January 6, 2017
by Brenda Cohen Sabban, Argentina, as told to Morgan Nichols on November 15, 2016
Brenda finished her 5Rhythms teacher training while she was pregnant, and is now the mother of a 4-month-old daughter.
While I was still pregnant, I had a dream of making a video of a 5Rhythms moment while giving birth. I had been thinking about Gabrielle and what she wrote about her experience of birth: I was curious to see how I could apply the Rhythms to my own labour. But what actually happened was very different, and I learned about the Rhythms in unexpected ways.
I didn’t have an easy birth and my labour was 25 hours long. Most of that time, I was in my house with my husband, a midwife and a doctor. When the contractions began, I knew I was in Flow. I took lots of baths and felt soft and calm. I wasn’t thinking to myself, “This is starting now” – that came later. Contractions themselves are like waves: they start slowly, then become stronger and more intense, and then they calm down again. My 5Rhythms practice had taught me that everything starts and everything comes to an end. So it helped me to know: “This is coming, this is strong but it will have an ending”.
After the “Flow” phase, I started to feel more regular contractions in a pattern: Staccato. The pain came on strong, and after about 10 hours, I moved into Chaos. In that moment, though, I wasn’t able to be aware of the phase I was in. It wasn’t as if I could just tell myself, “OK, now relax, you are in Chaos.” I couldn’t let go to the Chaos, and after about 15 hours of labour, the doctor actually told me to surrender. I was fighting with the pain, and when I had not surrendered my pain, my cervix could not open properly because of the tension.
While in the Chaos part of my labour wave, I found that I couldn’t think: I had no perspective on what was happening. I was angry and in tension. And in the difficult part of the Chaos – the shadow side – I felt that I couldn’t do it; I couldn’t give birth. I had not eaten for 25 hours, I was weak, I was in a trance state, and I felt I didn’t have the strength to do it.
This feeling is something I have had a lot of times in my life, including as a teacher. I have thought that I am not enough, that I can’t be a teacher. From the outside, everyone sees me as a strong woman doing lots of things, but in my soul, I don’t believe it: sometimes, I do not believe in me. And now, I thought, “I’m not enough to do this miracle”.
It was a big teaching for me, to learn to surrender to the chaos. I realised that we can’t think in Chaos. In Flow, it was easier, and in Staccato I still had time to think, but in Chaos, that just disappeared. Surrender is everything there; you can’t make a plan in Chaos – there’s no time. It’s a time to believe in you and to believe in the mystery – because my daughter didn’t have any other choice but to be born. The doctor said that when the woman says that she can’t do it, when she gives up, that’s when it happens: that’s when the baby is born.
After 24 hours, I had to go to hospital, because my waters had broken, and it had always been my plan to go to hospital to actually deliver my baby. Once I was at the hospital, I refused the anaesthetic: I wanted to feel everything. When my daughter was about to come out, I was closing my legs because the pain was so strong, but the doctor and my husband said: “You have to do it.” The doctor encouraged me to try and enjoy the experience despite the pain, to try to overcome the pain; if not, it might hurt my baby because her head was almost out, but not quite. In that moment, I moved from being in the shadow of Chaos to being the light of Chaos. I said, “I can do it, for me, for her; it’s pain but it’s no more than pain.” It was then that I surrendered, and she came out.
Then, the Lyrical moment: my stomach felt empty, everything felt empty and light. I knew I was not the pain, and everything was finished. It was the best moment in my life, for sure. They gave me my daughter and I could feel her warmth. I want to live in that moment: it was so beautiful. Her father cut the cord and then those 25 hours were over: the hardest and the happiest day in my life. It was important for me to see that the two things come together, happiness and difficulty. This was a big learning for me!
I experienced Stillness when my daughter was in my body: I felt the miracle of the universe. And when she came out, it was just as mysterious. That moment when she was on my chest: she was all warm and still covered in her liquids, and as I touched her I felt for the first time that I was in touch with the mystery of life. I can’t put words to that moment. I think it’s the biggest place. I knew that nothing was more important – everything was a lie except for that moment. The thought of going to work was strange: What is going to work? This is what is real, this is what life is.
Since then, the fear that I cannot do it has changed. I now have the experience in my body that I can do it, and I believe a little more in myself. I will have to work with this all my life, but after giving birth, I can stand up in a different way in my life. There is a new clarity.