I’m a bit of a walking contradiction to myself. I mean, I always enjoy just floating off with my imagination, I’m creative and I’m intuitive but I equally thrive off order, discipline and knowing how to predict what’s ahead. I plan, write lists and organise like a pro!
So, maybe you can imagine just how challenging growing a teeny human was for me! I was so lucky to have a pregnancy journey that was founded on rock solid health, physically speaking. After the first 10 weeks of very normal and easily managed nausea, fatigue and dizziness, I never experienced any thing to make me or my healthcare team too worried. If something did cause me alarm, it always turned out to be fine. Even with a bub that measured a little smaller than average, both of our hearts were working well, my BP was near perfect and my tests never showed issue.
I enjoyed regular swimming, Pilates and walking and even managed running gently until week 33! I felt lucky. I felt so lucky and so blessed to be having a safe and strong experience. I know that many women, for a whole variety of reasons, need to navigate pregnancy with risks and considerations. They are the seriously strong ones!
And yet, I struggled. I struggled inside my mind for the first 23 weeks of life with my ‘little fig.’
I found that understanding my thoughts during early pregnancy was really tricky. I was anxious and instead of reaching every milestone making me feel more secure, my worries would level up and have me doubting myself, my body, my relationship and more. I was nervy all the time and floating back and forth between old habits of OCD and coaching myself to a place of calm again.
The fact was, that I didn’t have total control anymore, and I didn’t like that much at all!
Fast forward to the end of my third trimester, and entering maternity leave with, you guessed it, a list and a plan of things I wanted to get done before little Figgy joined our family and came home. Cooking, cleaning, arty projects and self care stuff as well as just resting and concentrating on getting my body ready and relaxed for labour.
Just before I reached week 38, I noticed I wasn’t in total control of my bladder at certain points throughout the day, or so I thought! I spent the whole morning doing light housework thinking about how I was going to manage that for the next two weeks!
Of course, again, anxiety got the better of me (probably for the best this time!) and I called the hospital to ask for some advice. That afternoon, I was going in to check up and ease my mind.
I told the midwife (very matter of factly) that I can’t possibly be breaking my waters because I was only 38 weeks, had barely had pressed pause after finishing work and I was convinced this baby was going to be overdue because of the smaller size. Not to mention my beautiful obstetrician was still overseas for another three days!!! I couldn’t do this without her!
And so we start the next 24hours of learning the art of just accepting and surrendering to what is. A CTG showed baby’s heart was strong as ever, but a simple test indicated that it was my waters breaking and labour was (hopefully!) approaching. I went home, feverishly finished packing our bags, cooked a soup, a curry and a zucchini slice and nervously waited for my husband to come home! Without the arrival of any real contractions overnight, I went back to hospital on Friday morning and got some help to get going. Today was it. We were off to have a baby...what?!
First I had to meet the doctor that was going to help us bring Figgy to earth, in place of the OB I had been seeing for the last 8 months! He was calm and kind and I felt reassured this was still going to go to plan - whatever that plan was, because I had planned to write a plan, but I had never planned for an early show, so....
After 8 hours of laboring hard, with pain unlike anything I’d ever felt and had no way to prepare for, I found out at 7pm I had still not dilated past 1cm! Worse, our previously strong and happy baby wasn’t really beginning to dislike the process and little Fig’s heart rate was spiking high and dipping dangerously low.
Control freak me was now utterly out of control, completely exhausted and just desperate to have that sweet little baby safe in my arms. I wanted to experience labour feeling strong, empowered and in charge but in that moment I was terrified and defeated. I sobbed and sobbed as I slowly accepted what I already knew what was coming next...
...I gathered the strength to sign the paperwork, I kissed my husband and I said a prayer to my body.
‘Thankyou for your work so far. We tried so hard and we did so well, but we need extra help now and we need to let go of this disappoint in ourselves. We have done hard things before and come out the other side. So whatever we need to do to recover, we’ll become stronger again”
Being prepped for an emergency caesarean was the most painful 40 minutes of the whole day. My contractions peaked in their intensity, I lost control of my breathing, which was the one thing I had been able to maintain calmly during the day, I started to pant involuntarily and I was shivering. The anesthetist came in and did his job and two huge, but gentle, wardsmen held me close to their chests while I contracted again at the same time the needle found it’s target.
The warmth spread instantly down my legs and enveloped me in relief. I cried as my husband reappeared, dressed in scrubs and flush with the proof he’d been crying too.
I sunk into another level of surrender. I had never wanted to face surgery, but there was no going back now, and my baby was to come first. I prayed again to my body, this time promising that I would not be harsh on her for this. She tried. Oh my Lord, did she try.
My doctor had control of the room and the 8 or 10 staff that were there. I still felt calm in his hands and trusted him completely. He promised that Fig would be in my arms within half an hour.
I relaxed again and peeked around to see a clock on the sterile wall. 7.50pm. Finally, I managed a smile. Perhaps it was the pain relief, but I knew it would all be okay from here. That by half past eight, we’d be parents.
Suddenly I hear my name, muffled slightly by Dr Shah’s mask. I looked up through my sticky, blurry eyelashes and knew instantly something was different. When I met him 10 hours earlier, he was a calm and relaxed man, but now his eyes were open wide, his forehead raised and I could see that underneath his mask, he was smiling. It was definitely a smile. He tells me that I am now actually fully dilated and I can start to push.
I swore. I swore so loudly. I looked at Dean and he shook his head. No, Dr Shah was not f**king with me!
The mix of natural and chemical ingredients in my body had worked. Oxytocin mixed with acceptance. Anesthesia and freedom.
I seriously believe it was teamwork between the two that created this miracle.
My body had actually done the work and this baby was always prepared to come out naturally. I just needed the help of that doctors needle to relax, let go and open up to the next phase of labour.
The next 27 minutes were soft and surreal and I pushed and pushed, feeling nothing in my body and everything in my heart.
I prayed again. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.
My son (who control freak me absolutely thought was a girl!) was born at 8:17pm and weighed a tiny 5.7lbs. The little lion was here, roaring with life despite his tiny frame. Leo Joseph. King of the Jungle.
Ten days in and birth has been my greatest teacher. I forget already the physical pain, and am instead left with the sweet aftertaste of my spiritual lesson.
Let go. Loosen your grip. Liberate yourself and leave fear behind.
Trust your partners. Trust your doctors and midwives. Trust yourself and trust your body.
Trust the process.
...and soak in every inch, pound, squeal and scream of the reward.