025: Why You Need To Get Obsessed [My Story, Part 1]
How did nearly dying change the course of my life, what I believe is possible and ultimately where I am today?
OK, let’s get real. I’m over 20 episodes into my podcast now and I realised that what I haven't spoken very much about is the full extent of my story and what's brought me to where I am today, building my business as a heart-centered business coach.
What is it that's driven me and what twists and turns have there been in my life that have created the situation where I am now?
I always think to myself, is it really all about me? How can I help? How can I serve? Between you and me, this is what we should all be thinking when we're doing anything for our business. I realised that actually it's not just a need to tell my story for the sake of telling my story, but for two other reasons.
Firstly, it's that we are all the sum of our stories and this is absolutely essential. When I work with clients, particularly one to one, one of the first things I do is revisit the stories of their life with them. I go through how those stories relate to what they're doing in their heart-centered business, why they have a sense of purpose in their particular niche or specialism and what's led them to potentially be in a position to become that expert, that authority.
I truly believe it is always rooted in the stories so bear this in mind because I'm making a podcast episode about our stories in the very near future. If you're thinking that's resonating with you, you must make sure that you subscribe so you get that delivered straight into your podcast list when it drops.
In the meantime, also when it pertains to my story, I realised that by sharing it, there might be some elements of it - although not in the details and specifics of what's happening in my life, but in the lessons that I've learned - that could serve you and could help you also learn from particular episodes in your life that can boost you and push you forwards rather than pull you back.
So, here goes.
My story today is going to begin back in February 2004 when I was pregnant with my first daughter. She's now 17 and a beautiful young lady, really smart and motivated - I couldn't be prouder. Back then on the day of her birth, she caught me by surprise. She was a couple of weeks early, which is unusual for a first baby. I had this vision of the perfect birth and this vision, this plan, I had laid out and written down. It's going to be a water birth. It's going to be beautiful. Natural. It's become a very popular way of having a baby to do it as naturally as possible. I absolutely wanted that.
Being somebody that loves control, it was really important to me that this took place. I don't know if you're a Mum yourself, but if you are then you've probably been through this, where you map out your birth plan and share it with all the relevant people, making sure that you're going to be advocated for and so on because it's such an important part. I’d done all of that, but on this day where we rushed off in the early hours of a Sunday morning to the water birthing center, it did not go to plan. Quite frankly, it couldn't have gone further from plan if it had tried.
So, avert your ears now if you're not into birth stories, but if you are, basically I was so lucky at that point, because they said, you know what, you're ready to push. This is incredible, you've only just arrived. I thought, bingo, I’ve hit the jackpot - this is exactly what I wanted to hear. Yet a couple of hours later nothing further had progressed, and they said you're going to have to get out the tub. You’re going to have to get in the ambulance and go off to the regular hospital.
I was disappointed, but nonetheless off we went to the other hospital and for the next nine hours I proceeded to push and move around and go on this ball and do this and you know, do all the things, but the baby just didn't come. It'd been several hours by this point, but you know, I didn't feel too bad. I was doing what I was told. All of a sudden, the doctor said we need to move to an emergency C-Section because it's been a while and I think that's probably the best course of action. Again, I thought well, you know, that wasn't part of my birth plan, but OK.
You know, healthy mother, healthy baby, that's the outcome. Let's just go for this.
My beautiful daughter was born, and all seemed well. My now ex-husband and my parents went off to move the car or get a cup of tea and the sorts of things that you do when everybody's fine. I was brought a cup of tea and thought to myself ‘aah, this is great’…and at that moment I hemorrhaged really severely. I didn’t even realise what was happening - sorry for the gory details but the river of red was running off the bed and the doctor came running. She looked absolutely freaked out. She put her jacket on, she literally pushed me down flat, threw a piece of paper at me and said, ‘I'm going to have to take you back into surgery, sign this’.
The piece of paper basically said that I consent that you could remove my uterus and give me a hysterectomy if that's necessary. I looked at this thinking, are you absolutely insane? I'm 29 years old, I’ve just given birth to my first child - this is not part of my birth plan. I didn't even know that this was a possibility. This is not happening. I remember that I actually signed it with a different person's signature, like a scribble that wasn't mine.
It makes me really emotional to think of that. It was like I wasn't actually giving consent, even though I had to sign it. Nonetheless, I went to surgery and the next day when I awoke, many, many hours later, I was told that I'd actually nearly died in surgery and I'd lost so much blood that they'd had to do the hysterectomy. I was beside myself. Perhaps you can imagine how that might feel.
I felt like, how could this even happen? This is so far out of my control and even what I can conceptualise. I just was absolutely shocked.
Unfortunately, the story didn't even finish there. I ended up in intensive care for two weeks because I had another bleed after that and it turned out that the iliac artery, which is the massive artery down in your groin, had actually been worn away by the number of hours that I was in second stage of labour for. Anyone that's had a baby, although you might be in labour for a really, really long time, that's usually in first stage just waiting to be ready to push. When you get to second stage and you are actually actively pushing, most people will deliver within two hours - definitely within two hours. I know this because I became a bit of an expert in this afterwards, but I had been in that stage for nine hours, which did quite a lot of damage to my body.
I found out later that normally that situation only really happens to people who are in developing countries, who can't access emergency Caesareans or health care in the right amount of time, and it often leads to maternal morbidity. I became a near-miss statistic, which was very shocking to me.
So here I was, 29 years old with my newborn baby. Thank God she was well, and nothing had happened that affected her in any way, but I was just changed. I had been a person that was full of confidence and just expected success. I had been very successful throughout school and getting a first job. I'd bought a house, got married, then got pregnant all to my timetable - what I believed I needed to do.
