Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Bear Down

"Push, push, push, push!"

My neck hurt from straining too hard during the first hour of pushing. My left hand was swollen twice its normal size from where the IV had caused a negative reaction. I was exhausted beyond what I could imagine. My body was screaming that it wanted sleep and food, but not that it wanted to get a baby out. The drugs had completely blocked my ability to feel any of my body's natural urges to bear down.

Yet in the background, there was a cacophony of voices yelling at me to push. So for hours and hours I did that. I pushed and pushed and pushed. My daughter was born and it was amazing, but even after the hours that I spent pushing, I never really understood what it was that I was supposed to be doing.

'Bear Down' photo (c) 2011, Valentino Valdez - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/Then my son was born.

I waited too long to ask for the epidural and as the anesthesiologist was putting in the block, I felt this incredible pressure. I told the nurses that I thought that I needed to use the bathroom, and instead of a chorus of voices telling me to push, I was being instructed NOT to push, but instead to blow. Soon the obstetrician was there and I was able to follow my body's natural instincts and deliver my son.

The difference between pushing and bearing down in birth was simply amazing.

Both required work. Giving birth is never a completely effortless event, even in the best circumstances. But working with my body was so much easier than working against it.

When I was pushing simply because someone was telling me that I needed to, I was ineffective. I ended up with injuries, some rather severe. I was exhausted, frustrated, frightened, hurt.

But when I bore down, I was doing what my body was supposed to do. I took advantage of the force that was already acting in me and used it to to do the work that needed to be done. There was pain, there was labor, but the process was so much sweeter.

There are so many areas in life where we're tempted to just muscle our way through. People shout at us to push. To pull ourselves up. To be self-reliant. And we know that in order to see our dreams come to life, we have work to do. So we do what we're told, even if it doesn't feel right. We struggle and work and strain to reach our goals.  But even in our successes, we can end up exhausted rather than exhilarated by the journey.

And then there are the times that we bear down. We follow where our dreams are taking us rather than forcing them to fit our mold. We find people who offer us enthusiastic encouragement and gentle direction rather than those who simply give us the same rules that they followed to achieve their dreams. There may still be struggle and pain, but it is purposeful. It is pain that we can use.

As we bear down through that pain, we can give birth to joy.

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Is there an area where you've pushed when you needed to wait and bear down? Have you experienced the difference?

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This is a part of the One Word at a Time Blog Carnival hosted by Peter Pollock. You can read more submissions and add your own here.

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