How to Embrace Change in the Face of Great Pain

by Stacey Curnow on · 27 comments

Are you willing to embrace change in the face of great pain? Receiving the messages in pain – whether that pain is physical or spiritual — is one of life’s greatest challenges, and running away from it is one of life’s greatest temptations. Stay open, and you will receive exactly the insights you need to live your best life.

If you know a time more resplendent with change than pregnancy, please tell me. As a midwife, it’s hard for me to imagine anything matching it. (Note: The photo in this post was taken moments after my son was born at home.)

Pregnancy, labor and birth are intensely spiritual and physical all at once. As such, they are also apt metaphors for life. For anyone reading this who is not pregnant, consider that you are gestating ideas and dreams all the time, and it may take a midwife (read here, a trusted friend or counselor) to help you give birth to them.

Here’s the thing: Most of the instructions given to pregnant women (and anyone gestating big dreams) are inadequate – not least because they encourage women to focus on the little things related to their pregnancy and miss the big picture.

When I’m in clinic, I spend most of my time talking with pregnant women about what’s normal and what’s not. I also try to give them a bigger message: pregnancy is the “new normal.” When you’re not pregnant it’s not normal to feel nauseated, dizzy, and, most of all, in pain. But when you’re pregnant it often is. That’s the bottom line, and it’s unlikely to change.

Notice that I said pain and not something else, like discomfort. I remember when I was pregnant thinking that if I hadn’t known that such multifaceted pain was normal, I would have gone to the ER and presented my complaints with a hope for a cure. But there is no cure. There is simply the will to bear it. You either have the will to dig in and prepare for more or not.

That may sound frightening, but what I mean is that women are strong, incredibly strong. And yet even in a world full of amazing women athletes, entrepreneurs, and even astronauts (not to mention billions of mothers), most of us don’t know how strong we are until we gestate another human being.

Maybe if more of us knew our strength ahead of time, we would prepare more and become even stronger. Ideally, we would behave like people in training—Olympic athletes, or serious applicants for the space program.

And yet, even for those who have trained for years, actually performing – whether in a stadium or on the space shuttle – remains the ultimate challenge, achieved under unique and unpredictable circumstances.

My best suggestion for anyone is to go into birth with a clear vision of what you want, and surround yourself with people who support your vision.

I chose to have a homebirth with my midwife, a dear friend, attending me. As we talked about preparing for the birth she asked me what my greatest fear was. I told her that I was haunted by the story of one of my fellow students in midwifery school: She too had planned a homebirth with a midwife, but after many hours of labor at home she ended up in the hospital with an epidural and forceps delivery.

Long after the birth I asked my friend about her birth experience. She offered that if she could have changed anything it would have been to listen to her midwife more. She remembers having been almost paralyzed by the pain of labor and only able to sit and rock on the floor as her midwife implored her to move and try other positions.

I told my midwife, with my husband and doula and best friend in attendance, that I was afraid I would also suffer the same fate. However, since there is a lot of anecdotal evidence to suggest that the more a woman states what she does not want in child birth, the more likely it is to happen, I kept my birth plan simple. “I know what I want. My support team knows what I want. I will do what my midwife says.” That was it.

Was it any surprise that I came up against my greatest fear? After a fairly short labor (12 hours) I was fully dilated, but then, after pushing strenuously for two hours, I didn’t make much progress. So far everything had gone according to plan, but absent any more progress I knew I would soon be taking that ride to the hospital.

At this point my midwife told me to get into a squatting position. In my exhaustion, I told her, “After the next contraction.” When the next contraction came and I said that again, I glanced up just at the moment when all of my support people looked at each other as if to say, “Here it is: the thing she feared.”

And then the vision I had for my homebirth, the one they had supported me in, took hold. In the next moment they had taken me in their arms to support me in a squat. I found the position better for pushing, and although it took another hour, my baby was finally born.

Instead of fearing the pain and running from it I heard what it was telling me – this way isn’t working, you must make a change.

If your mind and body are prepared, the pain you feel in labor – and the effort to embrace it, move toward it, and work with it – can be transmuted into a gift that informs the rest of your life.

