Confessing Fear

Yesterday during time of confession in our worship service, I ran my mind over my past week and realized that if I’ve had a pattern of brokenness in my life the past few days, it’s been in the form of fear.

As a hormonal mama who wants nothing more than to make our little nest ready for baby, I’m feeling the burden of what I don’t know about our future: how much I wish I could feel settled, how much I wish we had a handle on our five-year or even one-year plan. But we don’t. Instead we can set up the crib (which we did this weekend) and buy a baby swing for cheap off Craigslist (which I did this weekend). My baby doesn’t need more than some clean diapers and his mama , it’s really me who is in need of some comfortable nesting. And at this point, I need to be okay with uncertainty.

I think I’m following the same pattern I followed in my first pregnancy. I spent the first trimester (other than puking) worrying about giving birth, worrying about whether I was capable of being a mother, worrying about general fears of failure. In the second trimester, I felt great, loved pregnancy and believed that I would be prepared when the time came. Then the third trimester hit and all that ease went out the window. I was terrified: of giving birth, of motherhood, of what I didn’t have accomplished.

This time, I’m more terrified of giving birth than I was before. I don’t say that in the “Har har! It’s so crazy to give birth!” way. In fact, last time around, I mentally rejected the notion that giving birth had to be horrible. I embraced natural birthing. I took a hypnobirthing class and planned for a birth with a Jacuzzi tub and lots of candles. Much of hypnobirthing calls for a belief that we shouldn’t surround ourselves with negative birth stories. We should plan for our bodies to do their jobs. We should plan for “intense pressure,” not pain.

My birth plan didn’t pan out. Much to my disappointment, I ended up in the hospital being induced and I felt like my body rejected the general timing of the whole birth. Sometimes I wonder if my body would ever have cooperated if circumstances were different. Then sometimes (like in the past week and a half) I reread the Hyponobirthing manual and feel utter failure. Hypnobirthing teaches that when women aren’t fearful, they’re able to birth their babies in silence and peace and ferocity. We don’t have to be victims. We don’t have to be treated like medical situations. Our bodies are made for this. We can do it with ease like a mama kitty under the bed.

But my experience with birth was not free of fear or pain. Instead I was wrecked and the body I was supposed to trust seemed to be working against me and my baby. As I reread through my book I can’t help but feel that I’m one of those failures who needed medical intervention because I was fearful.

This is the point when you, dear reader, want to get on the comments page and yell, “Micha, you’re ridiculous! Hypnobirthing is cuhrazy! Don’t feel guilty for doing what was best for your kid.” And so, I’ll assure you, I don’t feel guilty for how my birth experience went with August. I don’t feel guilty that I got an epidural.

What I feel is two things: 1) Frustrated that the natural birthing movement  (which I still appreciate and admire, by the way) can cause someone like me to feel like a failure because I wasn’t strong enough to birth free of drugs and fear. And 2) Fearful of doing this all over again.

So, yesterday I confessed my fear. All of it. My fear of pain, my fear of uncertainty, my fear of failure. And I remembered what my dear friend, Cat, reminded me of last week: When Jesus cried out to God in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before his crucifixion, he in all his God-ness asked that the experience he was about to face be taken from him. Was he more concerned with physical pain or the spiritual separation he would face in the midst of his torture? It’s impossible to know for sure. But I’m relieved to know he was asking for “the cup to pass” from him.

It’s okay that I don’t long for physical trauma. What’s not okay is for me to live in a fearful place where my uncertainty and my certainties control my present hope. Joy is a choice. And what does the book of 1 John say? “Perfect love drives out fear…” So, my choice this week is to cling to the Giver of that perfect love. I’ll let you know how the clinging goes…

 

 

  • Shannon

    We don’t know each other but our husbands work for the same company. I had a similar experience with Hypnobirthing with our first child. Lets just say 22 hours of labor and no baby I then opted for the epidural. Two and a half hours of pushing, finally our son came. I felt extremely disappointed I couldn’t do it the way I “thought” in my head it should go. And it kind of put a damper on the day when I should have just celebrated the little life God had just given us.
    Fast forward two and a half years later, pregnant and dreading giving birth again! But I knew this time around my body needed the extra help in relaxing. So after laboring at home all day, as soon as I was admitted to the hospital I asked for an epidural. It gave my husband and I a chance to relax and reflect on the miracle that was about to happen. My baby girl was delivered an hour later with 10 mins. of pushing. It was such a joyful time. Not NEARLY as bad as I thought it was going to be since I had a previous bad experience. Once I let go of what it “should” be, it made my experience that much better. Don’t fear, God is with you. It is DEFINITELY better the second time around.

  • http://chaseafterwind.blogspot.com Amy B

    Love this post. It resonates with me so much.

