There's something I do with many of my clients in labor. As a Birth Doula, I have the privilege of accompanying women and their families in that incredible, powerful, lonely, uncharted, spiritual, challenging and exhilarating journey called childbirth. Having been down the road many times before, I know what's coming. I may not know every stick and rock on the path, or what the weather will be like, but I know what is there, and I know what is at stake.
Childbirth and Mount Everest
For each woman, this task is her personal Mount Everest. In early labor, she is in the foothills gathering her belongings. In active labor she has begun the ascent up the mountain filled with hope and ambition. And then, transition brings with it the fatigue and the doubt of ever reaching the summit. This moment of truth will come for every woman at some point during her hike up the mountain of labor and birth; it always does.
I can't do it.
It's similar to hitting "the wall" that many long distance runners experience. The emotional, physical and psychological crossroads where you have a choice to give in to your fear or the choice to push past it and attain your goal. For many women, this will be the point that if they have not yet put audible words to their fear and doubt, this will be the time that they will say, "I can't do this. I can't do it any more."
At that point, that inevitable point where they have reached what they feel is the end of them, that they cannot go on, that the difficulty must end, I ask just one more thing of them.
I ask that woman to say for me, "I can do this." She may shake her head slowly in protest, refusing to make eye contact with me. There might be a tear or an outpouring of emotion as she tells me again, "I can't do it." I will get as close as I can to her and gently remind her, "You can do this. You are doing this. Say it with me, I can do this."
The beautiful, laboring mother, her soul laid bare before me, all masks and walls long since stripped away, will whisper under her breath, this statement that is so unbelievable to her it sounds like a foreign language, "I can do this."
I say, "Good. Now, say it again with me, I can do this."
When Fear Turns to Confidence
As in the story of the little engine that could, she begins to repeat more fully, more audible each time until she reaches a point that you can tell she believes it. "I can do this. I can do this. I can do this."
And she can.
And she does.
Whatever your Mount Everest is today, remind yourself you can do this. If all the other voices around you are telling you you can't, let me be the one voice that tells you the TRUTH.
You can do this. You already are.