My greatest feat of strength is that I labored with my daughter for 52 hours. More than half of that was in a homebirth, but we transferred to a hospital when things got complicated.
One of my last few minutes at home (40-something hours in) I was sitting at the kitchen table, my head resting on my arm, my skin goosebumping against the cool spring air coming through the window. I had nothing left. With two sleepless nights behind me and no memory of when I last felt hungry or thirsty, I was out of fuel.
It was then that I conceded. I told my midwife I wanted to go to the hospital.
At the time I thought it was the end of me. I wailed my way through the lobby, pausing only to scream when a contraction hit me (it happened to be in front of a group of pregnant women touring the birth ward). This was not how I had envisioned this going.
I signed myself in, sank into a wheelchair, and finally gave in to the experience of giving birth. After the epidural, I slept for five hours. When I woke, Leonie was crowning. I pushed for maybe 20 minutes. It was the most powerful experience of surrender that I’ve had to date.
I learned many years later why birthing became so easy at the moment it seemed like it should be the hardest. Because when we break down, it’s not that we lose our power, we simply lose the illusion of control. That’s what gives us the courage to sink into someone else’s arms and suddenly find that we have the support we need to do the impossible.
Some efforts require us to push through. But most ask us to do the opposite — to drop our weapons, drop to our knees, and drop the BS. Surrendering to what is will take us farther than any offensive drive ever will.
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