Let me begin by stating the facts: I am not, nor will I likely ever be, a “sporty” girl. I’m probably the least competitive person you’ll ever meet in your entire life. I’ve tried and failed at a great many athletic endeavors mainly because I lack that “drive” that many athletes seem to have naturally. I’m just not all that tough when it comes down to it.
But, for some reason, when I found out I was pregnant for the first time, I suddenly developed a determined streak that I never knew existed within me. I decided (much to the surprise/shock/skepticism of family and friends) that I was going to have my baby au naturel. I wanted to do this thing and I wanted to do it drug-free at an out-of-hospital birthing center, even though I was pretty much the last woman on the planet you would ever expect to do so.
My husband and those around me were incredibly supportive, though I’m sure they all had their doubts that I would actually follow through. I don’t blame them. I don’t usually deal well with pain — I’m a bit of a wuss and had never actually experienced anything all that painful in my life. I’d never even broken a bone! Nonetheless, I was determined.
Over those nine long months of pregnancy, I prepared myself both mentally and physically with dedication that could actually be compared to that of an athlete. The mental preparation was the most crucial. I read any and every birth story and book on the topic of natural birth that I could possibly get my hands on. I was a sponge. Then I put that mental preparation into practice with positive self-talk. Any time someone tried to scare me with their birth horror stories or whenever they would ask if I was afraid to give birth my response was, “I am preparing myself for the hard work of labor and I know that I am strong and capable. I know my body can do this.” Even during the moments when I was feeling slightly unsure, I summoned these words and over time I began to truly believe them. By the time labor arrived, I truly did not have any fear.
I went into labor in the early hours of the morning, three days before my due date. I never had any pre-labor build-up. I simply woke up and was thrown into the real thing — and it was hard work. I remembered all of the preparation I had gone through and found my inner strength. I discovered positions and coping mechanisms that helped me to progress through the discomfort and after 12 hours of labor (three of which were pushing!) I brought a beautiful baby girl into this world in the drug-free water birth I had dreamed of.
It was the most empowering and raw experience of my life. I pushed myself beyond what I had ever known I was capable of and I made it to the finish line where the most wonderful prize awaited me. It was then that I knew — even though I may not be a “sporty girl” — I still have an inner champion within me and she is pretty fierce.
Lauren Hartmann is the founder of The Little Things We Do, a blog about life and adventures in Portland Oregon. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram or catch up on all of her posts here on Babble.