Did it ever occur to you thatyou might be able to come and help Durga Ji with her child?
Yes. It was something I thought about a lot, because it was such a desire. Every woman I saw in labor seemed like Durga Ji. That feeling was just so strong in me. It was obviously the thing that I wanted more than anything else.
And it seemed as if Maharaj Ji was preparing me, both in realizations I had in Knowledge, and also in the experiences I actually had with deliveries. Within the boundaries of a normal delivery, a lot of different things can happen. And it seemed as if Maharaj Ji was giving the full breadth of what can happen within a normal delivery so that I would be prepared for any possibility with his own baby.
It got really intense because when all the premies knew that Durga Ji was pregnant, people kept saying to me, "Oh, you might go and deliver the baby." So the tension just increased until thinking about it was too painful. So I didn't think about it anymore; I just got into meditation and into doing service. I was quite busy at that time in London. And it was just when I had stopped expecting anything that I got the call, asking if I would be free between the middle of February and the middle of March to go to Los Angeles.
Maharaj Ji set it up so perfectly, because another midwife was able to take over the deliveries scheduled for me in London. She's been working with me since January, so she just had enough time to get to know some of the patients and to be in a position to carry on if I wasn't there.
So when did you actually come to America?
The middle of February. I think it was the thirteenth when I flew.
What was Durga Ji doing to prepare for the birth?
If you have faith in Guru Maharaj Ji, you realize what having this human life means. It means that you've been given a part to play, and you've got to play that part. When Durga Ji found out she was pregnant, she immediately got herself completely into doing the best thing that she could for her baby, because the baby was so precious to her - she just wanted to do the best thing that she could for it.
She started doing exercises and going to classes - in fact, classes which involved the husband as well as the wife, so that Maharaj Ji was also going to the classes, and they were learning together. The thing that struck me was how much they both got themselves into it. Everyone who is expecting a baby has to do that; you've got to be prepared. If you want to get the most out of it, you've got to put the most into it, and then it will be a joyful thing.
What was the actual method that Durga Ji used?
She used the Bradley method. The basis of it is that you learn to breathe deeply, to breathe from your abdomen instead of your chest. It's very close to meditation. Whereas in other methods, the breathing is away from the abdomen, and it gets lighter and lighter and becomes very fast when you get into intense labor. These methods seem to build up tension over a period of time, rather than making you really relax. The Bradley method really aims toward relaxation. Relaxation is the most important factor in natural childbirth.
The other thing Bradley thinks is very important is involvement of the husband. The best person to coach her and help her through the labor, if he's trained, is the father of the baby, because he's the person she's closest to. He can give her the most support. Through pregnancy, the mother and the father attend classes and train as a couple. You are taught everything that's going to happen during the pregnancy and during the different stages of labor. Maharaj Ji and Durga Ji went through all that together so that Maharaj Ji knew on the physical level exactly what was happening. He was able to help Durga Ji through the different stages of labor, and from one stage to the next. And he did that perfectly really, he was such a help to her.
How did you find out about the Bradley method?
It was a coincidence. Again, Maharaj Ji was preparing me. The Bradley method was not being used in England at the time, but it happened that one premie who had had her baby in California, using that method, came back to England and told me about it. Then I tried it with my deliveries, and it worked much better. The mothers were so much more relaxed. It was much closer to meditation than the usual natural childbirth methods.
LeBoyer's book on post-natal care had not yet been published in England, but again, by chance, I came across someone who had used the LeBoyer technique.
What is this LeBoyer technique?
It involves being as gentle as possible with the baby after it's born - things like not separating it from its mother, even for a moment, and keeping the lights dim and the room as quiet as possible. The baby is making a transition to a whole new world of unfamiliar sensations, so you try to make things less harsh. You massage it after it is born, because he is used to contractions massaging him inside the womb, and you put him in water for a while to help him relax, because he was floating in water before he was born. Doctors often say that a baby normally won't smile for six weeks or so after birth, but actually, using the LeBoyer method, they sometimes smile just a few minutes after they're born, especially in the bath. They really open up. These things I was learning were the same conclusions that Durga Ji and Maharaj Ji were coming to about how they wanted the delivery to be. So when I got to Los Angeles, I found that what Durga Ji envisioned happening was just what I'd been doing.
