The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the verb groan as, “to utter a deep moan indicative of pain, grief, or annoyance.” Groaning took on a new life for me during childbirth. Did I know what it meant before that? The beauty, the mystery, the power behind a groan.
John Eldredge writes in his book Desire, “How can we live without groaning? If we do not give our ache a voice, it doesn’t go away. It becomes the undercurrent of our addictions. Pleasure becomes necessary in larger and larger does, like morphine.” Childbirth is suppose to be painful….and it’s only through the pain and grief of child birth, do we give birth to our wonderful children.
My first experience in childbirth was surprisingly easy. I have pictures of me smiling through each contraction. And only after 20 hours of active labour (and stuck at 9 cm dilation) did we realize that something had to be wrong.
Edredge’s writing continues with, “ The paradox of grief is that it is healing; it somehow restores our souls, when all the while we thought it would lead us in despair. Control is the enemy; grief is our friend.”
Remaining in control was my life; planning for perfection was my life. I had to let go. It’s too simple to write, to say, “let go”. What are we doing when we’re letting go? And when we start the process and admit it’s time to “let go”…. What happens?
In that moment of childbirth, I had to “let go” of myself, so I could let my son’s birth story take it’s shape. I had to step aside, so that a new life could begin, I had to step aside, so that the new life could unfold in the way it was meant….without my plans, my need for perfection, my expectations….it had nothing to do with ME.
But I needed help….and that’s okay. That’s how my journey had to start. It makes so much sense to me now. I asked the nurse to break my water, I allowed myself to totally let go in front of the birthing team….I allowed the epidural. I let go of my control, I collapsed ….I groaned ….my son was born.
That was the beginning.
Eldredge writes: “Grief is good. It is cleansing. It undoes my world - and that is the best part of it. I need to be undone; simple undone. No regrouping. We need to mourn; it is the only way our hearts can remain both free and alive in the world. “
I was still afraid of becoming undone. Only in the process of birthing my third child did I come closer to understanding that I could let myself be undone. If I surrendered, God would not let me fall into despair.
I spent quite a bit of time during my third pregnancy trying to prepare for (in truth, I was trying to avoid) the (day three) postpartum blues. Because of rapidly changing hormone levels, it is very common for women to become tearful and “blue” on day three after giving birth. I remembered how horrible it felt after my second child was born. I could feel the hormones surging through my body, leaving behind a terrible ache. It was DESPAIR and I was afraid. So during that second pregnancy, I ignored any spiritual healing God was offering and hid behind anti-depressants. I don’t regret my choice. And I don’t condone the use of anti-depressants….I love those little pills. At the time, I just wasn’t ready, maybe, not strong enough to face the grief and surrender.
So pregnant with my third child, I didn’t want to go through that all over again! But this time, when I asked for help on how to navigate through that crisis, I was told to let it happen. Ugh. My midwife said I should rent some sad movies, sit with a box of Kleenex and let it all out. Not happy with her advice, I turned to my best friend (who is also a Brain Gym Consultant). I asked for some exercises that would help me by-pass day three and post-partum blues. She laughed, took my hands and said, “Let it happen. It’s going to happen.” She suggested I try not to stop it; instead, I should embrace it, watch it happen, and know that it will end. Eldredge writes, “We must allow a time for sorrow to do our own personal sowing. I see no other way to care for our hearts. …. Don’t run from suffering. Embrace it.”
I surrendered. I embraced my grief. I groaned! And I got through it, with no lingering ache to haunt me. Surrender has brought me peace.