Labour Pains blog post - Peter's Box


Last updated on June 2nd, 2023 at 07:51 am

Check out my previous blog post No Monkey Games.

Pregnant woman in labour getting medical assistance

The shrieks, the tears, the discomfort, and the wish for time to pass, seem like an eternity for a woman in labour. Some mothers in such moments promise never to relive that moment by ever conceiving a child. These experiences are fraught with uncertainties. The thoughts of complications, miscarriages and even death worsen the pain a mother feels during childbirth.

These thoughts vanish into thin air, together with the pain that initiated it when labour is over and the midwife places the baby in the arms of the mother. There is a warm feeling, the euphoria of motherhood arriving, and the peaceful countenance of what those nine months bring. This joyous moment trumps the pangs of labour.

new born baby

Fellow readers, and anyone who has ever been in the labor ward, I recall my first pregnancy, in which I was expecting a safe delivery at the end of nine months. This was after I had experienced three miscarriages. I had fallen in love in high school, so much in love, that one thing led to another, and here I was responsible for a pregnancy I did not plan. It was my first time! I was in love! Basketball was my new love! Growing up in Lapaz where I fell in love and dated games like pilolo, zanzama and alikoto I was caught off guard by this beautiful classic game of basketball, which I found in Spintex Road where I relocated to in my high school days. What better place to date my new love – basketball – than to join the school team? 

Entering a basketball court with a basketball in hand

I found myself lavishing my leisure time on the basketball court. I played with the best of the best. I enjoyed every bit of it except that I could not justify my inclusion into the school team. Too many suitors had wooed the game. I did not stand the chance against the great talents who captained various basketball teams across the country. Even my juniors made it to the school team. I was just a novice. I was greatly dispirited by my inability to justify my inclusion in the school team. Even during casual games, after class hours, when team captains selected from among those who had come to play basketball, I was always among the last two left to be picked. I felt just like a leftover.

Oh, how I loved basketball! Have you ever had a dream, loved an activity so bad yet terrible at engaging at it? The despair of having great love for it and not being talented, intelligent, beautiful, strong or knowledgeable enough.

These and many other reasons made me resolve to justify my inclusion into the school team. I conceived a training regime during vacation and adhered to it. I watched any basketball video to learn new skills. I trained so hard that Raphael, my neighbor, on one of our usual strolls, recounted a conversation he had with his dad. Ralph said to me, ‘Peter, my dad says he has been seeing you jogging on the streets of the estate every night and dawn. He asked me if you were training for the Olympics.’

Raphael’s dad was not far from right. I was training, but not for the Olympics, I was training, not for gold, silver, or bronze. I was training because I was in love and wanted to make it to the school team. Every time I ran a lap, soaked my training kits with sweat, refused to run out of breath if I had one more lap to complete, my final destination was to get into the school team.

Peter Dankwa practicing with the Presec basketball team during the Sprite Ball Competition at the University of Ghana

The contractions began! At the end of form one, I stood on the basketball court with other students who had come to find out if they had made it to the school team. Name after name were mentioned, who walked over to the coach’s side. My name was not mentioned. I did not make it.

There was another contraction at the end of form two, I was hopeful this time but there was this silent voice that reminded me I was not as good enough as my juniors – how much more my peers. Once again, I did not make it but I still pushed and trained harder.

At the end of form three, the story as the same but I still pushed and trained harder.

At the end of form four, the story was …

The story…the story was…I stood on the basketball once again with others who came to hear the list for the school team.

Kofi, Reggie, Lanquaye, Prince, Joel, Ogbamey, Steve, the regular team players were called and I stood there, my last chance as it was my last year in school. The coach looks at me and beckons me to move over to his side. I made it! I made it!

I made it to the school team! My water broke at that moment! There was no miscarriage this time! I had delivered successfully. The labour pains were over.

I went on to win the Most Valued Player during the Inter-House Basketball Competition that year.

Napoleon Hill summarizes my story best when he said, “Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not. Nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not. Unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”

Many have aborted their dreams, never took their dreams to the labour ward and many have allowed the opinion polls of others and their own thoughts to miscarry their dreams.

If you ever feel like giving up, whether it is your education, learning a new language, working on a business idea, let this quote from the book The Greatest Salesman by Og Mandino cheer you up.

“I will persist until I succeed. The prizes of life are at the end of each journey, not near the beginning; and it is not given to me to know how many steps are necessary in order to reach my goal. Failure I may still encounter at the thousandth step, yet success hides behind the next bend in the road. Never will I know how close it lies unless I turn the corner. Always will I take another step. If that is of no avail, I will take another, and yet another. In truth, one step at a time is not too difficult. I will persist until I succeed.”

a green leafy plant sprouting from asphalt surface

Phases of Labour

Lest you forget, labour has three phases: before, during and after.

  1. Before labour: This refers to the period when a mother conceives. When the seed is sown – those nine months of expectation. Without going through this period, there can be no childbirth. We all love this period because we know we are close to being in labour – that a child will soon be born. Every endeavour, every project goes through this period. It was the same period when I discovered my love for basketball and wanted to learn more and be the best basketball player.
  2. During labour: The most intense moment in any project, where it is a matter of life or death. It feels like eternity. A mixture of emotions, fear, pain, anxiety and the thoughts of having everything end quickly. The mother has to give her all during this period. Did you know that the average labour for child birth lasts about 12 to 24 hours, and there are three stages during labour? On the basketball court this was the moment of truth, when my colleagues and I came to find out if we had made it to the school team. I miscarried on three different occasions before I finally succeeded.
  3. After labour: Do you realize how easy it is to briefly forget about those nine months of conception after a mother finally delivers? It is as though those nine months never existed. Now what exists is a lifetime of opportunities and growth. The sense of entitlement is guaranteed! You don’t believe me? Let’s ask Usain Bolt! Usain Bolt holds the world record in 100metres. He ran 100 metres in 9.58 seconds. But guess what? Many people don’t realize that he spends more than 90 minutes everyday training for years before the day of competition; to run a race that does not last even a minute.

There is no shortcut to success. You have to labour to succeed. Don’t worry about the pain, because the shortest period is actually during labour, not before or after. Keep grinding, keep toiling, your labour is nearer than you think. Many people see the glamour of success; often than not they do not see, the labour and miscarriages that preceded that success.

I delivered my dream to join my school’s basketball team! What about you?

Safe and happy delivery of your dreams!


What’s next in Peter’s Box? ¡Hasta luego amigos! 

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