Triumphant First Birth at Birth Center – Becca

When I was a young girl and teenager, I always daydreamed about what having kids would be like. I would imagine what outfits I would dress them in and what I would name them and what fun vacations we would go on. But what I didn’t think much about was the spiritual journey that I would embark on with the joys and sorrows of motherhood, and how that would shape my relationship with the Savior, my Heavenly parents, myself, and others who had gone before me.

I’ve always struggled with my mental and physical health, but every diagnosis thrown my way didn’t really phase me. Then, starting at 16, and throughout the next several years, I was diagnosed with a few conditions that were undoubtedly going to affect my fertility and probably my ability to carry a healthy, full-term baby. I was completely crushed. I always knew in my gut that I was MADE to be a mother, and now I didn’t even know if or how it would even happen. Still, I carried on pretending my life plan I’d had since I was 12 was going to work out perfectly. But then I hated college and my career plan went out the window. And I met the most wonderful man and got married way younger than I had thought I would. And we talked about waiting until we were financially stable to start trying to have kids and focus on us for a while… but both of us couldn’t shake the feeling that it was time to expand our family. So, while we were dirt poor living in a teeny tiny house in a terrifying neighborhood, and my husband was working towards his bachelor’s degree and I was in massage therapy school, we started trying.

Long story short, after several months, all kinds of different naturopathic methods, and lots of pondering and prayer, we decided on a doctor and treatment plan. I entered my first ultrasound full of hope. After a few minutes the doctor looked at me apologetically and said that the medication hadn’t worked at all- I hadn’t even ovulated, there was no chance I was pregnant, and we’d have to try again. I sobbed the whole way home. We went to visit my parents a few days later and I cried on my mom’s bed about how hard it was to be experiencing the pregnancy symptoms I was told would be a side effect of the medication, all while knowing I wasn’t actually pregnant. A few days after that, I woke up uncharacteristically early in the morning with my thoughts practically screaming at me to take a test. I pushed it off, tossing and turning and trying to go back to sleep for about 30 minutes, telling myself that it would just ruin my day because there was no way. And even if by some miracle I was pregnant, it was way too early to tell. But something kept telling me to get out of bed and just do it. So I did, not even looking at the test. And as I went to throw it away, I glanced down and saw two purple lines clear as day! That miracle was the beginning of a spiritual, physical, and mental roller coaster that I could never have imagined.

Everything started out great! Sure I couldn’t keep down anything except an occasional grilled cheese sandwich, but most of my other health problems seemed to diminish or even disappear entirely, and I felt like I could take on the world! I started attending the temple more and growing closer to my Heavenly Father than I had in a while. I graduated massage therapy school and started my own business and loved it! Then one night my husband came home to find me shaking uncontrollably in my bed with all the lights in the house off. For the longest time I couldn’t grasp what had happened and I still don’t fully understand it. It started off like a panic attack, but it went far beyond that. I was quite literally paralyzed and physically and emotionally saw darkness closing in on me. All I could think was “this isn’t me.” I jerked and twitched and gasped and sobbed violently and silently prayed for Heavenly Father to make it stop. I was terrified and struggled to breathe for over an hour until I managed to send a text to my husband. When he got home from work he held me and assured me everything was going to be ok. He gave me a blessing and I suddenly understood that this literally WAS NOT me. This was someone or something from outside that was pure evil trying to take control of my mortal body. It was a strange and horrifying realization, but I kept repeating “this isn’t me” over and over again until I started to see more light and my breathing slowed and the weight holding me to the bed started to lift. Writing this out, it doesn’t even come close to expressing the darkness and hopelessness of it all. It was one of the scariest experiences of my life. And starting that night, it was like a switch flipped in my head.

All of a sudden, I didn’t want to be a mom. I didn’t think I deserved to be pregnant when so many people I loved deeply didn’t get that opportunity. I felt sure the baby was going to die and I hoped I would too. I know that sounds morbid, but I was in a very dark place. I hardly left my bed for a week. Luckily my angel of a husband intervened and convinced me to get help. I had always gone the natural route with treating my mental illnesses but I had several strong impressions that I needed to get on medication as soon as possible. A few weeks later I felt better than I could ever remember, and that experience has helped me endlessly through later similar trials, which I am eternally grateful for.

Towards the end of pregnancy, I took a spiritual birth class my doula recommended. The very first lesson, we were encouraged to ponder on what our preconceived notions about birth were. I had never thought about it, but almost immediately realized that I thought it was terrifying- a “necessary evil” you might say. That’s how most people in my life treated it, so that’s what I always assumed. But throughout the course of the class and with prayer and meditation I was able to release almost all the fear and anxiety and look forward to the rest of pregnancy and birth as a way to strengthen myself spiritually and connect with those on the other side of the veil. I was also able to sense the anxious excitement of my baby’s spirit, and how she just couldn’t wait to start her mortal journey! It was absolutely amazing and very contagious!

