The Greatest Gift

By: Kimberly Smith |

It's crazy to think how fast time goes by... isn't it? It's also crazy to think how much life has changed so seamlessly over the last year... to think about how far I've come and how much I have learned.

Throughout all my reflection, I think the thing I like to reflect on the most is my son, Everett's, birth. It's where a lot of my learning and changing has taken place. His birth was one of anxiety, surprise, and miracles--and that is something I will never forget.

To begin with, I had dealt with severe anxiety for about three years when I found out I was pregnant. I had wanted to start having children right away, but my husband kept telling me I  probably needed to get a hold of my anxiety first. He was right. The anxiety would come in waves, but at that particular time it was so bad, it was disrupting normal, daily activities.

So, with that in mind we had our decision set... to wait until things got better before trying to get pregnant. Little did we know, I already was.

When I found out I was pregnant we were preparing to move across the country to Vermont. My husband was planning on attending the New England Culinary Institute. We were really excited, but the timing was hard. Traveling across the country in my first trimester when I wasn't feeling so great, wasn't all that exciting. However, we made it through the move in one piece and arrived safely in Vermont. 

Later on in my pregnancy, my anxiety had become increasingly worse. Being in a new area with new people and constantly being home alone was a recipe for disaster. It got to the point where I was having anxiety attacks almost every week and would get nervous over the smallest things. Throughout it all, I kept praying that things would get better, but they seemed to only get worse.

My anxiety was miserable, but my pregnancy saved me. I remember a point in my pregnancy having a profound feeling that my soon-to-be born son would be the medicine to finally cure my struggles. I wanted to believe it so much that I let it give me hope, but in the back of my mind I couldn't help but think that having a baby could produce even more stress and anxiety.

A little over a month before my sweet baby boy was born, my anxiety and panic attacks had me hitting an all time low. I had become incredibly depressed from the constant burden of fear pushing down on me every single day. It had become a fear of fear... something that seemed almost impossible to escape from.

Things had been so bad, my mom decided to fly out right away to be there for me and get the help I needed. She was supposed to come out about a month later when Everett was born. The revised plan being that she would fly home after a few days and then fly back about three weeks later for the birth.

Everett was due March 2nd, but I was secretly hoping he would come a little early, just because I was so excited to meet him. However, I didn't feel anywhere close to having him when my mom got to Vermont on Wednesday, January 29th, about a month away from the big day. When she arrived I told her how I felt like I would end up having Everett late since I wasn't experiencing what seemed most pregnant women experience when they are about a month away from giving birth.

The days went by and my mom was extremely helpful and comforting during my difficult time with the anxiety and depression. Sunday came, February 2, 2014, and I was officially 36 weeks along. After church that day, my husband and mom were trying to convince me call the doctor, due to possible labor symptoms. Because of my anxiety, the thought of calling and asking if I should go in, knowing the possibility of being wrong, made me petrified. It took about 30 minutes for me to muster up the courage to call. Finally, I went into a separate room and tried to keep my thoughts straight as I attempted to explain that I could possibly be in labor, but probably was not. 

Well, the doctor agreed. She didn't think I was in labor at all and she didn't hide it. Despite being inconvenienced by my possibly being in labor, she said to come in anyways and that she would check to see if I was dilated. After we hung up, I came out of my room to my mom and husband who were eagerly awaiting for me to tell them what the doctor said. Trying not to break into tears, due to the traumatizing event of calling and being shut down, I explained that the doctor said to come in. I really did not want to go after being humiliated and feeling nervous that it was a total fluke. My mom and husband insisted that I needed to go anyways. Despite my attempts to deny it, part of me was curious and felt like maybe I should go... just to be safe.

So, we went. On the drive there I remember getting a distinct feeling that I needed my baby boy right at that moment. I started to feel emotional, but quickly pushed the thought aside knowing that the result of the evening would probably be coming home embarrassed. 

Arrived and checked in, the desk attendants sent us upstairs to the labor and delivery floor. We got up to the birthing center and the nurses watched me walk in with ease. They began chattering to themselves about how I would be home within the hour because I didn't even look close to being in labor.

