When I was pregnant the first time around, I was not happy with my body. I could not believe the changes that were happening without my permission. My stomach was growing and my boobs exploded, I had no say in the matter.
This time around, I love it! I know what to expect. Now when milk will start to flow I will not think of myself as disgusting. My milk fed Sadie for 17 months. My milk is amazing. My belly growing, those stretch marks, they are beautiful signs that the baby is growing. I now welcome the changes that were shocking the first time around.
Happily I am more in tune with my body now. By welcoming the changes and accepting them I have allowed myself to feel healthier and happier. I walk and stay active throughout the week. It's a huge difference from my pregnancy with Sadie when I didn't move for nine months. I trust my body. When I was pregnant with Sadie I was afraid the slightest movement would have an adverse affect on the both of us - now I know my body thrives when I am active and pregnant.
It is an amazing gift to feel integrated with my pregnant self.
It's difficult to know what you can and cannot control in terms of your child. How can you protect your child from everything - even the things you can't anticipate?
Yesterday my husband came home and parked in a different part of the driveway. My daughter, at my full consent, went running after her father screaming and happy. Dadda was home. As Sadie ran I noticed that my husband might be backing up and I yelled at her to stop. She stopped. However, I didn't realize that the car she stopped behind had someone in it who was backing up.
I don't quite remember what happened. My husband told me that I yelled out, causing the driver to stop and I successfully grabbed Sadie. He also said the driver of the car had been waving at him before she backed up. I feel like the recipient of a miracle.
It's hard not to play the what-if game. What if the driver didn't hear me? What if the driver would have pressed her gas pedal accidentally? The what-ifs eat me up inside. I feel horribly guilty that I almost saw my daughter die yesterday. I don't know how to process that fact.
I immediately thanked God for protecting my daughter. How can I forgive myself for not protecting her well enough? How could I not see the driver in the other car? How do I live with the fact I almost lost my daughter yesterday? I feel like such an idiot. I hate myself for not being vigilant enough. I am not perfect.
It's a good lesson to remember. No matter how hard I try, how much I care, God is out there protecting my child from dangers I can't anticipate. And maybe I should spend less time hating myself for my momentary lapse in judgement and spend that time thanking God for having my back.
Two nights ago I spent an hour and a half with Shelley Rahim (http://www.prenatalyogawithshelley.com/bsm.html) working through my birth trauma. I left her house in awe of the clarity I had experienced. Although I have talked and thought about my birth experience for over two years I never realized the root of my anxiety. When Shelley asked me to replay the birth in my mind and to tell her about the moment that stood out the most for me, I laughed and told her how ridiculous my moment would sound. The worst part of my birth was when I got my epidural.
My epidural and the doctor who gave it to me torment my birth memory. Once Shelley helped me to process and delve deeper into the moment I realized my anxiety was more than just the epidural, it was a result of feeling that the rest of my birth was a series of mistakes that started when the anesthesiologist said "oh no, I have to redo the epidural because you bled."
For months after giving birth I could not sleep without reliving the birth. I would see the face of the anesthesiologist swimming in my vision every time I closed my eyes. Giving birth shocked my system. Two years later birth scares me. I have been through a pretty traumatic birth once, I know what it's like to be rushed for an emergency C and to be put to sleep and not know if you or the baby will make it. I'm terrified I will have a repeat of that situation when trying for my VBAC.
After our session was over Shelley gently told me she thought I was struggling with Postpartum Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. I couldn't disagree with her, I knew deep down she was right. In case you are curious what this entails, go here for a complete description: http://solaceformothers.org/PTSD_info.html. Due to not treating PTSD for two years I have developed some phobias I cannot shake off. Shelley recommended I see a professional and referenced this site as an excellent tool: http://www.postpartumhealthalliance.org/
I'm sharing this very personal information because I want women out there to get the help they need. Birth is a traumatic experience, there is nothing like it. It's a wild ride where you hold on, hope for the best, and hopefully release a human being from your body into the world. You and the baby within your womb are fighting together. Doctors, nurses, your husband - none of them are experiencing your contractions, the feel of your baby moving inside you, the fear coursing your body as you will everything to turn out the way you want it to. Sometimes, God forbid, it doesn't work out. Sometimes it works out but not in the way you imagine it. There is help out there and I am planning on taking full advantage of getting the support and counseling I need.
Tomorrow is the big ultrasound.
We find out the sex. We find out where the placenta has decided to take root. We find out if everything looks good with the baby.
I have a pit of anxiety sitting in my stomach.
All of these things are out of my control. I can't decide the sex, where the placenta is located or the health of my baby. I can only control my emotional response to the situation. I have to believe that everything is going to be great tomorrow. Plan for the best and ignore the worst.
At almost 20 weeks I am starting to feel the pressure to find a doula. There was a doula I had in mind for over a year; however, when I connected with her, there was a difference in opinion regarding some important stuff so we decided to part ways. I held back tears after reading her email. She was nice and polite but the undertone was very clear, I needed to find someone else. A few hours later and I feel good about the "break-up." Ultimately we would never have worked. Our difference in opinion would have driven me crazy and probably would have eliminated my ability to relax and trust her during labor.
