To my 24 year old self…..(Part 2)
This is the second part to “To my 24 year old self…..” – you can find part 1 here.
“This pregnancy and beyond is going to transform you. I could go back further to find the roots of it all, but this is where it all starts to happen. The year ahead is going to bring so many learning experiences, feelings beyond any other and a sense of peace.
First you’re going to have to get to the 12 week mark. That’s going to take so much from you, as you will be living in fear every single day that you will lose this baby too. Even when you first see that heartbeat flickering away, that fear won’t go. Not once you pass the point when your baby died, nor at 12 weeks. The truth is it will never fully go away, not even in future pregnancies. There’s an underlying fear laced through each pregnancy from now on, and although it feels like the magic and joy has been robbed it really hasn’t. Something has changed for sure, but one of the positives you can draw from this is that you appreciate pregnancy on a deeper level. For all the pain, it amplifies the joy when you feel it.
This pregnancy helps you to start to heal, to accept that there is another path ahead from the one you had planned. When you reach 3 months, you’ll start to have hope that this baby will be ok. You allow yourself to start preparing for the birth ahead and begin 6 months of reading, learning and self discovery. This is when all your beliefs about birth become validated and you discover more ideas that spark your interest. Here’s where you’re first introduced to Ina May Gaskin, Michel Odent and Laura Shanley amongst others. You first hear about doulas and realise that’s what you need for this birth, and also what you want to be instead of going down the midwifery path you’ve always planned.
You’re going to see the cost of a doula and be heartbroken that you cannot justify that expense at a time when Tom is between jobs. I want to share with you of the value of a doula, I want you to realise that it’s not something that should have to be justified. You deserve her and so does your baby. In terms of extravagance, unconditional, ongoing support and continuity is right there as a basic need. In the future – when money isn’t a daily worry – you will see this clearly. Even when it’s still a struggle, once you’ve given birth you will recognise this for the first time. At this point in time you think you really cannot afford it – there’s not even an option to put that purchase on a credit card to worry about at a later date! But there is an access fund for these sorts of situations, which would enable you to have a doula. Oh, I wish you knew this.
At this time your thoughts are about giving birth in the most normal way possible to you. You’re planning your birth experience knowing that you want things to be different from your first birth. You’re so focused on the birth that you don’t look beyond that bubble. If you had a doula you would experience that female support you’ve been lacking. Sure, you’ve got your online support from the women who virtually walked by your side during your journey of trying to conceive, pregnancy, loss, and pregnancy again. That support has been a lifeline, and will continue beyond this pregnancy through to the present day. What you are missing though is in-person support. The love and guidance of a woman with a wealth of knowledge, wisdom and understanding. Your doula would be so much more than support at your birth.
Unpacking the emotional baggage you’re carrying with you from your loss. Unraveling your first birth, hearing you, acknowledging what happened and looking together at how you can make things different this time. Someone who isn’t telling you what you should do. Someone who is far enough away from you to see you clearly for who you are and what you believe in, yet close enough to be emotionally invested in you and to want only the best for you. Coming from a place where a healthy baby isn’t the only thing that matters, a place where you and your mental health is just as important. Walking the path with you, watching you become empowered from being listened to and believed in, knowing your hopes and fears inside out. Watching you journey within yourself and bearing witness to the person you’ve grown to be.
Take heart though, that what lies ahead shapes your beliefs further and takes you down a path which results in another 2 fully empowering births and manifests an antenatal course which fills the gaps in your locally available classes. You even get to “do” the course yourself when you’re pregnant with #4! This path you’re going down means you are able to truthfully say that you have 100% confidence and trust in a woman’s instincts, with no hidden “except if…..”. It provides you with a wealth of knowledge and experience to use to lay your doula foundations on, and gives you the perspective to see your role clearly from the start. You focus on empowerment rather than looking for fixes. You love, trust and hold that space in a way you could never imagine before you started doulaing.
This is the beginning of the next chapter of your life!”