CcccccccCourage (a la the Cowardly Lion…)

Today is the first day of Momalom’s Five for Ten, a community building ten days of blog posts and comments. You can click on the button below for more details, but the gist of it is there are five given subjects to be covered in the next ten days. Anyone can participate, and today’s topic is courage.

So the theme for today is courage, and I admit that I am calling on a little bit of courage just to write what I’m thinking about sharing because, well, the topic makes me a little nervous to talk about. Here’s the thing though…I know that this blog has become super baby-centric (but really, so has the rest of my life, so…) but let’s assume that I never talked about life with baby on here, and someone said, “hey Amelia, tell your 50 or so readers what comes to mind when you are called on to think about courage in your own life” and I would have to answer with “having my baby.” As in, the actual act of bringing him into the world. Of course deciding to create life out of seemingly thin air takes a little courage, but I spent nine months building the courage to deliver him from body to air without any pain medication or other kind of intervention, and frankly, I was feeling pretty scared about that decision up until the moment that it was all over.

Before I launch into that story, I want to say this: I have sat on my birth story because there has become such a stigma attached to how women do one of the most extraordinary events known to humankind. We make and deliver life…it literally comes out of us, and I don’t care how jaded you are, that has to blow your mind. But in this day in age, it has become our business to ask each other how we went about getting that life, as if there is a birth agenda. I answer that by saying, we signed up for a baby, not a birth, and at the end of the day, however you got that little person into your arms was the exact right way. Period. I don’t have an agenda sharing my birth story, but I was asked about courage and the time seems right, so here goes…

From the beginning, I knew that we wanted to deliver with a midwife. At the first appointment, I asked about having an epidural on hand just in case, and my midwife looked at me with a level eye and said, “the moment that you ask me for an epidural, I’ll know that we’re about to have a baby (I later learned that she was talking about transition, and she was right), so you won’t be needing one”. For the rest of the pregnancy, I read Ina May Gaskin’s books, practiced yoga, and worked on confronting things that scared the hell out of me so that I could learn about letting go of fear in that moment that panic strikes. I wrote two quotes down and looked at them every day: “What you resist will persist” and “only when we let go of fear do we really begin to live”. I systematically practiced the moment that my water would break (that moment didn’t come like I thought it would) and would force myself to smile and start laughing. “Yes! My water just broke! I’m in labor! The baby is coming!” I may sound a little nuts, but here’s the thing. I wasn’t righteous about a ‘natural’ delivery, I just had signed up for one, and although I was all triangle poses on the outside, inside I was scared to death.

On the night that I did actually go into labor, I woke up at midnight telling Drew that I kind of had a stomach ache and he noticed that I was saying that about every four minutes. We started timing it, and lo and behold, those cramps were coming four minutes apart and lasting about a minute each. Contractions! I got in the bathtub and the contractions slowed down to about 6 minutes apart. Feeling a little disheartened, I got out of the tub, back into bed, and attempted to sleep. By 4am, there was no question about what was going on. The rest of the morning is a long story, but it all ends with a baby boy shooting out into the world at mach 12 by 1pm that day.

Here’s the part where I talk about courage. I got really scared that morning. I was scared of the pain, scared of not knowing when it was going to end, scared that after all of the months of prepping for my marathon, that I wouldn’t be able to run the race. At some point though, when the contractions were at their peak, I hit my stride. I called on all of the women on the planet that had done what I was doing, and silently begged them to lend me their strength. It worked. I was able to silently breath through my contractions, holding on to Drew’s hand, and slipping into the calming warmth of the water, and I’m not kidding, to this day, I think of that period of time as one of the most peaceful of my life. Pushing the baby out is another story, but at that moment that I was the most afraid during my contractions, the courage came from somewhere, and we wound up with that baby in our arms.

The tricky thing about courage is that we sound like we’re bragging if we ever talk about those moments in our own life, but that’s not it at all. In fact, I think that we would all benefit from asking one another, “what do you feel is the most courageous thing that you’ve ever done”? There’s a story there, and I guarantee that it’s a story worth telling. Women especially are shy about sharing stories like these because we tend to be so hard on one another instead of just listening, and this is such a shame. Perhaps the real courage lies not in all of the amazing things that we do, but in asking one another to share a little piece of our personal puzzle. I know that sharing my birth story as one of courage is not especially inspired, but what can I say? In my life, it’s the most courageous thing that I’ve ever done, and it’s something that I share with all of the other remarkable women on the planet that have kept this species thriving. I guess that’s the root of it all…courage, like most things, is really a shared experience.

If you’re still reading this ridiculously long post, I would love to hear your story of courage, and you can click below for more information from Momalom…

17 thoughts on “CcccccccCourage (a la the Cowardly Lion…)

  1. You are so right – parenthood is all about courage, including the moments when we become parents. However that baby gets here, whatever the circumstances, there’s a healthy dose of fear, nerves and anxiety in there!

