The Fighter Within (Who is in your corner?)


This past weekend, I was at Southern Connecticut State University’s First Writing Conference supporting the MFA program, which I am so privileged to be a part of in my pursuit to write narrative poetry regarding the birth process, families and the strength of women. I met several inspiring people but it was during our lunch break that I found my inspiration to write this post.  I met a very nice man, Alex Pierpaoli, while I sat enjoying my delicious free deli sandwich. Seeing that this was a writing conference, our conversation began with, “What do you write?”- I was not expecting that a man who writes about the history of boxing and editorials on current fights would somehow inspire me to write and compare a fighter like Mike Tyson to a birthing woman, but he did.

He began to discuss the first time he saw Mike Tyson fight, a ferocious dynamic fighter. Why Alex admired Tyson was his openness to express how afraid he was whenever he had to walk into the ring. With that single line we found our common thread. A birth worker writing a collection of poems on birth and a sports writers sitting among a couple hundred other writers and we all had this common thread- fear. Fear is, let’s face it a more predominate human emotion than any other, but it is not how fear controls us that inspires us to write, it is how we face it, how we stand up to it and move forward.

He spoke about his own experience in the ring and how like many other great fighters, he had an outer body experience, an extreme focus that he couldn’t explain, muscle memory and mental clarity that was created by months of training, both physically and mentally. This is where I chimed in, as joyful and exciting it is to have a baby, it is terrifying. Women on a daily basis are being challenged by their desire to have a natural birth, by their partners, their care providers, their family and friends and it doesn’t stop their, they hear it from the check out girl, the mail man, the neighbor, the co-worker the list goes on and on, all telling their horror stories, begging them to get the epidural. But for some reason there is that little voice in her head saying “I can do it. My great grandma did, and so did her mom and so on and so on. So why can’t I” Just like Mike Tyson, we all have a fighter inside us, willing to face our fears and get into the ring. But Mike couldn’t have been a champion without the people in his corner, the managers, the trainers, the promoters helping him, encouraging him. Yes, Mike Tyson is a controversial subject but he was afraid like I was, like Alex, like every client I have ever had and their partners were scared too. Fear is constant. Overcoming it has to do with who you have in your corner, who supports you.

Preparing for birth is the most important thing you can do to empower yourself, it will determine whether your first day as a parent starts off confident, happy and empowered or anxious, disappointed and regretting that you didn’t take the time to trust in yourself. So take the child birth class with your partner. Fire your care provider if you don’t feel supported- sometimes your gyno that you have had since you were a 18 is not a good fit for your birth, and sometimes your amazing midwife is not a good fit as your gyno. (I switched for my birth and went back to my original gyno after my birth- and no one had any hard feelings it’s business people) Talk to your family and friends- veto any horror stories til after the baby is born. Hire a doula and not any doula one you click with, who listens and laughs with you and your partner, not at him (because he is scared too). Get the people in your corner together and make sure they will help you feel confident, empowered and willing to admit they are scared too but that they believe in you. By practicing breathing, birth positions in a class, listening to birthing affirmations, falling asleep with your partner while both of you are listening to the HypnoBirthing CDs will all create muscle memory and focused clarity to help you confidently become parents together.

Questions to ask yourself before you go into the “Ring”

Does your partner’s eyes get big every time the discussion is brought up about “the birth”?

Do you trust him to know what to do?

Is he a protective type or a calming type?

Does your partner believe that natural birth is a good idea or has a, it’s what she wants attitude, but I doubt it?

Are you planning your birth together?

Who is your care provider, do other mom’s recommend them?

When you go to your appointments, do you feel you can talk freely, or do you feel rushed?

Are you nervous to even discuss your ideal birth?

What is that little voice saying about my birth, and the people involved, listen to her she knows her stuff?

Most of all taking the time to prepare for your birth with people you trust in your corner will encourage you, eliminate fear and allow you to joyfully welcome your baby.

So thank you Alex Pierpaoli for inspiring me and if you or your husband are interested in boxing, he was featured in an anthology that you can purchase at

Joyfully Inspired Everyday,


About Kate Sullivan

I have been teaching HypnoBirthing and attending births as a HypnoBirthing Labor Companion since 2008. My passion comes from empowering every family, whether it is a quick inquiry to learn more or a client that I joyfully spend hours counseling with HypnoBirthing or rushing off to a birth at 2 in the morning. I want to teach you how to trust yourself, your body and give your partner those same tools so that you can begin your journey as parents with confidence.
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