How Panic and Terror ultimately led to a Birth in Confidence
Today I am sharing a small but significant part of my second pregnancy in which I feared my preferred choice of birth place would be taken away from me. I went through stages of denial, panic and terror but I came out the other side with a deeper confidence that shaped the remainder of my pregnancy and ultimately my business.
“Where would you like to give birth?” asked the consultant who was reviewing my blood pressure results.
“Well,” I ventured hesitantly, “I think my baby would like to be born at home.”
“It’s not about where your baby wants to be born,” she replied, looking slightly surprised as I had guessed she might. I was aware that considering the child’s views about his birth place may seem a bit off the wall to some, but it felt important to me and I was already experiencing the fierce mother tiger desire to protect his wishes.
“It’s about where YOU want to give birth,” she continued.
With that something in me finally took root. Some energy powered up through those roots, through my body and out of my mouth.
Just two words. Spoken with utter conviction. Not of the kind where I am trying to convince myself and wondering why the other person is not buying it. Just a simple statement of unconvertible fact.
She responded immediately to my shift in energy. She accepted my answer without further question. Now the discussion was against the backdrop of home birth. I started to breathe again.
The raw honesty and vulnerability, coupled with the fresh intensity and power held in those two words surprised me.
Even though I had known all along that was what I really wanted. I had been hesitant as I had been listening too closely to my mind and worrying about getting into conflict with the medical establishment. I was there only to have my home birth plan confirmed, in writing rather than the verbal assurance I already had so as to put my midwives at ease. Having been on a blood pressure cuff for 24 hours that revealed my blood pressure to be entirely normal and even quite good at home and to spike only when the midwives tried to take it, it should have been a formality. But it was not turning out that way. I was so nervous waiting that when they did take my resting pulse it was 134, my bp was 156/107. I knew it was simply irrational panic, I wasn’t in danger and I knew that my birth plan wasn’t in danger either really. But try telling that to my body which was running to the tune of some other programme.
Despite all that, when it counted I found inner strength and confidence was coursing through my veins and speaking through me.
The paper I eventually signed with the Supervisor of midwives described me as a nervous lady. This also surprised me although I could understand on reflection that this was how I had presented myself to them. I was bigging up the whole white coat syndrome to try and appear reasonable and therefore get them on side- (see this great blog that discusses the ways in which reasonable woman syndrome shows up in the maternity care system.)
It surprised me because that was not how I felt inside. This was my second child and second home birth and I was feeling on top of the world. Then with one random high BP reading that refused to come down my world turned temporarily upside down.
Several days of inner work, monitoring, and questioning later and I was back, more confident than ever. And just two weeks later I gave birth at home as planned in the wonderful but definitely unplanned setting of my shower cubicle.
In those two weeks I learnt a lot about confidence.
As a child I was not confident. I looked at my peers and thought they had it all together whilst I reddened at any attention and altered my opinions to match what I thought the group would want to hear or would appear cool. As an adult I made some inroads into this but still looked to the more extrovert types for a template of confidence. Then I watched this Ted talk by Brené Brown on Vulnerability and this interview with Sera Beak. I realised that I had confidence all wrong. It wasn’t about eliminating all fear and sailing along permanently sure of yourself. It wasn’t about knowing all the answers in advance. It wasn’t about how I was presenting my outer self to the world either. I didn’t have to look, act or speak any particular way. In fact doing so was no guarantee that I would be feeling confident about myself inside, where it really mattered.
I realised that true confidence was about having the courage to show up as I was in that moment, all of me and my emotions present, whether they be fearful or fantastic. My confidence lay in complete self acceptance and self love, including the nervous, shy and introverted parts of me. It blossomed in my growing trust of the inherent safety of the universe. A universe that was delighted I had found the confidence and inner strength to allow vulnerable and scared if that was my experience.
It wasn’t necessarily any easier. Those last two weeks of my pregnancy were a roller coaster of emotions. But my determination to remain open and surrender to what showed up, along with my equally powerful determination to be true to my soul’s desires and own my truth (which in this case was to birth in a tent decorated with fairly lights and flowers in my garden) meant I got something better than easy. Better even than the tent which didn’t in fact happen! I got what I truly desired; empowered confidence in myself as a woman.
This consciousness I call confidence is not dependent on a particular set of circumstances and external support. It runs deep and allows panic, terror and doubt to run through my system yet remains unchanged below the surface. It is not affected by any stories I may tell myself about my less desirable emotions or challenging situations. And it goes far beyond any external behaviour I may dress myself in.
It shines out from deep inside, its clothes are simply the truth of who I am. All I am doing is lifting the covers off and tuning in to my essence as a woman. This essence trusts in life, for it is life and as such it takes change in its stride. And that is a good thing as we are living in a time of change. And the changes that are needed in the birth arena can only happen when we as women change from the inside out. Or to put it another way when we rediscover and live our inner strength and power as women. This is the journey that was encapsulated in those two simple words, ‘at home,’ and it is the journey of my business.
Will you join me?
For more information about how BirthEssence can support you to find your inner confidence and to birth with ease and joy check out the services I offer including 1:1 sessions and luxurious pregnancy massage. I also offer a comprehensive Birth Confidence Package yet to be featured on my website. To be among the first to experience this and for more information drop me a line or call me. I look forward to working with you. x