Imagine you are that woman living in the jungle. She has no clocks,
only seasons. She knows the stars and the tides, but they are a part
of her more than a conscious thought.
Her baby grows within her without conscious thought. The baby has
zero concept of time. Is it time to grow a toenail? Time for that
30th hair on my head? It just happens.
Our jungle (or desert or forest or Amish) woman lives her life. She
pays passing notice to the increased weight on her joints, the
frequency to pee, but she lives her life. She harvests the food, or
makes the bowls, or cleans the hut, or builds the house, or skins
the animals or cleans the clothes in the river with her other
sisters, pregnant and not. She does not have the luxury of sitting
still and wondering about her body.
Contractions touch her body, but things need to be done. She knows
from experience that when her labor is enough to slow her down, then
it will be time to seclude herself. No one in the tribe even has a
word for "Braxton-Hicks Contractions" or "prodromal labor" because
the women have too much to do to stop and think about twinges
(strong or not). The elders steal quick glances as she leans over
again and again as she hangs the clothes to dry, but no one mentions
anything; the woman has enough... enough inside herself to Do this
work. And they all believe.
Once labor begins, depending on the culture, she might labor alone
or with another woman or several women in attendance. Labor knows no
time. There is no watch. No clock ticking on the wall. No one
says, "you've been 4 centimeters for 6 hours now, time for pitocin."
Labor is allowed to unfold in its own way. The women around her
merely witness, remind her of her strength, press cold cloths to her
face and hot ones to her lower back. And they all believe.
Pushing, the same thing... no clocks timing how long to push... that
counting to 10 three times for each push would seem absurd to our
jungle woman! She pushes when she feels it. No one touches her
cervix to feel if she is "complete." She *is* complete. Without
anyone checking anything. Her completeness is simply a part of her
When I was nursing Tristan at night, I nearly went bonkers because
of how often he wanted (needed) to nurse. I would grind my teeth as
I saw that he had "just nursed" 45 minutes earlier... that now I was
awake for longer than I had been asleep... and that bred anger and
When Meggie was born, I learned to cover the clock... or, better
yet... remove it from the room. When she wanted to nurse, I was
there, present, nursing my baby who, in the wilds of the world,
would have clung to me for survival. It is the instinct she was born
That same survival place that caused her to grow to health and
wholeness... that didn't trigger labor until her lungs were fully
ready to be born... that didn't know that I was tired when she was
ready (and didn't care)... that I was there to serve her. My body,
in pregnancy and in nursing... and eventual continuous mothering...
I was her complete servant. She didn't give one whit about time.
I encourage women to let go of time. Grow your babies. Feel those
tightenings. Embrace the beauty of your heartburn, your frequent
peeing, your insomnia, your separated pubic bones, your weight
gain... and your baby's movements under your flesh, your child's
inner hiccups, your 100% safe-from-the-difficulties-of-this-world
Time, as trite as it sounds, is so fleeting. I pine for those aches
and pains. My youngest is now 19 years old. I am sorry for wishing
those moments of difficulty away. I speak so others might take a
deep and grounding breath, say a prayer or incantation if that is
your way, and stay in the moment with your child. It is the only
time ever you two will be alone.
As your baby grows without guidance and conscious thought, so too,
begins labor and birth.
And we all believe.