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The Treasure Box

By Candace Palmo

“I’m a wuss,” my client declared, during one of our pre-birth sessions together. “I have serious doubts that I can do this. When things get tough in my life, my habit is to change my mind and walk out. Well, I won’t be able to do that in the middle of the birth now, will I?” She laughed nervously. “There goes my escape plan!”

“Every woman comes to a point in her labor when she wants to give up,” I explained. “You will, too.” I’d been a midwife for quite a while by then, and had seen my share of births. “You will feel certain that you can’t go on one more minute—that you have come to the end of your resources.”

“That is a significant moment,” I told her. “It is a sign that you are almost there, and it is then—when you feel you have nothing left to draw from—that you are given the key to open your treasure box. Inside you will behold the wonder and depth of your capacity to reach far beyond anything you thought was possible.”

“You will enter the stream of all women who have gone before you and pushed life from their bodies,” I said. “Together, you and your baby will reach into reserves of courage and strength that will amaze you.”

“We rarely look into this box…none of us,” I confessed. “It’s too easy to quit what we are doing when we don’t want to do it anymore, when life feels too difficult. We can just basically ‘drop the course’. We hold back.”

“One of the gifts of labor is that we don’t get to do that. We get to see what we really are capable of, and that is a treasure you will take with you for the rest of your life.”

“There are few things more powerful than when a woman gives birth,” I said. “It is a time when she transcends her limitations and soars into a greater possibility of being. It’s a time when you get to go for it, holding nothing back. Trust me. You are about to enter into an indescribable adventure!”

“Well, that’s a heroic perspective,” she said, laughing. “I’m very curious now.”

She went into labor a month later. Excited, she dug in and worked hard. The hours passed and her labor intensified. She began to feel very discouraged.

“I can’t do this,” she said. “I need drugs. Can’t you just do a C-section? Do something!”

“You’re eight centimeters…almost there,” I encouraged. “You’re doing a great job. This is the moment to go into that treasure box. The strength you need is there. Call on your baby to help. We are all here with you. You can do it.”

“The damn treasure box moment, eh?” she cried. “Okay, little one—let’s do this!”

Standing with her legs spread wide apart, she began to rock her hips. Sweat was pouring from her body.

She gave voice to the intensity ripping through her. She roared and shouted, “Come out, come out, come out!”

Eyes closed, she tucked in—to a place none of us could fathom. We stayed close to her, whispering words of encouragement, moving with her rhythm, in awe of her power.

She was mighty as she pushed her child into the world. “I did it. Oh my God, I did it.”

Later, as her baby was quietly nursing, she looked at me, incredulous. “Who was that woman who just gave birth?” she asked. “I never thought I had it in me. I was really something, wasn’t I?” she said with a dreamy, satisfied smile on her face.

“Yes, yes indeed,” I said. “You were amazing!”