You are strong. You are safe. You can do this. You can do even this.

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The other day, a good friend asked me about this saying that seems to surround the birth of my son, Koi. She said, “I see it all over the place, around Koi’s birth and I love it”. After I explained how it came to be, I decided to share its origin and existence here as well.

“You are strong. You are safe. You can do this. You can do even this.”

I had been in labor a really long time. I had been at 8 centimeters, things had started to slow down and when my midwife checked me again I was at 6 centimeters and my cervix was swollen. A different energy had entered the room. A heavy, dark energy. My midwife wanted me to have a little Pitocin to get my body going again. This was not what we wanted. I knew, things would soon spiral out of control, if we conceded. We would not have the birth we wanted, even though everyone was reassuring me I could still do it, even on Pitocin. I laid down in the bed, on my side. And started to cry. Jason and I asked for some privacy, to see what happened for the next 45 minutes or so without Pitocin. I was failing. I wasn’t going to do this. I had worked so hard and I wanted it so bad.

Earlier in my birth, when we arrived at the hospital, my doula had written, “You are strong. You are safe. You can do this.” on the dry erase board. As I lay there in the bed, weeping for the birth I was about to lose, thinking of my baby and the beginning I wanted so desperately to give him, thinking of all the people who told me I couldn’t do it, all the women who didn’t support me..and then I thought of all the women who did. My giant husband whispered in my ear that I was doing a great job. That our baby was healthy and safe. That I just needed a break, but we were still doing this. I sat up in the bed, once we were alone and I looked up at that dry erase board, which now read, “You are strong. You are safe. You can do this. You can do even this”.  And right then, I recommitted. I recommitted to my body and my power. I told myself, she is right. I can do even this.

And I did. Without the Pitocin, with privacy and rest and support, I labored again and I got there. And I birthed my baby boy, on a stool, and pulled him into my arms, just like I had dreamed.

I share this because we do not all labor alike. Some of us need rest. Some of us go backwards. Some of us go fast and some of us go slow. And we have the power to dictate how we birth, and we have the power to refuse suggestions, even from those people we trust. We have the power to listen to our bodies and labor and birth the way we need to. So. My blessing and wish is that some woman, will realize in her moment of labor, that she has power and knowledge. And she dictates how she gives birth to her baby. And knows she can do this. And whatever the obstacle, she can do even this.

*For whatever reason, I could not caption this picture. These words in the photo were written by Gina Bass and photographed by Patience Salgado.

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