Recently I had the wonderful experience of hiking up House Mountain, which is the highest point in the county I live in. It has an elevation of over 2000 feet. It was a pretty ambitious hike considering that I am not an avid hiker. I went with my friend, Erin, my daughter, Andin, and our two Great Pyrenees dogs.
As we drove to the area we could see the mountain rising up and a bit of anxiety arose in me that I may have bitten off more than I could physically manage. Fortunately we had fueled ourselves with good coffee and breakfast. We had snacks packed — fruit, trail mix, and of course water. I brought a walking staff for support.
As we started the hike it was a gentle slope with beautiful scenery and little streams. How easy was this? No worries here! Then we got a little lost. The trails were not clearly marked and we had to make some decisions of which way to go while not knowing if it was the correct way. We eventually found a trail we wanted to get to the summit and it got hard. The terrain was rough and uneven — full of roots and rocks. After most of my practice hikes and walks being on pavement or at least well maintained trails, this was a surprise and a challenge. Our large 80+ lb dogs never wavered in their support and having them pull on the harness actually gave extra support when needed.
After a few hours of this, however, I really began wondering why I was doing this or if I even could. I kept looking up to see if I could see the end but it just looked like an unceasing uphill climb. I was getting discouraged and tired. Ah! I thought — I will employ the skills I use in being a doula and supporting women through birth. I began to breathe as I needed — focusing on breathing faster through the hard parts and slowing my breath to a calmer state when we had a plateau or break. My companions and I kept each others spirits up. We took a break for water, trail mix, and oranges. We sat on a bench and looked at how far we had come and reminded ourselves to enjoy the scenery along the way. And I began a mantra in my head through the rough parts — “You are strong. One step at a time to your goal. Your body will give you what you need. Stay in the moment.”
We did reach the summit, of course. It was wonderful. I could feel the endorphins from my body working hard. We took photos and explored the amazing views and exulted in our hard work.
I cannot help but draw the parallel to labor and childbirth.
- You need a good team to support each other and cheer each other on
- You need to prepare as much as you can but know the experience requires flexibility
- You might know exactly which way to go or what is the “right” answer — but you’ll find your way
- You need fuel — food and water to stay nourished and to help your body
- You may need extra support, as I did with my walking staff
- You need to know it’s okay to feel that it is hard or to be discouraged or wonder if there is an end in sight — but keep taking one step at a time and you’ll get there
- Labor and birth has some easier terrain and some rougher terrain — try to enjoy the scenery and use your breathing and relaxation skills and support team as you need in the moment.
- You will find exultation, pride, and endorphins at the summit, the birth of your baby
All Rights Reserved, Kimberly Sebeck, Knoxville Doula, 2016