Three and a half months and I am ready to revisit Boden’s birth story.

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Boden’s birth was not particularly traumatic compared to many stories I have heard; but, that doesn’t mean it was easy.

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Giving birth is not easy.

Even the “easiest” birth has to be one of the hardest things in the world.

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JennaT_130710_022-2After Bo was born, everyone wanted to know his “birth story.” In particular, how long I was in labor.

That is a tricky question, as I’m sure most moms can relate.

Do I tell them the length of time I was feeling some sort of labor pains (close to 100 hours), the length of time I knew I was in labor (about 15 hrs), or the length of time I was in the hospital before he was born (5 hrs)?

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None of these figures seem quite accurate in my mind.

In some ways my labor seems to have taken an eternity. Three full nights of intermittent labor pains with little to no sleep accompanied by two days of worry, doubt, and frustrated waiting.

In other ways my labor seemed to have flown by. 15 hours? It felt like one minute I was eating dinner on the patio of Grove restaurant, the next I was in the bathtub, the next we were on the way to the hospital, and the next I was pushing.

To be honest, the whole things feels more like a dream than a memory.

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I have a very poor long-term memory.While I can memorize songs, verses, and phone numbers quite easily, remembering my childhood or even what I did last weekend can be a challenge. So I take pictures.

Most of my memories are like a “big bang” in my head…a single photo exploding into an entire event or feeling.

This is why I knew I needed photos of Boden’s birth.  And why it’s taken me a few months to be ready to look back on these photos and experience the explosion of memory and feeling that would accompany them.

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My sister Brittany took these for me throughout my 5 hours of labor in the hospital (2:00am-7:00am). Sometimes I could hear the “click” and “snap” of the camera. Other times I was in a trance and could barely remain coherent, let alone notice the hovering lens.

One of the most surprising things about looking back at these images is how calm I appear.

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I remember the pain being very real, very intense, and very powerful. But I also remember the supernatural peace that rested on me.

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At times I was screaming inside my head, but outwardly I was simply breathing.

Later my dula would call this “breathing the baby out”… something she said she had never actually witnessed until my delivery of Boden.

My dula was a great support. At one point (around hour 9 of the 15-hour labor process…or hour 80 of the 100-hour ordeal, depending on how you look at it) I felt that I couldn’t go on. After 3 nights and two days of hardly sleeping and now the hours of such hard physical, mental, and emotional work, I remember barely having the energy to cry as I sat on my bed, sipped a cup of hot water with honey (to keep my blood-sugars up) and hung my head. She looked at me and told me that I needed to let go of my fear. My labor, though extremely intense, was not moving forward very quickly and would continue to “stall” if I did not let go and allow nature to take it’s course. Without realizing it, I had been tensing my body with each pain and mentally preparing for the next one. I was in the thick of it… terrified to go forward, yet knowing I couldn’t go back.

So I did. I gave in. I began to think of the pains differently. Rather than each one being a battle that I needed to survive and wishing for it to be over as soon as it started, I began to think of each pain as one more step closer to bringing my son into this world. And I welcomed each one, drawing it out to its fullest potential so that it would not be in vain. As soon as I felt the wave of a contraction, I would completely release my body into it’s current. I hung from Ben’s arms like dead-weight and mentally encouraged my body to create a smooth passageway for Boden’s entrance into the world.

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A therapist friend of mine once encouraged me to face a difficult future event by mentally imagining myself at that event as the person I wanted to be. To see myself walking, talking, and moving through that experience with peace, joy, and calm. Then seeing myself after the event, happy and proud of the way I had handle myself. Though I didn’t consciously think about this tactic during my labor, looking back, I see that I moved through it as the person I always hoped to be. Calm, cool, and collected. Not shouting or short or scared. I am happy and proud of the way I handled myself. Knowing it was not me, but the power of the Holy Spirit that is in me.

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I endured the suffering for the joy set before me.

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The joy of the new life I was privileged to birth.

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