During one class we did a lesson and meditation about Heavenly Mother. At the end, we were encouraged to write a letter to ourselves from Her. I felt the spirit and it was a great experience, but I didn’t think much about it until the very end of my pregnancy. I was due at the end of August and, living in Arizona, I thought I might die from the heat. So I snapped one day and decided to take a road trip to Colorado, where it was cold. Don’t worry- my mom and my brother were with me. We slept in the car and just wandered around enjoying nature. I took a walk by myself early in the morning, after my personal scripture study, next to a small stream with bright green trees all around me and decided I should open the journal I had been keeping. When I started reading that letter over I immediately felt the warm and welcoming presence of my Mother in Heaven. My whole world seemed to feel brighter and full of love- I’m not sure how else to describe it. I knew that She was so proud of me for doing what I was doing and I knew that She had been and would be there every step of the way. That is the only time I’ve ever really felt Heavenly Mother’s presence, but it’s not something I will soon forget.

By the time I went into labor, it was the Saturday before my due date. Thanks to all my spiritual and physical preparation and support from loved ones, I was so excited! I had had a couple of scares with my blood pressure and had been told I was going to be induced in the hospital several times, but every time, my blood pressure suddenly went back down for no rhyme or reason. I just know it was a tender mercy straight from the Lord to allow me to give birth the way I wanted to, even though she would have gotten here and I know I could have had a wonderful experience either way. In a matter of hours, before I could even call the midwife, I was having contractions right on top of each other! I started to panic, and so did my husband. But when I got in the bath they gradually started to space back out. What followed was three days of contractions that were anywhere from two to 20 minutes apart. I asked for several Priesthood blessings and cried 50% of the time. I tried everything to get things moving but nothing seemed to work. I tried to remember and recite my birthing affirmations I had written, but after a while, I didn’t believe them at all. I could hardly move or eat, and I hadn’t slept more than 15 minutes at a time. My sweet husband stayed awake with me when he could and helped whenever he saw the need, but there was nothing he could do to carry this burden himself.

Finally, my husband fell asleep at 4am on Tuesday morning, and I felt completely alone. I decided then that I absolutely couldn’t do this anymore. I had said many prayers over the past few days but this prayer was different. It was desperate. I was pleading with all my might, mind, and strength. All I could seem to whimper was “Please. Please Heavenly Father. I need a break or I need a baby. Please.” As soon as I ended that prayer, my contractions starting coming closer together. I woke my husband and next thing I knew we were on our way to the birth center.

When we got there, the contractions were becoming irregular again, so we walked. And walked. And walked. A few hours later I was so discouraged, and defeatedly told my husband we might as well go back home and wait it out. So I stood up from the ball I had been bouncing on and had the strongest contraction yet, which ended up being the beginning of active labor. From there it was a whirlwind. Despite my intensified discomfort I was smiling and laughing. I was just so happy that it was finally happening! But there was one moment where everything just seemed to go still and I felt someone behind me smiling down at me and cheering me on. I couldn’t tell you how I knew this, but I felt sure in that moment that it was my mother-in-law, who passed away when my husband was young. I have always longed to know her talk with her and ask her advice, and that moment was yet another tender mercy for me that I will forever be grateful for.

Not long after that, I began pushing. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but I knew that I was the only person that could physically bring her into the world. I kept saying, “Come on, Millie girl!” I knew it was just me and her, in this together. The midwife never told me what to do or when to push. Everyone just sat and watched while I did what I had to, and it was a beautiful experience. And nothing in the world can compare to the moment I got that slippery, squirmy, pink little angel on my chest. The room was reverent and a great sense of awe washed over me.

I love being a mother, and I always will. But I’ve struggled with lots of guilt. Feeling guilt for the fact that I was able to get pregnant in the first place and able to birth and raise a healthy baby when many women I love dearly haven’t had that chance. Guilt for choosing what I felt was right for me and my baby when others disagreed so strongly. Guilt for not being the mom I thought my little girl deserved. Processing and letting go of all that guilt has been a spiritual journey of its own, and it’s ongoing.

To be honest, I had a hard time writing a good portion of this down because I’m not sure I completely understand or have truly processed all of it. And I sure don’t feel like I’m able to adequately put those sacred moments into words. But what I DO know is that pregnancy and birth were an incredible opportunity for me to come to know myself and my God, and that He has a perfect plan in store for us if we just put our trust in Him.