Listening To My Own Voice
She told me to get in the bath. “You’re not in labor,” she said.
Seven years ago, on August 12, 2014, I felt a constant sharp pain in my upper right abdomen. I was thirty-nine weeks plus a few days pregnant with my first child and I did not know what I was experiencing. I was living in America at the time and I contacted my doctor’s office to describe the pain I was feeling. I was quickly dismissed as a first-time mom with no experience, who couldn’t possibly have a sense of what was going on. I felt so out of touch with my body and soul that I had no voice of my own. I could not advocate for myself.
I was up all night. As it turned out, when I went for a routine appointment the next afternoon, multiple red flags were immediately identified that caused the same doctor from the night before to say “Something’s not right and you’re going to have a baby today.”
I had high blood pressure, proteins in my urine, elevated liver enzymes, and low platelet count that was confirmed by blood work. And as it turned out, the pain I was feeling was connected to my liver. I was diagnosed with HELLP syndrome. It was a rare condition and thankfully it arose for me at a late stage of pregnancy. I don’t remember feeling particularly scared or even validated that my pain was being recognized; I couldn’t even access my own feelings on the matter. I needed to focus on me and my baby at that moment.
Having no idea what to expect, I just remember taking one step at a time until I thankfully delivered a healthy baby in the early hours of August 13th. I was very grateful for the medical interventions that kept me stable and safe through the process. While the birth itself was mostly uneventful, the process leading up to it, the recovery, along with the experience of being a first-time mother left me with complicated feelings. For a couple of years, I attempted to come to terms with the fact that what had happened to me was potentially life-threatening and had been caught just in time. I processed the trauma and the gratitude along with lots of other emotions.
It wasn’t until I gave birth to my second child in Israel in a much less medicalized and more intuitive experience that I felt I began to heal from my first birth trauma. I found it to be empowering and reparative. Healing. With two small children now at home, I continued to find my way as a mother one step at a time. I was just trying to keep functioning.
As a lifelong therapy client and licensed social worker myself, I began to really connect to myself more deeply during a two-year post-masters training program. Through supervision and guidance, along with learning what I had within me to bring to the table as a therapist, I deepened. I learned to ground myself and be curious about what my client’s journeys were teaching me and I became acutely aware of the power of my presence in my work to support them. Towards the end of the program, I gave birth to my third child, and nine months after that, COVID-19 descended upon our world.
The time at home really helped me turn inward. I felt myself really start to hear my own voice. I reconnected to myself through singing and found a voice for myself in other areas as well, especially my mothering. With the noise of the outside world a little quieter, I utilized professional guidance and read all sorts of books and other content to help me develop tools for deep growth in self-love. I became attuned to seeing, hearing, and trusting myself. I came up with mantras about myself based on my values that I recite daily and they have helped me to ground myself in particularly hard moments of self-doubt.
Exactly seven years after that first moment of trauma, I was nine months pregnant again, and I felt my body getting ready for labor. It was the exact same date I started my birthing and mothering journey years earlier.
My medical practitioner said – “you’re not in labor – I think you should go home.”
This time I said, “I’m not going home. I know what’s going on in my body and trust me – this is going to be fast.”
I just knew that my fourth birth would coincide with the date of my first birth, and I was not surprised when I was right. I think I was longing for a sense of closure and it just deeply made sense to me that it would be on the same day.
Seven years to the day and I had found my voice.
Seven years of a healing process.
Seven years of a self-love journey.
I’ve learned about various significances of the number seven. In relation to the observance of Shabbat and Shmitta which are we are observing this year, it seems that seven represents rest, connection, and wholeness in Torah sources.
I’m so grateful to be finding my way towards peace and wholeness in my connection to G-d, myself, and the world around me.