For those of us blessed enough
to have experienced the pedal-to-the-metal velocity
of unmedicated childbirth,
transition comes on seemingly unexpectedly and hard as hell.
Try as we may, one simply cannot prepare for it
other than to recognize and remember
that it is the beginning of the end,
which, of course, is the whole point.
At this juncture labor becomes so difficult
that the most typical response is to resign oneself to the pain
and simply scream:
and yet the work has just begun.
We are bringing forth life here, remember?
Life via tender, yet now gaping birth canal.
Every ounce of flesh and soul must co-labor,
often for hours on end.
And this is the place where the mother is forged for the dauntless task of mothering,
for this is where the woman finds herself with strength beyond her days
and grit beyond her ken.
“A mum who has been coping well . . . may suddenly appear to fall apart. Typically she may cry. The coping mechanisms that she has been using . . . may not work any more. She may suddenly need to change position, which is completely natural . . . She may vomit at this time too. This is a completely normal reaction to the . . . changes taking place, and the body readying itself for the final ‘push’!”
A Doula Guide to the Transition Stage of Labor, mrsjilmanning.hubpages.com
The above quote has been edited to fit my purpose here of comparing birth transition to those of life. As I face the future as a divorced, empty nester with no previous financially feasible full time career upon which to depend, I remember the agony of my own two births during transition. As a former hippie, I had been fully committed to experiencing it all without the aid of outside chemical intervention, but during this diabolical onslaught of uncontrollable pain and convulsion, I wanted drugs. But it was too late in the process.
It seems ridiculous to plan one’s financial future at mid-fifty when, if ability was not an issue, I would remain unwilling to join the financial rat race. And yet I remind myself: I have lived by faith for more than thirty years. Why would I change that now?
And so I prepare for transition with eyes wide open, and face to the sky, knowing the process will not be easy, nor comfortable, but that it is the inevitable beginning of the end of a life lived Coram Deo, before the face of God. My main prayer is for a few competent birthing women with gentle hands and warrior wisdom to stand with me as I labor to enter this next phase. And, perhaps, a few kind brothers in the hallway smoking cigars and sweating bullets with me. Oh, and also ice, lots of ice. And those soft, warm flannel blankets ready and waiting in the wings.
Kelli Kennedy is a Southern California girl living in the Las Vegas desert, but anticipating a(nother) move in the near future. She spends her days thankful for two beautiful teenagers, and teaching English to people from other countries. She loves babies, talking, singing, the body of Christ and the Pacific Ocean. Someday she will paint.