Labor is often compared to a marathon. Both are lengthy tests of physical and mental endurance, with a payoff at the end. There are, of course, major differences. Like that payoff— the sense of exhilaration you feel as you are handed a finisher medal infinitely pales in comparison to meeting your child, who you created, grew in your body, and will love until the end of time.
You also can’t just quit the race and try again next year. Your baby will be born someway, somehow, and no matter how your birth transpires, you will be an active participant. Your participation will continue for weeks, months, and years, as you grow into your role as parent to this child.
One of the problems with the marathon metaphor is that unlike a 26.2 mile race, there is no real end to birth. Yes, you pushed out your baby, and the ring of fire is no longer, or your surgeon has made the final stitch and you are wheeled out of the O.R. to recovery. But in reality, your baby’s arrival is not the end game.
There is the very real work of healing, and learning to breastfeed, and your hormones rebalancing, and your life looking like something very different than what it once was. Forever.
There’s this new little human being already growing and changing at every moment.
There is the eternal spring of elation, and surprise, and discovery that having kids opens to you.
There is the change in you, unrecognizable at first because all you see is the bags under your eyes from lack of sleep, or the engorgement of your breasts, or your unwashed hair. But it’s there— a confidence and knowing that snakes its way into your being, until one day you are flipping pancakes one-handed, with a toddler on your hip while you field a business call, and realize you are capable and strong and a mother.
Labor, birth, postpartum, parenthood— it’s messy and hard and joyful and gratifying and exhausting and every single emotion you've ever felt amplified. Before this experience, there is really nothing to compare it to, which is why we grasp for metaphors, like the marathon, to describe what cannot be fully understood until we experience it ourselves.
Birth is the beginning. You cross the finish line and never stop moving, you never stop learning and growing. You get to hold a little hand in your own and learn to walk together. That’s the real payoff.
I am a certified labor doula and professional postpartum doula serving clients in Boise, Eagle, Meridian, Nampa, and the Greater Treasure Valley.
Learn more about how I can help you prepare for your "marathon."
I've worked in the forest, in the lab, and in an office cubicle. My favorite and most passionate work has been alongside clients as they reach inside to find their innermost strength, and give birth to their babies. Each birth is an honor to witness.