Apples and oranges are still both fruit

6.27.2013


A reader recently asked me to address the common comparison between childbirth and running a marathon now that I have done both. Well, off the bat, I can say it's a fair analogy. Both events require preparation, endurance, and optimism. And having been a runner almost all my life, the parallels were instinctual.  So I approached labor the only way I knew how: treating the nine months of pregnancy much as I would a marathon build up. Training for baby is what I called it.

The concept was particularly fitting to a person like me because I am inquisitive and assiduous by nature. I thought that if I educate myself,  "train" mentally and physically, it won't make birth any less painful, but at least, I will have done everything in my power to prepare for it. Like a diligent student, I completed each day's homework and built upon the small, yet incremental growth from the previous trimester. Like any life endeavor, it's a cumulative effort. 

I also appreciate the importance of training the mind in addition to the body. They work so cooperatively together, I'd be remiss to neglect one or the other. I knew then, that it was important to maintain a positive attitude. Like with the marathon, pregnant women encounter so much negativity and fear. Movies only ever show us woman screaming in pain, grabbing their husband's by the collar, reviling, "You did this to me!" in accusation. If we were as pessimistic about marathon running as we are about childbirth, we'd see a lot more DNFs in race results. How can you hope to do a thing if your already doubting its success before you've started?

Now, I'm not saying that trepidation is a sure route to failure. In fact, when I stood at the starting line of my first marathon, I knew it was going to be hard work and that it even might hurt. But that's a lot to bite off before twenty-six-point-two miles. So the best thing to do is just take it one step at a time. Same thing with pregnancy. You can't expect take those nine months in all at once and not be overwhelmed. Instead, you take it one day at a time because what you feel one day may be completely different the next.  

What makes the two ventures equally amazing in this is that because your body is undergoing such a drastic transformation, it communicates to you better than any other time in your life. Senses are heightened. Now whether or not you listen  to what it says is another challenge.

Of course the two are not identical and at a certain point, the analogy breaks. In all honesty though, that didn't happen until the actual moment my baby made his entrance to the world. I'm not going to sugar-coat that one. It was a whole new level of hurt. But you somehow dig deep to go beyond it. And more incredible still, is that you almost immediately forget the pain.

To me, labor was the epitome of running a marathon - every contraction was like a hill that burned on the way up but once crested, I had the other side to recover. And each "hill" brought me one step closer to my goal: my baby boy out of my belly and into my arms. Although I was exhausted and aching when I crossed the finish, it was the sweetest and most thing precious thing.


For those of you that have done both, what are your thoughts? Did having the experience in one help you in achieving the other?

2 comments:

Amy@eatsleepdecorate said...

What an awesome analogy! I haven't experienced either, but I know who to come to for support and motivation. You sure have a way with words and such a positive spin on life experiences! Xoxo

Lucinda Smith said...

Thanks, Amy. I'm realizing though that the physical part is small relative to the lifelong journey of parenthood. Seeing you with August, it's clear that you've already got the more important aspect down - you're great with children!

 

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