I have had a post about my fears about giving birth for a second time sitting in my "Drafts" folder for months now. In this post, I spoke in detail about the emotions that Ellie's birth left me to deal with, and how I was struggling to cope with them and how I was so fearful about doing the whole thing again. I kept that post there in that folder, going back to read it and re-read it and add to it and dwell on it over and over again. It was comprised of all the turmoil that I had going on in my head every day, all the anxiety that kept me up at night and all the fear that kept me from being fully invested in this pregnancy. I lived and breathed the words in that post yet I wondered if I would ever be brave enough to actually hit "publish" and share it with the world.
In the end, I am brave enough, but I'm still not going to post it. That post is going to live and die in my "Drafts" folder, because I am choosing to move on from those words. I am choosing to change my mindset.
Given that I have just under six weeks until my due date, all of a sudden I have been struck with the realization that I need to do stuff. I mean, it's time to pull my head out of the sand and prepare. The first thing I chose to tackle was finding a doula. Our doula last time was so amazing and I can't imagine how we would have made it through Ellie's birth without her. Given how much we loved her, I knew there were big shoes for New Doula to fill so we needed to get the hunt underway.
Last week we met with a doula who may very well be "The One," though we're still just making sure she really is the best fit for us. But let me tell you what: just one meeting with that woman helped me immensely. She was very positive and upbeat about my ability to have the birth experience I want, although that's not what did it for me. Most everyone has been that way (which is great), but my mind has always been able to brush them off and maintain its pessimistic ways.
What got to me this time was one seemingly simple question that she asked me at the end of our meeting: "Have you been talking to your baby?"
In that moment I realized, no. I have not been talking to my baby. With Ellie, I spent my entire pregnancy talking to her, singing to her, praying over her, planning for and dreaming of her. I realized that this time, I have been going through the motions, hardly thinking of the actual baby at all because I was far too wrapped up in my own fears and anxieties about birth to have room left in my mind or my heart for anything else.
How terribly sad. I felt like such a selfish mother and my heart broke at the realization that by letting my fears consume me, I have been cheating both myself and my son out of the experience that we deserve.
That stops now.
In that moment, I vowed to turn my brain around. It is time for a new mindset. I'm tired of being a victim of my past experiences and my fears; it's time to empower myself to move forward and take control of my thoughts. For example, up until this point, when asked, I have been saying that I will "attempt" a VBAC, or I am "hoping for" a VBAC. I think I was afraid of getting my hopes up and being let down again, so I was very guarded. But no more. Now, if you ask me, I will tell you "I WILL have a VBAC."
I'm going to start talking to my son and letting him be my focus instead of my anxiety. I'm going to work to relax my mind and body and to prepare both for the challenge ahead. Instead of focusing on my body's failings last time, I'm going to focus on my body's triumphs: I went into labor on my own; I dilated nearly completely; I endured days of contractions (on essentially no sleep) without medication or interventions. I fought with all I had for a very long time before succumbing to factors outside of my control. I was strong. I was brave. I was capable.
That last sentence is the one I have struggled with the most. My last birth left me feeling that I wasn't capable. But I am. That birth was a mess of unfortunate circumstances that kept me from the experience I had dreamed of. I have to start thinking of that birth as the exception, not the rule. Regardless of what happened last time, I am capable.
So going forward, I am resolving to be positive, to focus on my strengths and my body's successes, to keep my mind and my body relaxed and to let myself feel the joyous anticipation of a new baby on the way.
I realize this is not so simple as just saying it, and it will be so. This past weekend when Eric and I toured the hospital, even with my new positive resolve, my eyes filled with tears and my heart raced with panic when the tour guide pointed out the entrance to the operating room, where I would be taken if I needed a c-section. It took me several minutes to be able to look at the hospital bed in the sample room we saw without only seeing a prison where last time, all I felt was pain, fear and frustration as things went wrong all around me.
But that was last time. That was the exception, not the rule. This time will be different.
I have six weeks to be this new version of pregnant me. I'm hoping to use these weeks to prepare my mind and my body (and my home!) for what's to come and to make up for lost time with my son. It will be hard work, but he and I both deserve nothing less.