The Art of Surrender: How Yoga Helped Me Heal After an Ectopic Pregnancy
Last spring I was preparing to move to New York City from Boston. I was in love and finally making a big step to be with the man of my dreams. The weeks before my move I felt sick. I was bleeding. I had low-to-no energy. When I learned that I was pregnant I felt an urgent sense of alarm. I had been using the IUD birth control so I knew from prior research that my pregnancy had a 50% chance of being ectopic. Ectopic pregnancies grow in the fallopian tubes and can be fatal to mom and are fatal to baby. When the ectopic was confirmed, I felt the tragic pain of loss.
Just one night prior, as I laid in bed giving myself Reiki healing, I felt her spirit inside myself. We were connected and I could do nothing to save her. I was powerless. I had to surrender.
A Family Mourns, A Burial of Sorts
Eric and I performed our own ritual because society provided us none. There are no funerals to mourn an unborn baby. We dug a hole in the dirt beside the Charles River using a spoon and our bare hands. We read and then buried love notes to our child. It was the first time I ever wrote something I did not keep a copy of. “Goodbye. Goodbye.” We cried in the unseasonably cold spring rain. We were broken. I could not relate to my normally active, giving, and energetic self. She was lost and buried beneath a deep burden of grief. There was no yogic solution for this moment, I thought.
I was unable to work or do anything physical because I was on what my doctor termed a ‘Death Watch.’ I had to be monitored 24 hours a day by friends and family because there was a risk of my fallopian tube rupturing. That meant no teaching yoga, no kids’ yoga, no practicing yoga and no pranayama. Nothing.
After a few weeks, I thought I was in the clear. I was in the Hamptons and spent time playing outside on the beach. It had been cathartic and was so until I nearly lost my life. That night something was wrong. Eric called 911. In the South Hampton hospital I lost my right fallopian tube in an emergency surgery, which left me physically wounded and emotionally traumatized. I really had to stop everything.
Going into the Pause: Aparigraha
In the dark times that followed, I went deep into the pause. My wisdom told me to do nothing. I remember being frustrated with myself, feeling I was not on the path I had set out on 12 years earlier. Why couldn’t I just meditate for a few minutes? Then I remembered the Yoga Sutras. They say we must surrender. The practice of aparigraha is to let go of the clinging we have to every little thing. For me, this was hard work. To just lay down and cry. To return to the womb to heal myself meant curling up in my bathtub, it meant just being as I was. I had to let go of my physical yoga practice, of my dreams of making my first days in New York a romantic fantasy. I had to let go of all of it. That was my therapy. That was my yoga.
Women all over the world lose children to miscarriage, stillbirth, and problems in labor. When we cannot move our bodies, our consciousness or our breath, we must give into surrender. We must let go. If we hold on, we create additional suffering.
Once I was beyond the pause, therapy to me was teaching therapeutic yoga. I was healing every moment I laid clients down on bolsters and held space for them. I started to operate my self-practice this way. When for years I would move and sweat to vinyasa flow, I now emerged with goddess like fluidity. Moving in cat cow pose like liquid water, doing moon salutations beneath the glowing night sky. Laying unmoving for long moments, supported by earth and prop. I was healing.
I gained something from this traumatic experience: A soul knowing its purpose.
I am here to heal. Yoga is therapy for me now, whether I am teaching, practicing, or writing. It is my medicine. It’s my offering. My gratitude is expansive even as I write these words which uncover my scars. I choose surrender. To let go of what was ‘supposed’ to happen and allow the shift to take me in the direction of healing. I am a healer.