    I also planned for a natural childbirth, only to end up with 5 hours of insane contractions (after 18 hours of “manageable” ones) that left me screaming in misery, and finally a c-section. I still get sad at having “failed” despite doing everything “right” according to natural childbirth ideals. Even though it wasn’t because I wasn’t strong enough. It was because my baby just WAS NOT going to come out the old fashioned way.

    I am going to try a natural childbirth again, God-willing, but I am also trying to be kind and show grace to myself in the case that it doesn’t happen.

    Anyway, while the childbirth aspect of this post hit close to home for me, I am also very much encouraged by your example of honesty and confession before the Lord.

    • http://mommymonk.wordpress.com Micha Boyett Hohorst

      Amy and Shannon, thank you both for sharing your stories. I’m planning on an epidural this time around and it’s a relief to hear your story, Shannon, of being able to relax and enjoy the moment. Amy, I think you’re so right about showing grace to yourself. It’s so good to remind ourselves that no matter what, our bodies are going to do the hard work of bringing a baby into the world. Whatever the medical intervention or lack thereof, it’s a remarkable, brave, strong thing to do.

  • M.K.

    A beautiful entry. I so appreciate your willingness to let go of fear. That shows strength and bravery to me. Did you ever see the Dune and Children of Dune movies? In the latter, the young hero has a refrain something like – ” I will face my fear. I will let it pass through me. ” I always liked that quote – and the idea that fear is something we can experience and then let go.

    • http://mommymonk.wordpress.com Micha Boyett Hohorst

      Never saw the Dune movies. But I love that image too. Letting it enter and pass through. That seems like what prayer/meditation does, right? Otherwise, fear sticks to your insides. You always have such wise things to say, friend!

  • http://www.sundayschoolrebel.typepad.com Sam

    I really do just want to give you a hug and tell you, no matter how your baby gets here, it’s gonna be just fine.

    I am thankful I don’t feel immense cultural pressure to do birth a certain way – if anything, my culture is all about the inductions and pitocin and I don’t like it, but I really do try to honor whatever birth someone chooses. I do like pointing out that there ARE other ways to do it, though, and how interesting the spectrum is. I wish we, as women, didn’t feel so fearful of birth. But it’s hard. And it’s scary. And at the end of it, is a baby. And then all of the fear and plans fall away and we have a sweet life to nurture, while our body throbs and recovers in many, many ways. Giving birth is so messy – bodily and emotionally.

    I recently watched The Business of Being Born, so I am all about women standing up for what they do want – up to a certain point. None of our plans are as important as getting a baby out safely. I know I so long to do birth again, and pray that I will be able to have another vaginal birth – I had an epidural,too, hello, are you crazy? I had back labor and was bellowing like a cow during transition.

    I didn’t read Birthing from Within my first time around – I was too busy avoiding thinking about labor until the last month or so, and then I was desperately reading ‘The Big Book of Birth’ over and over again so I would feel like I knew what was happening. It’s truly one big rollercoaster. Still, I wonder if checking that book out and twisting its New Age-y ness into something more Christian – do you think that would help? I read some reviews and several people said it helped them get out their fears over birth, so it sounds like it’s worth checking out.

    • http://mommymonk.wordpress.com Micha Boyett Hohorst

      Thanks for your thoughts, Sam. You’re right about birth being so messy. It’s struck me for a while now (even before I gave birth to August) that there’s so much we can control in our lives. We keep ourselves so clean. We take tylenol when there’s a headache. We find whatever food we want. Birthing is one of the few things in life that remind us that we’re animals. It’s so primitive, no matter how tidy we make it or how many books we read about it. We can’t set a date for it to happen (unless we go the surgical route). And in all of that, no wonder we’re more afraid than women were centuries ago when they understood what couldn’t be controlled in the world.

      I haven’t read the “The Big Book of Birth.” Maybe I should. :)

  • danielle

    ahhh birthing. i’m similar but not – was all set for the birth center with number one but she flipped breech at 37 weeks. no one would let me push her out, and i had to have a csection (after nothing flipped her, not even going into labor). i was devastated. so now that number two is on the way in may, i am afraid of another csection. i just want to experience childbirth where i participate in pushing my baby out – not having her sliced out of me. i know, i know, everyone says, “you have a healthy baby – it doesn’t matter how you get one out.” but i really grieved missing out on birthing her. so i empathize with your turmoil and fear. i have been praying for a successful vbac since i found out i was pregnant, and i try to pray for peace if my hopes and dreams are shattered again. but i think reading this post made me realize i am afraid of another csection. even angry at the thought of having one. what does it look like for perfect love to drive out fear in my situation? i think i need to go mull over that one some more . . .