One other thing struck me at the time: during the months Durga Ji was pregnant, natural childbirth all of a sudden became quite popular in England. The papers were full of it. It felt like Guru MaharajJi was doing it; Durga Ji was pregnant, and that vibration was just in the air.
What actually happened, then, the morning before the birth?
Durga Ji went into labor about midnight the morning of the 9th. Maharaj Ji called me about 4:00 a.m., and when I arrived she was in established labor - though not really strong yet.
We started to get things ready. She drank herb tea, and we massaged her to help her relax. Gradually people began to arrive: Eileen Mishler, and Raja Ji and Claudia. Everybody was just so positive, so concentrated on this birth, so one-pointed. It was really lovely. And of course Maharaj Ji was there the whole time. He was massaging Durga Ji and helping her through her contractions, just making it all a smooth and beautiful thing.
And you actually had a team of people, then, working?
Yes. It was just like that. And yet the whole time we were so aware that it was Maharaj Ji. He was there. He was so much the Lord, and yet at the same time so much the husband, the tender husband and father-to-be.
It seemed as if he'd picked those people to be there - as if he'd set it up so that it would go smoothly and be perfect on every level. He picked people who could make it a perfectly natural birth - somethtng that - Durga Ji could fully experience and enjoy.
The whole tempo of the birthing then was very joyful? There weren't any complications?
Nothing at all. Everything went completely smoothly. Durga Ji was just so incredible. She was so in tune with what was happening to her. It had taken me a long time to realize what natural childbirth is. Usually when people think of giving birth they think of drugs and anaesthetics and pain. Durga Ji had gone through all of that way of thinking. At first she was planning to have her baby in the hospital, because she wanted to make completely sure everything would go all right. And then she gradually came to realize that it's just got to be so natural. The baby has got to be born straight into your arms and shouldn't be separated from you at all in those first few minutes. Her understanding and sensitivity were incredible to me.
We seem to be so far away from our instincts, that we don't even realize that of course it's best for you to hold the baby right away. People have to be told these things. But Durga Ji didn't need telling. She knew for herself. And it was the same with the labor; she experienced every minute of it: she went completely with what was happening. She didn't try and fight it or anything. She just surrendered completely to the experience.
Natural childbirth is a very spiritual thing, really, because that power which is pushing the baby out is the power of Holy Name. Surrendering to the experience of labor is like meditating. If the woman flows with it the way Durga Ji did, she won't experience so much pain because she'll be one with that power. But if she is afraid and resists and goes against what's happening to her, then she'll feel pain. For women without Knowledge the experience of natural childbirth can be the most spiritual experience in their lives, because for the first time a power that is greater than them just takes over. And premies really get even more out of it because they understand what's happening.
Experiencing labor like that is the first service you do for the baby; it enables you to give so much love to the child. Babies need a lot of patience as well as a lot of love. Sometimes you don't understand why they are crying, so you've just got to be very open. And the experience of labor enables you to do that.
You can't help feeling that everything which happens to Durga Ji and Maharaj Ji happens so that they can better teach us, and so that they can better help us to live our lives perfectly too. I felt Durga Ji was experiencing this birth so she could help us so much more, so she can be so much more of a mother to us.
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A Perfectly Natural Birth
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Did you know that Maharaj Ji had asked all the premies around the world to meditate?
Oh, yes. It was such a lovely thing. We could really feel it. And Durga Ji was So pleased as well. We knew then that all the premies were focused on Durga Ji and the baby and Guru Maharaj Ji.
What happened when the baby was actually being born?
When Durga Ji came to the second stage of labor and the baby was actually being born, Guru Maharaj Ji was encouraging her to push, and to push just at the right time. He knew exactly how to do it. It almost seemed to me as if they'd been through this thing of childbirth together many times before.
