using the arrow buttons.
by clicking on the page.
the page around when zoomed in by dragging it.
the zoom using the slider when zoomed-in.
by clicking on the zoomed-in page.
by entering text in the search field, and select "This Issue" or "All Issues"
by clicking on thumbnails to select pages, and then press the print button.
displays sections with thumbnails and descriptions.
displays a slider of thumbnails. Click on a page to jump.
allows you to browse the full archive.
about your subscription?
Lions Roar : July 2013
SHAMBHALA SUN JULY 2013 45 wife who had delivered hundreds of babies in homes, hospi- tals, and rural clinics. I’d attended a handful of births with her, as impromptu assistant and note taker, and recently been at a good friend’s side during the birth of her first child. I was certain that all this experience would translate into me having an easy labor. It had taken my partner and me years to conceive. When we finally did, I’d thought the hard part was over. Brooklyn was a wonderful place to be pregnant. My favorite neighborhood restaurant delivered tater tots and chocolate pudding at 3 a.m. I reveled in the novelty of freely offered subway seats. Still, when it was getting near time for the birth, I wanted to head home. My vision of labor as a communal, village event had been set by that first birth I’d witnessed. We temporarily moved back in with my mother, on the northern California coast. I wanted to give birth near the beach, so I could hear the waves. After our long New York winters, I loved the clear sunny skies and wild cliffs. I took long walks along the curv- ing coastline. There was no late-night delivery but the grocery store on the corner was open late and stocked rice pudding, and I ate a container a day. Since I had a vision of birth as natural and easy, the only thing that could get in the way was my mind, and my mind seemed ready. My due date came and went. I continued to grow. Days passed, then a week. Then, on a stormy day right before Valentine’s Day, I went for a particularly long and arduous walk on the cliffs near the ocean. February is breeding sea- son for the California newt and they were everywhere. Their bright orange skin flashed in the dark mud, and I had to tread carefully to avoid wounding one underfoot. At dusk, my water broke. I called my partner. “We’re having a baby now,” I told him. My mom called her co-midwife. The house filled with people. I went to bed excited and spent most of the night awake, stirring at the lightest contraction. The next day, I took another long walk. The newts were nowhere to be found. Had I dreamed the whole thing? I medi- tated. I took herbs. A full twenty-four hours after my water broke, contractions slowly began in earnest. I lit the candles and listened to the waves. I breathed through the pain. I was in my body, but also still in my mind. I could see myself changing positions and trying out different breathing techniques as if on a screen. “No problem,” I thought. “I’ve got this.” After a night of contractions, I was sure the baby was coming any minute. My mother checked. Not even close. The contrac- tions weren’t strong enough. After forty-eight hours my mother conferred with her co- midwife and announced that if the labor didn’t get moving in the next few hours, we would have to go to the hospital. This wasn’t part of the plan. I concentrated as hard as I could, walking and resting, but the contractions had stopped entirely. We went to the hospital. They strapped monitors to my belly and gave me Pitocin to speed up and strengthen the contractions. Hours passed. The contrac- tions were now plenty strong, but the baby had turned posterior and wasn’t in a good position for birth. I was beyond exhausted. Earlier, the contractions had been intense, but I’d been aware of my surroundings and the people around me. Now, there was no mind, just wave after merciless wave of sensation. The midwives suggested an epidural so I could rest. The waves of pain had pum- meled away at all my visions of birth as a natural, intervention- free village affair. I agreed to the epidural and slept. Two hours later, I awoke. More than sixty hours had passed since my water broke. The baby had turned anterior again and was ready. I asked the attendants to turn the epidural off. “Are you sure?” the anesthesiologist asked. “There will still be a lot of pain.” I was sure. This time when the contractions came, I met them without resistance. I thought that experience and hard work would get me through childbirth, but what finally allowed my body and mind to come together successfully was the rest- ing, the letting go. An hour and a half of pushing later, my nine pound, twelve ounce baby was born and I heard the squall I had been longing for. Time passed. A nurse poked her head in. “Congratulations,” she said. “Is it a boy or a girl?” It hadn’t occurred to me to look. I unwrapped the baby and glanced at the swollen chubby parts. “It’s a boy,” I smiled. I’d always known it would be. “Look again,” my mother said. I looked again. “Oh,” I said, and the last of my many assumptions about childbirth fell away as my newborn daughter nursed happily in my arms. RACHEL NEUMANN is the primary editor of Thich Nhat Hanh’s books and the author of Not Quite Nirvana: A Skeptic’s Journey to Mindfulness. NOW THE BAD NEWS