Having a baby and becoming a mother is one of the most rewarding things to happen in your life as a woman. We all hope and pray that everything surrounding our pregnancy and our delivery runs smoothly. I’m blessed in that regard that both my pregnancies and deliveries with Vahna and Scarlett went fairly well and there weren’t any major issues.
Unfortunately there are women in the world that do not have that textbook experience pregnancy or birth. I’ve had friends and family members that have experienced loss, pain, as well as trauma when it comes to having a baby.
Last week I met an amazing woman by the name of Michelle McDonald, the author of the book Victory Cry: Living a Resilient Life After a Birth Trauma.
Michelle was a successful event planner, working on events for businesses and high profile government officials. When she and her husband found out they were pregnant, they were over the moon with joy and excitement. Although Michelle had very few issues during her pregnancy, the day she went into labour turned into a day she wouldn’t forget and not for the reasons you may think.
In Victory Cry, Michelle take us through her childbirth experience with Amniotic Fluid Embolism (AFE), a pregnancy complication that almost cost her her life and the life of her son. She also talks about how she was able to get past the physical and emotional pain she dealt with and how she came out victorious with renewed strength.
Last week I had an opportunity to chat with Michelle to get some insights on her experience as well as what she’s learned through writing her book.
Meaux: What made you want to write Victory Cry and start a career in coaching? You were an accomplished event planner planning events for a top government officials and you mentioned in the book it started with one video… can you tell me more about that?
Michelle McDonald: My birth trauma occurred in August 2014 and AFE Awareness Month was the following March. I created the video on Facebook for AFE awareness but then I felt that I needed to do more for mothers who went through a similar experience like I did so that’s where the idea of writing about my experience was born.
AFE (Amniotic fluid embolism) is a pregnancy complication that happens when amniotic fluid, fetal cells, hair, or other debris make their way into your blood triggering an allergic-like reaction. AFE cannot be prevented, and doctors find it hard to predict if and when it will occur. It is a leading cause of death during labor or shortly after birth.
M: That’s amazing so how long did it take you to pull the book together?:
MM: Last year I met with Lisa Nichols from KIDD Marketing (a group that helps get authors started) and I began writing it. Although I started the book last year as I wrote and rehashed all that I went through, I just took my time to write it. I would say the last four months is when I really started to get aggressive with writing and and telling my story and that’s really when the book began to evolve into the finished product that it is today.
M: In your book you talk about the three stages of your recovery – Reflection, Finding New Rhythm, and finding a Resilient Life. Which stage did you find the most difficult? MM: I found I spent the most time in the reflection stage…almost too much time. I went through so many things in that stage – I spent time recovering from the delivery then I had to figure out being a new mother to my son. I stayed in that stage for over a year and I spent quite a bit of time dealing with Survivors guilt. Wondering why me? There are women who have died from AFE, why did I survive? In my book I talk about that guilt and how it ties into me feeling that I had a greater purpose and bigger mission to fulfill.
M: What tools helped you cope and get through your traumatic experience?
MM: Surviving the birth definitely helped me strengthen my faith in God. He brought my son and I through a very traumatic experience, and I developed a stronger spiritual connection with Him during my recovery. I also found mediation to be quite helpful. I meditate every morning, taking a half hour just for me, before my day started. Meditation would help me start my day off in a calmer state of mind and that calmness would flow through the entire day. If I didn’t meditate in the morning, I would certainly feel the difference mentally. My day would end up being somewhat chaotic so I make a conscious effort to meditate as it is an essential part of my day.
M: What has given you the most joy about being a mother to Eli?
MM: Eli is now 2 1/2 years old and really it’s just a little things that bring me joy . To think about what we both went through that day in August and how we were so close to losing each other, just seeing him running around and knowing he’s happy brings me the most joy.
I personally haven’t experienced a traumatic event like Michelle’s but for me balancing being a wife, mother of two, a friend, working full time , running a blog, starting a business and running a household can be physically and mentally draining. I have my great days when things just go according to plan and there are other days where things are frustrating and they just don’t work out at all and even fall apart.
I’m a firm believer of self reflection and Michelle’s three stages of recovery are easily applicable to my life especially when I’m in a funk.
I highly recommend Michelle’s book to read especially if your in a stage right now where things aren’t going the way you want them to. It’s a great book that uplifts and empowers you to break free of the things may be holding you back and see the power you have and understand that a life of peace purpose and happiness is there for you to take.
Victory Cry is available for digital download at amazon.ca
To read more about Michelle and her life, visit her page at http://www.facebook.com/resiliencyliving/