By the time of the actual birth, I didn't even feel that I was a person to feel anything. I completely felt Maharaj Ji working through me. Really, Maharaj Ji would like to have done everything. He would have delivered the baby himself,but he gave other people a chance to be there. It seemed as if he had picked everybody there to make it the most perfect birth. And I felt completely that I was his instrument, to make the birth as smooth and as beautiful as possible.
When Premlata was delivered, as her body was being born, I put her straight onto Durga Ji's abdomen, so that there was never any separation. She slid out and then slid straight onto Durga Ji's tummy. And then Durga Ji was stroking her, and gently massaging her, meeting her, just getting to know externally this baby she'd been carrying for so long inside.
As the baby was born, Maharaj Ji said, "Oh, it's a girl." He was the first one to know it was a girl. And then we just waited for the cord to stop pulsating - because it's traumatic for a baby to have the cord cut when there's still blood being pumped into it - and when it had stopped, Maharaj Ji cut the cord.
When the baby had been lying there for a while, Maharaj Ji wanted to hold her. He took off his gown, so that when he held her she could feel his skin next to hers. Because again that's a really, really important contact. Materials don't mean anything to a baby. They're lifeless. But the feel of human skin, especially of your mother and father, is just so important. It was such a beautiful moment when Maharaj Ji took her in his arms. So lovely.
What was Guru Maharaj Ji's reaction when Premlata was born?
Maharaj Ji was just so, so calm through the whole thing. When she was actually born, Maharaj Ji was so happy - just so happy. From the ftrst minute there was so much love between the three of them. He was smiling all the time. When he went out the door and saw people outside who weren't actually in the room, he was completely blissed-out. Just so happy.
What happened after the birth?
After the placenta was delivered, Durga Ji took an herbal bath. Then a while later she had another bath, and this time she took Premlata in with her. Premlata really opened up then, moving her arms and legs around, just really relaxing. Later, when Durga Ji was able to walk, they took some pictures.
Can you tell us a little about Premlata?
She's so beautiful. So much love comes through her from Maharaj Ji. She seems to be a gift from him to his premies. And she's really beautiful. She gets more beautiful every day. Right when they're born babies sometimes seem so wise, because all they've known up until then is meditation, and everything they do is coming straight from that experience of meditation.
How are Durga Ji and Premlata doing?
Everything's normal; everything's really good. They're both really, really well. There's so much love between Durga Ji and Maharaj Ji and the baby. They both love her so much. They're infinitely patient and infinitely kind. It's indescribable, really, to be with them. I just can't describe it. Because when you're in that perfect place it feels so natural.
When I'm with Maharaj Ji and Durga Ji and the baby I feel completely right. And that's because it's perfect with them. When you're somewhere else, then there's a lot of mind, there's a lot of other things. And so you don't always feel that it's the perfect place to be. You don't feel that it's the most natural place to be, because of your mind and because of other people's minds. But with them it's just right.
Does Maharaj Ji help Durga Ji to care for Premlata?
Oh yes. It's completely a shared thing between him and Durga Ji. He holds her so much and brushes her hair, and plays with her, and talks to her, and sings to her. It's so beautiful, because that's really what he's doing with all of us, and if we were that little he'd actually pick us up too.
What did you do there after the birth?
Well actually Durga Ji really looks after the baby completely. Sometimes I massaged her or held Premlata while she slept. But there are a lot of other things to be done. In the first few days many little things can happen, things that are quite normal, maybe, but you don't know whether they're normal or not if you've not seen them before. So I stayed just to make sure that everything was all right with both of them.
Did Guru Maharaj Ji give you specific Agya?
Not really anything specific, but I know now what I'm supposed to do. There are a lot more things I could be doing with natural childbirth in England - meeting with groups, for example. Before the birth I was sometimes a little hesitant, because I wasn't sure. But now I'm sure, and I'm going to go ahead with it. Maharaj Ji did tell Dr. Ron that the clinics in the U.S. should start getting into natural childbirth.
Have you anything else to add?
It's just so lovely to see Maharaj Ji and Durga Ji and Premlata together. We can learn so much from them. They're perfect parents - on the physical level, in this world, they're just such perfect parents. They've just got so much patience with Premlata. If she cries for a while, they don't get cross with her or anything like the way parents often do. They just give and give.