Leto's birth travail is like one of those stories women tell at baby-showers, "Well, you think you had it bad, let me tell you what Leto went through . . ."
Leto, the mother of the twins Artemis and Apollo, had a long difficult labor. Leto searched far and wide for a place to give birth to her divine children, chased about by a jealous Hera (the winds). Leto is denied at every locale until she comes to the island of her sister, Delos (Asteria). Delos (Asteria), a floating island, becomes permanently rooted when Leto gives birth there to Artemis and Apollo.
Pindar, Processional Song on Delos (trans. Sandys) (Greek lyric C5th B.C.E.) :
"Hail. O heaven-built isle [of Delos] . . . aforetime, that isle was tossed on the waves by all manner of whirling winds; but, when Leto . . . in the frenzy of her imminent pangs of travail, set foot on her, then it was that four lofty pillars rose from the roots of earth, and on their capitals held up the rock with their adamantine bases. There it was that she gave birth to, and beheld, her blessed offspring."
Homeric Hymn 3 to Delian Apollon 2 - 148 (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C7th to 4th B.C.E.) : (Homer dosen't mention Artemis in this description of Apollo's birth)
"Leto was racked nine days and nine nights with pangs beyond wont . . . And as soon as Eileithyia the goddess of sore travail set foot on Delos, the pains of birth seized Leto, and she longed to bring forth; so she cast her arms about a palm tree and kneeled on the soft meadow while the earth laughed for joy beneath. Then the child leaped forth to the light,
Aelian, Historical Miscellany 5. 4 (trans. Wilson) (Greek rhetorician C2nd to 3rd CE.) :
"Note the Delian tradition that the trees which flourish on Delos are the olive and the palm. When Leto took hold of them she immediately gave birth, which she had not been able to do before."
Leto is a child of Koios (God of the Axis of Heaven) and Phoibe (Goddess of the Navel of Earth at Delphi). Phoebe bestows province of the oracle at Delphi to Apollo, her grandson.
The Xanthos (Ξανθός) River of Lycia is so-named because of its yellow/gold-tinged water, said to have arisen from Leto's birth travail. The Temple of Leto, the Letoon, is located nearby.
Quintus Smyrnaeus, Fall of Troy 11. 21 ff (trans. Way) (Greek epic C4th CE) :
"Xanthos' stream, the stream revealed to men by Leto . . . when Lykia's stony plain was by her hands uptorn mid agonies of travail-throes wherein she brought to light mid bitter pangs those babes of birth divine."
Note that amniotic fluid is clear or tinted yellow, so the implication could be that the Xanthos River is Leto’s amniotic fluid when her “water broke” in the process of giving birth to Artemis and Apollo. Note also that Xanthos (Ξανθός) literally translates, "detached from arising."
Herodotus (The Histories 1.173, trans. Purvis) describes Lycia as a matriarchal society:
“They (the Lycians) name themselves after their mothers and not their fathers. If one person asks another who [s]he is, [s]he will recite his[/her] maternal lineage, recounting his[/her] mother and grandmother and the mothers before her.”
35. Λητοῦς, - of Leto
θυμίαμα - incense
σμύρναν. - of Smyrna, myrrh
Λητὼ - Leto, Goddess and mother of the twins Apollo (God of Inspiration) and Artemis, Goddess of Independence, literally "loosen center balanced-tension brings-forth:" a description of child-birth
κυανόπεπλε, - cyan, dark-blue (κυανό) + robed, peplos (πεπλε)
θεὰ - Goddess
διδυματόκε, - two, double, two-fold (διδυμα) + childbirth, parturition (τόκε) = gave birth to twins
σεμνή, - solemn, majestic, honored, revered
Κοιαντίς, - born of Koios (her father), God of the axis of heaven
μεγάθυμε, - mega, great, majestic (μεγά) + soul, spirit as the principle of life; strong feeling, passion (θυμε) = "great-hearted"
πολυλλίστη - multi, many, poli (πολυ) + entreated, prayed to, enlisted (λίστη) = "sought with many prayers"
βασίλεια, - Queen
εὔτεκνον - essence pure (εὔ) + offspring, child (τεκνον) = "fertile, blest with children"
Ζηνὸς - of Zenos/Zeus, God of the spark of fire/spark of life/fertilizing principle/rain/lightning
γονίμην - productive, fertile, fruitful, generative (Zeus is father of Leto's children)
ὠδῖνα - pangs or throes of childbirth, travail, anguish, literally "bring-forth directed-trajectory divine-power prevailing arising"
λαχοῦσα, - lot, destiny, portion, literally "loosen arising foundation"
γειναμένη - the mother, bring into life, generative
Φοῖβόν - of Phoebus (Apollo) (named for his grandmother, Phoibe, Goddess of the "oracle" at Delphi, of enlightenment)
τε - too then
καὶ - and
Ἄρτεμιν - Artemis, Goddess of independence/the hunt/virginity
ἰοχέαιραν, - shooter of arrows
τὴν - in that case, then, under these circumstances
μὲν - might, force
ἐν - in, within
Ὀρτυγίηι, - Ortygia, Quail-island, the ancient name of Delos (a rocky island)
τὸν - tone, tension, stretch
δὲ - of, from
κραναῆι - rocky, rugged, hard
ἐνὶ - in, within
Δήλωι,- Delos, Delian
κλῦθι, - call
θεὰ - Goddess
δέσποινα, - despot, all-powerful, princess, queen, Empress, absolute ruler
καὶ - and
ἵλαον - propitiatory gift or offering, sin-offering, request for mercy; request to be gracious, merciful
ἦτορ - heart
ἔχουσα - contain, hold, bear, hold fast, enclose
βαῖν' - walk, step, stand, dance, come
ἐπὶ - upon
πάνθειον - all the Gods and Goddesses
τελετὴν - mystic rites practiced at initiation
τέλος - complete, fulfill, (tension release)
ἡδὺ - pleasant, welcome, sweet
φέρουσα. - carry, bring, produce, lead to, point to, stretch/extend toward, carry, give, pay (suggests that Leto is the first in a procession of the all the Gods and Goddesses)