I remember well the first stings of the contractions that began the birth of my first child. It was a new dawning that was wild and confusing. At first, it was exciting! This is happening! Then it was just annoying as the contractions went on and on for hours. (Is this happening?) Eventually, they grew and became uncomfortable; suddenly, it became painful and then, then I began to panic. I numbed the pain with an epidural with my first labor and delivery and got a C-section and a beautiful baby boy. With my second experience of panic, I wildly attempted to push a baby out of my body with my face. (Note: Your face can’t push a baby out of your ahem…) I got two eyes blackened with broken capillaries and another beautiful baby boy (and a successful VBAC!). With my third baby, I used a Douala. And she told me, don’t panic. Relax your jaw. Relax your tongue. Relax your mouth and B-R-E-A-T-H-E. I got a beautiful princess of a baby girl and what felt like a cape blowing in the breeze of my accomplishment. It felt like magic.
I remember that as the pain and length of each contraction grew with that labor, every new pang made me want to panic. It made me want to lose control. But I learned something that day from my Douala: I learned that I can make my crazy lady inside me to be calm. I can silence her and speak rationally to her. It doesn’t mean denying the pain, it’s almost as if I learned to embrace it. To open up my arms wide and welcome the pain and focus on moving through it in a strength that is other-worldly sometimes. Maybe even not my own.
That lesson has come to be a guide to me as a Mom. As I encounter moments of pain, moments of overwhelming frustration over all the times that I’ve worked so hard to complete something and I watch it come undone before my eyes in 3.2 seconds flat… Sigh. Breathe. Don’t panic. Relax your jaw. Relax your tongue. Relax your mouth and B-R-E-A-T-H-E. Embrace the crazy. Embrace the pain of the disappointment and focus. Focus on what you want in the moment and dig deep to find the strength to see it done.
I had a night like that tonight. I’m solo Mom’ing as my husband finishes another semester of school. Such is the season of our lives. I was attempting to cook dinner and talk to my beloved sister all whilst my toddler denied over half the food I presented her with for dinner. The boys were doing something on the computer and kept needing my help. I finally gave up on the toddler and just let her roam and destroy. I attempted transition: let’s sit down and eat. Look! I accomplished dinner! Melt-down ensued from the toddler. I walked away from my dinner to put the sticky, food-encrusted mess of a little person in the tub. But before I got there she pooped. And I got it on my fingers as I was trying to clean her up. (Don’t worry, I wasn’t on the phone anymore at this point.) I brought her into the bathroom and she peed all over the floor. The boys began to get rowdy and as the water flowed into the tub, as I stood and looked at the pee on the floor and as I listened to the whining of my toddler I felt that panic sweep up and over me. It threatened to overtake me like a crawling explosion creeping up from my heart.
But then, I heard a voice inside me say Don’t panic. Breathe. Embrace the crazy, focus on what you want and move through it. Relax your jaw. Relax your tongue. Relax your mouth and B-R-E-A-T-H-E.
And I breathed.
And I focused.
And I silenced the crazy lady inside of me. I told her to be calm. I spoke rationally to her.
The rest of the evening seemed to turn at that point. I am not sure if it is how I perceived it or if it truly turned (perhaps both?). But after many days of my life where the things I do with my hands are so often undone at mock speeds, it felt like a tiny victory. My cape was blowing in the breeze of my accomplishment again.
The little angels are snug and asleep now. The house is quiet and my heart is at peace. I wish that everyday I would remember not to panic when my blood pressure begins to boil. I want to embrace that pain and frustration and then master it many more times than I do in the course of my day. Small victories encourage me to press on. What a blessing to know that the crazy lady inside of me is not me and that the real me can say no to her. I can choose another way. It’s harder. It’s painful. But it produces beauty.
I guess it really is about the journey-with eyes focused on the destination and willing to embrace the pain that makes it hurt and makes it so worth it.