Every woman has it.
It’s the moment she turns her back on everything she’s ever learned.
The moment she embraces the pain.
The moment she gives in to the urge to let her mind run the show- the moment she releases control to her body’s natural urge.
All her life she’s been taught to fight the hurt, to run away. But in labour, every woman must navigate her own personal journey to leave these lessons behind.
In order to birth our children, we redirect our compass. We ignore the direction prompting us to run away. We move towards the fire.
But first she’ll pray to God for strength and she’ll plead with the devil to make it end. Her body will move in circular sways, begging for the finish. Sweat will drip from her brow and she’ll bite my shoulder looking for a release. She’ll grip his leg and twist- and it’s not in disdain, but to prove to herself she’s still alive.
And she’ll look to me, and she’ll look to the nurse and she’ll look to the doctor. And in moments like these we are not always her friend when we tell her it’s OK. But it is, and she is, and she can and is doing it.
She can cope.
But it doesn’t feel OK not to run. It doesn’t feel OK to feel- to consent to opening her body in two.
Yet she must believe it’s true. It’s the only way to shut her brain down. To proceed.
And when it is she realizes she is safe she can give herself that permission. And the change is palpable. The thickness in the air retreats.
For some it happens in the tub. Immersed in the warm water, hands gripping, a surge comes and the crease in her forehead tightens but the fighting words melt away into the water’s depths. She leaves the fight behind.
For some it’s on the bed. Though she wants nothing more than to stay in the fetal position, writhing, tensing, she summons the strength to move to hands and knees, though her arms twitch and her legs collapse in rest between each contraction.
For others it’s in a dance. Just moments before she swayed, hands on hips, alone. Now she buries her head in a silent cry, head on my shoulder, my arms supporting the weight of her being, and the weight of the moment. But she is stoic.
And we breathe. Together. Because in times like these she has to be reminded she is OK. She has to be reminded she will get through the worst pain of her life. She has to be encouraged to persevere.
Because childbirth is a natural event, but feels anything but. It feels like you’re breaking in two. It feels like you’re on the edge of death.
And she has to not just accept, but embrace.
The pain of childbirth cannot be won. It cannot be conquered and it cannot be fought. A woman, although strong, although mighty, although determined, must find her moment of solace to surrender.
For the surrendering, sacrificing woman is the victor of labour. Others can guide her, but she must find her own way.
And she can and she does. Time and time again since the beginning of time.
A woman’s physical sacrifice is only part of the process, and cannot be undermined. But it’s the psychological sacrifice that must be commended- to trust that there will be an ends to the hurt, and to agree to it.
To birth is to transform in every way. Physically and emotionally, she has set everything aside.
And she’ll never be who she was ever again.