It was ten thirty in the morning and I was ten hours into labor, with my baby taking his own sweet time to come out. I saw the nurses and hospital helps pass by me, occasionally giving me a sympathetic look and often asking me to wait a bit more, as according to them the pains had not set in yet. “Not set in yet?” I thought, “Then what is this that I am experiencing”, I felt like yelling. Nevertheless, all thanks to the deep breathing exercises that I was doing, they did not have the slightest clue.

It was my second time around in the labor room and unlike the first; I was quite prepared for what lay ahead. I had practiced a few breathing exercises, to sail me through the contractions and they sure were proving to be useful, if, in no other way, at least to keep me calm and focused. But, this time around the nurses were not prepared. Since I was not screaming at all and my baby was not making an effort enough, they thought, the pains are mild. Until I finally screamed, asking to be taken to the delivery section.

“But you were not screaming at all!” said one of them, a bit defensively, a few hours later when my baby was there in my arms and I was finally breathing easy. “I was saving my energy to ‘breathe deep’.” I told her.

Delivery and labor aside, Children let us suck in and let out deep breaths, way too often as they grow. The other day my son who is eleven months old now was trying to stand on his own, holding the bed sheet. I was scared he might hurt himself and at the same time did not want to interrupt the effort. So what did I do? I simply held my breath and watched, finally letting it out when he collapsed on the floor unhurt.

We mothers become quite good at deep breathing as we bring up our children, thanks to the experiences these little ones put us through.

We hold our breaths when we see them trying to walk for the first time, or ride a bicycle, or maybe learn to swim. The breath gets stuck in the throat as your baby gets the first immunization shot and all those that follow it. You hold your breath when the little one has just gone off to sleep, scared that the breathing might wake up the restless bunny.

You let out a long held breath after your child’s first performance on stage (and what a trembling one it is) irrespective of how confident the preschooler is. You let it out again, in relief, after a tussle with the food and yet again, as you hit the bed at night after an exhausting day at home.

Deep breathing helps you gain reaction time to gather your nerves, as you enter the principal’s office and also, when your favorite china is broken, in a game of hide and seek. Deep breathing helps you repair a frock over and over again, each time it’s torn and throw away a brand new toy, after it’s rendered useless by the dangerous engineers in making. It helps you hold back tears when you see the sitting room wall full of crayon scribbles or when your beautiful chiffon becomes a Barbie doll’s dress.

It helps you also at times to bring out a loud effective scream, to break off the big circus of yelling friends at home.

Deep breathing often keeps you from crying, when your toddler says she misses you, when you’re not around or when you send her on her first night stay with the grandparents. It helps tears from running down your cheeks when your child is hurt or when you need to put up a brave front, in order to teach him to be tough in life.

Sometimes, I really wonder when do we mothers breathe normally.

As for me, every time I look at my two angels sleeping peacefully, I let out a deep breath yet again, a breath that’s full of pride, satisfaction and a sense of achievement. Had it not been for them, life would have been too mundane, breathing easy.