It takes enormous courage to stay with pain long enough to hear what it has to say.

Usually it will ask you to make big changes in your life. This can be scary, and yet, if you can do it, you’ll tap into something profound and magical that reminds you of your true power.

Tap into it and you’ll achieve your vision for your best life.


by Stacey Curnow

Stacey is a purpose and success coach who helps you give birth to your BIG dreams. To find your purpose and passion, check out her FREE eBook, The Purpose and Passion Guidebook.
Stacey Curnow
View all posts by Stacey Curnow
(Visited 24 times, 1 visits today)

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

sheila October 10, 2011 at 8:25 am

Well a big AMEN to that! I wish I had payed attention to Lamaze class. But that was 21 years ago and I’m over it now, lol. But that would be my recommendation! Also the art of learning to breathe is SO helpful in every aspect of life. I compare all pain in my life to that of childbirth. Most times I decide I can plow through and it’s not so bad. lol.
sheila´s Last Fabulous Post ..“I AM” (Word of the Week: Positive Affirmation)My Profile

Reply

Stacey October 10, 2011 at 9:41 am

Hi Sheila!

Thanks so much for your kind comment!

Again, I really think labor and birth make great metaphors for life because there are so many aspects that we can learn from and realize that the same strategies we use for coping with acute pain (like learning to breathe) can help us in times of any great stress.

And, of course, perspective (“this is hard, but nothing like labor!”) is also a great thing to have!!

Thanks again for sharing your comment and experience!

Reply

Hilary October 10, 2011 at 8:42 am

Hi Stacey .. having never been there .. but I can feel what you went through .. and I sincerely hope the birthing pains of achieving my work passion – won’t be that intense .. one happy child, one apparently absolutely ecstatic exhausted mother and one husband – who’s lost the plot slightly … I feel for him. But this post so set things out clearly … well written … intense pain – no thank you! But I know I’ll be going through it too .. glad son and family are all well now – cheers from over the pond – Hilary
Hilary´s Last Fabulous Post ..Random Thoughts … Sharon Mayhew and our meeting ….My Profile

Reply

Stacey October 10, 2011 at 9:45 am

Hi Hilary!

So lovely to “see” you here from across the pond!

Remember the pain is only there to show us that the path we’re on isn’t working. So all that’s required is a quick assessment of what needs to change in order to bring our actions more into alignment with our values. Challenging, yes. Painful, no. 🙂

Again, it’s SO great to see you here! Cheers!
Stacey´s Last Fabulous Post ..The Girl Effect – Why 500,000 New Moms Dying a Year Is Not Bad NewsMy Profile

Reply

Patience October 10, 2011 at 8:48 am

love, love, love it….the power of birth never ceases to amaze me.

Reply

Stacey October 10, 2011 at 9:46 am

Hi Patience!

Thanks so much for your kind comment! I’m delighted to know that the birth process also amazes you!
Stacey´s Last Fabulous Post ..The Girl Effect – Why 500,000 New Moms Dying a Year Is Not Bad NewsMy Profile

Reply

Erica October 10, 2011 at 9:12 am

Hi Stacey!

Very inspiring post! It brought to life so many memories that it brought tears into my eyes…we often need to conquer pain in order to get to the most valuable things life has to offer…Erica

Reply

Stacey October 10, 2011 at 9:47 am

Hi Erica!

Thanks so much for your kind comment and for letting me know that you so clearly got the message in the post! That makes my day!!
Stacey´s Last Fabulous Post ..The Girl Effect – Why 500,000 New Moms Dying a Year Is Not Bad NewsMy Profile

Reply

Kip de Moll October 10, 2011 at 11:22 am

“This way isn’t work­ing, you must make a change.”
Thanks, Stacey,

I learned important lessons from the Bradley Method in helping to support my wife breathe through her labor, breathing ever so slowly in and out to give her the cocoon to cope with her pain. That lesson came in handy when ultimately I realized I needed to leave the marriage to better support each of us individually to get the life we deserved. “You’ll have to be the bad guy,” my therapist warned and he was so right.

