Having delivered three children, I have often been asked about the pain of childbirth. As a crossfitter, I have often heard people comment on how difficult it must be. In fact, there are a lot of similarities between childbirth and CrossFit, not the least of which is the actual pain endured...though that is very present. So here is the list, for anyone ready to take either on.
1. A lot of preparation goes into both, including mental planning for how to make it through. You think about what to eat prior to the event and how you will feel after. You visualize the impact of the event, but in all reality, you have NO CLUE how your life will change and how completely amazing the transformation will be.
2. Showing up is scary. I had three inductions, so I signed up the same way I sign up for a crossfit class. You show up, chit chat, warm up, but somewhere inside you, you know that what is coming is going to be bad. You have a weird sense of "let's get this over with."
3. You think a lot about what to wear, but it has little impact on how things go. I can't really say any of my workouts went much better or worse because of the outfit I wore, even after spending all day trying to find the right outfit. Likewise, the hospital makes you wear the most awful gown that ruins any last amount of self pride you had in your pregnant body.
4. At some point during the event, you seriously question your decision to take this on. You also realize there is nothing you can do about it. With nine other people around you grinding through the workout in their own misery, you are certain not to give up. And it's impossible to take back that decision you made nine months ago when the pain gets tough.
5. Pain is always relative. I remember when I started labor with my second the nurse asked me to evaluate my pain on 1-10 scale. My response was "compared to what?". If I said I was at a 4, did that mean it was going to get 6 levels worse? Worse then getting pepper sprayed? Worse than running 50 miles? Likewise, people think that if you finish faster or scale a workout, it must have been easier. The reality is that in both childbirth and crossfit, each person experiences pain and difficulty in different ways. If you push your hardest in every workout, you will get better, but it will not get easier. And for me, labeling my pain level didn't make an ounce of difference. I wasn't getting drugs and eventually, the baby had to come out somehow.
5. Success! The feeling of being done with labor and a workout is about the best ever. I'm not going to pretend that any crossfit workout has compared with my son's birth, but I am exhilarated when each are over. I'm not just talking the moments after when people collapse on the floor of the gym or you see the nurses checking out your little one, but the hours after, spent reflecting on the accomplishment. When you sit back and realize what you have done and how good you feel.
6. While nothing truly defines me likely relationship with my Lord, being a mother of three and crossfitter are badges of honor I do enjoy wearing. When I feel inadequate in life, I think back on what I have accomplished with delivering three beautiful children and finishing a lot of tough workouts. And when my kids start doing CrossFit kids, then it will be a blending of my badges.
Those are the big comparisons, but there are also some others:
7. It is inevitable that weird sounds will come out of your mouth during both. Sounds neither you nor anyone else thought you capable of making.
8. Likewise, your body will perform some sort of embarrassing natural "release," maybe even in the face of your doctor or someone holding down your feet during sit-ups. Total embarrassment!
9. You look like crap (at least I did). But your loved one (or at least one other person) thinks you look hot. Craziness.
10. You always underestimate what you are capable of. You can go without drugs and you probably can go faster or lift more weights. Push yourself and you will be thrilled with the outcome.
While I delivered each child naturally, I do believe there are some of the same comparisons that could be made for those who experience c-sections or adoptions, I just can't speak to those as I have not experienced it. Likewise, I have not done CrossFit workouts in too many extreme environments, but am sure that adds an entirely new dimension to many of the points above.
Of course, this list is easy for me to reflect on now. I have three kids sleeping soundly in their beds, I am not planning to have more, and I just finished a good workout. I love it all!