And yet here was something so far out of my control that I just couldn't reconcile what had happened with who I had been to that point.
It took me quite a long time to heal after that, both physically and mentally. I was later diagnosed with PTSD from that experience and the trauma that I went through at the time - being in the hospital for those couple of weeks and not knowing if I was going to live because they couldn't control the bleeding.
It was really shocking. My baby girl was kept behind the nurse’s station and she was just brought to me in the ICU a couple of times a day for me to hug her. It was all very strange. I remember at one point my Mum hung a photo of my baby girl at the end of my bed and I was like, ‘why are you hanging a photo at the end of my bed?’ – and then it just crossed my mind. This is the sort of thing that people do when they want to provide you with hope; a reason to live. I thought, oh my God, she's absolutely bonkers, but in retrospect I didn't realise how sort of touch and go it could have been at the time.
I didn't have any doubt in my mind that I was going to survive, that didn't even cross my mind, so the fact that she would put this photo there was something that was really confusing to me.
It’s interesting - the little stories that we remember through these very big episodes in our lives, just these little, tiny moments that give us pause, that make us think about what the real situation is and how we're perceiving it. Now as shocking as that scenario was - as it may be for you when you're hearing this - the interesting thing is the outcome of it.
The interesting thing to me is actually what happened afterwards, what happened to me as a person and the reality is all these years later, I wouldn't wish it to have been any different because some really important changes happened in me and allowed me to develop my soul and my personality. The things that I understand are important in this world.
First of all, I got really, really obsessed with understanding what had happened from a medical perspective. I really pursued that in immense detail. I literally dropped into research. I started to read scientific papers on prolonged second stage childbirth. I started to really go through my hospital notes. It became an absolute quest for me.
What I learned from that is that when you're obsessed, when you're really, really motivated, it's incredible what you can do, even with no medical background whatsoever.
Just the drive to make sure that I worked out what happened enabled me to later access, manifest even, the funds that allowed me to pursue my surrogacy journey and have my beautiful twin daughters born seven years later in California. That level of obsession literally allowed me to unlock resources within me, perhaps within the universe that would never have happened otherwise. What a lesson to learn.
If you've listened to last week's episode of my podcast, I talk about manifesting in a lot more detail.
I truly do believe that some of the things that I learned to do then prove to me that you can create anything in your life if you want it hard enough and you're prepared to take the action, to just open your mind, be inspired and allow things to come to you.
That's exactly what was going on for me, as I became more and more obsessed about learning about the medical outcome. I also started learning about what I could do about it and that's where I first learned that surrogacy would be a great option for me. In particular gestational surrogacy, because I'd been fortunate enough to keep my ovaries, which isn't always the case when you have an emergency hysterectomy. Keeping my ovaries meant that having a biological child in the future would still be possible, provided of course, that I would work with a surrogate because not having a womb is obviously not going to be conducive to having another baby without help.
As well as getting obsessed over understanding what happened medically, I became really obsessed with exploring surrogacy and I started reaching out to people who had done it before. I became a member of a really great online group and started mixing with communities of women who'd had hysterectomies after childbirth, and women who were looking into what options they could pursue to complete their families.
As I got to know them better, I got to see success stories. Isn't that something, if you think about everything in your life, but particularly because this podcast is about building businesses, I love to draw the analogy.
This is true for me that as we're building our businesses, we model others. We see their successes, we see how they're achieving what they want and perhaps what we want too, and we start to know it is possible for us.
It's not some incredible thing that only a select few can do. Anyone can do it if you want it hard enough and you're prepared to do the work that's required.
That was the outtake that I took as I started mixing with these women and they were showing me that even though they were in the UK they were traveling overseas, particularly to the States, and their babies were coming into their lives. They were accessing - as I would later do - the funds, the resources, the knowledge, the connections, all the things you need to do to actually have something happen that would otherwise feel impossible. Later, when working with my life coach, I actually coined a mantra specific for myself, which was “I make the impossible possible”.
Whenever I doubt myself about building my business, I draw on that and I say, well, I did that didn’t’ I, and if I can do that surely I can make a hundred grand this year?
Surely, I can go on to have a business that's worth a million dollars? Surely, I can go on and so on and so on. Why, why not? I just need to make sure that I'm repeating the same things that I learned then, which is really that once I really threw myself into it and opened myself to the possibilities, it allowed it to happen for me.
That's part one of diving into my personal story. I'm going to share more about the surrogacy journey that happened in a future episode but in the meantime if you're interested to hear a little bit more, you can listen to the episode just before this, if you haven't already, where I share a couple of the stories that were absolutely incredible during my surrogacy journey that brought my twin daughters into this world 10 years ago.
Let's draw out just a couple of key points here.
First of all, if you want it badly enough, you can have anything you want in this world, no matter how impossible it might feel right now.
Secondly, you have got to become obsessed. You've got to really want it. It can't just be a case of ‘oh, it would be nice’.
It's got to be something that is in your heart, is in your vision and is a must in your life.
Thirdly, you've got to take the steps.
You have to take the action. You have to feel inspired, and you have to allow it to happen for you.
Let's keep sharing our stories. Let's allow them to resonate and help those people that we want to serve. If this has helped you, I would love to hear from you. You can contact me in my DMs on Instagram at @iamjo.ingram. As usual, I'm going to ask you to please share this podcast with anybody who's growing their business for the first time and they will find the content useful and drive them forward too. Have an action-filled week. Take care. Bye now.