Monday, July 14, 2008

Conquering Fear Yet Again

It's inevitable in this stage of pregnancy that I will be dealing with an old enemy: FEAR. Fear comes upon me in the last month before a baby arrives as I contemplate what's ahead. With the first there is always fear of the unknown and the horrors that people tell you about but you truly don't fear as much thanks to lots of scientific research and reading and the plain old fact that ignorance is bliss. The second time my fear was very strong and I remember quoting verses to myself constantly in the shower during labor about not giving way to fear and instead trusting in God. This time around, you would think I would be relaxed and un-concerned, knowing that I survived 2 natural childbirths and my body knows what to do. But instead, I'm more terrified than ever since 2 times was enough to solidify in my mind that childbirth is TORTURE and there is something rapidly growing in my belly that is huge and has to come out eventually and it's neither fun nor easy!

I've been laying awake at night trying to figure out ways to cope as these thoughts swirl through my head:
*What if I can't do this?
*What if I freak out and become a complete basket case/emotional wreck?
*What if I can't get a grip on fear and it causes labor to be even more painful with the whole fear/tension/pain cycle?
*What if my mom is out of town when she's supposed to be around to watch the birth and help King Jo coach me?
*What if they don't allow me drugs?
*What if they do allow me drugs and they make me feel horrible?
*What if I count on a pain-free labor with drugs and then the epidural doesn't take effect?
*What if I get there too late for drugs?
*What if the baby comes too fast like with Jer?
*What if I have to undergo natural again?
*What if I don't undergo natural, will my baby be lethargic?
*What if I hemhorrage again and lose consciousness?
*What if the doctor doesn't get there in time? (Since my midwife can't deliver anymore right now there are only 2 options for OB doctors in this town and I have yet to meet either one so I definitely don't feel comfortable with them yet!)
*What if something happens to the baby?
*What if our baby isn't healthy?
*What if this kills me and I can't be the Mommy of my children?
*What if I have to have a C-section like my Mom did on her 3rd?
*What if I don't make it to the hospital in time for drugs and yet don't feel I can cope without them?

Now I know these fears may seem silly in retrospect and I should just pull myself up from my bootstraps and trust in God's sovereignty because He will give me the strength I need for EVERY situation! Women have babies every day and I've done this before and will be fine, no matter what happens. His grace is sufficient. It's crazy because I WANT it to be time for the baby to be born and I want him out of me, but I definitely dread that quickl approaching day too. I know it will be one of the best, most exciting days of my entire life as I meet a tiny new treasure God has blessed us with. But my physical body groans in anticipation of the pain (which you definitely DON'T forget instantly like they say you do when you see the baby).

Here are some things I'm trying to do to get a grip:

Memorize Scriptures that will remind me not to fear, but to trust.

Don't think about it! A woman at church with 4 young ones said she battled fear too (who doesn't if you've had all-natural births?) and she said the key is to not dwell on it. This means I should cease reading Pregnancy Guides late at night that give me nightmares as they describe the details of labor, bringing back painful memories, and avoid surfing the net looking for birth stories, etc.

Build a prayer team. It was really cool to call friends and ask them to pray in the past when we've been heading into a birth and this time is no exception. I want no less than a hundred people praying for me when I go into it, even if I have to call every prayer chain I know and blast the news on my blog and facebook that I'm going into labor. You'd better believe that I will pray for you too, if you ask me to, when it's your turn to face childbirth! I have already started asking God to call my friends to pray for me on that day whether or not they even hear or read that I'm going to the hospital.

Think of what's worse! This may seem a bit twisted, but I promise you, it helps me! In some weird way, it's like being thankful for childbirth because it really is better than a lot of things. Call it perspective. For example, I could be having an infected wisdom tooth/root pulled again when the anethestic doesn't work, which is almost as painful as labor but without the reward of a baby! Or worse, I could have a kid that has cancer or have suddenly lost my spouse! I could be enduring torture or rape for my faith as our persecuted brothers and sisters in other countries are, or could be watching my children murdered or kidnapped. I could be dying young of horrendous injuries or be sentenced to prison for a crime I didn't commit, etc. etc. There are so many things in this life more torturous than childbirth that it is humbling to think about.

Please keep me in your prayers and ask the Lord to help me conquer fear.
Please share with me any encouraging Scriptures that come to mind for my situation.
Please share any tips you may have on getting through childbirth! (No horror stories please!)

