“Just Breathe”

Years ago, when I was pregnant with my third child I can remember asking my gynecologist,
“Why does labor have to be so hard?” His response, “labor is the closest women come to dying without really dying. Everything in woman’s body shuts down to focus on the sole purpose of giving birth to the baby.” I thought to myself wow, “then why is it in Lamaze classes they tell you to just breathe, when I feel like I’m dying? It’s interesting to note that during this most difficult and painful experience, if we don’t breathe the body will tense up and make the pain even more intense…If you can believe that! Breathing allows the body to relax and do what it was designed to do. Oh yes, I’m like most women who’s husband is in the room while you’re in labor telling you to just breathe and even breathing with you and you just want to inflict pain upon him at that moment. I’m also the woman who at some point during the transition of labor became very angry with my husband and the blamed him for everything wrong in the universe. I also yelled, pushed, scratched and screamed until I saw this little face that would make me forget about giving birth to the placenta too. It’s amazing how shortly after childbirth you somehow feel the pain was all worth it, and you would willingly do it all over again because of the end result. (Psalms 139:16)

It’s funny how life can sometimes throw you a blow that feels like the most difficult thing you have ever had to deal with. The emotional pain can be just as intense as the physical pain of labor. (Genesis 3:16) For me, it is grieving the loss of my mom. Oh how I miss her so. I recently went shopping and visited one of the stores my mom and I shopped in a few short weeks before her death. For sixteen months now, I have purposely avoided this store. So this past weekend, I mustered up the courage to actually shop at this store. I can remember my mom shopping for a winter coat. I clearly remembered the coat she tried on and the mirror we both looked into as we smiled at each other knowing this was the coat and that our time together was limited. We were also excited that she had the energy to shop and enjoy the experience. While I was in that store this weekend, I decided to actually go to the same mirror and re-live the experience in my mind mentally and emotionally. As I walked towards the coat department and that particular mirror, it seemed as if every emotion was stirring in my heart and soul; fear, anticipation, grief, sorrow, joy, contentment for the memory, anxious about my response and afraid of the reality. There was an emotional hurricane stirring inside of me. As I moved closer to the coat department, I realized that the store had done a “remodel” and the coat department was no longer where is used to be and the mirror was gone. I was devastated and moved to tears.

After a few moments of standing there and giving myself permission to cry, I told myself, “just breathe.” I thought to myself, “You still have all of those precious memories in your head. You have the coat she purchased and you have the joy of knowing and feeling how special this moment was for the both of you.” I stood there in the store in a different department and yet with the same memory, all because I remembered just like when I was in labor to “just breathe.”

In that moment of taking a deep breath, the emotional hurricane within me subsided. I recognized that although the mirror was gone, my memory and experience was still fresh in my mind and heart. I could see and feel my mother’s presence and love within me. Ahhhh, the power of the breath. I’m so pleased that amidst the intense pain of grief, I had the courage to stay in the moment and “just breathe.” During my long exhalation, I recognized I had to be purposeful about letting go of the exterior things I could not control and give birth to the deep moments of grief. This shopping trip down memory lane helped me to move to the next level of missing my mom; that level is being able to remember her in quiet moments and smile. I would have missed this beautiful moment had I seized up and ran away from the shoe department that just sixteen months ago was the coat department.

For your Journal: Okay ladies…are there moments in your life that cause you to tense up? What are they and what would happen if you took a moment to “just breathe?” Do tell

12 thoughts on ““Just Breathe””

  1. Excellent post, thanks for sharing. I have never experienced child birth or the loss of someone so close. I felt it thru your words and appreciate knowing that we can cope with life’s challenges, by focusing on the essentials…. Just taking the next breath, then the next one and the next….

    1. Thank you Chantelle! If someone would have told me that I would lose my mom and be able to cope, function and even thrive I would have never believed them. I probably would have even been offended by the suggestion. However, I have learned that through managing my emotions, being present in them and most importantly talking to my Heavenly Father (1 Peter 5:7) about the loss I feel, I have been able to yes…”Just Breathe.”

