One of my greatest fears throughout my first pregnancy was the fear of labor. I think it is universally acknowledged as the worst pain anyone can go through, yet somehow women still go through it voluntarily! Labor was a mystery to me – how could something so painful be something that anyone would want to do more than once, if at all to begin with?
Part of my fear was the fact that I had not experienced much physical pain throughout my life. I’ve never broken a bone, never had major surgery, and never had stitches. So if labor was a 10 on the pain scale, then the most I had ever experienced before was probably a 3. Also, I wanted to have a natural childbirth – or at least not get an epidural. How in the world was I going to manage 5-45 hours of intense pain without any medical assistance? This question plagued me throughout my pregnancy, causing me to spend lots of time researching and praying about labor, even though I knew nothing would prepare me for labor as well as actually going through it personally.
But here I am, 8 weeks postpartum, still alive and kicking. I had 40 hours of labor, with 4 Tylenol being the only pain medicine I took during the whole time. I had about 3 hours of very intense labor with about an hour of pushing. I tore. It was rough. But I made it. I say all of this not to boast or inspire awe, but to say that you can make it. I didn’t do any special things like the Bradley Method, hypnobirthing, or hiring a doula. It was just me and my husband, roughing it and leaning on the Lord for strength. And give strength He did. Because in the moment, God gives you grace for what you need to do! Extreme pain in childbirth is not His design, but childbirth in and of itself is. Even though the pain is part of The Curse to women, God in his mercy gives us strength to make it through.
How do I know that the strength I had during labor was not my own? Because it didn’t last. Oh sure, I had a pretty high pain tolerance still while we were in the hospital and I was experiencing after-birth pains, but by my 6-week checkup I know the grace for enduring pain was gone. They took me back to the lab, and expecting to be asked for a urine sample (like always), the nurse asked me to hold out my finger for them to prick it. I immediately tensed up and a look of horror came over my face, which the nurse saw. She was like, “It’s ok! It’s not that bad” and basically laughed at me. I was genuinely scared and apprehensive about getting my finger pricked. It really wasn’t that bad, and I laughed about it afterwards, because I realized I was back to my normal self again – afraid of pain, doctor’s offices, blood, etc. Nothing like how I was during all of labor and delivery.
If I’m afraid of all those things and I made it through 40 hours of labor with nothing but Tylenol, you can do it too, dear friend. If you get an epidural, you’re not a wimp – labor is hard no matter who you are. But in addition to giving us medicine and doctors to help out with the pain, God also will give you grace and strength to endure.