Tuesday, April 10, 2012

My First Feat of Strength


Lately I've found myself doing a lot of reflection on my journey & today I was thinking about one of the unsung factors in my success.  This is your fair warning: I'm about to talk about childbirth which may either a) gross you out or b) offend you.  Every word hereafter is meant merely as a reflection on my own experiences & in no way is intended to impart judgement on anyone else's experience.  After all, anyone who has read anything about pregnancy & child birth can tell you: "every pregnancy is different."  So, with that little proviso out of the way...

Linkavitch Chimovsky
It's no secret, I've got some hippie tendencies.  When I was pregnant with my son (5 years ago) I went into the delivery room all dewy eyed & expectant of an un-medicated, uncomplicated, peaceful birth.  Lincoln had other plans.  One induction, 15 hours of Pitocin-ful epidural-less labor, one prolapsed cord & one very emergency C-section later, I was a mom.  No matter how many times Dave chanted "Healthy baby, healthy mom...that's all that matters," I still felt like a failure.  I wanted so badly to experience a natural birth & even though there was absolutely nothing I could (or would) do to change it, I chalked it up as just one more thing my body couldn't do.

I literally started talking VBAC with my OB the very next day.  It became an obsession.  When our local hospital stopped allowing them, I vowed I would drive an hour to a provider that would (thankfully we moved before it was an issue).  I made my plans for a VBAC known at my very first prenatal visit for my second pregnancy (three years ago).  At each visit, the doctor reminded me of the risks & each time I said I understood the risks & wanted the opportunity to try to deliver naturally.  I was a dog that wouldn't let go of a bone, tenacious & resolute.

Sweet Coraline
Another induction, more Pitocin, no epidural.  My labor started stalling at 5 cm dilated.  I was in a panic.  This was the same point that I had my C-section with my son.  What if my body couldn't go any farther?  What if it was a waste to keep trying?  Through my cursing & moaning, I had to make a choice.  I could compromise some of my expectations for the sake of an end goal or grit through & hope for the best.  I chose to compromise & get an epidural with the hope that I could relax & let my body do its thang.  I had my baby girl 45 minutes later. 

What does this have to do with making a change in my life?  I was never an athlete.  Aside from dance lessons as a child, I wasn't in a single physical activity or sport.  I had never asked my body to do a anything beyond the daily activities of life.  Labor & child birth are tough & I made it through; past the fear, past the self doubt, past the pain (with the help of an anesthesiologist on a white horse).  On the other side I found a daughter (who has motivated me in ways that I will never be able to fully express--more on that here) but I also found something far simpler: I found physical accomplishment.

Intellectually I know that the manner in which I brought my babies into the world has NO bearing on me as a person, woman, or mother, but being able to set my mind to completing a physical task was something entirely new to me & it changed me.  It could have been bench pressing a heavy weight or running a long distance, but for me it was having a baby the same way skillions of women have babies every day.  I pushed my body in a way I didn't think I could & I came out on the other side stronger.  That taste of physical accomplishment was the first of many I've experienced along this journey & I'm so thankful to have had it. 

While laboring, I remember having a distinct mental image of a father & his pre-school age daughter walking down the hall in the maternity ward to visit her new baby brother for the first time.  She was skipping happily with an "It's a Boy!" balloon in her tiny hand.  It was a beautiful moment in my mind that was surely ruined when she skipped past my door & heard what could only be described as a sailor woman being disemboweled "Braveheart"-style.   I felt guilty for ruining their (imaginary) moment, just as I feel guilty I have likely ruined your lovely Tuesday afternoon with talk of VBACs & dilation.  This is why I'll encourage my daughter to take up soccer...so a discussion of her first feat of strength needn't come at the expense of someone's appetite.

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