As a doula, I have frequent opportunities to witness mothers doing their thing, being in the place where only they can go, where they are simultaneously most vulnerable and powerful. I know that mothers are so very strong, often much stronger than they themselves even realize. As I reflected on the last birth I had the honor of attending, I found myself in absolute awe at the fierceness of this mother, and all the mothers she represents who do the heart-wrenching, tireless, and glorious work of mothering every day. This is for her, and for them.
I hear you talk about your first birth and your desire to have a different experience this time. You are fierce in your hope.
I hear you talk about everything you’re doing to have a healthy pregnancy and give yourself the best chances at the birth you desire. You have researched and researched and are working so hard. You are fierce in your dedication.
I see you, walking the halls, trying to work with gravity to help labor progress. You lean over on the railings with each contraction, your husband putting pressure on your lower back and you breathing long, slow breaths. You’re stopped every lap you take around the floor because your fetal heart monitor keeps slipping and losing the baby’s heart rate. You’re frustrated because it’s hard to develop a rhythm when you’re interrupted with each lap. But you keep going. You are fierce in your patience.
I see you laboring in the tub, the waves of intense contractions taking over your tired body every 2 minutes. You are fierce in your strength.
I hear you, as you rest in between those contractions, telling us you’re not sure you can do this anymore, but doing it nonetheless. You are fierce in your endurance.
I hear you tell us to go get something to eat, and to lay down and nap because this is taking a long time. You are fierce in your selflessness.
I hear you ask your husband to call again to check on your toddler because you miss him and you know he misses you. You are fierce in your motherhood.
I see you wrestle with what to do next. You make the hard decision to do what’s not your first choice, but what seems best for you and your baby at this moment. You are fierce in your courage and thoughtfulness.
I see you express colostrum for your baby; colostrum that you have plenty of because you’ve continued to nurse your toddler. You are fierce in your generosity.
I hear you ask over and over again for your baby to be put on your chest because you know that’s the best place for her. You are fierce in your assertiveness and persistence.
I see her melt into you when she is finally there, finding your breast and knowing she’s home. You are fierce in your commitment to provide for her.
I hear you wince as the nurse massages your uterus again, after a days-long labor, all the while holding and feeding your baby. You are fierce in your tirelessness.
You are mother. You are fierce.