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.