When it comes to having babies, I thought I knew it all. I really believed I had heard of everything but experiencing prodromal labour in this pregnancy taught me a little something more, not just about having babies but about the mind and body connection that surrounds the art of giving birth–the art of letting go.
If you know me or have been reading my stuff for a few years you’ll know that I’m a big believer in the paradox of love, that in order to find love we have to first let go of love. And the irony of love is that it feels terrible. If we are deeply in love, we are extremely uncomfortable. It’s amusing, albeit cryptic, that for so long we chase love despite its ability to bring us to our knees, but we do it because we are created for connection. The hunger for other eats away at our organs until we are able to find an outstretched hand.
And so, we do. We do search for connection, because it’s primal. We can pretend all we want that we don’t need anyone but the hunger will come out in other faucets like addiction, or anger, or perfectionism.
How on earth is this related at all to prodromal labour?
I stood against the side of the hospital bed and rocked my hips around in circles with each surge but while I could manage the pain, I couldn’t manage the panic. My belly would start to ball up and then my heart would begin to pound in my throat. I really didn’t know where this was coming from because I’ve always felt safe in the hospital and I’ve never doubted my body’s ability to give birth with control, and with power.
Once we came home, I researched prodromal labour and the one thing that kept coming up was that quite often the cause of extended early labour is an emotional block of some sort. Maybe the woman had a previous traumatic birth, or she had some stress going on at home, or some other psychological, spiritual stressor that stuck like a fog or like a dam in the middle of the flow. I shook my head and laughed it off because I of all people wouldn’t have an interruption like that now, after all these years of having babies, of learning big life lessons on the art of loving, of letting go.
But that’s what love does, doesn’t it? We just get used to living a certain way of being in a rhythm, in a flow, in a well-lit area where when we reach out in a certain direction we know what will be there because it’s always there. And love comes along like a fog, or like a dam in the middle of the flow and once again it asks us to surrender, to sit in the darkness, in our discomfort, and then it teaches us something new.
I want to control this birth experience. I want to run a certain amount of miles to bring along a certain amount of contractions on a certain day at a certain time with the perfect childcare, with a certain OBGYN on-call, with my favourite nurse. I want to do it soon, so that I can get back to training for my sub-3 marathon.
You guys know what I’m going to say, right? For Love’s sake, Suzy… LET GO.
So, I will. I’ll let go. Not to manipulate love, not to trick her into giving me the birth experience I want as if it’s some sort of transaction, but to let her change me into someone who can pass love along to my husband, to my kids, to my family, to the sweet boy growing inside of me who is already teaching me about love, and he’s not even here yet. Maybe love doesn’t show up in the delivery room; maybe she was here all along. In the fog, in the dam in the middle of the flow. In the surges, in the pain, in the panic.
Rocking hips, rapid pulse, deliver me.