Releasing Fear and Finding Freedom (Shiloh’s Birth Story)
“Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” -Jack Canfield
The meaning of the name Shiloh is “place of peace” or “tranquility.” So, with the birth of my third baby Shiloh I was determined to bring her into the world in the most calm and peaceful way possible. To me, that meant a natural birth. NO medical intervention. No epidural, no pitocin, no c-section. (side note - my second labor was all natural and almost painless thanks to hypnobirthing techniques. So I knew this was possible. You can read that blog post here.) But as my due date approached, fear began to creep up on me and so did preeclamsia.
At 37 weeks I was diagnosed with mild preeclampsia and my midwife wanted to induce me right there on the spot with no signs of labor. (FYI- preeclampsia is basically gestational hypertension AND one of the leading causes of maternal death in childbirth, so I knew it was not something to be taken lightly) They were putting my hospital gown on and preparing the delivery room as tears started steaming down my cheeks. In that moment my mind was flooded with the "horrors" of medical intervention. All I could think of were the stories about intensely painful pitocin driven labors, c-sections, and every little thing that can go wrong when we start to meddle with nature’s process. In my mind I was already living my deepest fears. I was convinced that my labor would be long and hard and end in an unnecessary c-section. This was not my birth plan!! BUT I didn’t want to DIE or put my baby in jeopardy... So I tried to quiet the internal whirlings of the mind, took some deep breaths, and said “No, I don’t want to be induced today. What are my options?” They made a deal with me. I stay on bed rest, and if any other symptoms popped up or if my blood pressure got any higher I would have to be induced immediately. This bought me some time...
I spent the next 2 weeks in bed. For an active person like myself it felt like hell, bit I was able to spend much of that time releasing my fears surrounding medical intervention and childbirth (and I got to binge watch the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel). Somehow through my last two births I had managed to convince myself that medical intervention was evil and unnecessary. My ego was more afraid of giving in to an epidural than experiencing the pain of natural childbirth. But here I was faced with the reality that medical intervention may very well be necessary, and that natural childbirth may not be in the cards. Instead to resisting those fears. I embraced them. I dove in to them head first. I wrote down each fear in detail. I hashed it out with good friends. I meditated on it. I think it helped.
Alas, at 39 weeks 5 days my blood pressure started to creep even higher. That’s when I knew it was time. We went to the hospital with our bags packed, knowing that the induction was imminent, BUT I felt a sense of freedom. I went in calm and free of fear. The worst case scenario would be painful pitocin contractions, epidural, and possibly a c-section. SO WHAT? I will be holding my baby in my arms very soon.
At 7pm they started me on cytotech to ripen and dilate my cervix. Over night I received doses every two hours and slept intermittently as strange cramping sensations started to appear. I was still feeling calm though. Come 7am something changed. My body simply took over. All of a sudden I felt contractions breaking over me me like waves, and I knew I was finally in labor. Real labor! No pitocin! YAY!
As this began to happen one memory in particular sticks out. My husband was eating his plate of hospital pancakes chatting on the phone with one of the grandmother's and said, "Yeah, nothing's really happening yet." In my head I was like "What?!! I am in F***ing full blown labor over here!" But apparently the calm and tranquil birth I was hoping for was already in the works. No one even realized I was in labor AND very close to having a baby. I was laying in the bed, eyes closed, breathing deeply and calmly. Less than 2 hours later Shiloh was born. One huge push and she was in my arms.
So, in the end I got a mix of medical intervention and calm/natural. (Full disclosure- At one point I even sent David out in the hall to find someone to give me an epidural!! Lol. I guess I did a good job releasing that fear! But by then it was too late.)
I can't help but to wonder what the experience would have been like if I let fear get the better of me. The physical and mental tension created by fear may have prevented my body from going into labor naturally... Maybe?
Since then I have been contemplating how fear controls other aspects of our lives. What would you be capable of if fear was not a factor? We all carry those fears around with us. Fear of what others think. Fear of loss. Fear of failure. Fear of rejection. Fear of not having enough. By embracing and communicating these fears, one can create freedom. Whether you have fitness goals, career goals, childbirth goals or other, releasing fear can be the first step toward manifesting your ideal outcome. Try it for yourself! I recommend writing down your fears in as much detail as possible, talking it out with a friend, and meditating A LOT to cultivate a deep sense of calm.