Making these promises gave me courage. I made it through those first six months with a tremendous amount of love and connection. I prepared for the birth of our third baby and held on to my vision of one day being free from grief.
I went through 19 hours of natural labor and I felt no pain for 18 of them. It wasn't until I let self-doubt and worry creep into my thoughts that I started experiencing pain.
I feared what might happen to my child as I raised her without my husband. I caught myself saying "I can't."
Working through labor stages was no different than the process of grief. For the first 18 hours, I breathed through the pain and trusted the cycle of every contraction. I pictured myself — like I had done so many times in working through my grief — riding the wave. I was a storm, but I was still in control. Love and peace calmed the waves.
But when the storm riled up and the waves continued to crash, leaving me very little time to take the next breath, doubt crept in. I wondered how much more of this I could take. I needed someone to tell me that it would all be over soon.
My doula brought me back as much as she could. "Breathe. You're doing awesome! It won't be much longer now. You can do this! You are doing it." I did it and I learned so much about myself in the process.
I loved and cared for our child and in return, she kept me in the moment. I learned what it was like to know joy, peace and passion. I reconnected with Thor. So, I stayed in the moment. I rode the waves.
Soon I put my tennis shoes back on and I started training for my life's race. I looked forward to turning 40. I kept telling myself, "I get to be here! I get to see my kids grow and I will stay ahead of them for as long as I get to be here."