I used to fear fear. I hated being afraid. It made me feel vulnerable and not in control. And I was a control freak.
That was until I became pregnant.
As soon as I conceived, I became full of fear.
Being a midwife did not help me. I knew so many things that could go wrong in pregnancy, childbirth and the postnatal period.
I had supported so many women whose children had developed congenital abnormalities.
I had supported many who lost their babies in utero or labour and delivered stillborn babies.
I had incurred needlestick injuries in my line of work.
I specialised in HIV and had been a bearer of bad news on so many occasions:
I’m so sorry to tell you that you are HIV positive.
I’m so sorry that the scan revealed that your baby has an abnormality.
I’m so sorry I can’t detect your baby’s heartbeat.
So my list of “what ifs” grew as I grew my baby inside me.
What if my baby has a deformity?
What if I had HIV and passed it on to my baby?
What if I lose my baby in pregnancy?
Despite having been involved in numerous positive pregnancies and birth experiences, all I had were flashbacks of all the cases I had been involved with that did not have a positive outcome. I was full of fear.
I made it to 21 weeks and it was time for my anomaly scan, time to check my baby inside me. I was stressed. I was fully aware of how the scan could turn out. I had supported many women and their partners who left the scan crying.
What if I had my scan and it was not the outcome I wanted? What would I do?
I was quiet, deep in thought.
The sonographer was very pleasant. Upon letting her know I was a midwife, she involved me even more in the scan, talking me through it, as she scanned my baby; showing me the different organs of my baby and their condition. She also told me my baby’s sex.
And then she was silent. A prolonged silence as she peered into the scanner screen whilst proding my abdomen with the scan probe.
I peered too, my pupils dilating in the dark room.
Oh my goodness, I thought. There is something wrong with my baby.
I was paralysed with fear.
And then she said: Your baby is on his way out.
But my baby is only 21 weeks. This can’t be happening!
I knew the drill, I would have to be rushed to theatre.
I had an emergency surgical procedure and then the long period of a five month hospitalisation in pregnancy began.
That’s when fear became my best friend and this is what I learned from the experience:
For a long time I resisted fear. “I’m not going there” was my catchphrase. If I do, I’m not going to like what I see! So it’s a no-go area. But when everything that scared me happened, I had to learn to embrace fear. It was part of my life and I was not going to let it defeat me. Fear and I are going to get on if I am to thrive.
My five month hospitalisation in pregnancy changed my relationship with fear. I learned to celebrate it.
This was my mantra:
“Fear, you are you, and I am me, we have to co-exist. I will respect you, but you will have to respect me too. You’re not going to hold me back, but I will not hold you back too.”
That’s how I learned to celebrate fear and as did, we became great friends. And then fear started to serve me.
Use Fear To Your Advantage
As my relationship with fear grew, I realised that I could use fear to my advantage. Fear could bring out the best in me if I wanted it to.
Okay, I am afraid I may lose my baby. Actually, I am terrified. I looked after many women that did. But I also looked after so many that were hospitalised like me, and did not lose their babies.
And that became my mission. I may be scared but I will focus on what I want. I will embrace that fear, celebrate it and use it to my advantage.
And that’s what I did.
Day after day, I felt fear. I embraced it, celebrated it, and allowed it to bring the best out of me. It was a five month experience full of fear and “what ifs” as I laid in the hospital bed. The “what ifs” never stopped. My son was separated from me after birth as he had to be ventilated for several days after birth.
I became a mother full of fear even when I came home completely institutionalised with a premature infant. Thirteen years after, the fear has not stopped. It has involved. But I’m enjoying my relationship with fear.
I love fear. It’s my best friend because it brings out the best in me.
I urge you to do the same too. I can even show you how.
Connect with me and let fear be your best friend too.
Let me show you how.