  2. Hi Cathy, I had to make a comment on this Subject :Just Breathe, because I can identify with Childbirth and the loss of my Son. He was my first born and I had no training what so ever with how to breathe. My doctor never recommended Lamaze Class, in fact he wasn’t even in town when I gave birth. I remember the doctor on staff told my husband to rub my back during my contractions, it was somewhat soothing, but the moment he stepped out, I told my Husband to get his hands off of me, and don’t touch me. Lol! I just wanted to be left alone. I’m sure you know just about how I said it! I was in labor for what seemed like eternity. I still don’t know how long I was in labor, because they knocked me out! I guess I was Breathing Correctly then. Lol. When I woke up I was ready to deliver. Did I tell I was in so much pain I kept saying Why did I want to have a Baby, to just let me die. I was serious at the time until my 8lb,5oz baby boy arrived. Then I breathe a Sigh of Relief! It’s a feeling you can’t explain when you have a baby. I knew that all that pain was worth it, I had a Son that was my Everything. I had him with me for 33yrs and he never skipped a beat with me when it came to serving Jehovah. He was always ready to volunteer to help clean the hall, whatever the Brothers asked of him, he did it. I remember when he joined the school, I was so Happy, and he Spoke so well, he was always known for his smile and he was always respectful and kind. He was married when he died. July 16, 2007, going on 8yrs next month. My greatest joy was that he made his Dedication to Jehovah the year before. April 8,2oo6. I know this long and I’m sorry.I had to take deep breaths everytime I had to pass the hospital he died and sometimes his street just to get to my Doctor’s Appt. I cried and Screamed to myself each trip I had to pass that way because of the Anger I harbored with those doctor’s because of their negligence. I’ve gotten a lot better over the years because I guess I learned to Breathe and leave it in Jehovah’s hands, but that doesn’t mean I don’t still Hurt, I do have Good Memories and a lot of Pictures to fall back on. Thanks for Listening and bringing up this Subject.

    1. Wow…Jackie. Welcome to our discussion and thank you for sharing. It’s been said that the death of a child is the most difficult. Isn’t it funny how the breath starts during labor and continues after the loss. Both are very painful situations that one day we will breath a sigh of relief because our sorrow has been turned into joy when we are able to see them again. In the meantime, it helps having a forum to discuss our feelings and have them validated. I’m so sorry for your loss Jackie and I’m happy to share this space with you. Hope to hear from you again;-)

      1. Thanks Cathy ! I really appreciate your response and Welcoming me to your Blog.
        You will hear from me again, because I hadn’t allowed myself to Breathe long enough to Stop and Smell the Coffee !
        Now that I allowed myself to do so, I will start slowing down and learn to relax more. Thanks again Cathy for your Blog. You are a Beautiful Person inside and Out.

        1. Thank you Jackie! Please feel free to subscribe to my blog. I typically post on Mondays. Enjoy…glad to have you sip Coffee with Cathy;-)

  3. I suffer from not breathing way to often but not nearly as often as I used to. Just the stresses of life in itself caused me to not breathe and my first reaction to stress was to not breathe. Then one day I realized I wasn’t breathing when I would let out a hard breath like you do after a workout or something. I said, what was that and eventually recognized I was holding my breath. So when pain and stress or even an uncomfortable situation hit me, I now know I need to make it a conscience effort to breathe. You are so right because once I started breathing the stress level lessened and I can start putting positive energy and thoughts in my head. Thanks for the reminder.

    1. Thanks for sharing Sheila! The nice part about breathing is, it’s always there, free of charge and we don’t have to go anywhere to get it. We just have to make a conscious effort to breathe. What an amazing gift we have in the power of the breath.

  4. I love your post. Although I’ve never given birth I find myself having to take this advice often. I have to remember to breathe whether it’s when something reminds me of my grandmother, hearing different health problems from myself or family, etc. I remember speaking to my dad in the beginning of a panic attack and that’s what he told me.. “breathe.” And it’s so true about our bodies and stress. When I get stressed I ache and have to remember just breathe

    1. I remember the title of the movie “Waiting to Exhale” I would imagine the waiting period is either in holding our breathe or not breathing at all. Either way the waiting period is not a good place to be in. There are many things in life that we cannot control, but the breathe is a powerful tool that is always available to us and we have full control over that. Ahhhh…yes Candace, “just breathe.” 😉

      1. Heyyyy Mrs. Cathy, this beautiful message on “breathing” has taken my breath away as we speak. God is awesome and he works things out in the air for us. I was again in my comfort zone working there in St. Joseph. I knew the time was coming to make a decision to stay and work there or move on. It was days when I would walk in to punch in and I notice that I wasn’t breathing just walking. I had to tell myself that “MECA THIS IS REAL SO JUST BREATH” So now from this point on I just breath through it all. Love you always Mrs. Cathy

        1. Thank you Tomeca and welcome to our discussion. Stress will cause us to take shallow breaths and instead of the deep breath our body really needs and was designed to have. It’s like working twice as hard for the outcome we want. I always go back to the movie entitled, “Waiting to Exhale.” For me the greatest awareness, relief and healing comes from the long exhalation. Ahhhhh…the power of the breathe Tomeca! I think you’re going to be just awesome in your new role. You were a delight to have on my team. Remember the sky is the limit. I think you will need breathing apparatus for that altitude;-)

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