I'm not afraid of labor pain.
I think nowadays, or even many years ago, this is kind of a crazy thing to say. I'm sure many of you won't believe me, with all that's out in the cultural background about the extreme pain of pushing a baby out, but all I can do is put it out there in the truest way that I feel it. I am not afraid of being in pain delivering my child. That is not to say that I don't believe there will be pain - or intense sensation, lets call it, for lack of my knowing the sensation in my body already - but I am honestly not afraid of it. I almost look forward to it in a kind of sick way. What I look forward to is going the distance...is making it through the endurance round and having the greatest gift on the other side of the finish line. I imagine it's going to be a little better than any medal I've gotten running a race. The true well of deep love.
I do have to credit my prenatal yoga trainer and my doula here for introducing me to Ina May Gaskin's work, as one of the most, if not the most respected midwife in recent American history. At Ina May's farm in Tennessee, they have created an atmosphere of home-birthing that celebrates the process and holds women up as powerful, creative beings who trust in nature and in their bodies, and the process then takes care of itself. Nobody is saying it's easy, and that is not what I'm implying - in fact, I'll venture a guess that it'll be the hardest work I'll ever do (outside of actually then parenting the result of this miraculous process!), but also, no one from this mindset is insisting on this whole thing being traumatic either. Life changing, empowering and amazing, yes, but trauma, no.
There is a difference in aknowledging that there will be a certain amount of intensity and discomfort in the birth process, and being afraid of it. It seems as though, over the years, our medical community (in general - I know there are exceptions within this population) has created an atmosphere of pathology around pregnancy, making it an abnormal or scary state to be in.
pa·thol·o·gy /pəˈθɒl ə dʒi/
noun, plural pa·thol·o·gies.
1. the science or the study of the origin, nature, and course of diseases.
2. the conditions and processes of a disease.
3. any deviation from a healthy, normal, or efficient condition.
-excerpted from www.dictionary.com
That is crazy-talk to me. There are, certainly, things that could go wrong with pregnancy, labor and delivery, just like things can go wrong with normal living - we could get cancer or heart disease or have a stroke for no known reasons like Malcolm in the Middle. Things happen sometimes. But the numbers of normalcy around pregnancy far outweigh the cases of "deviation from a healthy, normal, or efficient condition". Yet, in our culture, we've made it seem like the cases of abnormalcy should be expected, and in-fact, we might as well pre-empt them with a cesarian, just in case. ... Are you crazy?! Why wouldn't I trust in the process that for millenia has been serving women just fine? And, again, I'm not saying that in those cases where intervention is absolutely needed, that people should rely on fairy dust and glitter and hope they and their baby survive - no, by all means, utilize what is here to save a life, sister! But, why fix something that ain't broke? Out of fear? ...No thank you. I refuse to buy into the fear. I choose to trust in my body and my baby to do what is a primal instinct of all mamallian females. I want to feel it. I don't want to hide. I want to push and know that my baby is doing what she can too, and in this way work together and make this thing happen.
Personally, I don't fault anyone who makes another choice for any other reason. It's easy to judge. In the end, I don't stand in anyone else's shoes but my own, and can only speak for myself. I am a glutton. I work really hard and I like it. When I practice yoga, I relish those poses that make me feel like I'm gonna throw up sometimes - not all the time, mind you- but there is great benefit, both mental and physical in hard work and commitment. And of training the mind to face a challenge without turning away because it seems ugly, painful or otherwise unpleasant. What an amazing life lesson gained from yoga and meditation. And here I thought I was just doing it cuz it's trendy ;) But in all seriousness - it's huge, this lesson. Life doesn't always give you tidy, sparkly, easy and fun situations. The hard ones are usually the ones we learn and grow from the most - but only if we invest the time and effort to face them, to work through them and not to run away - even if we can, even if running is an option. If we don't learn coping skills somehow, somewhere along the way, then one day, there'll be no option for an epidural and we'll have to deal with the situation at hand. Let's try to invite some grace in to the process, shall we? Let's maybe give it a practice run-through once or twice, or many thousands of times on our yoga mat or meditation cushion before D-Day. What do you say?
Sit and breathe, and when challenging things come up, do yourself a favor and look. The next time you're on your mat and you start shaking - don't give up! Don't move until you've given it your very best! That's the golden ticket. That's the training ground, and, at least for me, labor and delivery is where it all will be decided. What's your proving ground?
As a student of yoga, massage, meditation , poetry and other such introversions, I figured some of my inspirations might also touch the hearts of others. Read, ruminate, digest, create...always returning to this well of deep love inside to renew ourselves and rediscover what we are. Enjoy!