Sunday, August 26, 2012

400 Meter Sprint vs. Childbirth? Really?!

As Kyle and I prepare for the up and coming birth of our daughter through our online prenatal course, my anxiety has only increased. Especially after we made the decision to try a natural birth. If you haven't already, read my blog which details the research, thought process, and reasons why we chose to go natural: Labor & Delivery: Pain Medication vs. Natural Childbirth. If you have read this blog, you'll notice that I wrote: PLEASE PRAY FOR ME (Note the slight hint of desperation in that request....) at the end of that blog. That's simply because, well, I'm scared.

One of the reasons for writing on this blog is because I know there are women all over the world who have done it and can offer all kinds of suggestions, advice, and encouragement. That's what I desperately need. Although I've received mostly positive encouragement from friends, family, and even strangers, I'm STILL a nervous wreck. I knew that I needed to calm that down a bit before the event takes place otherwise I won't be able to do it. So I was telling Kyle that the anxiety I'm feeling is the same feeling I experienced before running the 400 meter sprint in high school....

Realistically, I know there's really not a lot of comparison in terms of pain, but anyone who has ran this race effectively knows exactly what I'm talking about! So I decided to sit down and compare the two and (you can laugh if you want too) but it forced me to put the pain in perspective and do the same thing I did before every race: focus on the end result. I hate knowing it's going to hurt, but I ran the 400 knowing it was going to hurt, and I loved it anyway.

So even though those of you who have been through labor might laugh at my silly comparison...
OR there might even be those 400 runners out there that will totally understand...
I had to share how writing this post became therapy for my anxiety....

400 Meter Sprint
Labor & Delivery
  • I’d get so nervous, I’d almost throw up before a race. Ok, sometimes I DID throw up.
  • I’m anxious, nervous and scared thinking about this event.
  • I knew there was no avoiding the pain.
  • It’s called labor for a reason. God said he was going to greatly increase a woman’s labor pains due to sin. I’m assuming that since God’s word never changes, I’m going to know what pain is after delivery.
  • First 200 meters of the race are relatively easy.
  • Most women say the first stages of labor are relatively bearable.
  • After the 200 meter mark you start thinking, “Oh crap, I’m only half way through this race.”
  • I have to wonder at what point I’ll be thinking, “Oh crap, I still have ____ to go!”
  • At the 300 mark you think you’re dying. It’s hard to breathe, legs feel like jello, arms don’t even want to pump anymore, nausea sets in, sometimes you even feel dizzy. You want to stop, but the end is in sight.
  • My mom said that there is a point in labor when you literally think you can’t take it anymore and it’s at this point when it’s almost over and the end is in sight.
  • When there’s 100 meters left you literally have to focus your mind on the following: pumping your arms, driving your knees, your breathing, and sprinting with everything you’ve got left. If you think about how much it hurts, you’ll slow down. It was usually at this point that I thought about the end result: a state medal. We had a good enough team all through high school that we made it a goal to stand on the podium every year. That was our focus before and during every single race.
  • The advice I’ve received for that point when I think I can’t take it anymore is to find a focal point, focus on my breathing, and push through it. I was told by our nurse that the moment I start thinking about how much it hurts, is when I become a screaming, “out of control” mess. My mind will literally have to go somewhere, anywhere else. I’m choosing to focus on my skin to skin time and the first time Kyle gets to hold his baby girl; those two moments are the moments I CAN’T WAIT TO EXPERIENCE!
  • After crossing the finish line you feel this elation and pride! You accomplished something that most athletes never want to experience! You sprinted 400 meters and walked away with a medal and the satisfaction of knowing that you didn’t die!  
  • I can only imagine the feeling of elation and pride I’m going to feel after giving birth. I’m almost positive that there will be nothing in comparison. So I’m focusing on that end result, knowing what doesn’t kill me, only makes me stronger, and I WILL FINALLY GET TO HOLD HER!
  • Sprinting 400 meters does put your body through quite a bit. If you do it right you won’t be able to eat an hour after your race, and if you don’t do a cool down RIGHT AWAY, lactic acid builds up so quickly you’re sore for days. You have to force water down, even though it’s hard to keep it from coming up again, and sometimes that’s an impossible task. Thankfully I had teammates and coaches who were there to help me walk on my jello legs, give me water, hand me my warm ups, cool down with me, stretch me and hold my hair for me.
  • I know I’ll have a recovery. How extensive that recovery will be and how much pain I’ll be in afterwards, well, there’s no way to tell. Thankfully, there are doctor’s and nurses there to help me through it all. But mostly Kyle, an amazing husband who will offer support and become a selfless "nurse" through those painful moments.
  • Despite the fact that I have a love/hate relationship with this race, it was most definitely worth it when I think of what it taught me: perseverance, work ethic, desire, and focus. In fact, looking back I knew I could've done more. I could've worked harder in practice and ran through the pain more effectively during a race.
  • Despite the fact that I know this is going to be an extremely painful experience I know it’s worth it. I don't want to look back on this experience knowing I could've done it without pain meds. So I'm doing everything I can to mentally and physically prepare myself. I tell myself over and over again that I know it'll be worth it. I can’t imagine all the little life lessons my daughter will teach me.
  • I ran the race anywhere between 59 seconds to 1:01. It was the longest minute of my life x100 (I have to wonder how many times over the course of 4 years that I ran it…); perhaps it was more than 100?
  • In Ecclesiastes the author calls this life a vapor, or a mist, because in terms of eternity it doesn’t last long. So if this life doesn’t last long, neither will this labor! Yes, 20 (plus or minus) hours will take FOREVER as I’m enduring every last blippity-bleep-blop second, but in terms of eternity it’s an eye-blink.

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