I’ve watched a woman’s toes in labour enough to know.
Enough to know when she’s reaching her limit, enough to know when the true labouring of labour has begun.
There are the toes that curl into tight, whitened balls, or those toes that stretch, splayed further apart than they have ever gone before, looking to reach some relief, wishing for an end.
Toes do not rest in labour. They tell a story of their own.
Mine told me when I needed to move from the comfort of my cozy bed to go to the hospital. Mine were proof enough I was in transition long before any internal examination could be performed.
With each contraction my toes swayed left to right, in rhythm with my neck and head, longing to meet my baby. Keeping just one moment, one rhythmic movement, ahead of total despair and agony.
I knew on my eighth long breath of each surge that brought him closer, my toes would begin to exhale, too, and that thought brought me great relief.
Some women will focus on their partner’s eyes or a support person’s words. Some choose a visualization, like the waves of a crashing ocean, or the unfurling of a Spring blossom on a tree.
For me, it was just watching my toes that got me through.
Today I watch the hot water flow over my red toenail polish from the faucet and I remember how different the scenery was just three weeks ago when I was made a mother again. And I can remark how now, in this dank green tub, my toes and I rest, all signs of struggle have passed. But I’ll remember this shade of red long after it chips and wears away. I’ll remember how it was these toes dogeared the changing chapters of my labour’s book.
The pedicure was worth it.
This four minute bath on a Friday afternoon- worth it, too.
The empty nest I find resting upon my unrecognizable belly is worthwhile as well, all for the sleeping baby in the room next door, his bare toes exposed to the Spring breeze blowing through the south window.
Every part of me, down to my toes, is a piece of my story, and has led me to this place.
Today that doesn’t go unnoticed.
For every woman who has dreamt of motherhood or had it realized, know your real beauty hides in the details of you. Let the warm waters remind you of your strength, this Mother’s Day.