“Another year older…and what have you done?” That line from the John Lennon Christmas Carol always gets to me, as was surely intended. This year I retorted triumphantly, “I pushed a baby out of my body without meds. Imagine that, John!” I felt unusually satisfied with myself. It was nice for a change.
While I was pregnant, George’s friend Heather told me that giving birth made her feel powerful. I asked her how long she rode that high. I anticipated that a few sleepless nights marked its demise. Instead she said, “well, let’s see…my son’s nine, so I guess nine years.” Wow, way to go Heather!
Most times, I just find motherhood to be humbling. On a daily basis, I confront new things that don’t always have easy solutions. As my husband would say, “there are no tidy truths” in parenting. The act of giving birth has not changed that reality.
There are moments of invincibility, though. Usually, pushing seems to be the part of labor that comes back to me. With pushing, there’s control. Not so with contractions. People compare the pain of contractions to a wave. They come whether you like it or not. You have no choice but to ride them out. You ride some better than others, and that’s just how it goes for many hours. On the other hand, pushing is the active part of labor. It's the time when you really take charge. You can decide how long or how hard to push. Ostensibly, you could decide not to push at all (although probably not advisable). It was the only time during my labor that I said, “I can’t!” It was also the only time the two midwives yelled back at me, “Yes you can!” -- my faith renewed because of their special knowledge of how this was supposed to go; my strength bolstered as I was initiated into a long line of women who had been assisted by them and others like them along this journey.
Still, my tete-a-tete with John Lennon is hardly transcendent. There’s another one about channeling birthing energy to help along an anemic workout, but, really, who cares? When I look at Claire it’s a different story though. I look at her and am in awe of the fact that I made her. I look at her and think, wow, that was a lot of work. I look at her and think it was worth every second. I know the sacrifice I am willing to make for her, because I have already given more than I thought possible. I know the lengths I will go for my daughter, because I have gone beyond my limits before. The power of giving birth has taught me most of all about how to love.
Photo Source: Yuval Y, Wikipedia Commons