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My Daughters Exposed Me

by Paul and Jordan Aspen 10 months ago in fact or fiction
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Now I know what I'm worth

Photo Credit Jordan Aspen

When my baby girl opened her eyes for the first time I felt like I could die in peace. There was too much blood, I was shaking uncontrollably, but I didn't panic. It wasn't as if this was the first time I'd felt like I was dying. The difference was, this time it was a real possibility—the other times I'd only felt like dying and never got to.

Like when I went walking in the rain at midnight and thought about never turning around. Maybe I could just disappear, stop suffering, and stop hurting other people. The world would be better without me if only I could leave it.

But I was too afraid of surviving a suicide attempt to attempt suicide.

So I turned around, got my dripping self up two flights of stairs to bed, and kept living.

Then there was the bout of pneumonia. I got a prescription but never filled it because maybe if I could simply not recover everyone would be happier. Somehow I recovered anyway.

Just like I did after the hemorrhage following my firstborn's birth. When I saw the blood something deep down whispered that it was too much, that the dizziness and shaking weren't just from the long labor, and that I needed to do something to stop the flow.

But I was too afraid of surviving to do anything about it.

So my husband and midwife and sister treated the bleed, got me into bed, and let me keep living.

The next three years were a blur of postpartum depression, disordered eating, and learning to fight for my life. I focused on nourishing my baby, worked when I could, and birthed a perfectly healthy son with no serious complications.

With two children to raise, suicide was no longer an option. Still, there were times I looked back to that rainy night and wished I'd gone through with it—back before I had children who would miss their mama. By my daughter's third birthday I was carrying another tiny baby girl in my womb.

That year I worked harder than ever to craft a life worth living.

I built community, got support to heal from the past, and accepted help to dream up a beautiful future. Then I walked forward into the dream.

I had a dream labor, painless until after transition, supported by a whole community even when the process stretched into days. My two other children played and ate and slept with friends while this second daughter and I worked to slowly bring her closer to birth.

Those labor days consumed me, distracting me from work. Yet those days were so productive as they opened a space to heal. Each wave of sensation brought a new opportunity to lean into old hurts and release them, to recognize new hopes and embrace them.

Somewhere in the final hour a particularly intense contraction swept me away. I was no longer in our apartment's bathtub, but simultaneously on the bed in our first home and on the floor of our second, reliving the thoughts of impending death that had washed over me with each of my previous labors and deliveries.

The flashback came as a shock. It was so different from the rest of this present labor. My present was peaceful, and in that moment I realized what a deeply redemptive transition this was.

My second daughter was born in a flood of blood and water, perfect and responsive from her first breath.

The flood of blood did not stop.

Another flash of memory: Perhaps this was my opportunity to die in peace.

But before the thought could finish crossing my mind I had already rejected it. I pushed it aside and then took a step further, calling for 911 and asking to be taken to the hospital.

That day I lost at least four times the amount of blood I had lost birthing my first. I narrowly avoided a transfusion, thanks to my intuitive decisions in those vital moments immediately after bringing my daughter to my chest.

Thanks to my choice to live.

The next morning I felt like I had woken up from a years-long dream—a dream where I got to leave behind every nightmarish part and take with me everything good.

As I lay in bed recovering and bonding with my brand new daughter I finally admitted how apathetic I had been on my firstborn's birth day. I recognized for the first time how unwilling to fight for life I had been.

I admitted that I had tried to die.

And in so doing, I celebrated what this second daughter had exposed in me: that I was renewed and redeemed.

Since that day not a single suicidal thought has found any ground to stand on in my mind. The choice to live when I truly faced death was a beautiful reset, a chance to begin again, and a shaking off of the past.

My first daughter taught me to live for my children and that I would be missed if I chose to die.

My second daughter taught me to live for myself, that I could and even should embrace this life not only for others' sakes, but because I am worthy of a beautiful life and would be even if no one would miss me if I was gone.

Years ago my husband gave me a gold ring with our birthstones: a pearl in the middle and emeralds surrounding and supporting it like he surrounds and supports me. It reminds me of how he sees me. Worth investing in. Worth growing. Worth saving.

Photo Credit Paul Aspen


Now I believe him.

I no longer feel the need to constantly rationalize to myself why my life is worth living, to talk myself into enjoying each new day.

The pressure to perform is lifted. I am at peace, and even better, I have hope. A bright future feels within reach and for the first time I have a settled confidence that I can and I will reach it at the right time.

Each new day I see more of that creeping dawn, growing brighter moment by moment as my eyes are able to adjust.

This bright future hasn't shown up overnight and I am thankful. If the light would have come flooding in all at once I would be overwhelmed and blocked my eyes, rejecting it.

Instead I have the gift of discovering more and more beauty and color as the clouds slowly part.

Now that my daughters have exposed me.

fact or fiction

About the author

Paul and Jordan Aspen

Professionally, we help entrepreneurs get other people to sell for them through the power of social proof. Learn more at

Personally, we write... stories, poems, educational articles and more. Read more here on Vocal

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