On Inner Strength and Self Advocacy

My first birth experience was traumatic for me. I felt let down by my body. I felt that I made a decision based on fear and not on knowledge. I felt regret. I felt frustration.

My son was Frank’s breeched; aka bum down. No pressure on the cervix and at 40w3d I had no dilation, no amniotic fluid according to the ultrasounds and they were concerned that my placenta was no longer functioning. I felt lost in that moment. A deep part of me sensed he was fine and that I didn’t need it, but I couldn’t risk his life if what the dr’s said was true, so we went ahead with a c-section 4 hours later.

I had never felt a contraction, never had any ‘labor is pending’ symptoms. No relaxin making my hips feel like they’re slipping out of joint, no nesting urges, no mucus plug lost, no Braxton hicks … nothing. I was pregnant and then I wasn’t, and I was devastated.

I wasn’t allowed immediate skin to skin and I was so drugged I couldn’t feel anything from the neck down, so I didn’t even truly experience our first time nursing. From there on I remember very little. My husband shares details with me that surprise me, and I still wonder why that time in the hospital is mostly blank. I remember getting pain killers, the awful sensation in my legs from the epidural and my first walk to the bathroom … and that’s it. I don’t remember my son in those two days. I see photos, and I treasure how joyful I look, but I really must have been struggling, because I don’t remember what I wish I did, and that’s him.

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I’m now 40 weeks and 3 days with our second. I haven’t blogged in TWO weeks, as I’ve been really struggling to process all that is happening lately.

Baby2 measures small; they are worried it’s the same situation as before and have been strongly encouraging me to get induced for the past two weeks. I’ve left my last 3 appointments in absolute tears, because I felt I still didn’t know how to speak up. I didn’t know how to say what I felt in my heart, and it was killing me to think we’d go down that same road again.

The natural birth process is important to me, not because I feel I have anything to prove to anyone, but because with my whole heart I believe it is the safest for baby and mom. Yes, I believe medical interventions save lives every day and I am so grateful for that, but I also believe we are so quick to trust medicine over our own instincts that we needlessly intervene where it isn’t necessary.

My baby is healthy. Everything checks out as normal aside from size. My fluid level is normal, my baby is practicing breathing, sucking, getting nourishment from the placenta and has a strong heartbeat with a lot of movement.

And yet I felt shame in wanting to wait. I felt as though they thought they cared more about my child’s safety than we do, and that they didn’t trust me.

How does any of this relate to fitness? Motherhood, I get. But fitness?

Well the last two years have been an incredible struggle with post partum depression, and only since exercising, learning to eat better (and more) and adding daily nutritional shakes did I start finding a strength of mind I didn’t know I had.

This was never about a six pack (but I’ll take it…).

Finally, I had my 40 week appointment. I was dreading it. I wanted to switch doctors, or give birth on our own at home…anything but see these people again. So I researched, and I prayed and I reached out to communities of moms for their experiences and knowledge, and lastly, I researched my own csection.

I went to my family doctor and requested the notes from my surgery to find out if my placenta and amniotic fluid were indeed not functioning, because after two years I was finally ready to know. And everything was normal. 

I had my power.

I now knew what I knew all along, and that was that my son was safe and healthy, and needed more time in the womb. And I can’t blame myself for being afraid and not knowing, but I can protect our new babe by keeping him or her where s/he belongs. With me. Just a little bit longer.

I took this information and strode into my appointment with a fierce determination; I would not back down and I would not be bullied.

But what happened really surprised me.

What I thought I would have to do was fight, but I had to do something much, much harder. I had to share with my doctor, who is truly a soft spoken and seemingly very caring woman, that I did not feel she was looking out for me. I had to share with her that I didn’t trust he. I had to question her character, and I hadn’t before because I was scared to. I didn’t want to hurt anyone. I had no real reason not to trust her except the anecdotes of many women who have shared their stories of ‘pushy doctors’ and it left an assumption in me that left me closed and unreceptive and unable to communicate with her.

We shared with each other how we felt, me not being heard or supported, and her feeling like I was on guard and unreceptive. I had to dig deep and share my fears and she was so kind, and so receptive that I left with tears of joy. I left feeling like a part of a team. I left feeling empowered.

I would

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