7 years ago today, I gave birth to my first baby, my daughter, my whole life. I was absolutely terrified for so many reasons. For one, I had never given birth before, but also because I was terrified to have a daughter. All my life I was surrounded by women with severe mental health struggles and to be honest, I wasn’t ready to handle any more. I had my own trauma to deal with, and I selfishly was terrified that my daughter would follow the path that so many of my family members did.
We actually found out her sex early on in the pregnancy, but it wasn’t to announce. It was for me to heal and learn to love her no matter what she would become. No one knew but my husband and I, we were having a girl, and I would be okay. Of course I would, she was mine, and she would be raised by me.
Flash forward to the night I went into labor, I felt different, but I was 37 weeks pregnant and after weeks of bedrest and Braxton Hicks contractions for basically the whole pregnancy, I just wasn’t sure. It wasn’t until my water broke that I knew that day was “the day” she was choosing to arrive.
After hours of laboring at home, we decided to head to the birth center where our midwife and doula were waiting for us. When we got there I dropped to my knees in pain. I already felt that I couldn’t do it. I was crying and hurting and didn’t feel prepared at all. My midwife checked me and I was only 3cm. If you’ve ever been in labor you know the feeling of disappointment hearing you’re not progressing as you imagined after all this time. But I wasn’t going to leave, I couldn’t go back home, I knew I needed to be there, so I begged to stay and continue laboring there.
It was a long and painful road. All I could focus on was what was happening to me, and not what was happening in my body. As a trauma survivor, I know now that my body was on high alert and fight or flight mode was very much activated. I was trying desperately to flee my body, and that state of mind during labor was honestly, destructive. I remember my doula so vividly sitting next to me while I was laboring in the birth tub screaming bloody murder. She would say “it’s just your baby coming down” on repeat and for some reason that made me want to explode, but not in a good way. I knew what was happening, my body was ready, but my mind was not. I remember my husband falling asleep after hours and hours of labor and I couldn’t handle it, I made him leave. I couldn’t handle anything. I even screamed at someone outside for talking, it was all just too much.
From the moment I stepped into the birth center, my contractions were never ending, they were back to back and I never caught a break. I couldn’t find my breath, I couldn’t find peace, and I was looking outside of myself to find it. There was a point that I realized that I needed to get out of the tub, it wasn’t working, or helping, and I needed to get out. So I did. I labored on the toilet for a while, alone. And that was when things started progressing. I never really liked to be alone, but I needed it. It was me and my girl, and we were going to do this together.
I eventually found myself on the bed. I wanted to be on my back, and even though I never intended to be that way, I trusted myself. There was a moment while I was getting ready to push that another doula walked in the room. I’m not sure what happened, but her presence put me at ease, and I knew her being there was what I needed.
When I felt the desire to start pushing I had my team of women surrounding me, some holding my hands, some my legs, and my husband watching, waiting so patiently after all this time, waiting to meet his baby. It felt like years pushing, it wasn’t something I could ever explain. I was impatient, and I didn’t know what to do. It was just so frustrating. My midwife would sit down in a rocking chair after I would have a contraction and I couldn’t handle it. Wasn’t she supposed to tell me what to do? I didn’t know what to do, someone needed to tell me what to do! But it wasn’t up to her, it was up to me.
Finally…finally, after 15 hours of laboring out came a little hand, followed by a head, and there she was. My girl. The moment her whole body was birthed into my husband’s hands was the most excruciatingly beautiful moment of my life. All my fears, all my worries and pain, were immediately gone. I did it, we did it together. With her on my chest I felt my world come together. She was what I needed. She would show me healthy love and meaning in life. She was the little piece of the puzzle that I had been missing all of my life. And now she’s 7, wild how fast it goes isn’t it?
Her birth was the hardest and most painful of all my births, but it was also the most incredible and eye opening. She made me a mom, but she showed me it would all be okay. I could handle anything, and I couldn’t have done it without her. My sweet girl, who happens to also be the most amazing human I have ever met.