Women who have experienced labour will identify with what I’m going to describe. You’re expecting the birth of your second baby. Very excited and can’t wait to experience the warm gushy feelings of love when you lay your eyes on the baby for the first time. You remember that well. The labour starts and the pain is a gentle reminder that it is time. You arrange for the babysitter to come look after your older child and you and your partner head off to the hospital excitedly. When you arrive the contractions are coming strongly now and it’s then that‘the memory of the last labour’ floods your thoughts. You remember how tough it was, you feel a little bit of despair that you’re going to have to dig really deep to manage the pain. You know it’s going to be hard work. You want it to stop and just go home. You allow yourself to have a little cry as you realise the enormity of the task before you, but then with the love and support of your husband and your midwife you regain your focus and get on with giving birth to your precious baby.
This was my experience during the labour of my second son, Matthew. It was also my experience as I travelled to remote PNG again. With each discomfort and challenge I faced in the early part of the trip, I kept thinking, “this is just like giving birth! Its tough and I have to dig deep”. For me personally, I drew on my Christian faith for strength. During my labour I remembered had a mantra, “breathe in Jesus, blow away fear” and the biblical story was when Peter was in the boat and he then walked on water towards Jesus. As soon as he realised what he was doing and felt afraid, he sank, but when he looked at Jesus and kept his focus on him, he was able to walk on the water. Interestingly a friend of mine reminded me of this verse a day before I left for PNG. I have to say, as you read, you will see we had many challenges and this verse really did help me stay focused and feel at peace despite the circumstances.
The challenges began right at the start of our trip.