I'm always blessed by reading the blog, Amy's Humble Musings. When she was battling this intense fear of childbirth recently when she was expecting her sixth, she posted these quotes on her blog, which I plan to carry with me to the hospital.

What is thy only comfort in life and in death?
That I, with body and soul, both in life and in death, am not my own, but belong to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ, who with His precious blood has fully satisfied for all my sins, and redeemed me from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me, that without the will of my Father in heaven not a hair can fall from my head; yea, that all things must work together for my salvation. Wherefore, by His Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life, and makes me heartily willing and ready henceforth to live unto Him.
How many things are necessary for thee to know, that thou in this comfort mayest live and die happily?
Three things: first, the greatness of my sin and misery. Second, how I am redeemed from all my sins and misery. Third, how I am to be thankful to God for such redemption.
~ The Heidelberg Catechism

Amy's Thoughts: Being assured of the greatness of my sin and misery is no problem right now. It wasn’t too long ago that women were grateful to make it through childbirth alive; now we all just want to make it through without too much pain. Times have changed. The good news, if it can be called that (since the Apostle Paul tells us that dying is gain) is that I’m not going to die—at least not just yet. The bad news is that I feel like it.


Suzanne said...

I'll be praying!! I understand your fear; I've only had one birth so far, but it was natural. I won't give you details, but reading your list, it sounds a lot like at least one of yours!

I, too, am scared of childbirth again and I'm not even pregnant. I very much want another child and hope to be pregnant soon, but I do struggle with fear. I'm actually a little encouraged to hear someone else say this; it makes me calm down a little! I know that doesn't help you, but maybe knowing everyone who has experienced this (especially natural childbirth) feels that way. And yet, we usually want to do it again! :) I think this fear may be a normal part of pregnancy, like transition is a normal part of labor. Just think, though, when you are actually laboring, you will probably be so busy concentrating and working, you will not be afraid.

Psalm 55:6 always helps me feel a little more peaceful when I'm nervous or scared. In fact, "Dove" is my daughter's middle name because I read this verse so much during my pregnancy!

I'll be praying and I'll put you on our church's prayer list. I'll just say a pregnant friend. :)

Nicole said...

This isn't the same but yesterday I had a dentist appt and I am TERRIFIED of going to the dentist. A verse came back to me that I learned when I was very, very young and it helped me a lot!

11 Timothy 1:7

"The Lord has not given us a spirit of fear but of power and love and of a sound mind."

SamAndHisFam said...

I will be praying for you, I promise! I am also in the panic stage because all I have to do is think a little bit and I remember the pain very, very well! It is not forgotten!
I think the best thing for me has been on your list of coping methods and that is not to dwell on it. I can really just not think about it without too much effort because I know that worrying about it for the next 7 weeks is not going to make it any easier when the time comes!

And definitely stop reading any magazines or books about labor!! You know what will basically take place since you've done this twice before, your body will know what to do, and you really can't predict your exact birth scenario anyway -- so reading labor stories will only stress you out. I've had to stop reading about it for awhile now.
It would be different if this was our first baby and we had no idea what to expect. But we're veterans now, right! We know it's going to hurt and we know that we'll be super excited to meet our babies after it's all over!!

I guess I'm not much help but do know that I'll be praying for you, you WILL survive and get through it, and it WILL be worth it (although it may not feel like it for awhile :))

Also, an update: I saw the doctor today and she said everything looks great and Christian is definitely low and his head is down low. No wonder I've been feeling like he's going to fall out some days and no wonder I've had so much heaviness and pressure and pubic bone pain. She kind of hinted around that he'll be early even though she didn't come right out and say it. I wonder??! My guess is 2-3 weeks early but who knows!

The Three 22nds said...

It is scary. I will be praying for you too! You know what though? I ended up with an emergency c- section for my 3rd after a difficult labor- that was my biggest fear ever. I was so afraid of that dreaded c section. But you know what? It was fine. It was good. My recovery was easier then my 2 vaginal births.

And emotional breakdowns? In labor with my 3rd I had a complete breakdown about how in the world was I going to take care of 3 babies! Great time to melt down, huh?

My point being, Lindsay, there are all different kinds of ways to birth babies, and there are all kinds of situations you can run into but our God is faithful and he loves little Justus more than you ever could! And he loves you too!

Mrs. Jo said...


