Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Hear me roar

After a few weeks of caring for her precious first-born baby, my friend Fig declared, "Motherhood is blood, sweat, and tears. Rinse and repeat." Are you nodding and chuckling at the same time? Fig's good at inducing the chuckle-nod. She's so witty. And right on.

So I've been thinking, of late, about how I focus so much on the intense physical challenge of labor (some, including me, call it "pain") that I have sort of neglected to give attention to other physical "pains" associated with bearing and nurturing children. For example...

* The cramping associated with ovulation and/or menstruation is painful for some women.
* PMS can cause painful bloating, headaches, etc.
* Love-making is painful for some women.
* Some women experience round-ligament twinges and/or cramping in early pregnancy.
* Morning sickness can range from mildly bothersome to excruciatingly miserable.
* Some pregnant women suffer with back pain, sciatic nerve pain, joint pain, etc.
* Preterm labor pains keep some women on bed rest for weeks or months.
* Then there are the after-pains (I think they get worse with each birth... wowza!).
* Some women endure general perineal tenderness, pain from perineal tears/episiotomies, or cesarean section wounds.
* Breastfeeding hurts like the (toe-curling) dickens in the beginning, being compounded initially by painful breast engorgement, painful milk let-down, and more intense after-pains due to the uterine contractions produced by suckling.
* The muscle strain from carrying around a 5 to 10 lb newborn can lead to sore arms and/or sore backs, especially with a first child.
* Once an infant has teeth that introduces a whole new kind of potential pain during breastfeeding.
* Back pain can continue and intensify from carrying increasingly hefty babies and toddlers.
* Rinse and repeat.

(And that's not even getting into the emotional pains we endure.)

The other day a first-time pregnant woman I love told me she's pretty sure she'll get an epidural 'cause she's (and these were her exact words) "such a pansy." I couldn't help myself... I rushed toward her, grasped her face in my hands, and said, "No! You're not!" This woman has endured excruciating menstrual cramps every month for over a decade followed by miserable morning sickness for the last couple of months... and she thinks she's a "pansy!"

Look at the list above, ladies. Take a good, long look at it. Do you really think God would entrust those challenges to a bunch of pansies?


We are women. We are strong. We can push ourselves to our absolute limit and somehow find the strength to push some more. And then rinse and repeat.

Don't you dare call yourself a pansy. 

 (Photo by Fife Photography, Fall 2005)


SlingRings said...

Speaking of physical pain, or at least insult, how about all those elbows and knees? First inside, but even on the outside they can do a lot of damage. My cousin broke my aunt's ribs before she was born. I've taken more than one wobbly newborn head to my nose. Ouch. Of course, none of the physical complaints add up to the stress of being constantly responsible for another human being, or the joyous weight of being the one to set a new spirit's course and direction. Sometimes it seems that physical pain or effort is required for us to comprehend the magnitude of the calling.

Joanna Goodman said...

very encouraging.

I am due tomorrow, planning on a natural childbirth, and delivering in a hospital with a doula and very supportive husband. Not sure when my kid will decide to show up, but I now have another mantra for labor:

"don't you dare call yourself a pansy!"


Buscando la Luz said...

I'm so excited for you Joanna! You are stronger than you think! Please let me know how your birth goes!

Missy said...

This is all so true! It makes me sad when I hear moms giving a first time pregnant mom their #1 advice "get an epidural as soon as you can." There seems to be an automatic assumption that women aren't strong enough to handle labor, and so they shouldn't even bother trying. We really don't give ourselves enough credit.

Danie Nicole said...

Thank you for this post. I found it because of a link shared on facebook. As I struggle through physical therapy in hopes of one day experiencing pain-free love making with my husband, I needed to hear this.