There are a number of reasons why I am strong.
At 17 I became pregnant. At three months pregnant and only a few weeks after my 18th birthday, my daughter’s father threw me out. I felt like garbage – abandoned and alone. How would I raise a child just out of high school?
I am strong because I picked myself up by my boot straps, got a full-time job working nights, went to school full-time, and made myself believe I was enough, more than enough, to leave the mentally abusive man who had left me and his seed.
Two months later (and after many turn downs) I finally went on a date with a regular customer. I had no idea what the future held, but if a man was that persistent about dating me – pregnant, young, little ole me – maybe it was worth a shot.
Fast-forward four more months: I was told my daughter was big and I would be too small to go into labor naturally. I had been borderline with pre-eclampsia for months and trusted that induction at 39 weeks would save me and baby a lot of troubles. All the while, this loving, patient, persistent man stood by my side and held my hand. I am strong because I endured having my waters ruptured, Pitocin, and horrible, painful contractions for three hours before giving in to an epidural, and later having a cesarean at 18 hours in. My perfect, little 7 lb. baby was here.
I didn’t know my options and my recovery was miserable. I didn’t leave the house. I couldn’t walk for more than ten minutes for roughly three months, and I felt as though my birth was robbed of me. I was depressed. I knew PPD was a thing, but given my history of depression and anxiety I knew I had to overcome this. Pills weren’t an option for me since I was breastfeeding (I refused). The love from my man and daughter were enough. I am lucky to have pulled through it by love alone, but I did it, because I am strong.
During this time was when I found Birth Without Fear. Oh, January, if you only knew how you impacted my life! Through your posts I began arming myself with knowledge and information. I knew what I wanted with my future births. I am strong, because you are strong.
18 months later, my little one was growing more independent by the day. I longed for the feeling of being needed 24/7 again. Though we weren’t exactly trying to conceive, we weren’t trying to prevent it either. Just before Easter we found out we were pregnant! My little one had self-weaned abruptly and I knew something had to be going on! I am strong, because I faced this pregnancy with options; I was empowered and ready to take this journey head-on!
I knew from day one that I had to build the perfect birth team. I started interviewing doulas. This led me to finding a chiropractor specializing in Webster technique. Come to find out, I wasn’t incapable of having babies naturally, nor was my daughter “too big”. I had an anterior tilting pelvis. I hired a doula, the ever sweet Deanna Norris (@holisticbirthingservices), and began driving 35 miles to the chiropractor three times a week! I live in a very small, rural town, so my only option was to drive an hour for the care I needed with the best midwives the state has to offer at OU Medical Center in downtown Oklahoma City. I am strong, because I was armed and ready for whatever was coming my way.
My pregnancy was wonderful – smooth and humbling. I fought a lot of fears with the help of D. I embraced the birth of my firstborn and learned to be at peace with it. I talked to the moon a lot and fell in love with meditation. The person I was becoming was unlike any person I had ever been. I had found myself – humble, peaceful, and strong. I am so strong.
In early November my daughter fell terribly ill and was admitted to the hospital. My due date was only weeks away and I was terrified that the stress I was under would throw me into labor. One late night I was having a hard time resting (who CAN rest in those awful hospital beds?) and began having sharp contractions. I woke my mother to sit with my daughter while I showered. Luckily that put me back at ease. November 16th (my EDD) came and went. Fear began to brew within me. However, I am strong and knew my little bundle of blue joy would be here when he was good and ready.
Prodromal labor began around November 18th. I’m sure I was on the verge of pre-labor a few times, but as soon as my daughter would wake things would slow down. November 20th I went in to schedule some NST and a possible induction, one day before 42 weeks. I had no intentions of showing up and they knew that, but we were simply following protocol. I declined the stretch and sweep, but had my midwife check for dilation. She left the room and I began to get dressed. As I squatted to pull my pants up, it happened. My worst fear – my water had ruptured BEFORE active labor. I was hesitant to go straight to L&D. I didn’t want to be put on the clock. But who was I kidding? I was flowing like a river. No way could I go walk around Target until labor really kicked in. I put my best brave face on, called my doula (who was with a mother having her baby a little early) and reminded myself that I Am Strong.
I won’t go in to all the details, but after about five hours of labor (I had no clock or windows, therefore no track of time) my midwife discovered baby had had a bowel movement. Though she was concerned, she only monitored us a little closer. I walked, I showered, I sang “You Are My Sunshine” while swaying through contractions 1,000 times, squatted, groaned, breathed…all un-medicated. 14 hours in, fear came knocking. The midwives had switched for the day and the new one was a little less than pro-VBAC. She immediately started talking cesarean if this this and that didn’t go as she would like it. I needed this VBAC. I knew I could do it; I Am Strong.
I asked for an epidural to help me relax and it did…for my left side! I could still wiggle my toes and scoot my legs, but this only benefited me. My doula, mother, and sweet man helped me use a peanut ball. 24 hours was creeping on me and I was dreading what would soon happen to me. I couldn’t give up now. I thought about it, I even almost told my doula to go get the OBs to take me back, but I resisted. D rubbed lavender on my legs and we laughed and talked. Then, it was time. Like magic, I transitioned. At this point we were 22 hours into labor and thankfully the midwife was busy in other births. I had a nurse come and check me and sure enough – 9 centimeters. I went on to have my VBAC on the evening of November 21st. It wasn’t “easy” and it came with some scars, but as soon as that 8 lb. 16 oz., blue-eyed, spitting image of his daddy laid on my chest, I knew it was all true…I was strong and I will always be strong – for my children, for my soon-to-be husband, for my peers, and for myself.
We are strong. We are designed to be powerful beyond our understanding. We can do any and everything we set our minds to. Thanks a million to D, January, and Lauren for educating me and pushing me – even when you didn’t know you were. Here’s to all the mommas who think they can’t. I’m here to tell you that YOU CAN. #vbacwithoutfear