Conquering Fear Through Support
Baby Name: Isaac Joseph
Legnth: 20 in
Birthday: July 31, 2017
For as long as I can remember, I have said that one of my biggest fears in life was childbirth. I have no idea why. There were no traumatic stories in my family and I can't point to anything in particular that would have caused that fear. It's especially peculiar since for a long time, I was convinced I would become a religious sister, where of course I would never give birth to any children. As always, God had different plans!
For reasons still beyond my comprehension, we ultimately decided to give our best efforts towards an unmedicated hospital birth. Both my husband and I, though, were completely at peace with whatever outcome needed to happen, should it be different than that. I had several friends who had one or more unmedicated births over the past few years, so I knew it was possible for me, but I was still scared out of my mind. My incredibly supportive husband is one of the main reasons I was able to commit to the decision to try to give it a shot. He told me over and over that he believed I could do it, and I knew he meant it.
Around 2am on a Monday morning, I woke up to some weird feelings in my belly. I didnt want to wake my husband if it was a false alarm, so I timed them for about an hour. They were irregular, but I knew they were real contractions. So from 3am until about 7:30am, we labored at home. Candles, soft music, and a husband ready to serve made that part of labor pretty beautiful, actually.
We left for the hospital when contractions were pretty intense and about 4 minutes apart, but the travel slowed things down in my body. When we arrived, I was about 5cm dilated, and since we told them I was going to try not to get the epidural, I was settled pretty quickly into a room and we were left to ourselves.
For the next 10 hours, my husband and I walked the halls, rocked through contractions, rested, walked more, etc. I only have a few memories from that time, but two stand out: I gave my husband the most incredulous look of my life when he walked into the room with delicious smelling coffee ("You did NOT just bring coffee in here knowing I can't drink it. Out, out, OUT!") It was really pretty comical, even in the moment. The second memory is of the nurse walking in on he and I looking like we were playing Twister with the exercise ball while he tried to relieve pressure in my lower back. She said, "I've been doing this 20 years and this is the first time I've seen THAT position!" Welcome to my life.
At 5:30pm, I had been 7cm dilated for almost 4 hours, and in what felt like transition, which is the hardest part of labor, for the same amount of time. So the doctor very gently offered to break my water. He said, "I know that you can do this for another 2 or 3 hours, and it's your birth, so you make the call. Breaking the water will just probably speed things up for you." I opted in right away.
Sure enough, within 90 minutes, I had the urge to push. My mom had been with us throughout the day with no particular role except support, but at this point her role became very defined. My husband held up one of my legs and my mom held the other since I certainly didn't have the strength to do it on my own at that point. We got through the pushing stage with the help of our amazing nurse, who coached us all and again told me she believed in me and calmly guided each step. My sweet husband was also exhausted at this point and neither of us remembered what we learned in our birthing class for pushing. After thirty minutes of pushing I was holding our baby boy! Healthy, strong, and perfect.
Looking back on the experience, I am filled with gratitude that God allowed the process to happen as it did. I know not everyone has an uncomplicated birth. In my case I think God protected us at least partly so that I could face my lifelong fear and learn to be confidently unafraid of the natural process that my body can undergo. Truthfully, in the past year, I have not once thought about or remembered that I ever even HAD a fear of childbirth!
So, that principle applies to pretty much everything. The unknown is scary, and will continue to be. But in facing my fear head-on, I saw that it wasn't quite as big as I had made it out to be. Especially with the support and encouragement of people I love, I learned I am more than capable of overcoming my fears, even the biggest ones.