My Body is a Wonderland

More than once, as he watched me carefully collect the milk I've just expressed for our baby to drink, Big C voiced out his amazement at how wonderful the female body is. Or rather, the mother's body. He says he finds it incredibly amazing that my body could produce something that completely provides for our son's nutritional needs.

When I think about it, the human body really is a wonderland. Every time I hear the nursery rhyme/kiddie song about how the head bone connects to the neck bone and then connects to the shoulder bone and all the way down to the foot bone, I marvel at the construction of the human body and how it comes together. Far be it for me to get all religious, but I consider myself to be a spiritual person and whoever made us or however we came to be, I do believe that we are wonderfully made.

And if the human body itself is amazing, I think the female body is nothing short of a miracle.

I came to this realization shortly after I gave birth to G, our eldest. I looked at him and I marveled at how this huge thing could have come out through such a small hole. (I know you're thinking my thoughts should have been more profound, but I mean, really, a baby's head is around 32cm at birth and hole it comes out from is definitely NOT 32cm. Is there anything more mind-boggling than that??) I looked at his pictures and I said to myself, "I did that. He came from my body, where he stayed for nine months and I kept him alive and then I pushed him out."

Now, even as I look at my two other sons, the wonder of how the female body is equipped to shelter life inside it, its ability to withstand the pain of giving birth, and its subsequent ability to keep that new little life nourished with the milk from her breasts, still knocks me off my feet.

You've probably seen this picture circulating on Facebook on how the pain of childbirth equates to the pain of having 20 bones broken at the same time. (I don't know how true it is. All I know is that labor is pretty damn painful, but I'm not going to break 20 bones at the same time to find out which is worse.) For a first-time expectant mom, that's an overwhelming thing to digest. I know three such moms right now, all due within the month and I'm sure one thing that's looming on their minds is the labor and the pain that's associated with it. One of them has told me of her apprehension at giving birth and how she considered getting an elective C-section just to avoid the pain.

Believe me, I understand the fear. I understand the apprehension. I remember feeling all of that and more before I had my first experience with childbirth. In fact, I vividly remember one incident while I was teaching. I was prefecting a film showing about teen pregnancy and there was one scene that showed exactly what happens during childbirth. As in it showed the baby sliding out of the girl's lady parts. Oh dear lord, I remember walking out of the room in a daze and just sitting there trying to absorb the fact that that would happen to me one day. All I could think of was how much that would hurt.

But the physical experience of motherhood, pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding, has left me with a much deeper respect for my body and what it can do. So I told my friend, with all the sagacity borne (no pun intended!) from 3 experiences with childbirth, to just not think about the pain because she'll be able to deal with it when it comes. I said that there's no point in thinking about it, because she'll have to go through it regardless of how scared she is. But I also told her to not be afraid, because even if she doesn't know what she's doing, her body will know what to do.

Giving birth to J was way easier than giving birth to Little C, mostly because there was way less pain. But upon reflection, I think that my birth experience will be the one that will stay with me. J's birth was painless, thanks to the epidural, but it was during Little C's birth that I really understood what the female body is capable of doing. With J, the doctors told me when to push and I just contracted my tummy like I was doing crunches, but I wasn't sure what that was doing exactly. Apparently, I was doing it right, because they said I was doing a great job.

But with Little C, my labor progressed so quickly that the epidural didn't have time to completely work its way into my system. It made me completely aware of what was happening to my body. In fact, I was the one who told the doctors that I needed to push already and I was timing my pushes with the contractions while in the delivery room. I instinctively knew what to do and when to do it. And when Little C was finally born, the euphoria rush was twice that of J's birth. I was extremely happy to finally meet my son, but I was equally happy that I was finally done.

So for expectant moms, I urge you to read as much as you can about the physical process of childbirth. Attend birthing classes just so you understand what's supposed to happen. Most of all, trust your body. Believe me, it knows what to do.

Happy day, mommies!


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