When I was in labor with my son and finally got to the point where I was ready to start pushing, I had a full on mental breakdown. I was exhausted, had already been in labor for 21 hours, and my epidural wasn’t working from the waist down. I thought that there was no freaking way I had it in me to push for another hour or so. I remember begging the doctor for a c-section.
“Just get him OUT OF ME!” I yelled.
My doula, Liz, who is an angel sent from heaven, said that I’d already come this far and I was so close. She and the nurse said I could rest for a few minutes and then try again.
“But I’m so weak,” I whispered through tears. I vividly remember saying this to her with my face turned away from my husband because I was so ashamed. Ashamed to admit how weak I was. Ashamed because I couldn’t push myself to do what I felt like my body was meant to do.
I will never forget what she said to me. She looked into my eyes (and soul) and said, “You are not WEAK. You are TIRED.”
That, along with the doctor coming in and assuring me I was almost there, gave me the ability to dig deep into whatever primal reserve I had as a woman who came from thousands of years of women before me. I could do this.
The majority of the actual delivery was a blur — I remember noticing the sun rising outside, I remember nurses circling around me because of the risk of shoulder dystocia, I remember Liz giving me ice chips in between pushes, I remember my husband holding one of my legs, but I don’t remember much else. It was one of those instances where time meant nothing. I could have pushed for 15 minutes or two hours.
Eventually, though, I felt a final push, a small cry, and the warmth of new life on my chest. “Is he okay?” I asked, like so many mamas do. And then, “I love you. I love you so much. Thank you, God.”
Even now, over four years later, I still hear Liz saying, “You are not weak. You are tired,” on days I feel especially vulnerable and run down. Because I’m not weak. In fact, I’m incredibly strong. And so are you.
Yes, we get tired, but that doesn’t make us weak; that makes us human. Humans who come from a long, long line of strong, badass humans before us. Strength is in our very bones. In our DNA. Even if you don’t feel like it at the moment.
You are not weak. You are tired. Rest and keep pushing.