Tag Archives: labor and delivery

Advanced Maternal Age and Recovery: Sharing Grace



This week, I will share Part Two of Recovering Women and Advanced Maternal Age: A Story of Hope (and Grace, who you will meet at the end of this blog).

To read Part One of Sheira’s story, click here.ama

Last week, Sheira shared about some of the obstacles she worked through in order to have a baby at age 50.  Here is the final excerpt of the interview in which she shares the obstacles she worked through, and the miracle that she birthed, at age 50:

Emotional Clearing

There was all this evidence stacked up supporting the fearful belief that I couldn’t have a baby. It was important to go in there, make conscious those fearful beliefs, and express them. When I touched in those beliefs, I felt like throwing up. I had just tried an embryo donation that had fallen through. I touched into this very deep grief about my family life not working out. And I really felt like throwing up. That’s what my body really wanted to do. This sounds strange, but I let myself dry heave and tear up and cry all at the same time. And it was cathartic! It was a layer of grief that was so unconscious. It felt good for it to be out. So that was one of the turning points.

I had another turning point when I was deciding between two sets of embryos. I didn’t know if either one would work out. I had reason to believe I wouldn’t be able to carry a child. I was afraid there had been too much damage done. I was telling this to a friend who’s had three children. I was explaining how it doesn’t get to work out for me and I have evidence supporting this belief.  She turned her around and she said:

“This sounds like depression.”

She had a word for it. It was a relief to name it as depression, as it had only ever been the truth to me. And then she said:

“Having children came really easily to me. Give your depression to me. I can help you with that.”

And she did. She put her hands out and we kind of held on each other’s forearms and I just closed my eyes and I said “OK, I’ll give it to you. I give you my depression about family.” And she just accepted it, and it ended in her unafraid psyche.

My fears finally had someplace safe to go. There was another human being who got in there with me. After, that I would still get fearful thoughts sometimes, but they just didn’t have the same hold. And then some events happened that went counter to the (fear-based) evidence.

Practical Steps

After my second marriage ended, I knew I was going to have to do it on my own. So I got my mind around adopting the embryo and I went on an embryo donation web site.  I knew two people who had embryos, and they both came forward and offered them to me. Then it became a question of what the requirements and wishes of the donating families, and which was a better fit. I decided on a certain set of embryos. Then there was a very expensive legal transfer of the embryos to my posession. There was no legal precedent for transferring embryos, so my lawyer had to do original scholarship on it. The lawyers fees and transferring the embryos from one physical location to another took a lot of time and money. But finally, I was able to move forward.

Happily (Mostly) Ever After 

And then I met someone who basically was a much better suited partner for me than the other two I had chosen. For me that really settled and we entered into a long honeymoon period. I was having all this evidence that contradicted the fearful belief that I wouldn’t be able to have a family. (NOTE: Finding my partner was a very important piece, But I had already made the decision to have a baby. I know many single mothers, and anyone who wants to be a single mother, I would encourage you to do that. I made the decision to have a baby first, and then the right partner came.)

The embryos were transferred and then I began the medical procedures that I needed to do. I was in full menopause in 2009 and in 2014, I got pregnant.

On Fertility:

I was 45 when I went to through menopause. I think it was related to my eating disorder. Eating Disorders mess up your hormones. That’s probably why I went into menopause early. My mother was 55 when she was in full menopause and I was 45. If you have had an eating disorder, the good news is you can have a baby. There’s so much help now, in so many ways, to get pregnant.

So once we had the embryos in the right place, I started doing the medical procedures. I got the green light from the head of the fertility department that we could implant. It was an amazingly easy procedure. I had a very mild dose of the pain medication and I was completely awake. There was a teeny tiny tube that had the embryo in it and they had to look at it with a magnifying glass to make sure the embryo was in it. And then they put it into me and checked with their magnifying glass that there was nothing in the tube. The they said:

“That’s great, it must be in there.”

What I want people to know is: it felt like a conception. One of the members of the embryo donation family was there, and my partner was there, and a very dedicated acupuncturist. It seems futuristic and scientific, but that’s how my baby got conceived! It was love. It was different, but it was still love. It was not anything like I pictured, but it was still great.

