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)