  • danielle

    ahhh birthing. i’m similar but not – was all set for the birth center with number one but she flipped breech at 37 weeks. no one would let me push her out, and i had to have a csection (after nothing flipped her, not even going into labor). i was devastated. so now that number two is on the way in may, i am afraid of another csection. i just want to experience childbirth where i participate in pushing my baby out – not having her sliced out of me. i know, i know, everyone says, “you have a healthy baby – it doesn’t matter how you get one out.” but i really grieved missing out on birthing her. so i empathize with your turmoil and fear. i have been praying for a successful vbac since i found out i was pregnant, and i try to pray for peace if my hopes and dreams are shattered again. but i think reading this post made me realize i am afraid of another csection. even angry at the thought of having one. what does it look like for perfect love to drive out fear in my situation? i think i need to go mull over that one some more . . .

  • Tracy

    Psalm 121
    He watches over us! He really does. No matter the circumstances of this world which is often far from Heaven!

  • Farah

    I hear what you’re saying, Micha. I think knowing and voicing fear is really important. You need to be with it in order to let it go. Then it comes back and you start all over again: “Hello, fear, I see you’re back again. Let’s have tea.” I see this process as a sort of emotional labor before and with the physical (and then it continues with parenthood). I’m not convinced that it’s as simple as the hypnobirthing camp makes it out to be, though, that your fear is the only thing between you and a birth without drugs. This coming from a woman who did manage to labor and birth without pain medication.

    I think I needed to find women to help me through it and by some stroke of good fortune I found them. The day I went into labor with Ellie, I saw a female chiropractor and got an adjustment. I was six days past my due date, and my pelvis ached like a boot was bearing down on it. I was clinging to the hope that adjustments might make the pain go away, even though my rational mind kept telling me chiropractors are quacks. The adjustment hurt, a lot, that day, and I started crying. I remember telling Lydia that I was afraid of the pain, and she didn’t say anything profound or even memorable, but she listened to and comforted me.

    And I was released. That night I went into labor with a doula and a midwife to support me (oh, and Jim:)). I was still afraid but I felt an intense awareness that I was being held, like there was this net of giant hands holding me. So, I think you can still be fearful, but as long as there is some steady calm to balance it out, you have a better chance of being present in the experience. Maybe the calm comes from epidural, maybe you’re lucky enough to have it inside you, or maybe you have to, like me, ask for and find help from the right people (something I’m terrible at in my general life). Maybe this is hippy-dippy, but it seemed like the female spirit allowed me to face and leave fear somewhere else.

    Honestly, both my childbirthing experiences were wonderful; they were intense and overwhelming, but I wouldn’t describe them as painful, more like tidal waves of restlessness and agitation. I think if I could be pregnant without the stress of job, without the stress of caring for two other little ones, and without morning sickness, I would seriously consider being a surrogate for someone who needs one because I’m sad that I won’t get to experience childbirth again. Jim and I are calling it quits at our two surreal and amazing births and our two beautiful girls.

    I wish you the best in finding what you need to make the path free for you.

    • http://mommymonk.wordpress.com Micha Boyett Hohorst

      Farah,

      I’ve been owing you this response for too long! Thank you thank you for your honest thoughts about birthing. I recently have had conversations with other women about the second birth generating more anxiety than the first because you know what’s coming. I don’t know. But it’s been on my mind a lot and today I feel like I made a mental/emotional/spiritual step toward the calmness you’re talking about. I love what you’re saying about finding women to help you through the emotional trauma of it…and there being power in that. I think about that a lot. How many women before me have given birth? I’m not alone and I’m not crazy because of the fear or the pain. But there is beauty in the reality that no matter what we do to sanitize the experience, birthing is just as dirty and animal-like and uncontrollable as it was 5,000 years ago. That doesn’t make it easier, but it definitely makes it powerful…

      I miss you, friend!

  • http://mommymonk.wordpress.com Micha Boyett Hohorst

    Farah,

    I’ve been owing you this response for too long! Thank you thank you for your honest thoughts about birthing. I recently have had conversations with other women about the second birth generating more anxiety than the first because you know what’s coming. I don’t know. But it’s been on my mind a lot and today I feel like I made a mental/emotional/spiritual step toward the calmness you’re talking about. I love what you’re saying about finding women to help you through the emotional trauma of it…and there being power in that. I think about that a lot. How many women before me have given birth? I’m not alone and I’m not crazy because of the fear or the pain. But there is beauty in the reality that no matter what we do to sanitize the experience, birthing is just as dirty and animal-like and uncontrollable as it was 5,000 years ago. That doesn’t make it easier, but it definitely makes it powerful…

    I miss you, friend!


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