Dear Sweet Mamas,
I see you. I watch you. I know you have strength, courage and endurance for everything that comes your way. I know you can give birth. I know you can endure long hours without sleep and the many changing, intense, and sometimes frightful sensations of birth. I know you can feed your baby. I know your baby can learn to nurse and you can become a pro breastfeeding mama. I know you can endure the endless feedings, diapers, and sleepless nights.
I know you can do it.
I know you can because I have watched mamas before you do it. In the face of pain, loss, fear, struggle, exhaustion and people telling them they couldn't, I have watched them conquer their own demons and the naysayers.
I know you can, because I can. I did, and I do.
Though I've given birth to two babies and did not get epidurals, that's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about my own every day life, the good, the bad and the ugly. In particular, my athletic life.
First off, I am not an athlete. I never have been. In grade school, I made good friends with the wall during Dodgeball to avoid any need to dodge anything. I was mocked by my gym teacher when I couldn't do one single pull up. I was laughed off the kickball field after I ran in the WRONG direction after kicking the ball. I wasn't even very good at boogie-boarding at the beach because I was constantly distracted by the sand in my swimsuit. But I continue to try and persevere.
I do not run. I don't even quite jog; I trot. But I have completed two 15k races without walking, and a half-marathon. I may have "jogged" the half-marathon at the exact same pace as a friend who "speed-walked" it, but I finished, and might even do it again one day.
I exercise usually six days a week, and every minute of every workout I am usually wishing I had a cup of chai and a scone to munch on instead of sweating and grunting and feeling like I'm going to barf for 45-60 minutes straight. I do hard workouts, with instructors that push me to run faster, lift more weight, not give up, and do more push-ups (which they deceptively call "Bonus" push-ups, gross). The other day during a boot camp class, we were doing a really difficult floor exercise, and during one repetition I heard myself utter the words, "I can't."
Immediately my mind went to every mama I've been with in labor and the moments that every single one of them have told me, "I can't." I remembered my teen moms, at the tender ages of 15, 16, and 17, bravely and beautifully conquering childbirth and entering the world of parenthood in the face of massive adversity. I thought of every mom who advocated for her baby in the face of unnecessary interventions and medications. I remembered each mom who was wheeled off to a surgical birth she didn't want but knew she needed who embraced her destiny with open arms.
When my clients tell me they can't, I always reply with, "You can and you are!" At that moment in my workout I knew I could, and I knew I had a new and compelling reason to keep pretending I'm an athlete.
Today I did a Spin class. I'm terrified of bikes going fast, even stationary ones. I imagine crashing and being catapulted over the handlebars and skidding across the road with spokes going through my eyeballs. In class, the excruciating workout and monotonous circular motion of my legs not taking me anywhere is mentally draining to say the least. But it's a really good workout, and I know that if I can push myself to not only endure a Spin class, but also push myself to work harder, then YOU can birth your baby with confidence!
I do it for you, sweet mamas. I endure and I push myself, my legs, my arms, my lungs, my muscles, my mind to remind myself that I can. I sign up for boxing classes (ewe), weight lifting classes (ouch), boot camp classes (barf), Zumba classes (I'm seriously too Molly Ringwald for it), and "run" long races for you. I do it to keep myself strong to stand with you, sit with you, massage your back and rub your feet, squeeze your hips, crawl on the floor, climb on the bed, lean into the bath and stay awake with you indefinitely.
I do it so I can say with every fiber of my being that YOU CAN.
You can, you are, and you will.
See, there I am after completing the Rt. 66 Half-Marathon in 2010. The medal proves I finished!
Thank you, sweet birthing mamas, you Inspire Me.
Love and Honey,