Sunday, November 20, 2011

No pity party here

She's been pacing the halls of her home for hours. Stopping every so often to rock and sway and groan through her pains. Sometimes she wants support or eyes to stare into or hands to hold. Sometimes she winds her way into a dark room and stays alone.

As the hours tick away, her pains become all but consuming. She needs consistent support and affirmations. She wants to quit. Give up. Stop the pain. She looks at me with pleading eyes. As if silently trying to inflict her pain on me instead.

I understand this, but I don't feel sorry for her. There is no need to. 
The word sorry means: "feeling regret, sympathy, pity, regrettable or deplorable, unfortunate, tragic, sorrowful, grieved, or sad."

I don't, and shouldn't feel sorry for a laboring momma. 

I'm convinced she doesn't want my sorrow. She wants my strength. She wants my confidence in her. She wants to see herself in me. So when I look her in the eye and tell her she's "got this" she sees that it's true.

I was at a long hard labor last night, well, the last two nights actually. Told you it was long! Whenever she would say something had changed, more pressure, more intensity, more frequent; I'd say "Good! This is great! Baby's coming!" Finally she looked at me and said "is anything ever not good for you?" and I just smiled and replied, "You're getting feisty, this is good." We laughed a bit but the truth is, labor is good. Pressure is good, intensity is good and frequent contractions are good! They are necessary to bring her baby into her arms. I never said "sorry."

If I felt sorry for her, I would also feel a need to take her pain from her, to give her an escape, to rescue her. She doesn't need that, and when she's honest, she'll tell you she doesn't want it either.

What she needs is confidence balanced with a healthy dose of empathy: "the intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another."

So I give her what she needs. I let her know how all her feelings and thoughts are normal. I keep her focused. I bolster her courage. I remind her of her coping skills. I keep her putting one foot in front of the other all the way to the finish line.

The more she wants out, the more I point her inward. The more she tries to escape, the more her success depends on her being totally in tune with her body and the work it's doing. She doesn't need my sorrow. She needs herself. The strength is in her and what she needs is me to show her where it is and how to rely on it; not to feel sorry for her.  As someone once said (Ina May perhaps?) "Labor cannot be stronger than you, because it IS you." 

You got this momma! Rock it! I'm proud of you!

Hugs to ya! 
Shannon =)                                                                                          definitions from


  1. Hi Shannon,

    Great reading... I am expecting my first child and I am excited about having a natural birth if all goes as planned. Also, I am interested in a water birth at the hospital and will do more research on this sort of birth.

    Your post gives me inspiration and anticipation to my joyous time to deliver my son in the coming year. Thank you!

  2. Ashley ~ thank you and Congratulations on expecting a son! =) Water births are amazing! I hope you can find the perfect location for your birth! Hugs! btw, I suggest any books by Ina May Gaskin or Penny Simpkin to help you prepare!


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