The Body Remembers

Confession.

I am full of anxiety about giving birth. No, I am not pregnant. Yes, I have one eight month old baby. I still find myself full of anxiety thinking about pushing. I’m not concerned about the contractions but the pushing, my god.

Here is some back story, I tore a decent amount during the birth of my baby girl. I would obsess about episiotomies in my first trimester. I thought my not so slight obsession was over and done with, as I had come to terms that whatever was going to happen needed to happen. Whatever it was that needed to happen in order to get my baby out world side, I was going to do just that. Then, I tore. It took a fair amount of time after pushing for no time at all, to stitch up my goolies. I was incredibly uncomfortable but not in pain. I felt that “ring of fire” when baby girl’s head first came charging through. Pain? Not so much. Thinking back now, I can pinpoint when the tearing happened but I can’t tell if it’s my crazy detailed imagination or reality. Whichever one it really is, here I sit full of anxiety because of that moment. Here I am wanting to pee on a stick and it say “pregnant”, yet I can’t get over the pushing stage.

I have more anxiety now then I did the first time around. I have more knowledge and experience now then I did before—but shoot, I still can’t wrap my mind around the human body pushing another human body out. I’m not sure I ever will. What the body does, is incredible. I had a natural birth, I am so happy I did. I wouldn’t change a thing. But I’m not going to sit here and not admit my fear and anxiety about pushing out another little babe, hopefully at some point fairly soon.

Yes, I know how crazy that sounds.

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I wrote this three months ago. I revisited my irrational yet oh so rational fear of pushing a few days ago on a hike with the beautiful Jessica Chapman from The Birth Concierge. Though she has grown to be a good friend of mine, it did not begin that way. I was a student in her birth education session when Danny and I were expecting. She teaches a great class guided by Birthing From Within for any of you future parents out there. At the time she pushed me in a way that was not so comfortable. She pushed me to use my voice and mimic noises that I could potentially make during labor. At the time I became so annoyed and could not get myself to make noises that did not come naturally to me. I confronted Jessica about this and brushed it all off as no big deal. A slight annoyance but nothing that hindered my experience. Time passed and she has become somewhat of a mentor to me as I work my way deeper into the birth world. On our hike we discussed this anxiety that fills me when it comes to pushing.

I realized that she was pushing me for a reason. Though it may not have been the environment I needed to be vulnerable, in hindsight, I get it.

There is an anxiety that I feel in the most visceral sense. I am aware that I got through the physical challenges of giving birth. I handled that beast. The issues that arise are not so much in my conscious but my subconscious where the body remembers trauma. I’ve been digging deep to move past experiences where I could have, I should have, used my voice and said “no”, to fight for my worth, to feel in control of my body. And bang, “to feel in control of my body”, and that’s where it showed up in birth. I was in control of my body, my breath, all that good stuff, until I tore. I pushed my babe out but couldn’t hold her because I needed stitches and my body was shaking uncontrollably. They call them labor shivers. They occur due to the shift in hormones in women before and at times after labor. This lack of control of my body sprinkled with some serious pushing and other feels, triggered the feelings and the experiences that Jessica was trying to pull out of me. I was warned a handful of times from my Midwife and Jessica before going into labor, I consciously understood and felt ready but had no idea what birth would bring up for me. I did not fully comprehend what they were trying to explain until that hike where it all kind of clicked. Not in my mind, but in my heart and in my gut.

Both the birth of my daughter and the trauma I experienced made me feel a loss of control. I recognize that I felt violated to different extents in both experiences. But the birth of my daughter and tearing are just part of birth, and getting some stitches down by your cooter is part of it too. It is with love.

I’ve spoken with my husband about ways to work through these points during the birth of our next babe. We’ve spoken about a prayer, a mantra, a little spoken something or a touch that would remind me of this. But then I think maybe just practicing speaking up when situations are uncomfortable, is enough practice. We’re not there yet, but as my partner in this life, we’re working towards a better birth for the next one.

I don’t quite know how to get to the next step or what that next step is. When the next step comes, I’m ready for the growth that comes with it. I’m grateful for all the growth that has already taken place. That being said, I am totally fine sitting uncomfortably, cool right here for a bit.

With great honesty,

Raffaella

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