Birthing Justice at the Edge (thoughts on birthing, mothering and carrying on)
It seems to me that birth, no matter how it goes down, is ultimately merely the preparation for what is to come as a parent. In the process of birthing, every time you think you cannot take one more step, one more contraction, one more twist turn or complication, you meet it (whatever the IT is ) and keep going. By far this seems to be the best training ground and representative towards preparedness for being a mama.
Like the contractions of birthing before, every time you think you cannot do one more task, have one more moment of contact, do one more feeding, take one more spit-up, endure one more kick in your face, wake once again in the night, you do. You meet it. You expand again. And again. And again. Each day, each night, each hour, each minute is an ebb and flow of expansion and contraction of c o n t a c tarriving again and again at the threshold, repeatedly birthing yourself as mama once more.
I remember sitting with my midwife in the last weeks before Olive's birth. She was explaining to me how in the process of birthing the level of intensity increases gradually to the culmination in "transition" where there is a brief pause before pushing which grows again in intensity until the baby emerges. She said "You are going to want a break. And the intensity just keeps building so you take the pauses that come. Otherwise you will get exhausted".
Olive came so quickly that these so called levels of intensity increased not by the hour but by the contraction themselves. Each one more intense then the next until she emerged. There was no time to think or be spacious. When the contraction was over I just let it be over until the next one started the very next breath. The breaks were mere breaths. The breaks were me noting that each contraction, each push was moving us closer to the other side of this process. I knew that this state was temporary. And so I just kept meeting. Meeting. MEEting MEETing the next growing step.
At least once a day (or night) I feel as though I simply cannot carry on. I am maxed out on holding and connecting. I am maxed on breast-feeding. I just want a break. The break does not come. Baby has immediate needs, or childcare shifts, or husband is late, or some stupid interweb fiasco has me running to the business side of life. Somehow, some way, by the good grace of all that is, I manage to expand. I find myself amidst the endless contact. I take a breath amidst the panic. I grow compassion around the upset.
The blessing and the curse of motherhood is this: It won't be like this forever.
The night time wake ups.
The kicking, biting and pulling.
The needing to be close and held.
The need for the breast.
These moments that feel excruciatingly more emotionally taxing than any contraction.
It won't be like this forever.
The raptures giggles.
The way the world is entirely new and fascinating.
The innocent eager smile when we wake up in the morning.
The want to be close and held.
These moments that enrapture us into an ecstasy of heart piercing joy.
It won't be like this forever.
What scares me more than birth ever could and what shocks my more than the daily intensity of being with an infant is the current state of affairs in our country. We have been reminded very clearly of the incredulous prejudice and racism embedded at a cellular level on this land and between us. We cannot hide from the labor of justice and equality that is emerging right now. Burying our heads in the sand until its over will not change the arduous journey of this birth. Unlike the knowing that the beautiful baby will emerge through the narrow passageway, none of us know exactly what is to come and when. We don't know what form this new life will take. We want a break. It feels like too much. How can we go on one more day like this? I know. Perhaps we continue being moved by these contractions. Perhaps like the dark nights and the overwhelming days without break we find our breath and our breadth to carry on. Perhaps we go through the excruciating moments where we believe there is no way out, we cannot grow one more inch, or allow one more opening. And just like birth, just like mother pushed to the edge of her will, wit and zone of compassion, we find more ways of being with.
There is no way out. Only through. There are no breaks. Only breaths. There is no way back. Only onward toward becoming home and whole--a process of birthing a more Just world.