Thursday, July 18, 2013

Deciding to Labor

When talking with my friend, Melissa, about her son's recent birth, I heard her say something I thought was profound. (I admit that profound to me might be really simple and obvious to others.) Here is what she said about her labor:

"At 9pm, I was checked again. I was 9 cm and baby's head was an inch from coming out. "We are ready when you are Melissa. You need to be OK with pushing your baby out. That part that you don't want to do..." my midwife encouraged.

I then knew my body was waiting on me. I prayed and imagined holding my baby. The truth is, I just didn't want to go through the pushing and the out of control feeling. I began to accept and my body went into transition."

I went through something similar while laboring with G (and perhaps in other labors, too!). My body had "progressed" but then seemed to stall out. My intuitive and perceptive midwife asked me a similar question, "Are you ready to have this baby?"

Honestly, I had to answer, "no;" the very reason why I wasn't in more active labor. I wasn't ready to go through the pain. I wasn't ready to try nursing again. I wasn't ready for the sleepless nights and the challenges a newborn brings to our family. (For me, the thoughts about life with a new baby were more frightening than the thoughts of the pain of labor.) I, too, dreaded the "out of control" that labor IS. . . and as a result, I was subconsciously delaying my baby's birth.

fully present.
How thankful I am for a wise and gentle midwife! With her encouragement, I prayed and envisioned the labor I wanted. Then, I thought about the mystery of that little one that I hadn't met yet. I wondered about his eye color and whether he had hair and how heavy he would be and I thought about how ecstatically excited the other children would be to meet him. My curiosity grew and my eagerness to meet G. I decided that it was worth it to go through all the pain and I decided that since I was going to have to go through it anyway, it would be better to embrace the process and ride the wave and let GO. Beside that, there was the practical consideration that I'd like to be done with the work of labor and delivery before all of the boys were up and about.

And G was born about 30 minutes later.

Melissa and I both wondered with each other how differently our labors would have gone in a hospital setting. Surely we looked like textbook "failure to progress." (I remember laboring with O in the hospital and everyone coaching me to "PUSH!" when I was 10 cm dilated but didn't feel ready at all.) Yet it wasn't our bodies that needed helped along in labor, but just our minds to be in agreement with our bodies. We are spiritual beings and laboring is a deeply emotional, physical, spiritual experience. It's still a mystery to me that brings me to tears. What a painful privilege!

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