CJ Lewis wrote, "A strong woman knows she has strength enough for the journey, but a woman of strength knows it is in the journey where she will become strong!"
A good friend, also a midwife, gave me this quote on a plaque. It resonates with me in so many ways. It is about accepting that yes, life can be hard sometimes. It is about knowing that in the challenges the universe presents we can choose to grow stronger or we can wallow in our own self-doubt and judgments.
For all the pregnant woman I am blessed to be connected to the message is clear. Women have the strength, they were born to birth and mother their children, it is in their genes; but it is in accepting the challenges along the way that they truly grow strong. Carrying, nurturing, and birthing a baby requires great strength and endurance but even if a woman perceives herself as not strong she will have her baby. However if she embraces the entire journey and accepts that it will have ups and downs, that it may not be a straight line, she will be empowered and transformed by the birth.
I have raised four children and lost one more. Each birth taught me something different. Each child in their formative years and on into adulthood has also challenged me. For example, each one of my children was very different with different needs, personalities, and strengths. I learned that when my girls came to me with a problem, they wanted me to “fix it.” My boys just wanted me to listen. My teenage son stopped me dead in mid sentence when he said to me “I don’t want you to fix it. I just want you to listen.” I recognized that when I allowed my eldest child to decide on her own, she would always go in the right direction. I also found that my eldest son would never choose the way I hoped so, therefore, needed more forceful direction if it was an issue of safety. My second daughter was so difficult at 3 that I read every book on child development. It convinced me her behavior was very normal and she ultimately morphed into the easiest child at 4 and ½ and stayed that way all through school. Finally, I learned that sometimes if you try to push your children too hard, they will just push back harder. You have to let go and allow them to learn their own lessons. When my youngest son was in high school I could not get him to take grades seriously, so I said to him I cannot want this more than you want it for yourself. He told me that was the most important thing I said to him.
In some ways each experience has made me the strong woman I am. When there were health issues, I learned that the more “experts” you spoke to, the more you could make an informed decision. When there were no clear answers, I learned to let go and trust there was a reason. I have taken these lessons and embraced them to enable me to give the support to pregnant women and new mothers that possibly someone without the same challenges would not be able to give.
I always say birth is not easy because motherhood is not easy! Birth requires great strength but motherhood asks for 100 times that strength in accepting that our children will teach us the lessons we need to learn; and that it is not always easy but it is incredibly fulfilling. We continue to grow with each stage and through the journey, we are transformed into mother and eventually wise woman.