Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Ice Journey

Blind folded, sitting in what felt like an empty room the journey begins. The advice from the guide is often "with your deepest breath" followed by both physical, mental and sometimes even emotional challenges. The experience has often been difficult to describe as there are so many elements, some that maybe impossible to communicate with words.

With over 35 years of teaching, being a Doula, assisting with over 2,000 births and teaching over 10,000 expecting parents, Patti Ramos gave nine couples last weekend a journey they would never forget.

Ice Journey for the Men:
Out in the hall way the women gathered for instructions while the men sat in the classroom blindfolded. Patti Ramos, the class instructor designed this activity to give the guys a "realistic, intense and enlightening labor simulation". This included simulating the sounds of a hospital with doors closing, woman in labor, and common conversations between nurses and doctors.

For contractions the men held handfuls of ice, while the women tested out some distraction and pain relief techniques on them. In between the ice contractions the men were given a sip of water from their wives, and then told some powerful stories. All the stories shined light on birth, becoming a parent and on nurturing the most important thing in their lives, their relationship with their wife.

There were moments were the wives were asked to step away from their husbands, leaving them alone to deal with the ice while they were still blindfolded.

Ice Journey for the Soon-To-Be Mommas
Maybe, it was because I got to see what Eli went through that I wasn't concerned about my turn going through the ice journey. I was feeling oddly confident. This time around the experience was a little less formal, the husbands this time were not strictly instructed and were allowed to talk to the wives.

There I was blind folded. The men left the room to get instructions and the girls for the first time during that whole weekend had a moment to connect. One of the girls spoke up asking about ideas for birth music, the idea of something faster paced with drums got me to blurt out "You could always hire a drummer!" That started a chain reaction of blind folded giggles and jokes.

Once the journey started, I found that my yoga practice was kicking in. During the first couple ice contractions I put the hand not holding the ice and breathed into my belly. Feeling baby dance around, imagining each breath was nourishing her and giving us both strength made it so I didn't notice the ice at all.

I found myself actually having a lot of fun. I turned the "be led around blindfolded in a circle" game into an excuse to let out my pretty prancing pony moves. There was also a time Eli and I were dancing, well... it zoomed me back in time back to the days of Eli and I out dancing, let's just say it was getting spicy!

The experienced ended when Eli lifted up my blindfold and presented three items he was secretly assigned to gather. The items were to represent him, me and my purpose during labor. I opened my eyes to see his, and my horse riding helmets and one of the baby's fat pony blankets. I was flooded with joy and the tears poured.

Reflection
The main thing I learned from this experience is what it is like to be on the outside looking in. Meaning, in the case of birth how hard it will be for Eli and anyone else watching me going through the experience feeling a bit powerless to help. Maybe even overwhelmed, as I watched Eli struggle with the ice I was not comfortable not being able to help, make it easier. However, it got through it on his own and even though we didn't get to go home with an ice baby the experience was a productive challenge.

I also believe that this small piece of the weekend was the icing on the cake. I will share more about the weekend in a future post, however if you are in the greater Seattle area I HIGHLY recommend attending Patti's class. It is an investment not only in preparing for birth, but in enriching your relationship with your partner, one you will not regret.

Patti Ramos: Doula, Birth Educator, and Photographerhttp://www.pattiramos.com/

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