That is so sweet of you to put me on a prayer list! I hope your next childbirth is a breeze!

Thanks for the verse,
I actually quoted that one throughout Jer's labor! Aren't dentists the freakiest?

Thanks for your prayers and it's been great having you go through another pregnancy with me!

3 22nds,
Thanks for the comments! I had to laugh about your breakdown, picturing myself doing the same thing! It's great to hear that c-sections aren't as bad as people make them out to be! Thankf for the reminder that God loves Justus and me and is watching over us.

Thia said...

On Thursday I started a problem page about this very thing. A problem page is a page I write in my journal where I start by writing the problem, then I brain storm solutions. The problem was that in my last labor (which was fast and intense), I felt I didn't handle the pain well and was on the verge of just falling apart, not breathing, and over all panicing. And it has stuck with me for two years. I don't want to do it again. So, thanks for writing this b/c I have more solutions to write down.
I think I will blog out the solutions I came up with rather than take up more room here.

stacy e. said...

I had six natural births which were really quite "easy" -except the 1st one- (if you can even say that about childbirth!) compared to other stories I've heard that is. But I still suffered the last month PANIC each time.

I'd agree with trying to not dwell on it. Your 'weird' thoughts of what could be worse is what I do too! There's always something worse.

I tell myself, if God wants to take me home & thus away from my children - as much as I hate that thought - then He must have something in mind for their care also.

He will never leave you, nor forsake you - even in labor!

stacy e. said...

I just thought of another great verse. II Corinthians 10:5 "...we take captive every thought to MAKE IT OBEDIENT to Christ." With the Holy Spirit's help of course. We don't have to listen to those fearful thoughts because - "I can do everything through Him Who gives me strength." Phil. 4:13

M. Stevenson said...

Hi Mrs. Jo,

I just found your blog after you posted comments about cheerfulness that resonated with me. My 4th baby is due August 10. (My first two were without drugs, number 3 started out facing the wrong way, so I had the epidural, but still got her to turn anyway--didn't much care for the epi, but appreciated the pain relief.)

I can understand to some extent the fears that you listed on this post, especially if there's a likelihood of it happening to you due to past birthing experiences. But I must say that I was a bit concerned at the LENGTH of the list! Perhaps your focus on the potential problems IS the problem.

If you look at each item again (which I'm not really recommending), and ask yourself, "Would God see me through THIS?" "Is God present with me? Is God sovereign? Is God the One in control, or is it me, and he's just my helper?" (lowercase letters intentonal).

Certainly finding verses to meditate on is the best place to focus your thoughts (and DO manage to lose the books and medical dictionaries--they tend to turn us into hypochondriacs). I guess I would recommend reading Psalm 91, but the truth is, sometimes bad things DO happen, people DO die, even babies.

Do you think you are prepared for the worst case scenario? How prepared do you think you NEED to be? Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding...

We intentionally don't find out the gender of the unborn child just so that we have some exciting things to look forward to on "birth day" (rather than just labor and weight and length statistics). One thing that gets me smiling is when I see that little newborn "gurney" in the delivery room. It's just a reminder that there's another patient in the delivery room, and it's not all about me.

I hope I haven't come across too harsh. Since you are a professing believer, I will just encourage you to draw your strength from the God's word as much as you are able. I've been reading Colossians daily for the last 3 weeks. Today chapter 3 really stood out to me, especially with the bad attitude issues that I, too have been facing. I hope you are blessed when you read it.

I'll pray that God will give you the ability to ENJOY this last month of craziness, before you REALLY lose your mind (LOL!), and that His peace and His word will rule your heart and mind. (I'll pray that for myself as well!)

Merrilee Stevenson

Anonymous said...

Hi, I just hopped over here after reading your post on Crystal's blog. I've had three successful natural births. Two at home. God is sovereign and he gives good gifts to his children, not bad ones. So, here are some promises in his Word concerning child-birth. Bet you didn't know there were so many. So, pick your favorites and start meditating on those. When you know what God wants for you and you start agreeing with HIM, fear just seems to leave.

My best to you,

Adrienne in OK
Scriptures for Expectant Mothers

Isaiah 55:11 …My Word…it will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.

Gen 49:25
By the God of your father who will help you,
And by the Almighty who will bless you
With blessings of heaven above,
Blessings of the deep that lies beneath,
Blessings of the breasts and of the womb.

