My water breaks at 5:00 on a Friday evening in early April, and my heart thumps wildly in my chest. They quickly admit me upon arrival in triage and strap a clunky external fetal monitor on my belly.
“Any contractions?” the labor and delivery nurse inquires.
“No. Not yet.” I reply.
“Well, get comfortable then. You’ll probably still be here tomorrow at this time,” she spits out.
Ouch. Still in labor 24 hours later? Really? Not so encouraging for this first time mom.
They will give me 12 hours for labor to begin on its own. If it doesn’t, I’ll need induction in order to prevent infection.
Settling in front of the television with my husband and parents, my mind wanders from disbelief that labor is imminent to nervousness about the pain to anticipation of my baby’s arrival.
When the clock reaches 10:00 pm and I show no signs of labor, we attempt to sleep. And wait.
I end up fretting instead. What if labor doesn’t start? The thought of induction frightens me because it doesn’t pair well with the natural childbirth route I’ve chosen.
Around 2:00 am, it begins…small tugs at my abdomen that awaken me. Could this be it?
I time them. Yes, they’re regular—every five minutes. I wake my husband, and we send for my parents.
Soon, I’m grimacing and writhing in the hospital bed. Breathe through it? Whatever.
The doctor comes in to check my progress.
4? Out of 10? As in 6 more to go?!
This is too hard! If I’ve worked this hard with so little to show, I’ll never make it through this!
My dad counts the seconds with each contraction, “…10, 11, 12…”
Ugh!!! I’m dying.
“..22, 23, 24, 25…”
Almost to 30, I can do this! Focusing on the numbers is the only way through the pain.
And the vice grip on my uterus begins its slow release, granting a momentary reprieve before clamping down again.
My insides feel like they are tearing apart before the doctor enters to check me again.
“I don’t think I can do this anymore!” I gasp. “I need some drugs!”
My mom looks me in the eye. “Mandy, you can do this. You’re almost there. It will all go quickly from here.”
And she’s right. Before the contractions outnumber the fingers on my hands, I’m at 10 centimeters.
The nurse prepares me, the doctor enters, and it’s time to…
Now the contractions work with me, laboring to push the baby out instead of causing debilitating pain.
Until the baby crowns, and I cry out how much it burns.
“I can see the head, Mandy,” my mom says. “I can see your baby!”
I bear down and push.
“It’s a girl!!!”
Tears wet my face now instead of sweat, and I reach to snuggle my daughter close for the first time. She is born just 8 hours from the first contraction.
* * *
Childbirth is a lot like birthing a dream, isn’t it?
- They are both long, difficult, rewarding journeys fraught with twists and turns.
- You’ll encounter naysayers, and people will disappoint you.
- It will be harder than you ever imagined, and you’ll be tempted to give up.
- You’ll fixate on the end result.
- You’ll need encouragers along the way.
- It will get the hardest right in the home stretch, requiring you to bear down and push through.
- You will be changed in the process.
- Most often, the resulting joy will convince you that it was all worth it.
One of the most surprising things for me in both birthing and dreaming, however, is that the way the journey looks at any given moment doesn’t mean it’s going to look that way forever.
When I was at 4 centimeters, I assumed the whole labor would require the same intensity and input from me. I couldn’t imagine surviving a labor like that.
There are different phases of labor, and there are different seasons and cycles in dreaming. If your dream has you convinced that you cannot stand it one second longer…
Take heart! How you feel now will not last forever. (<====Click to tweet.)
You’ll hit a patch of momentum. You’ll encounter a breakthrough.
The grip of discouragement will release and give way to progress.
And when it seems most painful, remember:
Birth is near. (<====Click to tweet.)
How do you see dreaming as giving birth?