I love that she visits me at home (especially helpful with three kids who like to “explore” whenever and wherever they can!), but this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Our last visit was a few weeks ago, at about 22 weeks. We had a lot to talk about. I’ve had lots of fears this pregnancy. First it was the fear of miscarrying again. Since I’d done it before, last year. . . and I wanted to get past the point I’d lost the baby last year before really getting my hopes up on this one. Not sure why. There was no solid reason why I lost Shelomith at 16 weeks and no guarantee that if I make it that far this time that I won’t miscarry again.
(Although at this point I can guarantee I won’t miscarry with this baby! Yahoo!)
(. . . but only because at this point if I lose the baby it would be considered a still birth. . .)
Well 16 weeks came and went. Whew!! But I’d had another fear on my mind, that something was wrong with the baby. I keep running into stories that start, “I went in for my ultrasound at 20 weeks and they found the baby had X disease or X complication, incompatible with life. . .” My midwife, who normally doesn’t recommend ultrasounds, called to make me an appointment. She was certain that this would give me peace of mind. I was terribly nervous that morning, to the point that I told The Bull I didn’t want to go! My stomach was churning when I finally laid down on the table. But we were relieved (understatement!!) to see and hear from the technician that all is well with the baby.
So you’d think that this would be enough to calm my heart and mind, but no. Still there are fears. We can’t possibly have an uneventful pregnancy and delivery and have a healthy baby, can we? We’ve done this three times already so we do have a good track record. Why am I so fearful??
On the other hand, we also have a track record of beating the odds, so to speak, in a bad way. Nobody expects to be widowed at the age of 20 or have three close relatives diagnosed with cancer in the space of four years or to bury their father and father in law within 11 months of each other. Both at the very young age of 62.
Yeah, fun times! Big serious stuff that’s hard to just . . . I don’t know, what am I supposed to do with this? Forget about it? Move past it? Consider all things loss? Life really, really hurts sometimes and I just don’t know what to do about it. Besides a lot of prayer.
So back to my midwife and this pregnancy. Over the past few months I’ve shared with her my fears. And you know what? She gets i t. She’s miscarried a couple times herself. So when we talk it’s from a been there, done that standpoint. Totally awesome.
(for me, not for her of course.)
So when she arrived on one of the few decent (read: not rainy, cloudy, and dark) days we’ve had this summer, first we talked a bit. She had given me an assignment at my previous visit based on Birthing from Within: to put my fears into artwork, and to follow it up with more artwork of a scenario where my fears don’t come true.
Of course the fear picture I did was of something happening to the baby, or that we find out at birth of something wrong. (I did this before the ultrasound but really, even with a good scan. . . it does happen, though it is extremely rare.)
The “best case” picture was of a normal, uncomplicated birth and a baby that does not need extra attention at birth. Normal. Just like our first three pregnancies. Which was what we expected with our last pregnancy, last year. . . but it didn’t work out that way.
I am all for acknowledging fears. I don’t think it’s healthy to keep them to ourselves or hide them or deny them. But it also doesn’t seem to help just to discuss them.
So my midwife has taken me to the next level, to get past the fears to the “What if nothing goes wrong?” scenario. Rather than focusing on the fears, let’s go to what we want to happen. Because we often do get what we expect, what we want and hope for. I have seen this and know it to be true.
It’s awfully hard to switch gears though.
She mentioned a verse I’d heard before, Matthew6:28: “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” (NLT) I’ve heard this verse before, of course, but never in this context. I have given it much thought these past few weeks. There are things I can do to help this baby grow and develop properly: taking my prenatal vitamins (though they make me gag), eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep.
Beyond that? It’s out of my control. I can’t make the umbilical cord stay off of the baby’s neck, or make sure that he/she is not breech, or do much to affect his/her passing of meconium before birth. This is what she was talking about: I need to let these things (and others) go. I can’t plan for them or do anything about them. . . tomorrow will bring its own worries.
She talked about the hormonal release when a mother is under stress and how it affects the baby very differently than the hormonal release of oxytocin, the pleasure hormone that is associated with breastfeeding and intimacy and happy times. It, of course, is better for the baby that the “flight or fight” stress hormones.
Which I have had in abundance this time.
I realized while talking with her, this baby has been moving for a month and it is really not something that I’ve enjoyed. I don’t mind it, I mean, and it’s not painful, nothing like that. But I just carry on with my day and ignore the flutterings and rollings that are happening in my belly. I’m not paying attention to him/her.
I’m noticing the baby moves a lot too. Hmm. Perhaps he/she is really trying hard to get my attention??
So my midwife’s homework for me this time is to consciously replace the stress hormones with the pleasure hormones.
(I’m not doing so well on this. Need to be more focused on this! Life has been full of pain–physical and emotional–and stress. I need to come up with happy and pleasant things to think about. Maybe I need more purple?? More time playing with the kids?)
The conversation I’ve described here lasted about 45 minutes. I’m told that this is more face to face time than the entirety of a typical pregnancy attended by an OB. And we hadn’t even yet gotten to the urinalysis, blood pressure check, or hearing the baby’s heartbeat!
I am so glad to have such a wonderful midwife. She’s attended all five of my pregnancies and has been at each of my children’s births. (Except for Shelomith, but she was here within a half hour afterwards.) Hopefully she’ll be with me when this baby is born, whenever that may be! 🙂
And if you could spare a prayer or two. . . . . . I could sure use it right about now. 🙂 Thanks.