A year ago I went to my 40-week prenatal appointment alone, masked following pandemic protocols, but looking forward to the ultrasound to get to see my baby. I was not expecting to go to the hospital that night to be medically induced to go into labor. You know how they say, “third time is the charm”? Well, this is the story of how my third baby unexpectedly helped me to rewrite my induction birth story from my first and put me on the path to healing.
I vividly remember my midwife telling me that my fluids were very low, which meant it was time to welcome baby sooner than later. I was in such disbelief that when she asked me what I thought, I told her, “well, I have an eye appointment on Monday, can we wait until after that?” Her answer was, “no, I was thinking of getting you into the hospital as soon as possible.” And with that answer I seemed to snap to and realized, “OK, here we go.”
I’ve always carried my babies late. I was medically induced before 42 weeks with my first. It was a difficult experience and left me with body trauma and a feeling of failure even though I still had a healthy baby that I was truly grateful for.
With my second we had set an induction date before the 42 week mark and she decided to come the day before on her own. I felt like I had lucked out. I had an amazing team with my midwife, doula and husband that made it an empowering and miraculous experience.
Then soon after my husband and I had decided that the best choice for our family was to be done with having children, we found out we were expecting unexpectedly. Everything about this pregnancy was different from my first two. Later I learned everything about the birth and the baby boy I’ve gotten to know in the last year would be different too.
All of the differences created new challenges for me, but they also empowered me to seek past what I knew and learn powerful lessons. I quickly realized that I was given an opportunity to rewrite a painful story with grace and power. But that doesn’t mean I wasn’t terrified pretty much every step of the way.
I found five focuses that helped me to push through the fear and triumph over my past trauma.
Now this one takes time, at least it did for me. It took more than six months for me to fully accept my unplanned pregnancy. And I wasn’t in full acceptance of my induction even after I was checked in and had my first dose of Cervidil. For me, acceptance is a process, even though I logically know it is necessary for endurance.
Practicing acceptance means you have found a way to acknowledge the situation without judgment. You can respect your current place and find purpose in it. Acceptance is important because it is the first step in growth. The doorway to this in my experience is gratitude. When I am grateful for what I have, all that is possible are miracles.
I was able to separate my current state from past experience and accept that this was the path to birthing this baby and what a powerful purpose that was. But it took a good day into my induction, about 5 cm dilated.
I had had a doula at my side during my first two pregnancies and births. This time, because we hadn’t saved a penny for this unexpected gift and then because of COVID-19 restrictions at the hospital, my team became my midwife and my husband.
As soon as my midwife informed me that I was going to the hospital as soon as they could find me a room, I called my husband and we started to reassure each other that we could do this. I let all of my close friends know what was going on and every time I got scared, I imagined their hands on my shoulder.
Having been induced before, I knew that we were in it for the long haul. And sure enough, it took close to two days before I was in active labor. I didn’t try to do everything by myself. Asking for help was key, such as for a bath, a rest period, food, other methods to induce labor. I had to be open to help to do the hard work ahead.
By society’s standards support is weakness. But the truth is that support makes you stronger. We have more strength to remain upright when we lean in and on.
Once I was able to accept that I was going to have an induction birth, I was able to find great meaning in it. This was my opportunity to rewrite my induction birth story. This gave me massive strength when I was introduced to new induction methods that I had never heard of before.
The Cervical Balloon is a non-medical option to induce labor and although I wouldn’t call it fun, it empowered me to keep progressing without medication, which helped me to rewrite my story. I let go of what I thought my body wasn’t capable of in the past and replaced this limiting belief with my resiliency.
After this procedure my contractions became consistent and I knew that I was getting close and could power through. Every time my midwife popped into our room to check in on me I would tell her that I was rewriting my story. I could see her smile through the mask. I knew that I could do this.
I saw an image on social ages ago that said, “You’ve survived 100% of your worst days.” It stuck with me. This truth that I’m still here and capable of surviving, if not thriving, through every challenge, loss, struggle, hardship that I have experienced and that meant that I had the capacity to do so in this moment too.
Believing in yourself matters. And it definitely makes a difference in childbirth. I also had the benefit of watching the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launch into space as I labored. If we could launch a rocket into space, certainly I could launch this baby into this world.
5. Creative Flow
Creation. It is where I feel the most magic. And there is nothing like creating a new life. Once I got into active labor, I needed to get creative. I let go of the usual ways of solving problems and I tapped into the unknown, the sparks of inspiration that paid no attention to my old unrealistic expectations.
When I asked for medical assistance for the pain, I was at the point where it had to be calculated to be just 30 minutes prior to birth. I had choice words. My husband said that my eyes looked as if I was elsewhere and that I said I was leaving. My midwife said I was spectacular. Even though I couldn’t help apologizing for my unkind tone every time she complimented me.
I did it. We did it. Two days of hard work produced the most amazing creature I have ever known.
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