What I learned about life from my best friend’s childbirth experience
There’s nothing like a new baby to completely jack up your world.
It doesn’t even have to be your baby!
I’d been in bed an hour that Sunday night (the day before Memorial Day) when my phone rang. My phone never rings. It definitely never rings at 11:30pm.
It was Sari, my best friend. “My water broke! Three weeks early! We’re headed to the hospital!”
Oh, mama, I thought. Here we go!
I got dressed, packed my own “hospital bag,” wrote a note for my girls explaining why I wasn’t going to spend the holiday with them, and headed to the hospital. The baby was SO early, Sari hadn’t packed her hospital bag yet. So she asked me to pick up some things for her and her husband, but oh! did I mention that they’d JUST MOVED THE DAY BEFORE to their new condo? I didn’t have a key to the new place yet. So I got that from her husband, Kevin, at the hospital, then spent the next few hours going back and forth from condo to apartment (thankfully, just across the street) digging through suitcases and maneuvering around boxes and rifling through underwear drawers (great blackmail material for later…) and wishing I’d come across the chocolate stash (who doesn’t have a chocolate stash?) and gathering all the odds and ends you need for an extended stay at the hospital…
…because labor hadn’t started yet.
Oh, babies. They’re so little and so cute and so innocent. And such JERKS sometimes! “Surprise, Mama! I’m coming early! Ha, no, just kidding…. I actually just wanted to impose a hospital gown and cafeteria food on you totally unnecessarily.”
But you know what? This is life, folks. The birth of a child is perhaps a bit more dramatic of a monkey wrench than what one faces on any given “normal” day, but every day your plans get screwed up, you face crises, and people are jerks. (And not just babies!)
So what do you do? Freak out? Cry? Yell? Give up? I’d like to say that Sari, Kevin, and I didn’t do ANY of those things during the 2 ½ days we spent at the hospital before beautiful Elina finally made her appearance in to the world. (By “beautiful,” I mean in the smooshy, alien-child, unattractive newborn baby way… though within a day or two she definitely earned the title “beautiful” legitimately.) After all, we are Presence pros! We just breathed our way through the whole thing, bringing peace and sanity to the entire ward, practicing power poses any time we lacked confidence.
Okay, that might be sugarcoating it a bit. There were a few times when even those completely lacking in body language expertise might have been able to pick up on a bit of frustration or discouragement or sheer hysteria.
But for the most part, guess what we actually DID do…. We breathed. A contraction would start and Sari would say, “Another one’s coming!” with a bit of panic in her voice, and Kevin and I would say, “Okay, breathe….” And she DID. Her whole body just melted into the hospital bed as she breathed deeply and the pain was enormous but her body was doing its job and she let the whole thing wash right over her like a wave. We breathed with her and for her. They came and went. In between, we laughed and joked and sang cheesy 80’s songs (“You bring feeling to my life, You’re the inspiration! When you love somebody…”) And then we breathed… And let go.
Every day someone is going to try to jack up your world (though probably not someone as cute as Elina). And sometimes they will succeed. So what are you going to do about it? Freak out? How mature of you.
No! We taught you better than that.* When your world is jacked up, you breathe. You clear your mind of distractions and negative chatter. You open up your body to let those positive, empowering hormones flow. You claim and hold space for yourself and the people around you. You live and you LEAD your life.
Change your communication, change your life.
*That said, if you are actually IN LABOR and GIVING BIRTH to a child, freak out all you want. Childbirth is frickin’ crazy hard work and PAINFUL. Also, I have to say that, because my boss did kinda freak out and she will probably read this someday when she is not under the influence of pain meds and baby love.
I’m Rachel Beohm, a writer, speaker, and coach. Through nonverbal communication, I empower clients to show up as their biggest, boldest selves.
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