It took 20 years to get brave enough to make that leap into the unknown that we both knew all the time was inevitable, a gestation that was painful, but has birthed a more creative, productive and passionate spirit, following a much more authentic path one precious breath at a time.
Kip de Moll´s Last Fabulous Post ..Letting the Sunshine InMy Profile

Reply

Stacey October 10, 2011 at 11:51 am

Hi Kip!

Thanks so much for your heart-felt comment.

I love that you learned a lesson from the Bradley Method that helped you find a way to support yourself *and* your wife so that you could leave the marriage to make room for a “more creative, productive and passionate spirit” and a more authentic path.

Bright blessings for both of you!
Stacey´s Last Fabulous Post ..The Girl Effect – Why 500,000 New Moms Dying a Year Is Not Bad NewsMy Profile

Reply

Tess The Bold Life October 11, 2011 at 3:11 am

Stacey,
That is one of them most beautiful photos I’ve ever seen. Seriously. I love this:
There is sim­ply the will to bear it. You either have the will to dig in and pre­pare for more or not. Thanks for sharing your story!
Tess The Bold Life´s Last Fabulous Post ..How to Give Yourself a Second ChanceMy Profile

Reply

Stacey October 11, 2011 at 9:38 am

Hi Tess!

Wow! Thanks SO much for your lovely comment about the photo — it really did capture a rare, perfect moment.

A little background: I was looking into the eyes of my best friend (since we were 8 years old). She had traveled for hours to be with me during my labor and she was the one who was most adamant that I change what I was doing in order to have the birth I wanted.

Thanks for giving me the opportunity to tell a little more of the story!!
Stacey´s Last Fabulous Post ..The Great Law of Attraction HoaxMy Profile

Reply

Justin | Mazzastick October 11, 2011 at 6:05 am

I guess in life we experience the labor pains of birthing a new idea. The act of creation comes with pain as well.

I would have to agree with the idea of surrounding ourselves with the right people and also having a clear vision.
Justin | Mazzastick´s Last Fabulous Post ..Are Reptilian Entities Manipulating Humans And Earth AffairsMy Profile

Reply

Stacey October 11, 2011 at 9:42 am

Hi Justin!

Thanks so much for your comment!

I really appreciate knowing that the ideas of experiencing “labor pains” as we give birth to a new idea, surrounding ourselves with the right people and having a clear vision, resonate with you, too!

You really highlighted all of my favorite points — so thank you!!
Stacey´s Last Fabulous Post ..The Great Law of Attraction HoaxMy Profile

Reply

Debbie @ Happy Maker October 11, 2011 at 3:50 pm

Hi Stacy,

I love happy ending. And new beginning. Life does teach us to handle pain. After my first daughter was born, i knew I could handle anything that life throw at me. Life is wonderful and i love the way you refer to child birth and lifes pain. Never quite though of it that way, but I like it.

blessing to you and thank for sharing this post.
Debbie
Debbie @ Happy Maker´s Last Fabulous Post ..How to Tell if He or She is The One for You!My Profile

Reply

Stacey October 11, 2011 at 4:13 pm

Hi Debbie!

Thanks so much for your kind comment and for letting me know that I helped you look at life’s challenges a little differently!

Bright blessings to you!
Stacey´s Last Fabulous Post ..The Great Law of Attraction HoaxMy Profile

Reply

Jen October 11, 2011 at 6:39 pm

Dear Stacey,
SO TRUE! “If your mind and body are pre­pared, the pain you feel in labor – and the effort to embrace it, move toward it, and work with it – can be trans­muted into a gift that informs the rest of your life.”

Having giving birth to 3 children, and just Sunday completing my sixth marathon, this really resonated with me. If I were to approach my life work with the same zest, positive change will continue to happen.

I absolutely love the amazing picture!
This post is a must-read for all, whether pregnant or not! Wonderful job!
Love,
Jen
Jen´s Last Fabulous Post ..Den Chronicles on MamalodeMy Profile

Reply

Stacey October 11, 2011 at 7:25 pm

Hi Jen!

