Thursday, November 16, 2017

Life Lessons from Labor

When I think of never going through pregnancy again, I feel So Happy. But I am actually a bit sad about not having another labor. It is such an incredible experience. I have often thought of how helpful those breathing exercises are for every other part of life with children. Then I started thinking about all the other life lessons I learned through labor. Here are some of them.

~ Everyone says, “You will know when it is time. You will know, you will know.” And you will know...but maybe not as soon as you would like. But that’s okay, you don’t have to have it all figured out, even if you have been through this before.

~ Sharing horror stories seems to be part of human nature. Whatever you are about to experience, someone will feel it is their duty to tell you about the horrible thing that happened to them or their cousin’s sister-in-law. Seek out the good stories.

~ Listen to the truth about what is going on inside yourself. Your head may be telling you something different – I shouldn’t feel this way. It is not time yet. This is not how I expected things to be.

~ You may not handle things as well as you thought. That’s okay. How could you possibly have known what you were getting into?

~ Preparation matters. Knowledge matters. Support matters. But sometimes life still happens anyway and there is nothing you could have done to prevent it.

~ Just because things didn’t go according to your plan doesn’t mean they went wrong.

~ Other people will try to tell you how you should feel about your life experience. You should feel happy because “nothing bad happened,” but you still feel heartbroken. You should feel violated because someone else made the decision for you, but you just feel relieved. You should feel pain but you feel joy. You should feel empowered but you feel helpless. Feel what you feel. Find people who will let you feel what you feel.

~ If 1000 people go through the same thing, they will all experience it differently. Live your experience. Don’t compare.

~ You are stronger than you think. So much stronger. You are also weaker than you think, and you can be both at the same time.

~ Sometimes you just need people nearby who can hold your hand and remind you to breathe.

~ When you think too much about what is coming, you may feel your courage failing. Focus back on the moment, back on the most basic elements of life. Breathe in, breathe out, focus with all of your might. This moment is all you need to handle right now.

~ Sometimes you need to be quiet and breathe. Sometimes you need to yell.

~ The deeper you are consumed by the task, the less you care about what people think of you.

~ You have to let go of control and surrender completely to birth something new.

~ Everyone has scars. Some are visible.

~ There are some things you can control. And a whole lot of other things you can’t.

~ There is a time when the line between singing and swearing and praying nearly disappears.

~ Two people can go through the same experience together and feel very differently about it at the end. It was beautiful, it was terrible. It was holy, it was traumatic. It was the best and worst day of life.

~ In the middle of the labor and pain and overwhelm, you may lose sight of what you are even in this for. But when the end comes, it is even better than you imagined.

~ When you finally get what you were waiting for, sometimes you feel joy. Maybe you feel relief, or fear, or unaccountable sadness. Maybe you are so tired you’re not even sure you care anymore. Maybe you feel nothing. That’s okay. It will come.

~ When your whole life changes in an instant, after the hardest day of your life, in the midst of pain and exhaustion, the world expects you to keep right on with life. Hold tightly to your rest. Make space for recovery.

~ When things get really tough, you may forget about the fundamentals of life. Drinking. Moving. Breathing. You don’t need someone to tell you what to do: you need someone to give you a drink, to show you how to move, to breathe with you.

~ When you are going through something really hard, things you wouldn't even notice in normal life can drive you utterly crazy.  Noise, smells, touch, people.  What is helpful one minute might seem torturous the next.  People can't read your mind, so you'll have to let them know.  And try not to bite their head off in the process.

~ You may feel normal and pain-free one moment and doubled over the next. It doesn’t mean that the pain isn’t real, or breathing space between isn’t real.

~ You are the one experiencing all the pain, but realize it can be an exhausting, emotionally trying experience for the people around you too.

~ If what you are trying isn’t working, try something else.

~ If you are too engrossed in the process to think clearly, surround yourself with people who can think clearly and advocate on your behalf.

~ You need someone who has the expertise to handle the problems and complications. You need someone who can show compassion. And you need someone who can just clean up the mess afterwards.

~ Your mind may tell you that you can handle this, but if things are intensifying quickly and your body says this is getting out of control, don’t wait around. Get help. And it’s okay to speed.

~ Pain feels different when you can relax, when you have support, and when you feel safe. Pain does not always equal suffering.

~ When the task seems most impossible, when you are sure you cannot go on, often you are close to breakthrough.

~ The hardest experiences can also be the most awe inspiring.

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