“We have a secret in our culture, and it’s not that birth is painful. It’s that women are strong.” – Laura Stavoe Harm
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In the past weeks, I've had the opportunity to see a beautiful display of the strength the we, as mothers, hold within ourselves. I have seen two first-time mothers carry twins to term and birth them vaginally (a rarity in today's obstetric world), and I've been blessed to be a part of several beautiful water births. I've supported women as they shed the pain and negativity of their prior births - whether vacuum-assisted, episiotomied, or cesarean - and worked their way to fulfilling, heartwarming experiences this time around. I've coached women through difficult labors, instructing them to push - or not push - at the hardest times, when it was the thing they most didn't want to do (but needed to, for the sake of their baby - whether due to a stuck shoulder, nuchal cord, or other concerning issue). I have seen mothers labor and push for hours, with no analgesia; I've seen mothers who plan to get "everything [they] can get" - but still have intense discomfort... regardless, the strength, and the determination to make it through, is amazing. I've visited women in the hours and days after their births and been awed at the love that's obvious as they snuggle their newborns; the way they hold their nurslings to their chest, cooing and adoring, proudly showing off their babes to older siblings, grandmas and nurses.
Strong thunderstorms and tornados moved through this region - and much of the country - last weekend. The similarity between Mother Nature's power and that of a laboring mother is not lost on me. Surveying the damage of what has officially been deemed a tornado - which moved right alongside of the
hospital - brings to mind the rapid internal changes that occur with labor... Mama feels as though her insides are being ripped apart, ravished by the incredibly intense waves of contractions moving through her. Until labor began, she may not have even realized the strength within herself; and yet, like the buildings and trees damaged from this storm, her body will begin working its way back to normal within hours after baby's birth. (And, in fact, just as a beautiful, brilliant, calm sunset emerged from the storm - mama will almost always emerge from birth with a tired but peaceful sense of wonder as well, with the most beautiful prize to be had.)