Empowered: "The Franchesca Shoe"

“Wow! Here she comes - she’s got a full head of hair! You’re doing great, Franchesca,” said Dr. K. “On this next contraction, I don’t want you to push. I want you to breathe through it.”

I nodded viciously to indicate to her that I understood. I squeezed the hospital bed rails tightly and let out a deep, painful groan as the contraction came and passed. Dr. K adjusted her position, and said, “OK, on the next one, push with all you’ve got. This is it - you’re almost there…”

Lesson 1: Do all you can to prepare for the best and the worst

I had one goal in mind when I found out I was pregnant. I wanted a natural delivery: vaginal and unmedicated (no epidural). But, let’s be real - when it comes to childbirth, anything can happen. By the time I found out I was pregnant, I had 8 months to prepare physically, intellectually, and emotionally. I joined mommy groups and conversed with new moms; interviewed Obstetricians before selecting one; hired a Doula to coach and support me through labor; read tons of literature on birthing; altered my eating habits and stayed active; and shared my birth plan, fears, and worries with family and close friends. Whatever was in my power to do, I did.

What is it you are trying to accomplish this year, next year, or down the road? Are you doing everything in your power to prepare? Many people make the mistake of procrastinating on their goals and when an opportunity creeps up on them, they aren’t ready. Don’t delay your process. Write out what you want to accomplish, share it with others who can keep you accountable, and stay focused!

Lesson 2: Fear will try to paralyze you, but remember: You CAN do this!

{5 centimeters dilated} At 1am Sergio phoned our doula. “Hi, Amy. Fran is asking for you to come now. Her contractions are about 3 minutes apart…”

I stared at my affirmations with every contraction as I let out low, deep groans to manage the pain. Tears welled up in my eyes as I tried to hold back the outburst of cries. “What if I can’t do this? What if it’s too much?” I whined as I crouched over the side of the bed to lay my head. “OH, GOD!!! Here it comes - uuuuuuuugggghhhhaaaaahhhhh!!!!” Sergio reached across the bed to hold my head to his as I cringed. “Breathe, come on, breathe. You CAN do this. You’re doing it, babe. Breathe...there you go!” I felt a set of warm hands apply pressure to my lower back and squeeze. Thank God, Amy is here, I thought to myself.

The night had begun. Another 3 hours went by where I swayed with Sergio as he held me through contractions; Amy applied pressure to my hips to help with the pain; I sat on my birthing ball to move my hips around; and let out groans of desperation as each contraction stabbed and pulled my insides stronger each time. Through it all, I reminded myself, I CAN DO THIS!

What fears have attempted to hold you back from pursuing your goals? What thoughts cross your mind each time you take a stab at a dream? It’s easy for us to feel that we are inadequate, incapable, lacking resources, or just unable to finish what we’ve started. Trust me, I’ve been there, and it’s a tough mental state to get out of. But fears will only continue to build high brick walls around you until you are fully enclosed and unable to get out. There are so many people in the world who are living unfulfilled lives because they let fear paralyze them. Yes, I said THEY LET fear paralyze them. Fears are real - and most times, legitimate. However, you are in control of what you choose to believe. You have two options: replay those fearful thoughts and give up, OR replace them with positive affirmations that remind you that you have everything inside of you - heart, passion, commitment, and drive - to accomplish your goal!

Lesson 3: No matter how hard things get, don’t give up!

{7 centimeters dilated} The nurse walked in several times and asked, “Are you sure you don’t want anything for the pain, mommy?” I looked up at her and right before answering, I had flashes of my grandmother (who did this 14 times!), and remembered her words, “Ponte fuerte, tu lo puedes hacer (Be strong, you can do it).” I’d spent endless nights doubting myself, scared of this process. But here I was now with an opportunity to prove to myself that I was capable of doing anything I set my mind to do. “No, I’m sure I don’t want anything,” I replied to her as I lifted my sweaty face. “OK, mommy. Let me know if you do.” As she walked out, I asked Amy desperately, “Do you really think I can do this?” Amy touched my arm and smiled, “You’re already doing it. You’ve come too far to give up now. You’re so close!”

Ever felt like giving up after you’ve invested so much in a dream? When things start to get super tough, it’s time to push through - you’re almost at the finish line! If you’ve ever played a competitive sport, you know exactly what I’m talking about. As the clock winds down, you become more alert, your body is feeling the pressure, your adrenaline rises, and your focus is now set on finishing strong. Life is no different. As the challenges intensify, they are indicators that the finish line is near. So, don’t give up - take heart because you’re almost there!

Lesson 4: The reward IS worth it!

{10 centimeters dilated} “OH MY GOD! My body is pushing on it’s own, I can’t help it. AHHHHHH!!!!” I screamed. Dr. K walked in and 5 other nurses rushed in after her. “Hi, Franchesca, it’s time!” Amy and a nurse helped me lay upright and pulled my knees to the sides of my chest. Dr. K looked over at the contraction monitor. “OK, when you feel the next contraction, I want you to push. Are you ready?! Deep breath, 1-2-3...PUSH PUSH PUSH!”

15 minutes later, mommy and daddy were holding Baby Kalea, and the joy we felt is beyond words…

If you persevere until the end, the reward will be great! I know that’s easier said than done, but it’s truth. Anything you value is worth the fight till the very end. So, make sure that whatever you are going after is something you are passionate about deep down inside. It will make the fight much more worthwhile and also keep you motivated as you get closer to your reward!

Every post is named after a fictitious pair of shoes. I chose "Franchesca" for this post because it is one that truly encompasses my journey thus far. Childbirth was the hardest, yet most empowering experience I have ever had. It is the epitome of "hard work pays off - no pain, no gain."