    Great post!

  2. What strikes me most about this beautiful post and your childbirth experience is the absolute truth you capture with this: “The tricky thing about courage is that we sound like we’re bragging if we ever talk about those moments in our own life”

    Why is that? Why can we talk about successes, moments of power and courage, without feeling like nobody wants to hear it?

    I had three babies and no epidurals. And I know how unusual that is. And so sometimes I feel like it is bragging when I say it, even though I am not judging anyone else when I voice my own experiences. Great post!

    • Three babies? Go you! As a result of this “assignment”, I think that I am going to start asking ladies about their sense of courage…inquiring minds want to know!

    • Hear, hear to both of you! We should be able to speak with confidence – with pride, even – about good moments like these without it being taken for boasting or, worse, judging. I had and loved a natural delivery, too, and I’m always hesitant to talk about it. But I think it’s encouraging and empowering for women everywhere to know that women everywhere can do it.

  3. Oh my! You were brave, indeed! And you are right–why does talking about our own acts of courage sort of feel like bragging? That’s messed up!

    Stopping in from Momalom to say, “Hooray for courage!”

  4. Thanks for sharing your birth story – it is indeed one of courage as I know I could never do that myself. For me, I had to come to terms with the fact that having to endure painful childbirth is not the struggle I want to start with knowing that I have the rest of my life to muster the courage in raising this little girl I brought into this world. That to me, is that hardest thing I will ever do.

    But hats off to anyone who chose to have a little headstart. 🙂

    Over here from Momalom – glad to “meet you”.

    • Justine! I am glad to see your comment, I have been a fan of your blog for a while! 🙂 I agree with you…after writing this, I was thinking about it and I realized that the couple of hours of courage that we muster during labor are really just the beginning of a lifetime of courage stores that we will be calling on left and right.

  5. Speaking of our courageous acts IS NOT bragging. (As you and several others have mentioned.) This is courage!

    (I must say your introduction left me smiling as well.)

  6. Amelia,
    I’m right there with you… every mother is courageous from conception til the end. And then there’s the little bragging thing… I truly believe every mother has the right to brag about their courageous act: bringing a child into this world is no small feat, no matter how it was done– under the knife, with the epidural, or au naturale. Your birth story is beautiful and courageous, and you should be proud to share it, intimate as it is. There is nothing in this world quite like that split second between womanhood and motherhood.

  7. Although I’ve not birthed a baby, being male (at least in this incarnation anyway), I still felt a sense of awe at this authentic post. Far from “bragging,” I found it humble and transporting to link to all the women, all the ancestors who came before, joining them across the veil of being and non-being to soften and help your child make the great crossing into our world.

    Beautiful.

  8. I love that you shared your birth story for Five For Ten’s Courage topic. My third and fourth babes were born without artificial pain intervention. I wish like crazy I had known when I had my first what I know now, it’s much easier without. Your body protects you but you have to have the courage to trust it!

  9. Great story. Childbirth is dang scary. At the last minute, I chickened out and had mine delivered by UPS. Okay, just kidding. I actually got an epidural for the pushing, but only because I had excruciating back labour. Fun stuff. I seriously thought about UPS. Anyways, it’s courageous to say “hey, I was scared but I did it” and no, it’s not bragging. Just being proud and accepting of the experience. It’s okay to be a little proud, right? Actually, after the epidural, I just have to say, it was one of the most fun times of my life: it was a real party — I was feeling really really good and just waiting for the special guest to arrive.

    I enjoyed your story, and will be back for more. =) (Sorry about my random rambling comment here.)

  10. You are brave.

    To call on all the women who’ve ever done this before…I just love that. It sounds so woo-woo until you’ve done it. And then, as you say, it brings this incredible peace.

    I went to that place with the birth of my daughter. I call it “visiting the angels”. It was so quiet, so filled with feminine strength. I loved that place.

    I’m glad you told this story.

  11. Wow, your story is amazing. You are really brave for having a natural birth. I really admire women who go through it without medication.
    I think the most courageous thing I have ever done is leaving home (Colombia) when I was 19 and going to a country I had never been before (Canada). I didn’t know anyone here (not ONE single person), I didn’t speak English that well (not like a native english speaker, at least), and I had never been in such a cold place before. I left by myself. No one came with me. I got off the plane and walked outside of the airport and felt SO scared. I had no idea where I was. I didn’t have anyone to call in case of an emergency. I felt so lonely. I had no idea what to expect. Most importantly, I had no clue that this act of courage would change my life forever. I know it sounds corny, but it is so true! I am so proud of myself for literally starting from scratch and making my way (with hard work, SO many sacrifices and countless tears) to the place where I am now.
    As always, love your posts! Thank you 🙂

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