When is the true beginning of a birth story? Does its conception coincide with that of the life taking shape within? Is it with the first clenching of the womb as it prepares to usher that very life earth-side? Or is the start at another time entirely?
For me, one beginning of the birth story of my son was when as a young medical doctor, I took on a powerful self healing journey after years of struggling with asthma, depression, and disordered eating (among other issues). It was a journey I share about in my wellness book Delicious Healing, a journey that shaped me into the holistic physician and healing dancer I am today. It was a journey that allowed me to shed the weighty armor that was preventing me from being my healthiest and most authentic self.
Still another beginning was the moment I met my son’s father and felt my heart start laughing with soul recognition, felt my yoni stir, and my intuition knock between my myopic eyes to say “oh yes, this one.”
But perhaps the truest beginning was the moment I was told I would not have a child. That my uterus would not bear a baby.
When this happened, I was in Thailand with my son’s father. We had been traveling full time for a few years and at the time, I had no desire to be pregnant, though I had a deep desire to marry this man one day, have a child with him and be partners in life, love, parenting, passion.
We were seeing a local Thai healer in Koh Phangan, a woman well respected and referred to us for her skill in massage and energy work. I appreciated her strong hands on my back and legs, and I resonated with her suggestion that I work on nurturing my root chakra. I had experienced trauma as a child that had left scars of mistrust in my heart and a wariness around issues of safety and home. First chakra work.
One sticky hot afternoon, after a session together, my limbs released from tension, my hands gratefully cupped around a glass of cool herbal tea she had brewed, I was blind sighted by her next words. She asked me my age. 40. I smiled at the surprise on her face. One of the side effects of cleaning up my diet on my healing journey was looking younger than my age. After some silence, she said “Do you want to have a child?” “Yes.” More silence and then, “Do you want me to tell you what I see?” I had never been to a fortune teller and never felt called to seek “seers,” but it was Thailand, I was relaxed and maybe distracted by the heat, flies, and my curiosity. “Yes!” She looked me in the eyes and said slowly and distinctly, “Your womb will not carry a child. You can do wonderful things in this lifetime but being a mother, no.”
She watched as I did so, quietly. But there was no change or withdrawal of her words.
And as I wept, my third eye knocked again and this time it said “dance.”
I left the woman’s wooden porch, climbed down the stairs of her house that was held up with stilts, and made my way barefoot to the nearby seashore. And I danced. I faced the water, letting the liquid envelop my ankles. I closed my eyes and lifted my face to the heavens, then dropped my torso down low. I scattered my hands about my frame, I allowed my mouth to widen open to let the prayer of my breath escape out. And rather than lifting up a prayer, I listened. I listened to the song of the sea on its waves, to the wisdom from Yemaya and Mammywater, water deities from my home land of Nigeria. I listened to the still small voice within that I knew to be God, and I listened to my dancing body. And all the voices intertwined and collided into one simple word: “yes.”
When my body settled, when the dance was done, I turned wet with sea and sweat and found the energy healer walking towards me. “Are you okay?” she asked. “Yes, “ I answered. “My heart is open.”
That was the true beginning of my son’s birth, one year before I would exchange wedding vows with his father, and fifteen months before I easefully conceived our child in my womb.
The “no” from an authority figure was the true beginning of this story because from that no, I was led to meet the fierceness of my spirit. I learned the importance of not giving your story over to anyone, no matter how well respected, to be written. I became more resolved to set healthy boundaries while strengthening and softening my heart, working on my issues of safety. These lessons, this work, is really what gave me a foundation of unshakeable confidence during my pregnancy and subsequent birthing experience. Through the dance, and through my womb welcoming a child, I had experienced the transmutation of no into yes. I knew all was possible and that I could shape my reality through my beliefs and thoughts. And so my prenatal care was not just eating living fruits and vegetables, and keeping up with my yoga, it was daily meditation to dive inward and check those thoughts and guide them gently when needed, into a life-affirming place. And my birth plan involved not just saging my home and ordering the birthing tub with my husband, but also writing and declaring the affirmations that would help me wombifest a beautiful birth.
Every day I danced. On the day the birthing of my son began, 40 weeks ripe with pregnancy, I went into the pine forest with my sweetheart and I danced barefoot on the fallen needles, surrounded by mountains, bathed in grace. That night, the waves began. Three days later, after going through a crucible of labor that was orgasmic, transformational, demanding of all my presence, I climbed out of the cloudy sea of the birthing tub water and onto the bed on all fours. I arched my back. My eyes were sightless with the sheer power of the moment, but my sixth chakra was knocking again, with the knowing that it was time. “We are safe. We are well!” I said these words strongly, a declaration both to my baby within and to my younger self. And my root relaxed, my body sighed open in an exhale of relief and my son slipped out into his father’s hands.
He was vibrant. He was vocal. And all I saw and heard from him, from the Universe, was “yes.”
Dr. Tumi Johnson is a holistic medical doctor, dancer, and poet, the author of Delicious Healing. Tumi’s healing work is comprised of her poemdances and her holistic medical practice. Her poemdances are dance pieces that are crafted from original poetry and intended to ignite the healing process of those who witness the dance. Her holistic medical practice is focused on helping people identify the underlying causes of their health issues and using her expertise to offer individualized holistic regimens that support people in achieving their most vibrant health. Tumi experienced her own transformative healing through shifting to her diet to raw living plant foods, incorporating a daily meditative practice and nurturing sensual simplicity into her life. She is dedicated to empowering others in their journeys of personal health, peace, beauty, and happiness.