Preparing for birth by healing from the last.

June 10, 2019

You would think by now, birth wouldn’t intimidate me as it did my first. Despite it being something I have gone through several times, I still hold onto so many what-ifs and memories from a few hard experiences that I feel the anxiety starting to creep in as I near my third trimester. It wasn’t until I read Sydney’s description of healing from a past birth experience in order to prepare for a more peaceful one that I knew I had some work to do. Let me back up a little bit…

I have 5 children and an angel baby who I lost at 10 weeks. 3 of those experiences were unmedicated, and the rest I used an epidural. Writing about our birth experiences always feels very vulnerable to me as it is so deeply personal. This post is NOT about what type of birth is best. I don’t believe in advocating for one type of birth. We all have very different stories and circumstances. I will say though that because I was not mentally prepared for the unmedicated births, the pain was a little traumatic for me.

Both Veronica and Max came too fast to even opt for pain medication, and I felt a little like a warrior without any weapons going into birthing battle. Gabe almost had to deliver Max in the hospital parking lot! He was my biggest baby at 9lbs 6oz, and all hopes for a water birth evaporated as I was wheeled through the hospital doors and straight onto the delivery table where he was born 10 minutes later. Hence the reason I welcomed the anesthesiologist for both Rocco and Azelie’s birth with open arms. Those births felt like a peaceful dream in comparison! Although I don’t see how Max’s birth could have been any other way considering the burst of energy and laughter he has been in our lives since day one.

When we lost our 6th baby, we chose a natural miscarriage over medication or DNC, but I was unaware at what that would fully entail. We knew our baby had died in the womb, but it took three weeks for my body to deliver. We were at home – just Gabe and I, and although we knew a little about what to expect, I still felt completely blindsided by how intense the delivery was. I know it isn’t the same for everyone, but for me, it was as intense as my unmedicated births. It was already a grief ridden time, and the whole experience also left some deep emotional pain that took a long time to heal from. The physical recovery took a few days, and I have spent every month since working on the emotional healing. However, I know I still carry anxiety around that experience as well as the fast and hard labors.

I would love for this labor for lucky #7 to be a peaceful one (as much as it can be), and will most likely opt for an epidural. However, this time around I want to prepare myself should I face another fast labor and unmedicated birth. I would really like to do more research about hypno-birthing or healing from a tough birth experience, so if you have any recommendations for podcasts or books I can read please pass them along! Some of the things that have already helped me: Simply Sadie Jane’s Labor and Delivery Course material and her positive birth affirmations, prenatal exercise, and reading positive birth stories (like Ina May Gatskin’s Guide to Childbirth). My sister is studying to be a doula, so considering having her help during labor as well.

It is not lost on me what a gift it is to welcome this life into the world. It is a privilege and an honor to be this baby’s first home. In fact, I well up with tears every time I think about it. This rainbow baby has already brought so much gratitude and love into my life. I hope in sharing this part of my story it also brings awareness that pregnancy and birth is not always as easy as observing from the outside can make it seem. The most beautiful experiences in life are often paralleled with pain. Many times it’s the harder moments that make way for the deeper gratitude of it all.

As always, thank you for reading and for being an uplifting community to share with.

Leave a Comment

  • I was obsessed with the Australian Birth Stories podcast when pregnant with my third. I had expectations for what I wanted my third birth to be like and so I did everything I could to prepare. I somehow stumbled on the podcast, and even though I live in the states, I loved it! The Australian model of care is so different from ours, and many of the women delivered with midwives. The podcast has so many different types of births and situations. There are several hypnobirthing discussions, but also many with epidurals and some on fourth, fifth, etc… kids, many discussions of birth after loss. For me, having a doula was the best thing I could have done in order to have the type of birth that I wanted. Having someone guide me and support me was amazing – my husband was also amazing but she was a great source of guidance for him as well. I’ve had a doula for both a medicated and unmedicated birth and it was so worth it both times. Best of luck!

    • Noelle, this is extremely helpful – thank you! I had a midwife assist my first birth, and she was one of the best women I have ever known. She retired sadly, and Gabe did a stellar job standing in as cheerleader and main support since. However, now that my sister has doula training I am thinking the coaching during the labor would be welcomed!

  • Jacee Tice

    Hi Anna,
    I don’t know if you remember me but I met you while you were in Beloit (long time ago)! I’m a dear friend of Maria’s and she let me know about your blog here. I’m reaching out bc I wanted to tell you how wonderful these are to read. I’m going to reach out to you personally on FB if that’s ok? Thank you!!

