Wednesday, September 19, 2012


"Within you there's a stillness and a sanctuary to which you can retreat at any time and be yourself." Hermann Hesse

I just watched Kourtney Kardashian pull her newborn daughter out of herself during childbirth.

Two things came to mind immediately:

1. Umm....EWWW!
2. How many Kegel exercises was she doing each day in order to be strong enough to stop that baby halfway through the final push?...a thousand??

I have had three children and each time I got to the last stretch, they slid out...literally. All I could do was hope that I hadn't had one of those giant kids we hear about on the news, and that the doctor's baseball mitt would have sufficient traction to catch them.

That just goes to show how each pregnancy experience differs. We all come away with varying perspectives and memories.

The Story: My mother loves to brag about how she never felt any pain, and always arrived at the hospital ten centimeters dilated and ready to deliver.

Reality: Mom will not leave the house without showering, dressing, spending twenty minutes putting on eyeliner, and another twenty fussing with her hair and grumbling about invisible pieces that are out of place. I'm sure that she asked my father about fifty times if her outfit looked OK, knowing full well that they were going to make her wear a paper gown as soon as she arrived. Typically, she doesn't even start to get ready until the very last minute and winds up rushing and being late. With all of that stress and wasted time, who could feel anything...and she's lucky she made it without giving birth in a cab in Queens. (Back in her day, they knocked you out completely. When you woke up, you were handed a clean child. What pain?)

For me, it was an experience in deep connection. If I could just keep delivering babies and then handing them off to parents who enjoy constant crying and diaper changing, I'd do it. Every nine months I'd be able to go back to a place of complete and utter peace. Sure there was some pain...although by my third, I had no idea I was even in labor...but there was also an inability to control anything that was happening. If I could give up that stranglehold on life on a daily basis, you'd witness a religious second coming...I'd be THAT perfect.

During the pregnancy I am at my healthiest. All of us mothers know the story...we wrote it...I'll drown MYSELF in junk, but the minute it's about our precious offspring, putting the equivalent of poison in our bloodstream is not an option. I'm also aware of how I act... that is, as much as the hormone terrorists will allow.

Then, on the way to the hospital, I panic...yes even on my way to deliver the third, it was like the other two never happened...
1. "I don't want to do this."
2. "How can I keep it in me? I can live with a basketball under my shirt for the rest of my life. It's fine as long as I don't have to go in there and do this."
3. "If I focus hard enough, I'm sure I can go back in time and pour those four glasses of wine down the sink..."

The doctors and nurses wordlessly note the trails of sweat dripping from my face and armpits, and disregard the fact that I'm hyperventilating and wheel me to the delivery room anyway. They give me ice chips, making sure to drop a few down my shirt because I'm disgusting and need to cool down. Then they check my progress. I'm dilated, but my water doesn't want to break...aaahh, some part of my body heard me cry out to cease and desist...

For those of you who have never had your water broken before the epidural, I can assure you that it's more painful than childbirth itself...but it's also humbling. The agony I felt completely numbed the fear.

It was like a slap in my face and the shock of it calmed me down. It made me realize that I couldn't stop the baby from coming. All that was left was to relax and let go. The baby would do most of the work, and my body would allow it, one way or another. For the duration, I was at complete peace, suddenly aware of my ability to bring a new life to the planet.

Every once in a while the thought would cross my mind, "Is the Universe crazy? Does it realize who it's trusting with a helpless being?"

There was no answer. There was only the moment and the desire to just be.

When I think about the times when I have felt most comfortable in my skin, most aware and alive, and most pure and true, it is at each one of my children's births. I often long for that truth and am constantly looking inward to achieve it once more.

But I think the answer is right here in print: Let go...and just be.

When was the last time you felt a strong inner peace? And what do you do to get back there?

CF Winn is the award-winning author of The COFFEE BREAK SERIES, a hilarious group of short stories meant to be read while on break or in the waiting room of the doctor's office. Her first novella, SUKI, has been grabbing hearts and hugging souls all over the United States.

You can now order SUKI in paperback at BOOK REVUE, one of the nation’s largest independent bookstores, by email at or by calling (631) 271-1442.
Learn more about SUKI at BOOK REVUE


Monica said...

I didn't have the most pleasant of pregnancies, and given birth wasn't fun either, so definitely not inner peace moments there. Fortunately, I do reach my personal nirvana whenever I paint or write, so I can replicate that state quite often :)

Stacey Roberts said...

First of all, as a man commenting on the miracle of childbirth, let me just say "Eeeeewwwww."

You were doing so well, too, criticizing the oh-so-criticizeable Kardashian, but then it was a sweaty, amniotic-fluid flume ride through a house of horrors! :) If men had to give birth, it would go exactly as your mother's experience did - labor starts, shot arrives (probably dispensed at home to save precious time) then wake up later with clean baby.

As always with a classic CF Winn tale, atop the currents (this week, it's amniotic fluid--again--eeew), there is a deeper underlying meaning - the connection of mother and child, the spiritual peace that comes from the godlike act of bringing life into the world.

And the fact that you got serenity and inner peace from a sweaty ice-chipped deluge of blood, pain, and crabby, messy newborn is genius.

I'd answer the question of how I get inner peace, but I'm way too shaken up to respond. :)