My dear friends, I owe you an update on how my first Half Marathon went. :)
It's interesting to me that my life experiences seem to happen in cycles. At this same time of year, around the same day as the Half Marathon, 6 years ago, I was starting another kind of Marathon: Labor. It was the first time I experienced with full-force, the power of the Mind-Body connection.
My visions for my birth, a peaceful and calm waterbirth at the birth center in the woods, slowly started to fade when my water broke with a gush as the first sign of labor with no contractions for several hours. I had a clock ticking with only 24 hours to give birth in the undisturbed way I had hoped for without interventions. (Due to risk of infection, most care providers want babies to be born within 24 hours of the bag of waters breaking).
After having worked hard to get my contractions going, I was excited for my daughter's birth and felt I was in hard labor before going back to the birth center with only a few hours left on the clock. And then my midwife gave me the disappointing news, I was only dilated 1 cm. I was devastated.
It was on the ride from the birth center to the hospital, my last chance for no interventions, that I finally went deep within. I stopped "doing" and fully believed. I believed that my body could give birth, I believed that I wouldn't need interventions and I visualized it all happening. I visualized softening, opening, letting go. Over, and over and over. Open, open, open. It was almost like I was in a trance.
My contractions were strong, and the doctor at the hospital decided to wait on pitocin to see how things progressed. I remember feeling relieved, I had more time. I continued to visualize. I asked my daughter for her help. I was completely immersed in the surreal and ethereal feelings of labor. I was in the present moment, in total surrender. 2 short hours later, I wanted to get in the tub for pain relief. My midwife checked me, and to her surprise, I was almost fully dilated. I began to push a few minutes later, and met my daughter not long after that.
The rush of endorphins, the sense of accomplishment, the complete and absolute love I felt for my daughter and absolute empowerment from birth was like nothing I'd ever experienced before. I immediately felt connected to a secret tribe of mothers. I gained an understanding of the quiet strength and resilience that mothers embody all around the world.
On race day, I had similar thoughts and emotions rush through my veins. This time, my daughter was waiting for me at the finish line.
Those last few miles were tough, but I knew I could do it. I believed I could do it. I went within to find my own strength and drew strength from all of the mothers (starting with the one next to me, thanks, Cindy!!) and aunties and grandmothers and sisters (and all the good men too!) around me and around the world.
I thought about all of the Mamas I was running for on Team Every Mother Counts and how far they have to walk to get to a healthcare facility when they are in labor. I ran for their safe pregnancies and their safe births. I thought of my daughter's relatives in Tanzania, her cousins and aunties, and their safety. And I just kept telling myself, "You can do it, you ARE doing it. Your body was made for this. Your muscles know what to do."
And there she was, as I came close to the finish line, my baby girl (my nearly 6 year old baby girl), and her auntie, my best friend and wise sage, Heather, and to my surprise, my brother-in-law Fantin and my mom Judy as well. It felt so good to be supported and cheered on. It felt so good to be acknowledged. There is nothing I would trade in the world for that love.
I have so much more to say about this. This is only the beginning of this story.
I'm looking forward to getting stronger, and stronger. Faster and more resilient. I look forward to joining Team Every Mother Counts again and running in more Half Marathons and one day, a Full Marathon. Kilimanjaro?? We shall see.
THANK YOU for ALL of your support! I have really, really appreciated the encouragement and kind words!
Thank you to all of you who were able to make a donation to my fundraiser for Every Mother Counts. I am only $5 away from reaching my goal of $500! If you feel called to donate to a very worthy cause, the link is still live: https://www.crowdrise.com/seattle-marathon-and-half-marathon/fundraiser/rebeccablankinship
Much, much, much Love.