For a long time, motherhood did not seem possible for me. After being diagnosed at a young age with a retroverted uterus, ovarian cysts and endometriosis, I was warned by my doctor that I would struggle to conceive. This damning diagnosis planted a seed of doubt in my subconscious. A seed of doubt I did not realise was there until I met my husband. I assumed I would never fall pregnant or give birth and consequently directed my energies into self-development and career advancement.
I threw myself into my career and lived a fiercely independent life. Even if, by some small miracle, I managed to conceive, I was now worried about sacrificing my freedom to raise a child. I questioned whether I could parent effectively and became fixated on the mental and emotional patterning from my own childhood.
Meanwhile my endometriosis was taunting me. I was stressed, overworked and the crippling pains each month were awful.
Something had to give and I began to look for an alternative
I hit gold with the Arvigo Technique of Maya Abdominal Therapy, an ancient Mayan technique of abdominal massage that soothes the stomach and helped to increase blood flow and realign the body. Suddenly I felt grounded, calm and in less pain. I began to understand the complete disconnect I had with my own femininity. I saw how removed I was from my cycle and my sense of myself as a woman. As I continued to self-treat my symptoms through abdominal therapy I began to unravel fears, preconceptions and emotional blocks through meditation, reflection and seeking knowledge. I began to understand how the doctor’s verdict about my fertility had consumed me and how negative portrayals of pregnancy and birth in the media and society were making me fearful and doubting my ability to be a mother in the future.
The day before I gained my Reiki Mastery Attunement I climbed a mountain on Hamilton Island. At sunrise I reached the top, where, in a special ceremony, I pledged not to have children until I had cleared my ancestral patterning. I would not pass it on. I pledged my service and energy to be of service to spirit, and to become as clear a channel as can be. I was determined to explore further and gain more wisdom so I sat with an Aboriginal elder who first introduced me to women’s business, the Aboriginal tradition of support through pregnancy and childbirth. I was intrigued by how this knowledge is passed from grandmother to mother to daughter. She also invited me and all the other women gathered there, to participate in an Aboriginal rebirthing ceremony where I joined women at a sacred women’s business ceremony site, walking through a cave and plunging naked into the water.
Sitting in circle with some incredible women, I learned how my own mental, emotional and spiritual patterning could hinder my conception journey. We all hold patterns that have passed down the line, and if these are destructive we may wish to clear them rather than pass them on to future generations. The only way to clear these patterns is to be brutally honest and acknowledge all the shady aspects that are hindering you.
Embrace Your Femininity and Receptivity
Over time I met with other elders and wisdom keepers from other cultures. I listened to one-on-one teachings and immersed myself in Lakota-based sweat lodges. Everything always came back to the same truth: a successful and fear-free journey to parenthood needs to be aided by a true understanding of the power of your femininity and a deeper connection to yourself.
I was not just feeling spiritually enlightened. Something remarkable was also happening to my body. The monthly pain and nausea from the endometriosis was all but gone. I felt energised, optimistic and excited to embrace motherhood and had a renewed faith in my body. There was just one more hurdle – an anxiety I just could not shift about childbirth. Instinctively I knew that the best way to face my fear was to jump straight into it. In 2010 I completed my training as a doula.
“I was not just feeling spiritually enlightened. Something remarkable was also happening to my body. I felt energised, optimistic and excited to embrace motherhood and had a renewed faith in my body”
My studies revealed to me that conscious conception, pregnancy, birth and motherhood involve a much deeper journey. Our culture is achievement-orientated but conception is not an achievement exercise, it is a receptive energy. You receive it when you trust in your body, the process and life.
Supporting women through their pregnancy, labour and then post partum, I noticed that many women – just like me – were unprepared and fearful and had not made the deeper connection they needed for the life change ahead. These mothers-to-be had always operated in a man’s world. They ploughed through the pain and discomfort of their monthly cycles and carried on working during their pregnancy. They were disconnected from their own femininity and fearful of labour. They held on to the traumatic birth stories of friends and acquaintances and doubted their ability to give birth. Then motherhood knocked them for six. They underwent a complete change of identity and thought they should just get on with it. Their world and relationships were all redefined and no one had prepared them for it. They were responsible for shaping the next generation yet no one was guiding them how to.
Create Space for the New – and Listen
Reflecting on my own journey I began to intertwine meditative practices, positive thinking techniques, the power of intention, traditional teachings, ceremony and coaching practices and questioning to guide mothers on this journey. Working with receptive clients I began to help them to create space, to reconnect with their womb, vagina, blood and cycle. I gave them mindfulness practice and looked at how ancestral patterns and cultural imprints may have shaped their belief systems around motherhood, pregnancy and birth. The women who embraced it began to see and feel big changes. They were less stressed, had healthier cycles, felt happier, more inspired and creative. They were gentler with themselves and felt more connected, able to conceive.
In September 2012 I realised it was time to prepare for my own motherhood journey. I had experienced a vivid dream about having a daughter who should be called Leilani. In preparation I increased my meditation, yoga routine, cut out alcohol, increased my supplements, utilized Mayan herbs and practiced abdominal self-care.
In my dream Leilani had told me the exact date she would be conceived. By now we were living in Jakarta and that day my husband and I were scuba diving in Sulawesi. When I had a magical encounter with a green sea turtle I knew the magic was on its way. I awoke at 2am the next morning from a dream about birthing my child in a flash of light and I knew I was pregnant. The next day I cancelled my scuba dive and changed my diet accordingly. While my husband dived, a pod of dolphins came to my boat and circled me three times and I knew Leilani was a water baby.
Having worked with clients as a doula I knew to surrender to my pregnancy morning sickness. Instead of fighting it I listened to what my body, mind and spirit told me that Leilani needed – water. I stood in a pool for hours. It was the only place I did not feel nauseous.
Before Leilani’s birth I returned to Australia and moved to the Sunshine Coast. My labour was 36 hours and although there were times when I wanted to give up I used everything I had learned to get into the zone. My body responded beautifully and I felt so deeply connected that no one had to tell me when to push. My body just knew when and how.
Being a mother felt very natural. My preparation helped me to understand when to ask for help and allowed me to stay calm when unexpected events would come up. While it was a sacred, beautiful time, I would be lying if I told you it was easy.
Traditional culture has always seen women witness birth and be part of the moment of birth until it becomes part of life. Yet now we are so far removed from birth, pregnancy and motherhood. We only see the happy side of being a mother and have no tools and strategies for how to deal with the sleep deprivation, the soreness and the healing.
I’ve learned that the path to parenthood is the biggest transition any mother or father will make in their lifetime. For all the joy, this journey can come with struggle, uncertainty or fear. If you have been through IVF multiple times with no success then it is understandable that you may doubt your own ability to be an active participant in the journey of conception. If you have spent many years of adulthood without children in your life then the thought of being a parent may be daunting.
It is my goal to help anyone who sees children in their future to truly prepare for that moment. It is my dream to help them to work through pain, blocks and self-doubt and start parenthood with a true, unwavering belief in themselves.
LEARN Find out about Esther’s courses at findhorn.org.
READ More about Conscious Conception and Maya Abdominal Therapy at kindledspirit.com.au