The news of the pregnancy of my first son came on the heels of four years of infertility and one of the darkest seasons of my life. I recently quit my job and spent five months in the hospital watching my baby brother die.
The life growing inside me was not only a miracle, it was a personal battle cry to rise up and truly live again. It was the promise that joy and laughter would visit again.
In preparation for the birth, I watched documentaries on home births and read every article and book I could get my hands on. I was convinced that my body was “made to do this.” I chose to use the local birthing center, with no drugs and no interventions. The birthing center was tucked deep in the forest on an island between beautiful gardens and tall protective Fir trees. I was excited for the birth and even looked forward to the pain. If I could endure the emotional pain of losing my brother, surely I could withstand the physical pain of childbirth.
This was my chance to punch pain in the face after it had nearly destroyed me.
I imagined my brother’s little namesake,
Colton, would arrive just before daybreak as
my favorite Josh Garrels song beckoned him in. He would quietly emerge up
through the warm bathwater and my only pain medication would come from my
Sometimes expectations can break our heart. They can leave us feeling like we are standing at the alter naked and alone. Bewildered and confused. Defeated and beat down. Starting over at square one.
After seven hours of pushing, after hundreds of contractions and the midwife saying, “that’s the push…he’s almost here,” after realizing that the metallic taste in my mouth was actually blood from the broken blood vessels in my face, after trying every position and accessing every ounce of strength I had, after vomiting hundreds of times from pain, and after asking my husband, “why am I not dead yet?” I finally surrendered. I begged to be put out of my misery.
The midwife instructed me to get in the back of my Mom’s Jeep which began the longest ride of my life. I was gripping the back seat, facing backwards with and IV falling out of my arm. I was screaming at an octave that would terrify an exorcist. Five minutes after arriving at the hospital, my son was literally sucked out of me. The relief that this tiny human was finally outside my body was indescribable. I truly believed that he wasn’t coming out or I would die trying.
After arriving home, I found myself alone all day with a helpless being while dealing with so many unresolved issued around his birth. I felt shame that my body could not do what it was “made to do.” I felt abandonment from the care I received with no follow up or post natal support. I was dealing with trauma from the duration and intensity of the pain I endured. I felt disappointment that my birth story turned into a nightmare. Sleep deprivation, isolation, and post partum depression would be my battle for the next year.
The minute my son turned one, the depression started to lift and I found out I was pregnant again with my second son. While we were indescribably thankful and excited, the dread and terror of giving birth again became immobilizing. Every month that passed, the fear grew. This time around, I chose a hospital birth in the city. I chose to be induced and I chose to have an epidural. I took every medical precaution and monitored by body obsessively.
We arrived at the hospital late at night and I went into labor within 10 minutes of being induced. The contractions became intense, too intense in fact. I began to have flashbacks and started to panic. I made a pact with myself that I had nothing to prove this time, I only owed myself grace and healing. When the pain became unbearable, the Anesthesiologist arrived. As the pain left my body, my emotional strength began to rise up. Without the distraction of suffering I could focus on the beauty of bringing this life into the world.
Right before Levi made his entrance, the hospital Midwife told me that he “was almost here.” I began to sob. I had been told this before and I knew it meant that I had hours ahead of me. Through the tears, I pleaded with her to tell me the truth. In her comforting Australian accent she whispered, “He is almost here. I am telling you the truth. He is almost here. You can do this.”
I gripped the bed and heaved tears into the pillow, “What if I cannot do it, what if I cannot push him out?”
At this moment I found myself standing at a life altering crossroad. When we feel that we have failed at something in the past and cannot imagine we are capable of succeeding at it again…that is the moment where opportunity for healing meets action.
In that moment, I did not believe that I was capable of bringing Levi into the world but I made the choice to trust her. I made the choice to throw myself off that cliff in the expectation that she would catch me on the way down.
Suddenly, I heard my husband’s voice, “He’s here! He’s here! He’s here!” As I reached out to hold Levi, somehow I felt whole again. In fact, not even a detective with the keenest eye would be able to see that I was in pieces before. As I reached out to my baby I kept saying, “I did it, I did it.” I was overwhelmed that I actually did something I absolutely did not believe that I could.
My second birth healed me.