I was afraid to get my hopes up. My whole world had been turned around as far as what I thought I knew about finding a partner, the kind of partner that I thought would be a good partner, and what I thought I knew about how I would make my family. So I didn’t want to get my hopes up. Looking back, I realized that there was a knowing, but it wasn’t like fireworks at all. Then I went to the doctor for a real pregnancy test. And I was pregnant!

How was the pregnancy?

I have terrible insomnia and I have had terrible insomnia since I was born. I didn’t sleep through the night till I was three years old. When I was pregnant, I slept great. I could sleep anywhere. I could fall asleep in 10 seconds, get woken up, and go right back to sleep. My experience of being pregnant was I was never so calm. I still feel that way when I hold my daughter. My whole system just goes calm. And I feel her system going like that. You know we just got lucky on that.

But in other ways, the pregnancy was very difficult. One way I had recovered from my eating disorder was to learn to eat when I was hungry and stop when I was full. But I didn’t feel hungry. I actually lost weight in the first trimester. I was getting worried because I thought the baby wouldn’t get enough nutrition. People were saying I looked funny. I was at my goal weight of what I wanted to be when I was in high school. I was so skinny. Why did I ever think that was attractive? I had to require myself to eat. As the pregnancy progressed, people said the sickness was going to go away. It didn’t for me. It kept going. I was worried I was carrying small. I had an ultrasound and the technician stopped the appointment to call the doctor and say:

“We have a 6th percentile here.”

My baby was only in the in the sixth percentile of growth. I became very worried. I was instructed to stop working. I had to stay at home. I was instructed to stop exercising. Then I had to come in every week, just to make sure the baby was growing.

Miracles happen

By about a week before she was born, my baby was in the normal range. It’s very unusual if you start out at the sixth percentile that you would get back into the normal range. I can’t say exactly what happened. The doctor thought it was because I was working at home and stopped exercising. Clearly that helped.  But it’s still a mystery to me how she could have grown that much.

Labor and Delivery

10 days before the baby was born, I found a doula to interview. We met on a Friday and we planned to meet again on the following Monday. Well, on the Sunday night before I had to lay down for a nap. And I felt all this wetness. Throughout the night the fluid that was coming out was pink, and then it came out brown and the doula said:

“You have to go to the hospital now.”

My friend drove me and I got there and they wanted to give me pitocin. I had heard that there was a cascade of interventions that they give you from there. I wanted to have a childbirth with as few interventions as possible. But an hour later, I still wasn’t progressing and they gave me a drip of pitocin.

I dilated very, very quickly. I pushed with no pain medication, doing everything with the help of the doula. I pushed and her head crowned. I could feel her. I did tear, and it really hurt. I’m never going to forget how painful it was. It’s not fair to women that you don’t remember it. This should be remembered.  My beautiful baby came out and she was strong. She was five pounds eight ounces at five pounds seven ounces, they take the baby into the NICU. She just made it. When they sewed me up, they were singing songs to her. It was very sweet.

Grace

The strange part was I thought I was going to have a completely empowered expansive experience when I was giving birth. I thought it was going to be like the earth mother would come through me and I would feel so competent. But it wasn’t like that. My inner critic was huge and loud every minute. It said I was doing it wrong.  That’s the only voice I heard in my head. I was so surprised. I was so pissed off!

After the birth I heard them talking about me at the nurses station. They said “No pain medication?”  Then the nurse came into my room and she said:

“You are my queen. I’m going to give you a tiara. All other all the other girls on this floor are 25 years old and they’re asking for epidurals. And you came in here with your doula and you did your thing.”

That was exactly what I needed to hear. I could not undo my own critic and this lovely nurse did it for me. It prompted a healing where I realized I am complete in all of my body. I can’t believe I ever rejected it. I realized I had thought the hardware was flawed. But the hardware was not flawed- it never was. The software was flawed. I had

miracle-babybelieved that my body was incompetent and wrong. But It wasn’t my body. My body knew what to do. My actual body is like a strong and powerful tree, or a flower in its infinite wisdom.

Her name is Gracie. It’s my way of thanking the family who donated the embryos and thanking God for finally giving me what I what I had so much.

