“Lean into it.” I heard a female voice say. I was in transition and trying not to completely lose it. I was in my zone and successfully tuning out much of the world around me except for that occasional female voice that would guide me. I can’t tell you for some of my births or even parts of each birth whose voice it was or how many were actually in the room. Trying to breathe felt impossible, while the pain took my breath away and took over my whole body, my mind, and my whole being. “Lean into it” was a gentle reminder to work with my body and not fight against it. To allow this excruciatingly painful process to bring my baby into my arms. They say if you tense up in labor, it can make the process much harder and longer. I’ve heard plenty of horror stories of this (I’ll spare gruesome details). Fighting a necessary process only makes it more difficult.
For my first baby, I wasn’t even close to going into labor on my own when I met the fill in midwife to discuss beginning the induction process that evening. I was terrified, because for one, my own midwife was out, and secondly, I needed at least a 2 step induction. I had taken all the supplements, followed all recommendations, and prayed pleading tearful prayers everyday. Still nothing. She informed me that it was more dangerous to wait and that this was medically necessary for the well being of my baby. My solution was to go Black Friday shopping and walk my baby out. She told me if I wanted to go into labor on my own, I should go home and have sex instead. She replied to our disappointed looks with “well, I didn’t say it had to be with him (pointing at my husband), you can go find George Clooney if you want.” Wow, this woman must be a miracle worker, because I suddenly felt at ease. Needless to say, we finished our Christmas shopping and met her that evening to begin the induction. I’m not a George Clooney kind of girl, anyway. And labor was a long, slow, painful road.
You also hear of these legendary stories of women that had enough strength or faith or whatever it may be to have a pain free labor without pain meds. I’ll spare you the details, because, well, I can’t relate. I experienced every bit of the pain. Which in and of itself is a complete miracle. Trusting that you’ll make it on the other side of the pain in triumph. That’s the money, right there.
This isn’t about pain meds or no pain meds, completely natural or Cesarean birth, biological parents or adoption. It’s about the pain we face to be moms. It’s not an easy road. It’s not about the glam and Instagram. It’s about the everyday things and the things only we feel. The things only we know. It’s about the sacrifice we make to carry the name “Mom”. We are sometimes sold that if you do these certain steps, believe enough, know the right things, or have the right resources that we can escape the pain. But none of us can escape the pain. Not if we want to be mom. The pain is the cost of the call. It earns us the right to claim our name and earns us the prize of beauty. No pain, no gain. You can’t get the glory for something you don’t own, and you won’t truly get it for the work you didn’t complete. And if you try, it’s just plagiarism or stealing. There is no glory in that. You get what you pay for.
Your mom, your spouse, your best friend, your doctor. They can’t take your cup. Not even if you wanted them to. Or begged them to. Or paid them to. It’s not their pain, and it’s not their glory. It’s all yours. To have the glory of being called Mom by the precious people you love the most will cost you everything. But lean into it. From the countless months waiting to conceive, the barfing, the labor, sleepless nights, the mom guilt, decisions about school, school drama, first dates, and more sleepless nights. It’s all your pain. And you’ll earn the glory. Lean into it. Don’t give up no matter how hard it is. Every step of the way, it’s yours. You’ve got this, you’ve earned it. Keep going and you’ll be on the other side. You’ll feel the pride of a job well done. And, oh, the stories you’ll tell. The hugs, love, affirmation, and admiration is yours. But first, you must lean into it.