Thursday, October 18, 2012

Strength in Numbers

In everyone's life there are usually a few moments when they feel they can not possibly make it, they can't go on, they just can't do it.

For me, the birth of my daughter comes to mind. By hour twenty I wanted to give up. I didn't think it was humanly possible for me to continue. I didn't know how I was going to endure any more pain, exert any more effort, push any longer. I wanted to quit. I was begging for help. I wanted the doctor to save me from my hell by insisting a caesarean was necessary. I didn't say it out loud, but I wanted to. I imagine many first time marathon runners experience a similar feeling at some point during the race. That point at which you don't think it's even possible to take one more step.

In every scenario it ultimately goes one way or another. Either you take one more step, push one more time or you don't. You either will you body, your mind to go on or you stop.

In my story, the birth of beautiful, stubborn baby Alice was made possible by a wonderful support system. Left to my own devises, I would have quit. I would have waved the white flag insisting someone else do the work I couldn't. Thankfully I had the most supportive and powerful coach in my OB doctor. I can still, four years later, hear her booming voice demanding "Hard as you can! Hard as you can!" She was not allowing me to quit. My doula was at my side just about every minute of the twenty one hours. She made me feel so brave and strong. She showed complete faith in my ability to birth my daughter. Hatta was there, scared and unsure, but in awe of my strength. Together they told me how wonderful I was doing and what an amazing woman I was. I didn't believe them, if I had been doing so wonderful wouldn't she be out by now? But it was still the encouragement I needed to keep pushing. The marathon runner, I imagine if he had to run the race entirely alone completion would be unlikely. Even those that aren't running with friends find strength in the comrades running around them. Together a lot more is possible.

You may remember a few posts ago when I stated I was swimming in heavy, heart crushing thoughts. I'm still there, barely staying afloat. I was informed last night that not everyone enjoys my analogies, and if this is true for you, I really am so sorry, but I'm afraid I'm sticking with the swimming one. For, I am anchored in this pool. All around me, as far as my eye can see is heartache. And I am stuck. I don't know where to go, or even which direction is shortest. I remain where I am, treading water. I know I must swim soon. But where to? I could always swim back to the shallow end, I'll still be stuck in the pool, but at least I know I won't drown. Or I could take a leap and swim toward the edge and hope I make it. Hope I have the strength to swim.

I wish someone else could save me. I want someone to dive in and pull me to safety. End the pain I feel. If only it worked that way. Even though I don't want to, I have to do this on my own as hard is it may be.

What I hope more than anything, is that I have a few people poolside cheering me on, shouting words of encouragement when I need it most. I'm afraid once I start swimming, I may find the journey too treacherous. I may find it easier to quit, allow my head to sink beneath the waterline or swim back to the shallows. I pray that if this happens I have a friend who recognizes the distress I'm in and throw's me a life ring, if even just to momentarily hang on to until I can swim again. I know I will not make it alone.


  1. Oh, dear Nelly. You ARE an amazing woman. You're strong, brave, inspiring, funny, and so very obviously loved by your amazing little girl.

    I used to work on a NICU, and have been to many births. New mothers amaze me- especially first-time mothers. The strength, endurance and patience required to carry the baby throughout a pregnancy and then to get it out, wow. Just wow.

    This blog takes just as much courage, if not more. You share your life with complete strangers like me with what seems like effortless grace. Sure, I have a blog. I write entries from time to time. No one reads them, though, and I kind of prefer it that way... Added to your moxy, you are a gracious blogger. You make me feel like my thoughts matter when you respond to my comments.

    Nelly, you will never be alone. You just need to say the word and I, for one, will do whatever I can. I may only be able to write a comment to a post or take some put some funny pictures on Instagram in the hopes of getting a chuckle, but if it helps, I'm on it. I'm sure there are others out there who feel the same. And then there's Alice and Hatta- I don't know them other than what you write, but I know that a girl like Alice must have some pretty great parents. Just keep in mind that little kids are a lot like cats- sometimes dead bugs are a sign of affection...

    I wish I could give you a hug, and some wine, and a tray of brownies... Let me know if I can mail some brownies!

  2. Cait is right! You are never alone! But what I have learned about enduring painful times is that, often, you DO have to "say the word". You have to make a choice to ask for help. Whether you feel like it or not, you have to reach out. That is how we get through, how we don't just drown and sink to the bottom. You've made a big step by writing this post. Perhaps there is an even bigger step you could take...offline?! Asking for help does not always mean saying "I need help!" (although that is truly the best way) Sometimes asking for help just means making a call to someone else to talk about life and to be distracted by their troubles or triumphs or funny stories of the day. Really... That would be helpful, right. To just take it step by step, hour by hour getting through each miserable moment until the next day has come?! And not feeling SO alone. Know that you are strong and that you WILL make it to the other side. There are people close to you that will absolutely NOT allow you to drown. Even when you want to. Anyone that has been in labor for as many hours as you were to birth Alice is not weak. Any young woman that has to witness her mother dying a slow, ugly, undeserving death is not weak. You really ARE strong and powerful and you have to remember that. Life is too short to live an unhappy life. Listen to your gut (that instinct that is always right!) Listen and figure out what your next step could be to get beyond this pain. And the next day do the same. Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming......

  3. It's when things are hardest that you learn who your real allies are. Unfortunately, there are always fewer of them than you hope there will be. If people have a problem with your comparisons and descriptions, too bad. It's real and it's true and I know that if that's what you're writing, then it's what you are feeling. I've been sinking out there too before, somedays I'm out floating around wondering if anyone even notices that I'm missing. I get it. I get you. And I'll gladly throw out the life preserver anytime I can. xoxo

  4. We are all in that pool with you. Some days are dark and some days are bright. Keep treading. *Throwing you a life vest.*

  5. oh honey I know all too well how you feel. Just know that your friends, including me, will be there for you whatever you decide. If you stick in the shallow end because its safe, or you stay treading water, or you make that big leap and swim deep. We'll all be here with you. Treading alongside, swimming, or just standing knee deep in the water. You just have to do what feels right and if you need to keep treading, then keep treading.


  6. Here.

    And hearing you.

    For me, it's the change of seasons and seeing how quickly this time with my children is flying.

    And I'll go now, I don't want to bring this dark could over here on your sunny blog.

    But, I am here, and I hear you.