As this small world would have it, both my midwife and my husbands good friend submitted Mt. Kilamanjaro in Tazania, Africa this past month. Both made it to the top after seven grueling days of climbing. The climb itself can be be done in as little as five hours, but because of the altitude and extreme reduction of oxygen at the top (50% less than the bottom!) only the porters who climb these paths daily can make it up that fast.
As I met with my midwife yesterday to discuss my upcoming birth, she shared about how the experience of submitting the mountain is much like giving birth. You get up in the middle of the night, surrounded by the darkness, the cold, the wind howling in your ears. Each person climbs only by the light of their headlamp, casting a light no more than a foot in front of you. And with you head down, you take one deliberate step at a time, not looking to the left or the right, focused only on the guide leading your way.
“Going through labor is like this”, she said. “You must ignore the wind blowing around you, the cold seeping into your clothes, the people being carried down on stretchers around you, and just keep putting one foot in front of the other.”
“It will be difficult, but at the end it will be worth it. Trust your body and trust the process.”
The reason the final ascent is made in the middle of the night is so that the climbers catch the rising of the sun from the summit of the mountain. She described the view, saying it was one of the most beautiful things she’d ever seen. And I left my appointment totally inspired.
No, I’ve never gone through labor and delivery because Cohen was breech and overdue, resulting in a planned c-section. But this time baby is head down, in the perfect position, and my chances of having a successful natural birth are high. As I prepare to meet my daughter, I can’t help but think it will be a bit like this mountain climbing experience – difficult, painful, but oh so worth the view at the summit.
And how grateful I am to have a guide whom I trust implicitly, one who goes both before and behind me, whispering gently in my ear “this is the way, walk in it” (Isaiah 30:21).