"Whoever you are, you are more of that person when you're in labor." ~ Dina L.Relles
While all labors are beautiful and miraculous, they often push a mother and beyond her mental and physical limits. Such was the case with a recent birth I attended. Momma checked into the hospital in the wee hours of the morning and rested between mild contractions until mid morning. After a few laps around the hospital hallways, a breath of fresh air on the terrace and some hip circles, momma’s sensations really began to pick up. Before long she was in and out of the stationary tub, rotating her pelvis on a birthing ball and groaning through the contractions in the birth tub. Momma was focused and consistent in keeping her energy on moving baby down and out of the birth canal. After a good nine hours of solid active labor with intense contractions, the medical staff checked her dilation. She had been 3cm. nine hours ago and was still 3cm. dilated now.
Momma was discouraged; she felt she had reached her limit hours ago. It was evening now and momma had been awake for over 36 hours as she had not slept the night before. After some discussion of mommas’s options, the medical staff left the room to let momma make some decisions. The room was dark and quiet. The only sounds were the groans of the contractions, the shared breathing of momma and dadda and the swishing water of the birth tub. In the midst of the quietness momma said, “I am grateful. I am grateful for my baby. I am grateful for Michael. I am grateful that my mom is here. I am grateful to be in the water. I am grateful for the contractions. I am grateful for our doula, I am grateful my labor started naturally. I am grateful...” As momma continued her list, her gratefulness transformed a burdened environment back into an open and fresh experience.
Media often portrays childbirth as an excrutiating experience where mothers completely loose their cool, and start cursing at their partners as they grow fangs. My earlier post about why I was too chicken to have a medicated birth was my first exposure to this phenomena. Here though, in this medical environment, with gadgets, monitors, beeps and pagers was a perfectly serene mother, choosing to be grateful. It was suggested she be given petocin to help her uterus contract and get her past 3 cm. Momma acknowledged that at the peak of her pain threshold, she didn’t want the more intense contractions pitocin would give her without an epidural. Neither the pitocin nor the epidural were in her birth plan. But grateful for the assistance they would provide, momma agreed to both. The epidural allowed her to rest through the night and in the morning, momma spent less than 20 minutes pushing before she met the newest love of her life.
After a birth, I like to ask mommas to tell me their birth story. My perspective is valuable, but not nearly as valuable as momma’s perspective of the experience. Can you guess what this momma said?
“I am grateful for this experience,” was her first response. She explained how thrilled she was to have experienced a natural and un-medicated labor for as long as she did. She was very grateful for the relief brought about by the epidural. She was grateful that her fingers we no longer as swollen. She was grateful to eat without worrying about her blood sugar. She was grateful for her precious little boy. For each moment of her labor, she was grateful.
It is always such an honor to be present at a birth, and this birth was no exception. I gained so much from this momma’s gratefulness. Momma, you know who you are; and for you - I am grateful.
Trillium photo by Lisa Marie Morgan; "I found this beautiful and delicate flower the day after the described birth. Grateful!"