The Biggest Race of Your Life

My baby is due days before my grandfather’s birthday. I barely knew him. I know he was very athletic, well past his prime he still lifted weights, danced, ran, biked I’m sure he did whatever he wanted. He passed away on the cusp of the new millennium. I wasn’t married when he passed, I didn’t even know my one day husband at the time. We wouldn’t meet for another two years.

So it might seem strange, in so many ways, that the best advice I ever received, as far as labour and delivery is concerned, came from him.

It was August 2006, I was pregnant and sick, and really not up for much. I was also at a family reunion. As happens when families get together, everyone talks. And boy can my family talk. : ) I received wonderful bags full of blankets and wall decorations  handed down from person to person. I also received advice. Surprisingly not a lot of advice, but what I did receive proved very valuable.

My one cousin told me that when she was pregnant with her first, our grandfather told her that giving birth was like running the biggest race of your life. After the race is done if you lie down and take a break, your body will seize up and it’ll take longer to recover. But after running a race, if you slow down, keep walking, you’ll recover faster.

I don’t know if I was thinking about birth yet, but the words stuck with me.

When I had my first, the adrenalin poured through me. I was on top of the world! First prize was mine, I’d won the race.

The nurses promptly told me to lie down and sleep. Every time I tried to get out of bed, they panicked. To be fair they did seem to be more familiar with medicated moms, and a non-medicated mom surprised them. Being who I am, from the family I come from, I didn’t let a couple nurses tie me to the bed. I got up. I walked around. The next day I went home and felt amazing.

My second was born in a hospital that seemed to have more experience with natural births. No one tried to make me lie down. I walked. I showered. I got dressed and a few hours after my sweet Little One entered the world, we went home.

As I approach the final weeks (days?) of this pregnancy that advice comes back to me. This is the biggest race of my life. As with any race, preparation needs to take place. I need to train and prepare for recovery.

Just how does one train for delivery?

Personally, I have faced each of my fears. Some fears are more concrete, the answers can be found online, in books, by asking others. Other fears require me to look deeper. Fears of having a hospital birth, fears of having a road side birth. Despite being told each labour is shorter than previous ones, despite being told a lot of different things from texts, Drs, more experienced mamas, I worry that this labour will take longer. How will I cope if it takes more than a couple hours?

You might laugh.” A couple hours?” you say. “Ha, I was in Labour for 36 hours, while standing on my head. Anyone who needs pain meds is a wimp.”

That might be the case, I do believe everyone (mom and babe) is better off without them, but I have to admit that 3 hours of contractions is easy. I worry about having five, six, or more hours of contractions.

Now I have a better idea of what might hinder my labour. Fear will pause labour, fear makes the pain worse, fear cripples.

I certainly wouldn’t run a race in anything less than top form, shedding my fear prepares me.

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