"God showed me something small, no bigger than a hazelnut, lying in the palm of my hand… and it was round as a ball. I looked at it with the eye of my understanding and thought: 'What can this be?' And it was generally answered thus: 'It is all that was made.' It was so small I thought it might disappear, but I was answered... everything has being through the love of God." --Julian of Norwich

Friday, February 28, 2014

Trust: Fear, Failure, and VBAC... Learning to Trust *Myself*

I missed the third Tuesday link-up that has been my reminder to keep you updated on my OneWord365 Trust-journey this year.  But that's ok.  Here's my trust-challenge for February.

Last week at the end of my connecting pregnancy birth group meeting with the midwife, as everyone else left the room, I squirmed in my seat, then burst into tears.  We had been talking about medical interventions in birth.  I remembered watching the same video almost three years ago now, before Lucy was born, and how dismissive I was of the information.  I was NOT going to choose a medical birth.

But when I was diagnosed with severely low fluid 11 days after Lucy's due date, the only choice I was given was between medical intervention (rupture of membranes) and medical intervention (synthetic oxytocin).  Watching the video this time I felt like I could tick off every single intervention in the list: IV fluids, electronic fetal monitoring--external and internal, epidural anesthesia, and the biggest intervention of them all, caesarian section.  Surrounded by all those new moms, many of whom would probably be able to achieve their goals of avoiding a medical birth, I felt like a failure all over again. 

It was the same feeling that has plagued me day after day, night after night since Lucy was born.  Time after time I have revisited the entire experience of her birth searching for the moment when I went wrong, when I made the wrong choice, when I trusted the wrong person, when I could have refused a treatment that would have prevented the drops in Lucy's heartrate so I could have avoided the painful weeks and months of recovery from major abdominal surgery.

I tried to embrace the pain and the positive outcomes.  To understand that God could transform even these painful sacrifices into something meaningful.  To focus on Lucy's healthy arrival, even when I felt anything but healthy in her first weeks.  I felt trapped in a broken body, and angry and confused when I needed so much help from other people, when there weren't always people around to help me because I didn't know who or how to ask. 

I felt I had been trapped into the medical birth I didn't want and not defended by the midwives I had chosen to help me achieve the natural birth I wanted.  I felt trapped by the traumatic memories of the birth--the forceful escort into labor and delivery admitting without explanation, the nurse's careless toss of the hospital gown onto my bed, the two hours waiting, laboring in a tiny space behind the blue curtains in admitting, unable to use my phone to call out, unable to walk out back out into the sunshine of a gorgeous summer day to get my hospital bag and labor at home and get excited with my mom and my sister that the time had finally come.  Instead I was stripped out of my comfortable clothes, tethered by fetal monitors and left to worry that something was wrong justifying this entrapment, but apparently not urgent enough to be explained.

And when I was given the final choice between two options I didn't want, I felt like no one trusted me, trusted my body that was finally in labor, doing it's thing, dilated from 0cm a few days before to almost 4cm by that time.  I wanted them to leave me alone, quit worrying, trust that I could do this, give me the freedom to do what I needed to do so I could be ready, allow my body's gentler, slower contractions to protect Lucy from the low fluid.  To empower me to trust that it would be ok, that I could do this and didn't need that stuff.  But no one did.  Instead they just said my placenta was failing to provide enough fluid, my body had failed to produce enough active labor to get Lucy out safely and in good time.  They didn't say it but they didn't have to, their actions and decisions spoke volumes: I was not enough. 

I believed them.

So imagine my surprise when I expressed hesitantly to my midwife that I was worried about my chances at a VBAC and she spoke empowerment to me, breezily, eyebrows raised at my worry, with utmost confidence in me:  "Of course you can do this!  We're going to work with you and you'll do great!"

But I had failed, my body was a failure the first time around, could I trust it again?

My midwife's words and her confidence, along with a few books I've been reading--including the great midwifery classic Ina May's Guide to Childbirth--have made me reconsider that assumption in the past few weeks, though.  I've been working through the emotions of feeling trapped, of feeling like a failure.  I've been wondering...

What if I didn't fail?  What if it was just a series of unfortunate events beyond my control and I did my best under pressure and I can't get in a time-machine to change anything or anyone now?  What if God loves that OB that I don't want to forgive, guided her to make the best decision for the best outcome for Lucy?  Even Ina May, natural childbirthing guru extraordinaire, recommends medical induction for severe low fluids.  And even if she herself wouldn't have made the same decision my OB did, what if that's ok?

What if I didn't fail?  What if I can trust my body this time, scars and all?

It opens up a whole new universe of hope.

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