Gold Medal Material 

I am/used to be an avid reader. I seem to be taking a hiatus for the moment. Lake is my drishti, my focal point in this phase of life. I have huge stacks of books by all my “landings”: the Ekornes Stressless chair where I spend a lot of time with Lake during his mealtimes, the bedroom where I used to read a bit before bed, the sofa where I used to curl up and read…

I seem to have found my new genre of motherhood reading material: tough grit women’s adventures of challenge and triumph. I stumbled on this realization while at my mother in law’s this weekend. 

That my favorite prenatal birthing book was 

Polar Dream by Helen Thayer 

could have been my first clue. That I had recently picked up and set down a multitude of books by old favorite authors

Animal Vegetable Miracle and Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver

The Plover by Brian Doyle

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez 

could have been my second clue that the old interests weren’t currently relevant enough. 

Then I picked up 

Learning how to Breathe by Alison Wright

and I couldn’t set it down. So apparently something with the tag line like, “one woman’s journey of spirit and survival” with a foreword by the Dalai Lama is the only thing that will hold my attention now. I wonder why. 

Last night we were watching some Olympic highlights from Rio 2016, watching the women triathlete finalists wrap up their heroic feats. We watched raptly as the British, Swiss and American women honed in on the finish line. When Gwen Jorgensen collapsed in tears after breaking the ribbon for the gold medal in just under two hours, my mother in law exclaimed, “almost as much work as giving birth!”

Touché. That must be it. Seems a bit pretentious to equate my childbirth experience to winning an Olympic gold medal, but it seems the main difference is that Gwen consciously chose to compete, whereas pregnant women find themselves ultimately without choice but to go for the gold. There’s only one way out, and that’s to continue. 

Women are incredible. Gold medalists in birthing. The effort, the miracle, the recovery. And so many women are doing it every day, that this out-of-this-world experience is accepted as normal. It’s truly heroic. I’ve gone from triumphant-yet-broken-in-bed on bedrest to triumphant-yet-recovering still 12 weeks later. I think the tendency is to minimize the impact childbirth has on ones body. It’s not just the birth, but the physical and psychological postpartum recovery period too, that represent significant bodies of work. I could have died. Without that 24 hours of Ptosin that baby may not have come out at 64 hours post-PROM (premature rupture of membranes). Even in this day and age here in Seattle at one of the top medical centers a woman my exact age died from sepsis of childbirth complications just days after Lake was born. 

As our bodies and minds and hearts pass through the crucible of childbirth, our pelvic bones and perspectives on life are forever altered. Like Helen Thayer and Alison Wright though, their drive to eschew complacency and push their bodies further resonates with and inspires me. And so I continue to self-select gold medal reading material to go with my gold medal spirit.