Yesterday Isabella turned one. I can't believe how the last year has flown by. It literally seems like weeks ago that I gave birth and yet so much has happened in this past year that makes it hard to disbelieve that it really has been that long! In thinking about the year, though, I am drawn back to her actual day of birth and am remembering how hard it was for me and how I felt like I could never do that again. But along with the natural changes and happenings that take place over the course of a baby's first year, there have also been changes within me that have allowed me to come to a place of accepting that I would - and at this point definitely am going to - do it again.
All of my births have been long drawn-out processes that drain me and my hubby both physically and emotionally but at the same time, leave us feeling accomplished and amazed over the miracle that has taken place. Bella's was no exception by any means. As usual, I went into "real" labor in the evening after laboring off and on for at least a week. We called the midwife pretty early on because she was even further away from us than she had been for Aidan's birth. I didn't do what she had suggested and go to a chiropractor throughout my pregnancy so I knew we were all going to be in for a long ride. Going to a chiropractor was supposed to straighten me out so that when the baby was making her way through, she wouldn't be met with an uneven or tilted path. This was the issue with my first birth, why I didn't get past 4 cm after many many hours of really intense labor, and why my second birth was equally as long.
We labored through the cold night in a drafty house, eating and walking and groaning and swaying. I soaked in our jacuzzi tub for a little bit. I took a hot shower. I walked laps around the interior of the house as it was too cold to go outside to walk the street. I remember my midwife and her assistant kind of just relaxing, reading, resting until they needed to check me and the baby. They hung out and slept and ate and just waited for the labor to do its own thing.
I, on the other hand, was freaking out inside. I was fighting my labor every step of the way. I held my breath a lot, I often screamed like a crazy person. It was an incredibly difficult time because for whatever reason, memories of my first birth flooded back into my mind with such intensity; the fears they brought with them knew no limits. I was so afraid of so much and I couldn't get past it. But I remained silent about my thoughts and just barreled through without relief. My sister, Kate was there with us and she lent a huge amount of support through the night but nothing was enough, no one even knew about what was going on inside of me.
I remember feeling intense pressure inside my head throughout my labor. I don't know if it was because I was so tense or what but it scared me. I kept thinking my head was going to explode. I remember also worrying that my uterus couldn't withstand the pushing and pulling and would eventually fall apart at the sharpness of the contractions. I had no real reason to feel this way. I just thought that because I had had a cesarean for my first and then was pregnant again so soon with my second and then my third, that it just wasn't going to hold up. My fears followed me through the night, gripping me and stealing my breath like the cold air in the house, digging deeper into my mind.
Bella was born after about 15 hours of labor which included only 45 minutes of pushing. I was scared to hold her. Evelyn, my midwife told me to reach down and touch my baby's head as she made her way out during those last few seconds. I didn't want to. I was so worried that at any minute, everything was going to take a drastic turn for the worse. When everything had settled down, the placenta had been delivered and I was in my bed with my baby, I couldn't help but think that I never again wanted to go through the horrifying thoughts and intense feelings I had experienced during that birth. For the first few days, I had a hard time tending to Bella the way I had with Aidan. Like with Angelina, for some reason I felt so detached from her. I was determined to never have any more children ever again.
After a week, I started really looking at Bella and marveling in her existence. I loved that she was mine - that I had birthed her even though it was incredibly difficult. But the scariness of that night still haunted me and was still so new that I still felt like I didn't want to birth any more babies. It took me until about the time I found out I am pregnant again before I really felt like maybe I could do it again. I am still fearful. I still have so much healing to do from issues with my first birth - which were the reasons Bella's birth was difficult to begin with. I will be praying for God's infinite power and grace to wash over me during this time of preparation and then as I'm laboring to bring another baby into the world. And I am more determined than ever to spend the time that this baby will be growing inside of me to get to a place within my heart that I can not just be accepting of the fact that I will be having another baby but be joyful instead.