At one of my last prenatal visits, one of my midwives said that labor was good preparation for parenting because it reminds you that you are not in control of everything. Of course, she was right. Baby dictates the progress of labor and baby certainly dictates almost everything else once she is out. Letting go and going with the flow (as best I could) certainly worked for me in labor, and it doesn’t hurt back here in the real world, either.
But that is not the only analogy between labor and life with the little one.
Many times these six months have I been at what I thought was certainly my breaking point. “I can’t do it,” I complain to myself or outloud, “I can’t deal with this mess, I can’t deal with this noise, I can’t function unless I get some more rest and quiet and order.” It’s really easy at those times to feel sorry for myself and long for the mother I don’t have or some other equally magical deliverance from my distress.
But then I am flashed back to labor (I really don’t think a day has gone by since that I haven’t thought about that single most magnificent & life-altering day of my life, however cliche that may be), and all of the times I wanted to complain and lament how hard it was, but didn’t. I wanted to stay positive, so I would say or think, “I can handle this. I’ve got this. But it better not get any harder, because this is about all I can take.” A few contractions (and maybe a position change) later and it would in fact be much harder, so much bigger, yet there I was, still doing it. Like a champ.
Maybe you can imagine the perspective that particular flashback brings to my exasperation over the dirty dishes, the laundry, the pile of work on my desk and the ever-growing to-do list. If not, I’ll tell you: It makes me feel like a spoiled, whining child.
There is no question, then, “Can I do this?” Of course I can, and will. And hopefully, with grace.