Today marks the first anniversary of the most painful, excruciating and fantastic experience of my life: the birth of my son Sean.
As we celebrated a huge milestone in his life – one year on earth – I couldn’t help but go back in time to one year ago. Labor pains have a way of staying with you … and I went back to that cold January day in 2009 when I scaled the biggest mountain possible: natural childbirth.
The whole experience for me was a lesson in setting my intention, preparing, getting my support team in place, creating my vision, and then surrendering.
Childbirth is the most humbling, primal experience. It’s the great equalizer. It brings you to your knees and forces you to come face to face with your biggest fears. It forces you to go inside yourself and muster up all of your strength, all of your fortitude … and have ROCK-SOLID faith in your body and in your baby.
That’s what happened for me … I moved mountains. I surrendered to the experience and rode the waves of the pain, rode the waves of my contractions to get one step closer to meeting my child.
But surrendering was not my approach at first. What was my initial reaction once the contractions quickly went from “ouch” to “WTF”? FEAR, FEAR, FEAR! I was freaking out that there was no way in HELL that I could handle this. All of my preparation and vision and years of yoga training went flying out the window. I felt like I was holding on for dear life. I distinctly remember looking at my husband and saying: “I don’t know if I can do this.” I felt very alone, very vulnerable, very much in over my head.
And just when my mind was shifting into massive overdrive, I LET GO. I gave in … and started really TRUSTING my body, TRUSTING my baby, TRUSTING that I had EVERYTHING I needed to bring my child into the world EXACTLY the way I wanted to.
By the time we made it back to the hospital (I was sent home earlier that day when I thought my water had broken and told that the baby may not be ready for days), I was fully dilated (the hardest part – transition – was over!) and ready to push my baby out. This little one was ready to enter the world, 2.5 weeks earlier than expected.
I remember the whole pushing part of labor SO well. My doctor wanted me to push my baby out rather quickly because his heart rate was dropping during contractions. With all of the hoopla of rushing to the hospital and getting a room in the birthing center and dealing with the most excruciating pain I had EVER experienced, I kind of wasn’t ready to push that intensely. I wanted a break, but I did like I was told but knew it wasn’t enough to help this soul enter the world.
After about three rounds of pushing, I remember my doctor looking at me in the eye and saying, very seriously: “Jenny, on your next contraction you’re pushing your baby out.” I knew she meant business … and so did I.
I gathered up EVERY ounce of strength in my body, soul, mind and made a conscious choice to GO TO THE PEAK of the steep, scary mountain … and enter into the magical, wild world of motherhood. There was no turning back. Old life over, new life is here.
At 10:51 p.m. on Monday, January 5, 2009, my son Sean Logan Fenig took his first breath … and took my breath away. He was so … beautiful, peaceful, full of love, full of energy. He was – and is – amazing. He is a gift from God.
A few hours later, after the doctors, nurses and doulas had left, it was just my husband, my son and I. Our new family. As my husband and newborn son slept soundly next to me, I was wide awake thinking about the miracle that happened in our room. Mindblowing. Otherworldly. I looked out at the moonlit New York City sky and heard a voice loud and clear in my mind say: “Life will never be the same.”
Happy birthday, sweet Sean. Together, we move mountains.
**Dear reader, wishing you the gift of strength and fortitude as you climb the mountains of life. Where do you find your deepest strength during your toughest moments? Please share.**