A journey of four days, each unique. Holy Week reveals itself in new shades every year, shadows of dark and light. It pushes through the broken, cold dirt of Lent's long winter with a fresh green curl of hope. With only a few short weeks to go before baby's birth, I see these feasts through a new slant. Each like its own stage of labor, particular and progressing. Anticipated but still unexpected. The gentle beginning. The increased pain. The powerful transition. The final push. The question is how to journey through all four, patient and present, without wanting to skip over all that comes between. . . . When you know you're in labor, call me, she says, a steady confidence behind her steely grey eyes that have seen thousands of babies birthed into the world. We'll meet you outside the hospital so we can walk and talk and decide when you want to go in. And we'll go get you some food first, she adds, turning to pick up the Doppler to check my baby's heartbeat. You'll need to keep … [Read more...] about labor’s stages: a triduum
Two of my dear friends recently gave birth to babies. Thanks to the technology of Facebook and Google Chat, I knew of each labor as it began. I waited impatiently for updates over the hours. I rejoiced with a loud whoop when I read that baby had made a safe entrance to this side of life. And as I "attended" each birth virtually, sending my friend good thoughts and prayers and strength, I would remark with a laugh that childbirth was much more fun from far away. When I was not the one moaning over the birthing ball or counting through the contractions, labor seemed fast and furiously exciting. I knew the baby would come soon and I trusted the baby would come safely - both things I doubted when it was my turn. Distance and perspective give such gifts. But I know that if and when my time comes to labor again, proximity will erase all such surety from my mind. Outside the delivery room door, childbirth is concept. Behind closed doors it becomes reality of blood, sweat and tears. Time … [Read more...] about the work we do behind closed doors
Each day I rise with the same question in mind: will today be The Day? I go about the day's routine: work, play, eat, sleep. All the while wondering: will the water break? will the contractions start? When and how and where? There will be a Last Moment before it all begins, the rush of realization, the final flurry of work and energy and pain and emotion that will bring this child into the world. But I will not know until the moment has passed that it was the last of Before and the first of Next. And I wonder what the baby on the other side thinks, knows, dreams about what is to come. Blissful innocence? Or perhaps some secret hint that great change lies just ahead? The last night before you were born, you were almost complete, your mind busy, without language, but full of motion which would never be remembered or know itself. from "January, Daughter" by Sharon Olds Some days that transform our lives blindside us completely. Others we await with great anticipation, eager and … [Read more...] about will this be the last?
We're big on the Trinity around here. So once I started this series on prayers for childbirth (here and here), I couldn't neglect the Third Person Thereof. The Holy Spirit can be tricky, though. So amorphous, so hard to pin down. God's presence with us, everywhere and always, sure. But many of us wonder at what that means, what that looks like. Flames of fire? Speaking in tongues? Scripture both helps and hinders us to understand. But when I got to writing my weekly reflection for our diocese, I came across the second reading for this weekend: Brothers and sisters: The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes with inexpressible groanings. And the one who searches hearts knows what is the intention of the Spirit, because he intercedes for the holy ones according to God’s will. Romans 8:26-27 Of course, I thought. The Spirit as our helper, especially in our weakest moments. The Spirit as … [Read more...] about prayers for childbirth: Spirit as intercessor and groaner