Sunday, July 27, 2008

Baby...Keep Your Cool

Here's something I think you should try. Take a handful of ice and hold it for sixty seconds. How did it feel? My wife and I had to do this last Monday at our first natural birthing class. It was pretty interesting. About eight couples grabbed handfuls of ice and held on simulating the length and discomfort of the contractions the wives would experience in the coming months. The first time I did it I didn't think I was going to make it. My head froze like the brain freeze you get when you eat ice cream too fast and I lost the feeling in my arms from the wrist up. My hands felt like I was holding a hot coal. It was quite an experience and my respect for women, who have to have the mental and physical toughness to actually push a baby out of their bodies and into the world, expanded exponentially. What was interesting about this exercise was that the variety of techniques our teaching taught us to manage this discomfort actually worked! When we tried them I had a totally different experience of holding that ice, the pain felt far away and much more manageable. I left the class thinking of the simple philosophy of our instructor, "Labor hurts and you can do it". It's an apt description of facing the tests and difficulties of life actually, "It hurts and you can do it."

"The necessity and the particularity of the assured and believing ones is to be firm in the Cause of God and withstand the hidden and evident tests...Anybody can be happy in the state of comfort, ease, health, success, pleasure and joy; but if one will be happy and contented in the time of trouble, hardship and prevailing disease, it is the proof of nobility. Thanks be to God that that dear servant of God is extremely patient under the disastrous circumstances, and in the place of complaining gives thanks."
(Abdu'l-Baha, Baha'i World Faith - Abdu'l-Baha Section, p. 363)


  1. Anonymous12:32 PM

    So glad you are relating the experience of labor to facing tests and difficulties!!
    I learned so much, on a visceral level, in my birthing experience with my daughter. Many women--even women who profess no religious or spiritual beliefs or feelings--, if they train and utilize a "natural childbirth" method, usually descibe afterwards a deep feeling of spirituality, awe, and reverence for the miracle of life. But this is the first time I've heard a man make spiritual analogies! And before the actual experience. Great!

    The proven methodology you mention for dealing with pain (actively engaging both your physical and mental self on another point of reference/activity or activities, thus enabling you to relax most of your body and "ride the wave" during contractions) always brings to my mind the Baha'i, in the early history of the Faith, who was severely whipped, almost to death, and later said that only the first few blows hurt, the rest of the time he was focused on Baha'u'llah and felt nothing but joy.
    --Some of the lessons I learned on a gut level via childbirth, which I was able to apply to other challenging situations in life:
    the transition period in labor was unpredictable, unexpected, and disorienting. So expect/accept it as part of the process. --(I had dismissed the statements of the nurse/trainer, who told us women we would probably say something really, really mean to our spouse during transition--not me, I thought, I never say deliberately mean things to anyone, let alone to the one I love so dearly. Wrong!!)
    Just when I thought, "I can't do this, after all!", and was about to give up and ask for drugs--which co-incided exactly with my unkind remark-- the third stage, delivery, began, and everything rolled "inexorably" forward, casting a child upon the shore of life.---Well, this is not something I can describe.
    Praying immediately after my child's birth gave me understanding of the prayer on a whole new level.
    And the world itself to me looked fresh, immaculate and pure, bathed in light, pulsating with energy and possibilities, for the next 24 hours.
    I hope/wish for you and your wife a similar yet unique experience.
    Judith W.

  2. Phillipe, what an adventure you and your dear wife are embarking upon! You are developing a relationship with a soul as yet unborn, a soul who will test you deeply and help you grow in maturity and faith as you help that soul to become a fully-rounded human being and lover of God.

    Having said that, I just LOVE being a grandpa!