air and then not put on her mother’s skin. The fear and loss from that. The deep belief that life wasn’t safe, that she had to stay very alert and vigilant all the time lest something like that happen again.
And I felt my own present reluctance to let my baby, who I knew was a girl, anywhere near my cervix, for fear of the same thing happening to her. (Ironic, since I was making it much more likely she’d end up being born by c-section and separated from me as well.) I talked to baby-me, to now-me, to the now-baby, validating feelings and explaining that parts of life can be safe. And the next day she flipped.
The other one, of course, was a deformed or severely sick baby. That one came up last week. So even though I knew she was probably fine, I tried to really look at this. What fairy was hiding in the shadows of a possible birth defect? I wrote about that here, and how we found out she’s okay for now here.
It’s not just birth
Like I said, I see this everywhere. Both people seeking to avoid something and creating it by their very avoidance, but also slightly more mystical experiences where their issue just keeps coming up, bigger and bigger, until they face it.
That doesn’t mean you have to jump into all your fears and traumatize yourself all day long every day. (I don’t think that’s helpful.) But it’s worth looking at your predictions sometimes. What’s the unbearable can’t-even-go-there possibility? Can you send it some flowers? Write it a letter? Maybe even have a conversation with it?
Any fairies you’re not inviting to your party? Any times in the past this has come up?
Much much love!