Four Days of Wonder: the Gift of a Long Labor

November 30 2011 by Kelly O'Brien Pahman

                When I mention to close friends that I attended my most recent birth for four days, I often get the response: “That poor woman; she must be so tired!” To which I often respond something to the nature of “actually, she was often stronger and more ‘with it’ than the rest of us”; “she was incredible”; and “your uterus is amazing; never underestimate it.”

                My friend and client Allison was not a victim of her experience as some would suppose. To pity her would be like feeling sorry for an Olympian after they suffered for a gold medal. Her determination was undeniable. None of us close to her had ever seen such bravery and strength come out of her. Her midwife said, “She came to the end of herself several times and came through it stronger.”

                This is the third difficult labor I have attended this past year, and I’m still trying to figure them out. I scour texts to find that one trick position that will turn the baby or adjust its head into alignment and bring an easier labor, but I’m not sure there’s one trick to rule them all. And maybe the gift of a difficult labor isn’t mine to rescue them from (*gasp*) but simply to walk, sway, and breath with them through it. With any labor you bring home more than a baby, but with a difficult labor, this is certainly so. These families come home with an incredible amount of virtue, endurance, and flexibility. They grow beyond the experience in an unspeakable way that takes a lifetime to discover. And maybe God knew they needed just a couple more ounces of virtue to bring them through to the next step in their lives.

                To say that I am in awe and humbled by these woman would be an understatement. I don’t think there’s been a birth I haven’t wept at yet, but with these, I certainly reach the end of myself and come out the other side; I also, in a way, receive the gift of a long labor. To witness Olympian courage and endurance first-hand would transform anyone. Thank you Allison for teaching me so much and inviting me to be a part of such an awe-inspiring and transformative experience.


Filed under: Birth, labors, Lessons, Long, story, Trust, Virtue
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