Now I'm back at square one. I wrote a post on the SD ICAN page requesting any recommendations for a doula. I've also gone online and googled "San Diego Doula" hoping to see a name or a picture that would appeal to me. I have a long list of doulas with prices, recommendations and my thoughts written next to each name. I am calling each doula, instead of emailing, to help me decide whether I want to continue the relationship and get to know her better.
How can I pick a doula from one meeting? Shouldn't my doula and I have to run a race together, have a sleepover, talk about our pasts, our children, our dreams before I make one of the most important decisions in my life? My doula is supposed to be my lifeline during labor. My doula is supposed to rub my back, hold my hand, tell me everything is going to be okay and help me go through the birth of my second child! Shouldn't I be best friends with my doula after the baby is born? Shouldn't I be best friends with the doula before I go into labor?
Taking all these thoughts into consideration there is one other important piece of the puzzle. I have MOMMY ISSUES. Major ones. I don't want to go into any details but suffice to say I do not always get alone with other women. I know this about myself and it worries me - will I end up liking anyone?
I saw my OB today. I tortured him for an hour with questions from a list I wrote this morning. He patiently and kindly answered all my questions. He reminded me several times to think positively and look at pregnancy/birth as a wonderful miracle that is special and beautiful. He is absolutely right - I don't know when I became such a "cup half-empty" person. I used to be optimistic hoping for the best and now I worry about all the things that could go wrong. I'm finding it harder and harder to find my positive side. Perhaps this pregnancy and birth can be my journey to becoming optimistic again.
On a separate note, I want to share my list of questions, the doctor's response is in parenthesis:
1. Have you ever lost a patient? An infant?
(When I asked the question he looked really serious and slightly unnerved. He quietly responded "no to both". He said he felt like he should knock on wood now. Then he nervously laughed)
2. How can I reach you? (I was given his cellphone number.)
3. What is your opinion on nail polish while pregnant? (Since I am already in the second trimester and all of the baby's organs have been developed, he doesn't see a problem with nail polish.)
4. Why do you like the doulas you recommend? Would you be offended if I picked someone else? Opinion on specific doula I'm interested in. (They are all very nice and he has worked with a lot of them so they work well together. Doula ____ is great too!)
5. IV during labor? Food during labor? (Only that I need to have a heplock and I can eat stuff like jello and drink clear fluids.)
6. What do you do to prevent ripping? (Controlled pushing. Other techniques to help prevent tearing. Recommended massaging perineum after 36 weeks with some olive oil.)
7. Do I have to wear the heart monitor at all times? (Yes, hospital policy.)
8. If I need a C-Section what are the protocols? Policies? Put under? Past issues with epidural. (We didn't really get into a good discussion about a potential C-Section since it depends a lot on the situation. An emergency C-Section takes away a lot of choices, something I'm aware of.)
Afterwards I apologized about being neurotic and he told me it was not a problem and I could ask him any questions I wanted to. He encouraged me to deal with my birth trauma from my previous experience to help me see the next 20 weeks as a time of joy.
Sadly my experience with Sadie's birth has taken away a lot of the joy I should be feeling in this pregnancy. On some level I almost ignore the baby inside me out of fear that this birth could kill either one of us. My OB is right. The next 20 weeks are very special. The ability to create a life is a miracle and a gift. In 20 weeks I most likely (GOD WILLING) will be holding my little baby in my arms. I will be part of the beautiful process of creation. My body will create and carry the next generation. It's a beautiful gift.
Once again I am reminded how lucky I am to have my OB.
I have started reading "Birthing From Within" by Pam England. As this is a birth preparation book largely based on working through your feelings, I am assuming I will be working through some of my birth stuff on my blog.
In the first couple of pages the book discusses the importance of accepting death as part of the birth process. Before labor there is an element of accepting that death is a possibility. However, during labor, when the pain is so intense that you separate mentally from the physical there is a certain freedom in accepting and surrendering to death.
I didn't have a vaginal delivery. I don't know what it is like to push and cry and release my child from my womb. Yet when I lay on the OR table being prepped for my C section and I screamed with pain from horrible never ending contractions I almost wanted to die. Even after I had asked the doctor whether I was going to die (he assured me I wasn't) and I held his hand as tears blurred my vision, I wanted the pain to end. When they placed the mask on my face to put me to sleep I was grateful. The relief from the pain, the relief from having to care felt like death. I cannot say I accepted death but I was eager to surrender to nothingness.
It's been over two years and I'm expecting another baby. Another delivery. Similar to last time I do not feel like accepting death. I don't want to die. I don't want the baby within me to die.
Perhaps accepting death really means accepting fate?
Meet the Blogger!
I'm a mom. A writer. A lover of good fantasy. A proponent of nursing when possible. A birth advocate. I am absolutely horrible at keeping my house clean or the dishes washed or the laundry done. I strongly believe in women having a positive birth. When we start to respect women's rights to birth the way they want, we can start to treat women as equal people in this world.
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