CONGRATULATIONS ON COMPLETING YOUR SIXTH MARATHON ON SUNDAY!! THAT IS SO AWESOME!!

Thanks also for your kind comment and letting me know the passage that resonated most with you!

Yes! You gave birth to 3 children and completed 6 marathons — Did you feel pain in labor? Did you “hit the wall” at 18 miles? You probably did, right? But you persevered and you did it!!

You absolutely can do anything else you set your mind to!
Stacey´s Last Fabulous Post ..The Great Law of Attraction HoaxMy Profile

Reply

Jen October 12, 2011 at 10:47 am

Yes, Stacey! Definitely hit the wall……more than once. Not only in running but in birthing, and in life! And we all have the choice to persevere, no matter how difficult it is. Is someone would have told me five years ago I would have completed six marathon I would have said they were crazy. I am a testament to what you say!
Thanks!
Jen´s Last Fabulous Post ..Den Chronicles on MamalodeMy Profile

Reply

Stacey October 12, 2011 at 11:33 am

You’re SO welcome! Thank YOU! 🙂
Stacey´s Last Fabulous Post ..The Great Law of Attraction HoaxMy Profile

Reply

Galen Pearl October 12, 2011 at 3:31 pm

Having just stood by my daughter’s side a few weeks ago as she delivered my first grandchild, I hear you! Another daughter is giving birth any time now. And I’m trying to find time to write that book! Lots of change!!
Galen Pearl´s Last Fabulous Post ..You Have to be Present to WinMy Profile

Reply

Stacey October 13, 2011 at 10:30 am

Hi Galen!

Thanks so much for sharing the story of attending your daughter’s birth and how you found that my post highlighted the experience! I’m sending lots of light and love for your other daughter’s birth, too!

And that’s so awesome that you’re planning to write a book! I can’t wait to hear more about it! Here’s an interesting bit of synchronicity: I wrote a children’s book that was published last year and the child in the story is named Galen! As you can see, I love your name!
Stacey´s Last Fabulous Post ..Mileposts in the Disance – Complimentary My Dear WatsonMy Profile

Reply

Naomi October 13, 2011 at 12:19 am

Wow! Thank you for a stunning post, Stacey, and for sharing that magic photo 🙂 Although I don’t have children, your message is incredibly apt and inspiring for another vision currently unfolding…thank you!

Reply

Stacey October 13, 2011 at 11:10 am

Hi Naomi!

Thanks so much for your stunning comment!

I really was hoping to hear that this post resonated with people who haven’t given birth to children because I wanted the message to be about giving birth to big ideas and dreams, so I’m thrilled to hear that it resonated with you!

So thank YOU!
Stacey´s Last Fabulous Post ..Mileposts in the Disance – Complimentary My Dear WatsonMy Profile

Reply

Carrisa Schaffer October 14, 2011 at 5:47 am

Giving birth is our biggest joy no matter what pain, labor and sacrifices we encounter during our pregnancy. A greatest and precious gift is our baby. Amazing picture, love it!

Reply

Stacey October 14, 2011 at 7:39 am

Hi Carrisa!

Thanks so much for your kind comment — my sentiments exactly! 🙂
Stacey´s Last Fabulous Post ..Mileposts in the Disance – Complimentary My Dear WatsonMy Profile

Reply

Jimmy October 14, 2011 at 11:38 pm

The photo took me back to the days my children were born. Seeing their new lives on the body of my wife was a very incredible moment. I never knew that humans are capable to such a feat.

In many ways, the metaphor here to gestate our big ideas is very appropriate. Our ideas often take years to mature and rip the rewards. Just like how we fed our wives with the best tonic and foods during pregnancy, if we fail to feed our ideas in this gestation period with our best, than the results will never be good.

We, men will never know the joy of pregnacy and child birth, but we sure can learn from this sacred experiences that all mothers go through.

Thanks Stacey
Jimmy´s Last Fabulous Post ..Should a Personal Development Program be Taught in Schools?My Profile

Reply

Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge

You will receive an email with any replies to your comment. Check this box only if you want to be notified of ALL follow-up comments. You can also subscribe without commenting.

Previous post:

Next post: