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Guest Post: How to Recover When Your Birth Plan Goes AWOL

By February 7, 2018 No Comments

Thanks to our sweet friend Kim Lohan, for sharing  – and for being an awesome Mama

When I was pregnant with my first child, I read all of the Ina May Gaskin books, signed up with an experienced midwife and was completely convinced that my delivery would not require medications or medical intervention. During the childbirth education classes I purposely ignored the information on c-sections because I didn’t want to be even subconsciously influenced. You know where this is going right? So, as my pregnancy progressed I swelled more and more, cankles were an understatement and I was up 3 shoe sizes. I had never been pregnant before – and was fixated on my vision of the ideal pregnancy – so I self-diagnosed off the Internet and delayed contacting my midwife even though it felt like my feet were going to fall off.

She took one look at my cankles, my spike in blood pressure, recent weight gain and diagnosed me with preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is a pregnancy-induced form of high blood pressure that effects only a small number of new mothers but can be very dangerous. The exact medical cause is unknown but one hypothesis is the condition is an autoimmune response to a fetus, which carries half of their DNA from the father. If you have preeclampsia the only cure is delivery of your baby – but it is a balancing act between protecting the mother while giving the child as much time as possible to develop before delivery.

After two weeks of bed rest but steadily declining health it was determined, my son had to come out. Still hopeful that natural delivery was in my cards my midwife attempted to induce. After four attempts to induce, my health was still deteriorating and now there were visible signs of distress for my son.  My midwife and OB determined that a cesarean birth was required. The final decisions happened very quickly. I was whisked into the operating room and as I was lying on the table, I burst into tears; this was the most medical and sterile environment possible and the farthest thing from my ideal vision of childbirth.

After my son was born and we embarked on our first wobbly steps of breastfeeding, bonding and lack of sleep, I continued to feel worse and worse. Only a small subsection of women experience preeclampsia and of that only a very small subsection of those don’t get better immediately after childbirth. I was a statistical anomaly and my health continued to decline but this wasn’t immediately apparent to me or to or my medical team. I was eventually discharged and readmitted twice over the next couple of days and high blood pressure became pulmonary edema – fluid in the lungs-, which then turned into heart failure and I was soon the only one in the cardiac unit with a newborn. With an attentive medical team and the right medications my symptoms gradually improved.

My training is in social work and energy healing, both which helped me to understand that I would need to do some healing to recover from the trauma of not having the birth I wanted, to coming close to dying when I had a tiny baby to care for, and to help my son recover from what must have a been a difficult experience for him as well. I saw a therapist to work through my mental trauma, an energy healer to work on recovering from the cesarean and realign mine and my baby’s energy field and of course a cardiologist to monitor my improving heart function. Family and friends were supportive but I also sensed that many felt that because I had such a healthy beautiful son that my birth was successful so why did I need to spend so much time healing?

When my husband and I made the decision to have another child, we consulted lots of specialists and I embarked on the road of radical self-care. If I felt a need arise or a concern, I addressed it immediately, if my leg looked like it wanted to swell, I talked to the doctor. I found this time around I did not have the unknowing of what a new baby would bring, but I now had the concern of getting sick. I continued receiving regular energy healings and I began taking Bend’s prenatal classes, which took my mind off of my uncomfortable body and helped foster a peace of mind. Doing yoga allowed me to put any worry on hold for the moment and I learned different poses that would bring me comfort. This regime worked and I’m happy to say, the second time around, no preeclampsia and one spunky, little girl named, Piper.

I know that it is likely if I was born 100 years ago or in another part of the world neither my son nor I would still be alive. While my first birth experience is very uncommon what I’ve come to realize is that giving birth is one of the pivotal moments of our life and we naturally have a lot of expectations around this process – especially these days. It is going to be intense, stressful, and messy and some times radically different from what we expected. It is important to acknowledge and integrated these experiences, so we grow from them. There are a lot established and alternative therapies out there that can assist in this process.

Kim Lohan is an energy healer helping folks visit the dark places to let in the light. To find out more about her practice, visit www.harastudio.com