Gestation: On Laboring
I know quite a few people who are pregnant at the moment. I never have been pregnant, and hoo boy, and let me tell you that it does not seem like a fun time. From an outside perspective, it seems that pregnancy is mostly about managing excitement, fear, discomfort and pain. As a major medical weenie, the idea of my organs getting squished by a tiny human makes me look around for a fainting couch. This, coming from the person who almost passed out getting a Flu shot.
Giving birth is hard work. I think it’s true for all kinds of gestation—whether you’re growing a person or a passion or a life. Growing something to fruition is about managing excitement, fear, discomfort and pain. It makes me wonder, when the labor pains come, how do we know that the effort is worth it? For literal birth, the outcome is obvious. There are medical professionals who have the skill and ability to make a judgement call when someone is laboring too long. A doctor or midwife might know that this is not healthy labor, that some other action needs to happen. It’s time to stop pushing; it’s time to get that baby out.
For the other ways we birth newness into the world, how do we know when we’ve been laboring too long? How do we know when our labor is not healthy, is too strenuous or stressful, when it doesn’t produce what we need to thrive? How do we know when the outcome is worth the cost? It’s not an easy answer. For me, having people has been essential to this work. Hell, having people has been essential to my survival. Family, whether it's born to you or built by you, helps us to see us and our lives clearly. My people affirm me, stand with me, but also don't let me get too wrapped up in my own BS. Having community is that essential mirror for our lives--helping us move through what gets us stuck into what gets us free. Whatever we labor for, we shouldn’t labor alone. We need others to help us see when we’ve struggled too long. When we’re no longer in a healthy place, and it’s time to stop pushing, and find another way. We are each other’s midwives. We need each other to help us through the pain and discomfort, through the fear and excitement and into the place where new life is born.