Friday, September 5, 2014

Part XI: Pregnancy after Trauma, 3rd Trimester

There was a decided shift between second and third trimester in my mental and emotional health. I was much more comfortable with the idea of giving birth and mostly just wanted to get it over with already. Physically, well, we had all the joys inherent to getting more and more pregnant.

Since I haven't yet posted my pregnancy pictures on my blog, here is the progression through Simon's pregnancy.

15 weeks

20 weeks--halfway!

26 weeks--my all-time favorite pregnancy picture

30 weeks

37 weeks

40 weeks

And now back on topic.

There were four major things that made the significant positive differences in my preparing for giving birth: therapy, my trauma journal, one I'm not going to write about, and reading. I had quite the stack of books that I regularly referred to, read, and re-read. Many of my journaling prompts were inspired by these books.

Another important step was building my birth team. First and foremost was Chris. He was more involved in this pregnancy than he ever has been before, and he put a lot of effort into understanding what I wanted and needed. He listened to me anytime I needed to talk and he learned enough about birth (and how it related to my traumas) to have his own opinions about how things ought to happen, and he knew the birth plan as well as me. It was the most connected I've ever felt with him while having a baby.

While my therapist was obviously not present for the birth, she was an important part of my preparation, as already noted. I also hired a doula for the first time. We had just a little bit of a rocky start with trying to actually meet up, but once I finally met her, I really liked her. She is relatively new to the field and while I felt like I knew almost as much about birth as her, it was very comforting to know that I would have someone with me who would know what to do and have the clarity of a not-in-labor brain to execute it.

Finally, I considered my mom to be part of my birth team. She was scheduled to fly in two days before my due date. I wasn't sure if she'd be here when the baby was born or if he'd come early, so I wasn't necessarily counting on her being with me at the hospital. I was definitely counting on her, though, for my postpartum help. I wasn't worried nearly at all about my other kids knowing that she would be there to take care of them while I took care of myself and baby.

Team on call, birth plan laid out, all there was to do now was wait for the baby. In my journal is a series of pictures I drew that I believe illustrate the amazing success I had in my preparations. Compare these pictures to what I shared last time.

imagining my labor
the river represents the progression of labor throughout the pictures

 waiting for labor to start
at home, shown by the background (a depiction of the view out my living room window)
kids are there

labor has started, represented by the boat
in the beginning, the kids are still home with me
Chris is on his way

labor in full swing
kids gone
Chris and doula Brandy are supporting me

transition labor/traveling to hospital
the work has greatly intensified now
Chris and Brandy are still supporting me and guiding me to where I need to be

the delivery
completely at the mercy of the natural process
happy to be able to do something
a sign of getting close to the end
baby is almost here

quiet relaxation
baby is here
everything is well
just enjoying each other

This was labor as I imagined it. This is what I wanted. And the fact that I was able to draw these pictures with a reasonable expectation that it would play out this way and that I was willing to put in the work to make it happen is a huge testament to how much I had accomplished since Ben was born.

Granted, we now know that it didn't work out that way.


Liz, Karl, Madison, Brooklyn and Aubrey said...

I love your pictures. �� I'm so glad things panned out a bit smoother this time. At least up to this point.

Tannie Datwyler said...

These pictures are really neat Laura. You are right, it shows so much your mental/emotional state and the improvement from the first of your pregnancy.