What do you stand for?

Let me take you back to 31st March 2003.
It’s unusually hot and for some unknown reason the planet has decided that now is a good time for summer.

I am 8 months pregnant with my first child.
I have so many plans and lists.

You know the type:
A birth plan, no drugs other than gas and air.
Lists of baby items I need for my bag.
Lists of Items I need for my bag.

I’m nervous, I’m only 20 and in a relationship with a man who is abusive, controlling, manipulative & twice my age. I knew we weren’t right together within 2 months of being together when he kicked off about me speaking to friends at work because they were male, and started checking my phone and not wanting me to go to after work drinks. Coercive control wasn’t a thing back then.

I had gotten myself into a situation that I was too stubborn and scared to step away from. I could make it work. Relationships have to be worked at RIGHT?

I’m pretty sure I’m not cut out for all this motherhood stuff. I can’t even get being a good partner right after all! But what I can control is what happens to my body. I can control my birth and ensuring it happens the right way for me and my baby.

Anyone who’s birthed a child in any way, shape or form is laughing right now.
They know.

You don’t have control at all. Your body does. It will do the weirdest stuff. And it’s all okay. Its meant to be allowed to do all the things.

We arrive at the hospital and the midwife looks at my calm and amused demeanour and let’s me know that we will be being sent back home, as I’m clearly not in active labour. I’m happy and laughing after all.

I feel undermined and suddenly very small.
She’s the expert.

She redeems herself by saying how lovely it is that I’ve brought my mum and dad….only for my mum and I to burst out laughing and explain the man is MY partner not my dad. (My partner didn’t find it quite so funny)

It turns out I am in active labour and she decides that I’m just good with pain and therefore doesn’t want me to take any gas and air. I’m moved to another room and having been up all night, I move towards the bed to lay down for a little while before my labour becomes more intense.

I’m told I’m not allowed.
And to make a point the midwife raises the bed to ensure I can’t get onto it.

I’m told to sit on a medicine ball and rock.
In tears, I do as I’m told.

My body is saying rest for a little while.
My mind is saying these are the experts do as you’re told.

Long story short, over and over I am told what to do and my body screams out no! That’s not what I need!
My body is tense, I’m stressed, in pain.
My labour is over 18 hours and by the time it comes to being ready to push I am exhausted.

My baby’s heart rate drops to 9bpm as they push pethadine into my veins and a doctor races in preparing for a C section. She tells me that I can push but I need to actually try. I tell her to do whatever she fuck she wants.

The medications running through my veins make me sleepy, uncooperative. I’m in stirrups, flat on my back.

I hear my mum’s voice and that becomes my focus to push. Her tenacious, stern strong voice, pulling me back into reality.

Eventually I do manage to have my child without the need for intervention. But baby is sleepy from the meds and their body temperature is low. I don’t want to hold them. I’m in a foggy drugged up state. I’ve lost a lot of blood and already low in iron but my partner insists that I need to go home instead of staying at the hospital.

The nurses disagree but my bloods come back with just enough iron to make it difficult for them to say no. I just do as I’m told.

My plans? Gone.
My lists? My organisation? My control? Gone.

In one 24 hour period I am shown how everyone else is the expert. My partner is the expert in what I should do and not do. The doctors and midwives are the experts in how I should give birth.

I forgot that I was in charge of me.

It took me a further 3 years to remember and with those 3 years came depression, anxiety, stress and a knowledge that this wasn’t what was best for me or my child.

Things hit rock bottom when I watched my, by then husband, cause emotional pain and trauma to my child.

Everything went slow motion as I realised that I had a choice in all of this and that not choosing was affecting and damaging my child.

I told my husband to leave.
I didn’t want to be a single mum. I didn’t know how I would cope. I hadn’t been allowed to even parent our child other than what I was told to do! But this wasn’t right and it was time to stand up.

We all get knocked down in life.
We all make choices by not choosing.
We all get into stuff and get lost.

But we all have the power to stand up.
I had found my voice. I had found my tenacity.

My resilience. And when I found it? I roared.

I roared for every person who decided they were the expert of ME and didn’t allow me to be heard.
I roared for every person who I let keep me small.

At rock bottom I found me again.
And although life has had lots of twists and turns, fuck me the stories I could tell! But I’ve never been back there. Rock bottom was a once only journey.

And I NEVER will.

My child has benefited from my choices and become one of the most amazing, well adjusted, beautiful people I’ve ever known.

Because I found myself and stood up for me and for them.

So many people have benefited from my choices.
Because I found me and stood up.

I am the expert of my body, my mind, my thoughts and actions. My choices.

And so are you.
You HAVE got this is.

Whatever it is that is stopping you from standing up, from being you in all your beautiful self, from shining as brightly as you can, whatever it is that is keeping you small?

You can stand up. You just need to remember what you stand for.

You can find your voice.
You can choose.

Because at some point, sitting down and staying, becomes too painful to stay in.

What do you stand for? Find it. Stand up and live it.

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