Despite their doubts, they politely hooked me up to the monitor and I was still really nervous. I simply laughed through it saying, "Oh! I finally felt a contraction. At least now I won't look too stupid." About an hour later the doctor came in and told me I was having contractions that were three minutes apart. Clearly, I did not know how to read that machine or tell the difference between contractions and Braxton Hicks. She then checked to see if I was dilated. When she finished checking, she turned around nonchalantly saying, "You're a nine." You're. A. Nine. Three little words that changed everything.

Within seconds I had nurses hooking me up to things and bringing me into the room where I would be delivering my baby boy. I was in complete and utter shock. I began shaking uncontrollably which is why I felt so blessed to have such a kind nurse who was able to calm me down and remind me of baby feet. She was there by my side the rest of the time. Not knowing what to do about the epidural, my nurse advised me if I wasn't already in pain, I probably wouldn't be the rest of the delivery, therefore, I wouldn't need the epidural. And I listened. Worst. Decision. Ever.

Right after my water broke it was like all the pain that had been so kind to stay away decided to unleash itself all at once. I was in so much pain I could barely even focus. My nurse was an angel, as were all the nurses throughout my hospital stay. She talked me though the whole thing, reminding me I was meant to do this. About two hours later, with a lot of help and support, I was holding my perfect Everett Edwin in my arms. 

I will never forget the feeling I had when my nurse looked at me holding this perfect human being I had created, carried for nine months, and delivered, when she said, "Now... never forget.... you can do ANYTHING. You can overcome ANYTHING. Whether it is anxiety or anything else, you are strong and capable of doing hard things."

It was an experience never to be forgotten. It was the day I took my life back and brought another one into the world with it. Now, sitting here a year later, I can honestly say Everett has been the medicine that took the pain away. Has it still been hard? Yes. Has it been stressful? Definitely. But despite all of that, more than anything, it has been wonderful. I've learned throughout my short time being a mother, there is no greater cure than selfless service and taking care of someone else. Motherhood is the perfect example of that making it the greatest gift I have ever received.

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  • I’m currently 33 weeks with a baby girl. The past 2 weeks have been absolutely awful. I had dealt with a little anxiety before I got pregnant but nothing too bad so when I felt these symptoms-shortness of breath, chest pains, feeling like I was dying- I surely thought heart attack or something else. After visiting our hospitals labor and delivery emergency dept I was so confused. They said everything was perfectly normal. I could not understand what was going on but it was taking over my everyday normal activities. Oh, did I mention that I have almost 4 year old twins? Finally after talking to one of the nurses in my docs office we concluded that it is anxiety! Anxiety! I had TWINS before and never dealt with anxiety…how is this happening to me? Seeing this blog post is exactly what I needed- to know I’m not alone. To know that it will all be ok. To know that I can do this! I’ve never taken medicine for the anxiety and I don’t want to so I’ve been exploring other options. I’ve found that tapping (ETF) and just talking openly about it help tremendously!
    Here’s to making it to the finish line with a healthy baby :)

    Michelle on
  • What an amazing and inspiring post. I also suffer from anxiety, so much that it has affected my blood pressure throughout my pregnancy. I think it’s so important to inform people that it’s a real problem, that unfortunately meds can’t help during pregnancy. Thank you for sharing your story.

    Diana Chandler on
  • How refreshing to read such an honest journey into motherhood. Her story is reality for so many more women than we probably even know. Unfortunately, there is such a strong perception that women shouldn’t share the truth of pregnancy. Sure, you receive the best reward after all those months, but that journey is not always bliss. Thank you for sharing, as this has given me a bitmap recourse to feel okay about my not so perfect journey into motherhood with my second sweet girl.

    Amanda Starr on
  • I was there. And yes it was truly a miracle in every way. Everett, Kim and Steve are blessings. I will never forget the doctor saying you are a 9. Fun for me to read.

    Gwen Connors on

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