On Birthing Third Babies and Facing Fear

posted on: Thursday, July 31, 2014

I am 26 weeks pregnant and I am not sleeping. At night in bed with all the pillows crowded around me I dream and I wake and I toss and I turn and I fret. I am agitated. I am always agitated. I can't even put my finger on why. There is a fear simmering inside of me waiting for attention. Wes starts kindergarten at a new school in three weeks and transitions like this are always hard for me. But I don't know if that's it, because when the worried thoughts come into my head I push them out and I haven't allowed myself much time to dwell on them. He starts school 20 days from now regardless of how I spend the next 20 days. I can spend them full of dread, slowly killing off our last few weeks of summer with nervous anticipation or I can ignore that date that's looming over my head and cross that bridge the day I come to it. So I've been doing the latter and soaking up these last few summer days for all they're worth. The agitation, I suspect, comes with the impending fall season for other reasons.


One more birth. I have still have to go through one more birth before I'm done. I don't have great experiences to look back on. In fact, the days my boys were born were two of the most gut wrenching, terror fraught days of my life. I WANT to remember them with fondness, because after all, they do have a happy ending. I have two beautiful and healthy children as the result, and for that I am so, so grateful. But. They were painful, not just physically, but emotionally unsettling and disturbing. I foolishly thought I could breeze through my first labor with an epidural and when that didn't work out it rocked my world. When the drugs weren't working and Wes was born transverse after intense back labor and no pain relief with the cord wrapped so tightly around his neck that he had to be taken away and resuscitated, I thought that was just a fluke. Surely the next time would be better. Next time I would take more control of the situation. And the next time I studied everything there was to know about laboring drug free. I took classes, I listened to relaxation tapes and practiced deep breathing. I had a birth plan and I was prepared this time. Until, I wasn't.

Until son number two came barreling out faster than I could even comprehend. Until my water broke and it was obvious there was meconium in the fluid. Until there wasn't time for an epidural or deep breathing and I lost complete control of absolutely everything. Until Oren came out blue and limp and unresponsive. But this time he wasn't so easily resuscitated. This time they took him from me in an ambulance to another hospital before I'd even laid eyes on him. Once again I found myself in a hospital bed, tired, wounded and with empty arms. Later they made it clear to me that we were very, very lucky Oren's story had the happy ending that it did. That he only had to be hospitalized for four days and that he suffered no long term effects from his rocky entrance into this world.

So when I think of doing this again, I don't have the na├»ve optimism I once had. I no longer assume that things will work out fine, or that I have any control or choice in the way this birth goes and I am terrified. And so, I ignore it. I haven't done anything to prepare for this birth. I have taken no classes, read no books, formed no plan. I have no idea if I will want to try for pain relief this time or if it will even be an option. I feel lost and anxious and instead of looking to that day with happy anticipation I am dreading it. At this point I no longer expect, nay, even bother hoping for a beautiful, serene birth and a magical moment of meeting my baby and holding them to my chest. Instead I am reduced to the most basic desires. I hope to make it to the hospital and I hope for a breathing baby this time. I am scared even hoping for these most basic things means I am sure not to get them. I worry about giving birth in the car, I worry about breech presentation and emergency C-sections. I worry about blue babies and all the things that could go wrong instead of right.

So, how do I change this? What do I do to let go of all this fear? I am SO excited to finally meet this baby and I feel like I have never wanted a baby more than I want this one, right now. But I just wish there was a way to escape the birth. I wish I could just go to sleep and someone would wake me when it's over. But I can't do that. It's coming for me, no matter how much I try to fight it. And so, I am trying to let go and looking for a way to be able to feel the way Amanda did when she so eloquently wrote, "I feel a calmness, similar to labor, knowing that what is ahead will come regardless of how I respond." I need to find a way to get to that place where I am comfortable handing over any modicum of control. There is a calmness I am so desperately seeking. I just need to find it. I am trying to unstrap this fear from around my heart and breathe, breathe, breathe.


  1. I think this is your best post ever! For me, the second time around without the benefit of ignorance was so very scary, and my first experience was a good one. Hang in there. You are meant to have this baby, and maybe this time you will get a "normal" birth.

  2. Emily, your honesty is so refreshing. I remember feeling completely soaked in anxiety and it definitely reached it's peak around 25-30 weeks. It was such an emotional period and there were times I felt like I couldn't handle anything. I've only had one pregnancy and birth experience to draw reference from but I am hoping some worries fade for you as the pregnancy progresses. For me, releasing feelings through talking/crying/occasional yelling (occasional? ha!) helped a bit. I also created some "emergency birth plans" that were for my own personal review rather than the hospital. I needed to exhaust all of the worst case scenarios that kept me awake at night in order to relinquish control. Finally, I had to trust in what I now know to be true: at the end of the day it's just you, your baby and your family. ...So hang in there, sister. I really hope you have an experience that heals some of these old wounds but above all, I wish you a happy, healthy babe.

  3. Thanks ladies, you guys are making me tear up over here

  4. Such a beautiful and honest post. Have you thought of hiring a doula? I feel like my doula was so crucial in the amazing birth of my first son. Why I thought I didn't need her the second time around is beyond me. Without her there, I lost my way and felt out of control, unfocused and unsupported during my second labour and delivery. Like you, I'm thankful to have two healthy children, regardless of how they got there, but I understand the pain in not being able to look back with positivity. If you can find a doula that you really connect with, she might be able to help you come to terms with all the emotions you're experiencing and help you find the focus and peace you need going into your third birth.


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