We're going on a bear hunt. We're going to catch a big one. What a beautiful day! We're not scared.
Oh-oh! A forest! A big, dark forest. We can't go over it, we can't go under it. Oh, no! We've got to go THROUGH it!
Why am I quoting a children's book on a birthing blog? Well, I was reading the book Baby Catcher by midwife Peggy Vincent this past week and I came across a birth story that brought this children's book to mind. It was Peggy's own birth story, the birth of her third baby.
"I struggled to find a path around the pain. If not around it, then
under it, or over it. I ground my knuckles so deeply into my hip that
bruises remained for a week afterwards. Nothing helped, and I fought the forces of my body...
The next contraction came grinding down on me, but it felt different. A white-hot hole of knowledge opened in my pain. I saw
that in my effort to get around or under the pain, I'd been avoiding that central point of intensity, staying on the brink of the primitive surrender that's required to get a stubborn baby out...
With sudden clarity, I knew it would have to hurt more before it got better. I wouldn't be able to circumvent the pain. I had to go through it, enter willingly into the void, hoding nothing back. I had to jump off the diving board."
The bear hunt book is a great way to visualize the different stages of labor. We start with some long grass. We need to go through it, but it's not too bad. Next, we come to a river. A little more apprehension because we need to get cold and wet, and maybe the force of the river pulling us is a little frightening, but we can make it through. Now, we get to the mud. It sucks at our feet and makes us very dirty. This is getting to be harder. Then the forest, a big, dark forest. Entering into the unknown, tripping and stumbling along, we see how going *through* labor can be scary. Then, a snowstorm! It's whipping us, howling at us, we can't see where we're at, we're lost in the forces around us! And then, we're almost there. The cave. A narrow, gloomy cave. At the other end of the cave is...
In the book, it's a scary bear. But for the laboring mom, the nose, eyes and ears belong to their baby! Their sweet, precious babe that emerges from the cave.
If the mom had not traversed all the different terrain, she would not be at the final place where her baby emerges, ready to meet her.
So, you can't go under labor, over labor, or even around labor. You can't escape and get around the pain. You've got to go THROUGH it, and you'll get to the end much quicker, and be able to relish in the beautiful results of your hard work.
Books used for this post
Baby-Catcher by Peggy Vincent
We're Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury