By Sabrina Greer
I remember after my last breakup thinking that I would never be a mother. A major wave of fear, anxiety, and resentment for the time I had wasted came over me. How could the Universe allow this? How could I have been so naive? This was back in my pity party days. Society combined with my own self-limiting beliefs had forced me to believe that thirty-five years old was too old to start a family and here I was almost the big 3-0 grinding through the infamous live-back calculations (we’ve all been there right?)
. . . If I met someone today, we would date for a year, be engaged for a year, married for another before getting pregnant (granted no complications), then ten months of that (nine is a lie, forty weeks = ten months) . . . shit! That would make me almost thirty-five years old with zero buffer time to actually meet this mystery Prince Charming. Thirty-five, the very age society deemed it impossible to have a child (at least judgment-free, drug-free and complication free), let alone the three or four munchkins I always imagined. I also remember the alternative thoughts I had on my strong days, things like well, I could just adopt a throng of children like my mother or freezing my eggs could be a viable option or I could do this solo, you know without a man, that is becoming more popular. Massive kudos and a thousand fist pumps to the incredible mama’s out there living these realities, I bow to you. What hadn’t crossed my mind though was surrendering to the Universe’s plan and believing I was on the right track, whatever that looked like. Here I am now thirty-six years old and have three incredible boys, one which didn’t even require maternity wardrobe and swollen ankles.
I wanted to write this post to share what I have learned in these six short years, aka my journey to motherhood. I also want to stand as a pillar of strength for all my single, thirty-something, wannabe mamas out there that are feeling the pressures of the imaginary ticking clock and think when that clock hits three and five your eggs suddenly shrivel up. I want to also be an inspiration for my preggo sisters out there that are fearful of the next steps in this process, you know pushing a watermelon out of a garden hose and then actually becoming a mom like, keeping another human alive. Society not only feeds us fear around age and ability but there is a ton of unnecessary fear pertaining to the bone-crushing pain of labour and delivery. I may not be a doctor, a midwife, a birth doula or a neonatal nurse, nor do I claim to be, but I do know that knowledge comes from experience and, experience I now have. Having two babes back to back gave me all the proficiency I need to share on this topic as I am not doing so from a medical angle but from a mindset one. I know you are thinking “yeah, we’ve heard it before, mind over matter, blah blah blah” so rather than preaching to the choir I have decided to just share my two very different birth stories (minus some of the gory details) so you can hopefully take away my lesson on fear and the shift in mindset I had between births.
FEAR is an acronym for False Evidence Appearing Real. I am here to tell you that fear is 100% psychological, all in your head. Of course, it feels real when you are 10000 feet over the earth about to jump out of an airplane or when you are about to push a human out of your lady parts but there is a way to talk yourself off the ledge and push the fear out first. So with my firstborn, Ihad yet to learn these lessons and had more than enough fear bogging down my already hormone filled head. There were the normal fears of the unknown what if he stays breech? Or what if something is wrong? Then the vanity fears, which to my knowledge are quite typical what if my body never recovers? What if I can’t lose the weight? Or what if I can never have sex again? Then, of course, the dark stuff, ‘fearing the worst’ drama like; what if I die? Or worse what if he dies? Or good God what if we both die? So while yes any and all of these scenarios are possible, statistically, you are more likely to get hit by a bus or have a freak heart attack. I doubt many of us walk around daily with those fears on our mind.
So back to my ‘birth plan’ with babe #1, this is a term I find comical because how do you get the memo past the placenta? You can obviously say things like “I want him to arrive on my due date, drug free, no inductions, no interventions, in the bathtub with freaking rose petals in the water” unfortunately that babe is gonna come when it wants, how it wants and when push comes to shove (pardon the pun) you do whatever it takes evacuate that sucker. I am not suggesting pooh-pooh the birth plan idea because having a plan is always a positive thing to work towards. What I am suggesting, however, is whatever happens, be flexible to change and do not be hard on yourself for those changes. YOU ARE A WARRIOR regardless of whether or not you had an epidural. By the way – I have seen men faint at the idea of a needle going into their spinal cord so . . . I started getting cramping combined with other obvious symptoms of labour (mucous plug, bloody show, all the good stuff) three days before my due date, still no broken water but contractions every hour or so. I was excited. Fearful, but excited! Excited to have him on the outside, excited to meet the creature that had been donkey punching my organs for the last thirty-nine and a half weeks. So we called the midwives and they said to, take a walk and a bath, some Tylenol and a nap. I thought are you f*$#’n kidding me? While disappointed with this highly underwhelming response, I listened and followed protocol. Twelve hours later, contractions minutes apart, we (my darling rock of a husband and myself) met the midwives at the hospital. It was quite civilized. Clean room, bathtub, towels, bed made, television, water for drinking and ice chips for chewing. If I can give a side note here: Midwifery is such an incredible service with consistent care throughout your entire pregnancy and postpartum (this does not mean home-birth or hippy-dippy candle ceremonies), oh and it is FREE in the beautiful country of Canada so I highly recommend. Ok back to it . . . To make a VERY long story short my birth plan went completely sideways. I was in active labour for fifty-six hours, I had to have my water manually broken, I had to be induced, epidural and other drugs, his heart rate drastically decelerating between contractions, episiotomy with multiple stitches and two days in hospital postpartum for testing and monitoring. Gross!
Let me share the shift . . . Almost exactly two years later there we were, round two. Call the midwives. Meet at the hospital. We were in the same room as the first time but something was missing. Fear. I had zero fears this time. I knew what my body was capable of. I knew I would bounce back and I knewthat any pain or discomfort I was feeling would be so temporary. A very dear friend of mine is a HypnoBirthing Coach. I know you are probably rolling your eyes? Maybe you have a gut-wrenching urge to laugh out loud at the mere thought of this hoity-toity new age crap? Well, so did I and I did not take her class but she did suggest a book that rocked my world. What this book taught me were the fundamentals I already knew subconsciously like knowledge is power and you are only as strong as you feel and everything is temporary especially pain. This book taught me that our bodies are built to create life and at some point release this tiny life. If you understand the reality of what is happening (like muscle patterns of contractions for example) you understand it is natural. So round two was over in ten hours door to table and as “planned” this time, no inductions, no drugs, and no interventions. I had my magical and 100% natural childbirth! I trusted my body, my mind, and my capabilities and let that trust remove fear. Once we realize fear is something we create between our ears we can manifest what really happens, magic! Trust yourself, you’ve got this!
So to sum it up: remove the fear and allow what is meant to happen, happen in all aspects of life. Fear is an unnecessary evil, evacuate it and what’s left is magic!