Sheira Kahn, MFT, is a marriage and family therapist in the bay area who gave birth to a beautiful baby girl at age 50. To read more about her professionally, you can visit her website here

 

 

3 Lessons From Writing That Help With Motherhood and Recovery

When I was pregnant, I was convinced that I was having a girl, and had already started planning accordingly. Of course I found out:

“Guess What? It’s a boy!”

Oh, Okay. I thought. Hmmm… Time to reset the expectations. Or better yet, let’s just allow what is being grown to emerge as it (or He) needs. 

1. Expectations are Resentments Waiting to Happen.

That is a recovery quote from Alcoholics Anonymous. Another is “Resentments are like eating rat poison yourself and then waiting for the rat to die.” A bit harsh, but applicable. Pregnancy, motherhood, and writing are all about letting go of your expectations and allowing what needs to emerge come forth in its own way.

My book is in that place. As Elizabeth Gilbert wrote in her fabulous book, Big Magic:

big magic 2

I had this plan: the title, the table of contents, the “target audience.” And now something else is emerging. The ideas come, and I channel them onto the paper. I have a plan, and then I chuck it (or the part that’s not working) out the window, as something else emerges. Writing a book is like birthing a baby.

I’m not talking about an epidural or 48 hours of convulsing with medication-free pain so intense you thought you were dying. That is reserved for actual labor and delivery. Motherhood, however, along with the creative process (and, of course, recovery), do share some similarities with the birth process.

2. You get to show up for the work, You don’t get to decide the timeline.

I have been writing a book since my little one was 3 months old (little one is now six. Years.) And, even though I would really like to be in control of the process, it is taking on a life of its own. It is emerging in its own timeline. The plan was finish the book when baby was 1 year. Ha! Just like the “birth plan” (note the quotes) for labor and delivery, the plan needs to change as needed. (Who wouldn’t love to have a three – or even six – hour labor and delivery experience? Pain-free with no complications? But that’s not how it works. We all have a birth plan, and then we all go through actual labor and delivery. It is rare that the two exactly match up.)

Your job is to show up for the process, one moment at a time and give your best effort. That’s it. That’s true in writing a book, birthing a baby, and the long journey of motherhood ahead. The thing I remember most about labor experience, despite the altar I had set up, the music, the doula, the whole rainbow-and-flowers plan I had, is the clock on the wall. Watching the second hands tick on the clock on the wall got me through every contraction. I didn’t have “look at the clock ticking” on my birth plan. But that is what helped me stay present, 1 second, 1 moment, 1 hour at a time.

 3. Don’t Let Fear Run the Show.

Here’s another great quote from Elizabeth Gilbert:
“Basically, your fear is like a mall cop who thinks he’s a Navy SEAL: He hasn’t slept in days, he’s all hopped up on Red Bull, and he’s liable to shoot at his own shadow in an absurd effort to keep everyone “safe.”

My little one and I often play a game called “walk through the fear.” Like many little ones, he’s afraid of the dark. So we set up one dark room (it may need a night-light on 🙂 ) and one light room. Then we walk through the dark room back into the light. Again and again. Fear is not allowed to run the show. It can join in and participate as we move. But it is not allowed to keep us paralyzed. In writing, that translates to keep writing. Write a lot of (what Anne Lamott calls) “shitty first drafts.” But keep writing. (Or working on our recovery or traveling through pregnancy, labor, delivery, and motherhood).

Also, when fear pops up (as in recently when a great idea emerged about a new direction that this book I’m writing probably needs to take), notice it. Fear has two jobs:  1) protect vulnerability and 2) prevent change. So whenever it arises, you can notice it, thank it, and continue moving in exactly that direction. That’s right: continue moving in the direction that fear is trying to get you to avoid. Let fear be your guide instead of your road block. What’s in the way is the way.  I will be with you in this walking-through-fear journey. And this new version of my book, which I thought was a “girl,” but apparently wants to be a “boy”!

Motherhood as Rite of Passage

IMG_3210The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new.

~Rajneesh Look

I remember when I was a brand new first-time mom, like four days brand new, and went to a new mom group. I was in the no-sleep, hormones still rollercoaster-ing daze. I was trying to look like I knew what I was doing, even though it felt like the bottom had dropped out of my body, my breasts were bowling balls, and I was wondering why no one ever tells you about urinary incontinence…

(This is Guest blog- to read full article, go to psychedinsanfrancisco.com )

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