Ex 1:19
And the midwives said to Pharaoh, "Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women; for they are lively and give birth before the midwives come to them."

Ex 23:26
No one shall suffer miscarriage or be barren in your land; I will fulfill the number of your days.

Deut 7:13a
And He will love you and bless you and multiply you; He will also bless the fruit of your womb…

Deut 7:14-15
You shall be blessed above all peoples; there shall not be a male or female barren among you or among your livestock.

Deut 28:4
“Blessed shall be the fruit of your body, the produce of your ground and the increase of your herds, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flocks.

Deut 28:11-12
And the LORD will grant you plenty of goods, in the fruit of your body, in the increase of your livestock, and in the produce of your ground, in the land of which the LORD swore to your fathers to give you.

Deut 31:6
Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the one who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you."

Ps 22:9-10
But You are He who took Me out of the womb;
You made Me trust while on My mother's breasts.
I was cast upon You from birth.
From My mother's womb
You have been My God.

Ps 50:15
Call upon Me in the day of trouble;
I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me."

Ps 71:6
By You I have been upheld from birth;
You are He who took me out of my mother's womb.
My praise shall be continually of You.

Ps 91:11
For He shall give His angels charge over you,
To keep you in all your ways.

Ps 91:14
"Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him;
I will set him on high, because he has known My name.

Ps 113:9
He grants the barren woman a home,
Like a joyful mother of children.

Ps 127:3-5
Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one's youth.
Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them;
They shall not be ashamed,
But shall speak with their enemies in the gate.

Ps 128:3-4
Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine
In the very heart of your house,
Your children like olive plants
All around your table.
Behold, thus shall the man be blessed
Who fears the LORD.

Ps 139:13-17
For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother's womb.
I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.
My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them.
How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How great is the sum of them.

Ps 147:13
For He has strengthened the bars of your gates;
He has blessed your children within you.

Prov 3:24
When you lie down, you will not be afraid;
Yes, you will lie down and your sleep will be sweet.

Isa 40:11
He will feed His flock like a shepherd;
He will gather the lambs with His arm,
And carry them in His bosom,
And gently lead those who are with young.

Isa 44:2-3
Thus says the LORD who made you
And formed you from the womb, who will help you:
'Fear not, O Jacob My servant;
And you, Jeshurun, whom I have chosen.
For I will pour water on him who is thirsty,
And floods on the dry ground;
I will pour My Spirit on your descendants,
And My blessing on your offspring;

Isa 44:24
Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer,
And He who formed you from the womb:
"I am the LORD, who makes all things,

Isa 46:3-4
And all the remnant of the house of Israel,
Who have been upheld by Me from birth,
Who have been carried from the womb:
Even to your old age, I am He,
And even to gray hairs I will carry you!
I have made, and I will bear;
Even I will carry, and will deliver you.

Isa 49:1
"Listen, O coastlands, to Me,
And take heed, you peoples from afar!
The LORD has called Me from the womb;
From the matrix of My mother He has made mention of My name.

Isa 49:25
But thus says the LORD:
"Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away,
And the prey of the terrible be delivered;
For I will contend with him who contends with you,
And I will save your children.

Isa 54:13
All your children shall be taught by the LORD,
And great shall be the peace of your children.

Isa 54:17-55:1
No weapon formed against you shall prosper,
And every tongue which rises against you in judgment
You shall condemn.
This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD,
And their righteousness is from Me,"
says the LORD.

Isa 65:23
They shall not labor in vain,
Nor bring forth children for trouble;
For they shall be the descendants of the blessed of the LORD,
And their offspring with them.

Isa 66:7
"Before she was in labor, she gave birth;
Before her pain came,
She delivered a male child.

Isa 66:8-9
Who has heard such a thing?
Who has seen such things?
Shall the earth be made to give birth in one day?
Or shall a nation be born at once?
For as soon as Zion was in labor,
She gave birth to her children.
Shall I bring to the time of birth, and not cause delivery?" says the LORD.
"Shall I who cause delivery shut up the womb?" says your God.

Jer 1:5
"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you;
Before you were born I sanctified you;
I ordained you a prophet to the nations."

John 15:16-17
You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.

John 16:21
A woman, when she is in labor, has sorrow because her hour has come; but as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world.

Gal 1:15-16
But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb and called me through His grace,16 to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood.

Gal 3:13
Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us.

1 Tim 2:15
Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control.

2 Tim 1:7
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

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