  • I think often about our third child we lost at 12weeks. My body wasn’t responding to miscarry and I didn’t feel I had the emotional capability to wait, so we opted for the DNC. It’s something I struggled deciding, and still over 2yrs later, and 2 more pregnancies later, continue processing through. My delivery of my 4th child was the smoothest and fastest. We blinked and had a baby. And now due with the 5th, (and likely final) I’m not sure what emotions will bubble up at this birth. Even just being aware there is processing and healing to be done is a step in the right direction. Looking forward to the responses you get. Enjoy that sweet family.

    • Alison, I am so sorry to hear you had to go though it. I think no matter if it was a DNC or natural miscarriage, they both leave deep emotional scars we have to heal from. To be honest, if I went through it again I don’t think I could emotionally handle another natural miscarriage. Also, I know what you mean – I don’t know what this birth will even bring up. I hope and pray you continue to find the healing and peace for this new baby!

  • I started practicing with hypnobirthing c.d.’s at around 4 months along with both children, which did give me something to fall back on when things got tough. By far the biggest help though was having my sister there to coach me through my first one. With my second, the delivery was so fast that my sister didn’t make it in time, and I didn’t have time to get into the hypnobirthing headspace, so I can definitely relate to the feeling of needing to heal from a hard labor and delivery experience. I do recommend that every woman take a hypnobirthing class and practice with the c.d.’s though, just because it does give you tools to use just in case your Plan A doesn’t work out.

    I wrote a post here more about it if you’re interested:

    https://www.toloveandtolearn.com/2018/03/13/why-every-pregnant-woman-should-take-a-hypnobirthing-class-even-if-she-wants-an-epidural/

    • Torrie- this was really helpful to read! I wish I would have read more surrounding hypnobirth before I even had my first baby, but I don’t think it is too late! Just in the little I have read has been eye opening. The more we understand about the birth process and what our minds are capable of, the greater power we have to see it from a positive light vs fear controlling the outcome.

  • Anna, I can’t imagine how heavy giving birth to baby Cecilia must have been. From where I stand, you have so beautifully navigated honoring that precious baby’s life. I’m praying that the emotional healing continues as you welcome a new life into the world. Children are our greatest teachers! I’m sure this baby will arrive and heal your heart in new and beautiful ways.

  • I have 7 kids and have had 1 epidural, 1 emergency C-section, and the rest have been natural childbirths. I think that it is SO important to be at peace with your birth experience. It absolutely makes a difference in how you feel postpardum. I hired a doula for my 7th pregnancy and I highly recommend having a doula! The midwife is primarily there for the baby. The doula is completely there for you, the mom. One thing I was surprised about with my experience with my doula was how much I mentally processed my labor as it was going on. In between contractions, my doula would ask me how I was doing and I was able to talk out how I was feeling and what I was thinking. The doula also supported me in my decision to try for a natural birth and was a go-between for the doctor, nurses and me. It was worth every penny to have a doula. I would never give birth without her again…if God blesses us with any more children 🙂

    • Anna Liesemeyer

      Eugenie, thank you for your story! Considering this is also my 7th pregnancy, I really appreciate your feedback on having a doula!

  • Thank you for sharing so vulnerably and honestly about your process of healing and experience of childbirth! I particularly appreciate your honesty about the process of miscarriage-it seems like no one ever talks about what that entails, and I appreciate how you have opened my eyes.
    Have you read Mary Haseltine’s book on childbirth (“Made for This”)? When I was pregnant with my second child, reading that book is what helped me get to the point where I felt mentally and spiritually prepared.

  • After having a birth and the following birth after also 10 weeks of pregnancy, both unmedicated aa is the prachtige here my mothers of 3 finally reached out with the best advice. So my third birth was the best one.
    The advice sounds rotten, sorry, but it works.
    To get the good endorfines you need to set yourself up for succes. To embrace the pain.
    Everytime the pain gets to much you must welcome it, choose to relax into it. Not fight or flee. The pain will open the birth canal so you can meet your baby.
    Pretty rotten eh. It does work. You’ll need cheerleaders in the form of a great midwive, your Gabe as always and good posture. A physical therapist tought my husband and i good birthing postures. My husband helped me to assume the right positions and movements( bouncing does the trick) and it Made all the difference.
    So sorry to hear about your pain for the bube that wasn’t meant to stay. The living are there for you.

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