Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Birthing a new life

When I was pregnant with Katherine, I read a birthing book (okay, I read about twenty birthing books, but let's just keep that between you and I, shall we?) that described the inner dialogues that we hold with ourselves during birth.  The book contained two passages narrating the inner dialogues of the same exact birth experience, and one of them sounded like this:
Oh my God that hurts!  Make it stop hurting!  I can't do this!

and the other sounded like this:

This is a really big contraction, my baby is getting closer, and my body is doing what it is supposed to do, and the bigger the pain then the closer I am to holding my baby in my arms...

I can still picture what the text looked like, where it sat on the page of that book.  It made a huge impact on me, and I took the idea not only to my birth experience but also into life.

In birth, I used the deep breathing exercises that seemed so funny in class, and I thought "These are the same exercises that have been used for centuries, and they worked for other women, and they will work for me."  I decided to embrace the birthing process, pain and all.  On the giant contractions, I imagined that I was a dolphin fighting my way to the top of a wave, and then as the contraction subsided, I would sail down the wave.  It worked better than I imagined it would.

Lest anyone reading this believe that I had some magical painless birthing experience, I'd like to tell them otherwise.  I had dreams of a zero intervention birth, but I was on Pitocen, delivering two weeks early because of pre-eclampsia, on bedrest even during labor because even sitting raised my blood pressure, and there were complications that including calling in crash carts for both my baby and myself and a dozen medical personnel flooding the room, and that at the end the doctor was fearing for my life and my baby's if the baby wasn't born quickly so she told me to push with all my might and I did so, feeling exactly where I was going to tear, and feeling the tearing that required more than 20 stitches.  It was not painless.  My best friend was in the room with me, and she was sobbing in gasping breaths just watching it, because it was scary.  Deep breaths manage pain, but they don't make the pain go away.

But I managed it all through self talk ("I can do this"), imagery, and breathing exercises.

When I told my new mommy friends this story afterwards, they looked at me blankly.  One of those women is still one of my closest friends, and she only confessed years later how bizarre my birthing tale seemed to her at the time.  Most people I know had very different experiences.

But I've come to realize that this is my special gift:  I know how to breathe through pain.  I know how to walk into the pain, and thus walk through it.

I did it for fifteen surgeries.  I did it through sixteen rounds of chemo.  I did it through third degree radiation burns.  And I'm doing it now.

My house is falling apart right now, dealing my finances crushing blows.  Mediation is on Friday, and I will find out if Bryan is going to continue some lies that I'm aware of, or if he's going to come clean.  Mediation results will determine whether my refinance is going to go through; if it doesn't, then I will have to sell the house and move.

But I am going to birth my new life, one way or another. 

I birthed my daughter, a magical creature made of fairy dust and starlight, and I would go through the birth a hundred more times to have her in my life if that's what it took.  I birthed my own life once before, continuing with incredibly painful cancer treatments as a conscious choice in order to have a future.

And now I'm in the birthing process again, birthing my life anew.  I keep telling myself that I can do this, that I have what it takes, and when the little voice says "you'll never make it" I wipe away tears and tell that voice to be quiet.

I will make it.  I will envision Katherine and I playing on a beach at the Mediterranean next summer, gentle waves at our feet.  I will envision the peaceful feeling of a signed divorce, knowing that I am free to live my life on my own terms.  I will envision a home with completed repairs, filled with friends, children laughing.

And I will envision lying in the arms of the man I love.  He's out there somewhere, and he is going to love the strength in me that will land me on his gentle shore, coming down the crest of the giant wave that I'm fighting right now.  I don't know when, I don't know where, and I don't know how, but I am certain of him in a way I never have been before.

When I breathe in, I breathe in peace; when I breathe out, I breath out love.
Peace, love.
Peace, love.
Peace, love.

I can do this.


  1. Wow, PollyAnna. Extraordinary how strong the mind can be. Your determination and ability to do this incredible "I can do this" helped by breathing is amazing to me.

    Inspiring. And I guess divorce is one more "challenge" to fight your way through, breathing and staying focused.

  2. OMG. Perfection. I need to read this every morning at 7:30 a.m. This was beautiful.