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Labor and Motherhood: More Alike Than You Think

When I found out I was pregnant with my first child my mind immediately went to the labor process. I wasn't nervous, I was actually excited! I had already done a lot of research on labor and delivery and chose to fill my head with only positive experiences. I wasn't naive, I knew it would be difficult and painful, but I chose to embrace the process rather than resist it. I think this small decision helped me to have a great experience in childbirth, twice.

Recently I realized, though, that I had not embraced motherhood in the same way. For some reason I had expected it to be awesome all the time, and when it wasn't, I felt highly disappointed. I realized I needed to embrace motherhood in the same way I had embraced labor. I began to reflect on labor and started relating it to motherhood and began to see the changes I needed to make.

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Ask any woman who has experienced childbirth, it hurts. When that first contraction hit, it took my breath away. Fear entered my head and I thought, "there is no way I can do this." Thankfully I surrounded myself with a positive birthing team and they reminded me, "You can do this. You are doing this." In much the same way, raising a child can hurt at times. In the beginning you're so exhausted it hurts. Constantly waking, feeding, changing. It's demanding. And then there's the first time you have to discipline your kid—oh man, it hurts. You don't want to deal with the hard stuff, but you have to. There are times when you feel like there is no way you can possibly successfully raise a human being, and in those moments it's really nice to have people around to remind you, "You can do this. You are doing this."

I've heard women say that they just wanted to keep the baby in their bellies forever. They are safe in the belly— warm and nourished. But they can't stay in there forever.

Giving in to the labor process really makes it so much better. I can remember while I was giving birth to my daughter I kept saying, "No no no!" because the pain was intense. My midwife gently reminded me, "Remember the power of your words." I started telling my baby, "yes, come out." Instead of fighting against the contractions I began to welcome them because it meant I was that much closer to seeing my baby. Sometimes our kids do things that make us want to scream "No!" from the top of our lungs. We don't want to have tough conversations or go through hardships together, but going through hardships actually brings people closer together. Every time I've had to help my kids walk through difficult moments it has helped them see that they can trust me and has helped me learn how to be there for them. Our relationship is strengthened, our bond is tighter.

And then there's the pushing. Pushing a baby out of your body is both a welcome relief and frightening. I've heard women say that they just wanted to keep the baby in their bellies forever. They are safe in the belly— warm and nourished. But they can't stay in there forever. We have to push them out and give them a new life experience outside of the womb. In motherhood we have to let our kids grow up and become independent. We have to push them to new experiences, and that's okay. It's part of motherhood.

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So I'm looking at motherhood with fresh eyes. I often gush about my labor experiences. The days my babies were born were some of the best days of my whole life. I want to live everyday as I did those days. I want to embrace this motherhood journey, because I'm pretty sure it's one of the greatest adventures I'll ever have the pleasure of participating in.

Image via Kristel Acevedo

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