Last weekend we celebrated our daughter’s second birthday.
Many emotions wanted to come through when I think about the last two years and how she came into our world. It didn’t all feel good. But somehow, I was able to make space for all of the emotions coming onto me.
Two years ago, I never thought I’d be able to look back at my birth experience without bursting into tears or feeling panic, fear or even jealousy at hearing other women’s experiences.
Two years ago, I was in labour alone (thanks to Covid) in hospital after being induced. Her birth ended up being the complete opposite of what I would have wanted or hoped for. If I am honest, it was worse than I could have ever imagined. It left me completely traumatised. I had flashbacks, post-partum anxiety, and night terrors for months after that. I honestly never thought I would ever feel like myself again. I felt so angry, sad, disappointed and completely let down.
So that weekend, I surprised myself when I looked back at my daughter’s birth with acceptance and compassion for how it all unravelled. It may sound crazy, but I reached a place where I feel that this experience showed me what I needed to see to grow, feel more whole and move forward with my life in a way that feels more genuine and authentic.
But the change didn’t happen overnight. It was a process, that I was able to navigate with the right kind of support.
I first sought therapy a few months after giving birth. The form of therapy I did is called 3 Step Rewind. It is incredibly effective with trauma and in particular birth trauma. It uses NLP and hypnosis techniques to release trauma symptoms. It was so effective that I later trained in the same modality to be able to offer it as part of the perinatal support available through Holistically Me. Sometimes what we need is to deal with the urgency of a situation and in case of trauma, really get the trauma symptoms under control before doing any more work.
Once I stepped out of that flight-fight-freeze survival response triggered by my birth experience, I was able to turn inward and see what else this experience could teach me about myself and how it could help me grow and serve the life I want.
Turning inward, and doing this inner work is not easy because it involves working with emotions. Emotions really hold the key, they carry so much wisdom. But sometimes we are unable to tap into them because we cannot understand their role as simple messengers. We over-identify with them, or shame them, or want to bury them, which then keeps us stuck.
When we approach this inner work with curiosity and self-compassion instead of shame, self-blame, and judgment for how we feel, the most incredible transformation can happen, even in the most difficult circumstances.
And in what felt like very difficult circumstances, I found my own gold. You may relate to some of my own learnings:
When there is an urge to accelerate, the best thing to do is to slow down
No decision can be made from a place of fear
When feeling frazzled or anxious the priority should always be to ground in the ways that work for us
We hold the key to our own answers, no one can ever tell us what to do
You are all you will ever need
When I look back I see how my birth experience instead of making me bitter and contracted, it helped me feel more resourceful, resilient, and expansive. This experience was the catalyst for me to leave my international affairs role and start Holistically Me, an ambition I had nurtured for years and years but had never been able until then to turn into a reality.
Just writing these words is crazy given how I felt just two years ago right after my daughter was born. But there is a real softness in that approach. But sometimes we not only NEED SUPPORT accessing our own resources, but also the RIGHT KIND OF SUPPORT.
No matter what you are facing right now, I want to remind you that you are resourceful, and you will find your way, but I can also promise you, that the journey will be a lot smoother when you’re able to access the right kind of support.
In my next blog, I’ll discuss therapy vs life coaching, and how contrary to popular belief, the two can work well together.
As always, I’d love to hear from you, and will always endeavour to respond personally to any comments.