A Childless Woman Gives Birth, Twice.

Yesterday I gave birth for the second time.


Those who know me well have heard about (and some have witnessed episodes of) my 25-year battle with panic attacks.

The full attack I endured, a mere three months ago, brought paramedics to our little apartment on Main Street in Cold Spring. As I was on the bed, laboring for breath, trying to do my breathing exercises as my brain was going foggy, I told Michael that I felt like I was in labor. He asked if I was in physical pain and my reply was “no, emotional agony”. Five minutes later, I asked him to call 911. As Michael left the room to make the call, I questioned if I’d ever see him again.

As the female paramedic came into the room, her team was prepping an oxygen mask. After a 30-second interview, Ms. McSorley confidently concluded that I did not need oxygen, and sent everyone away. She had seen dozens of these cases before, and said to me in an authoritative voice that I was safe and was going to be okay. Then she innocently asked if I was feeling undue stress lately. I began laughing and sobbing at the same time as I labored to utter ‘yes’. More would come later as she talked me down from my desperate ledge, but ‘yes’ was all my ragged breath could manage at the moment. Before I knew it, I was Me again.

In processing that terrifying day I realized that I was birthing my new business; it was quite a dreadful process. The pressure continuously building for months, the perpetual nausea and fear of uncertainty and failure found an outlet that day. One of the realizations that occurred during the self-analysis was that my brain brought this on— my brain, and my brain alone.

Fast forward to yesterday morning, a quiet Sunday on the very same street; I felt the early signs of the next panic attack. All of the symptoms came on quite suddenly, a confluence of circumstances interrupting the quiet of my workspace, as most residents of Cold Spring were hours from rising. As the familiar and devastating pattern began to reveal itself, the words of the heroic McSorley rushed back to me. “You are safe” rang through my brain. Those words proved more valuable than gold as I averted disaster all by myself.

While still frightened, I did all of the right things. I trusted that I was truly safe, I took a slow walk to reset my breathing with new confidence that I would not collapse and be found unconscious. I acknowledged the adrenaline that was pulsing through my body, and after about an hour, I knew I’d thwarted the symptoms and prevented the attack before the vital point of no return. The only real side effect: pure exhaustion for 24 hours to follow.

The two big ingredients: the paramedic’s insistence— which mimicked countless doctors over the years, and my newfound knowledge, combined to yield one immediate conclusion. I was birthing something new, but this time, it would be a seamless and beautiful occasion.

I have more processing to do, but quite a few pieces came together yesterday. I understand exactly what triggered the attack, and will continue to work with the knowledge I’ve gained about levels of energy. This is a work in progress, but I’m triumphant. Unbeknownst to me, I was a guinea pig of a future energy session, and I’m glad to be here to tell about it!

I’ve learned much about stress and its relationship to personal energy over the last few months, as the Women’s Advancement Compact has been preparing our September community event “Personal Energy: Sustainable and Abundant”. We will be exploring how stress and anxiety affect energy, in the body, and in the self. There will be something in here for everyone.