Laying my cheek up against the wet, cool wall of the shower, here came the feeling - an overwhelming physical sensation.
"It must be indigestion" I thought in the moment.
Actually, it was labor.
It was early labor, and I was breathing my way through contractions - thinking and deeply feeling.
Earlier that day, I had read a phrase in one of my pregnancy affirmation flip-books that made me pause. One of the small, spiral bound books made of heavy-duty cardstock had told me the following:
And something about that time spent in the shower, warm water running over my head, sitting on my butt with my face up against the concrete wall made me remember that phrase. When I saw it in the book, I didn't really fully understand what it meant. I didn't get it. What does that even mean? But as I sat there, seeking the coolness of the shower wall and the solitude of the bathroom, it all began to come together.
If I was going to do this - this birth thing - really do it - the way I wanted to, I had to let go of my every plan, my every idea, my every well-intentioned wish.
I had to release my need to control anything, utterly. I had to bypass my thinking brain and sink deeply into my instinctive self. I had to locate my pith and swan dive into it. That part of me that had no preconceived notions of what should happen during birth - what it should look like, sound like, be like ... well hello friend I never knew I had. And so began my turning away from all of the cultural programming, all of the fear of the unknown, from the worry that I might not be able to do it. Dropping these expectations meant opening myself fully to the experience that was literally flowing out of me.
And I was able to do it.
I surrendered. Probably for the first time in my life, I fully surrendered without hesitation or resentment.
My son was born about six hours later.
Since that moment in the shower, I have often told this story and thought about the implications of "releasing expectation" as a lifestyle practice. What happened during my son's birth gave way to a mega-ton of personal power - so fierce, so inescapable, so profound. So profound that, had anyone tried to tell me about it, I would have been skeptical. But in life, there are moments like birth, where vulnerability and porousness are beyond your control - all you can do is hang on. All you can do is breathe and put one metaphorical foot in front of the other.
Give in if you can. These are the moments that literally set you free.
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