“I want an epidural” O.k. What I really said was, “GET ME A FUCKIN’ EPIDURAL!” Here’s what I missed at the childbirth class that I took when I was pregnant with Erica. I heard the word focus. I thought, ok, she means a focal point, a strong awareness, an understanding of what was happening to me. OK, I can do that… I didn’t realize that what she meant by “focus” was to go deep inside of myself. Tune out all noise, light, sound, smell, self doubt, worry etc. and bring ALL of my focus to my inner self. My inner-self. I didn’t realize that it meant I should concentrate all of my attention and energy internally. I don’t know how I missed it, but I did. Instead, I focused on how long it had been since my water broke. I focused on the fetal heart monitor that I was attached to. I focused on how much my back hurt. I focused on how uncomfortable I was in bed. I focused on how much longer it would be before I met my baby, etc… Do you see where I went wrong? So… after 27 hours of labor, I waived the white flag of surrender, got the epidural (which I didn’t want) and 20 minutes later I was fully dilated with no sensation to push. My doctor cut a large episiotomy and I delivered my daughter. He reached his entire hand and wrist into my body, pulled out my placenta, sewed me back up and called it a day… Four years later, I was pregnant again. I was too busy to take a childbirth class this time and decided we were just gonna wing it. I started this labor out the same way I did the first one. My focus this time was on my contractions. 12 minutes, 15 minutes, 7 minutes, 5 minutes etc…. Eventually, I was 5-1-1. Five minutes apart, lasting a minute, for at least an hour. Keep in mind, I was not a doula at the time. So, 5-1-1 meant go to the hospital. When I arrived, I was examined, found to be 1cm and sent home. This is where something changed. It was about 10pm. Nice and dark and very quiet. Jerry Patterson drifted off to sleep and my focus turned completely inward. I had no distractions, I dug deep, I brought all of my energy and attention to my uterus and my baby and I labored. I was in bed, in a side lying position. As I felt the warming sensation that led to the tightening of my uterus, I took a deep breathe in and released it. I then took the first breath in that I would slowly release to ease my pain. I imagined my uterus and my baby needing the extra oxygen that my breath brought to them and took in the next one. I did this until the tightening subsided and then I completely let go. My focus went to rest and recover mode and I did nothing to prepare for the next one. I stayed in the moment and had complete focus on what my body needed. 4 hours later, I woke Jerry and we went back to the hospital. This time upon exam, I was found to be 10cm. I was fully dilated. I felt the urge to bear down, I NEEDED to push. My body was talking, and I was listening. I was focused, truly focused and gave birth to my baby. I felt her leave my body. I felt her pass through me and I claimed my strength. I did it. I don’t know why I wanted to, but I did. That birth was the most focused I have ever been and the most focused I have ever needed to be. Labor and birth is not stronger then us, it IS us. Think about focus. Not the word, but the action. Think about where you will bring your focus and how you will use it to achieve a goal. Consider focusing on focusing… Authored by: Randy Patterson