18 February 2011

Birth pains

One of those long, thick, repetitive things I post selfishly for my own self. Do with it what you will.

I am due to have a baby in but a matter of days, but I've forgotten everything I ever once thought I knew about having babies. The fire of my previous births has washed from my feeble brain all political detritus, all desire for preparatory dialogue with my care providers, all vehemence for my supposed rights to birth Romantically. I have only one opinion about giving birth left to me: please, God, don't let either of us die.

One would think that the more one does something, the more confident about doing that something one would become. But, no, not here. The more I birth, the more I am rendered inert, bewildered, afraid. The pain, the blood, the crushing helplessness poured liberally out of me, upon me, over and over and over again, teach all too well that in birth I am no goddess. Rather, I am caught and shaken like meat in ravenous jaws. There can be no escape. There can be no exertion or insistence or distinction of self, for I am but the matter upon which Birth enacts its form. In short, I am a woman, and accursed. All the baths, balls, and balms in the world detract nothing from the shame of my flesh, which cannot—not even when hoisted on rhetorical crutches—do well that which it was most especially designed to do: carry a child into the world.

If even the most blessed Virgin cried out in the agony of birth, how can I expect anything but agony? If even our most holy Lord was born under perilous circumstances, yea, even under the cross of death, why would peril be missing from the births of my children? Kyrie eleison.

And yet, even so, why art thou cast down, O my soul, and why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God; for I shall yet praise Him, who is the health of my countenance and my God.*

The curse of Eve—which enshrouds even the easiest of births, which renders every birth perplexing if not mangling—this curse justly pronounced from the mouth of God yet works good for those who love Him. Women of Christ, the hour of our affliction is even the hour of our salvation. Be still, and know that He is God. He who will be exalted among the nations will triumph especially over the earth of your flesh. It is He who brought you forth from your mothers’ wombs, and it is He and He alone who will deliver you and your children in the coming tribulation. Christ knows our suffering; He has provided for our release: with every celebration of the Eucharist, Christ Himself enters into the tombs of our mouths, descends into the hell of our flesh and there declares victory over every particulate of our beings. To our Lord are we bound, His most holy, eternal, living body and blood graciously and incredibly given to mix with the humble flesh of His people. He has died Once, and will not die again. Thereby are we, people of His flesh, holy, eternal, living. Death shall have no dominion, no, not even in birth.

And what is more, the dragon that perched presumptuously at the Virgin’s blessed feet, ready to strike and kill the fruit of her womb, has been chained and cast aside. Come what may, our Lord has prepared something far better for our sons and daughters than what He allowed for Himself. The waters of Baptism lie just beyond the doors of the womb, and in those waters are to be found the blessed birth that washes our darlings free of the sin that we, their finite mothers, so helplessly and insidiously confer. It is a painless, bloodless, sweet regeneration that imparts all the promises of eternal life

God knows what must be done to save me, His love for me will never cease, for He upon His palms did grave me with purest gold of loving grace. My God desires the soul’s salvation, Me also He desires to save; Therefore, with Christian resignation all earthly troubles I will brave.*

Bring on the baby.

*Verbatim from Stark's Motherhood Prayers. If you haven't gotten your copy yet, well, why not?


Rebekah said...


lisa said...

Christ keep you and your baby in His peace.

Melrose said...

praying fervently for you and your baby dear friend.

Leah said...

I know, there's only one way out of this now... for both of us. Gulp.

Anonymous said...


Gauntlets said...

Thanks, girls. :)

Leah: Big time.

Anon: I have zero scruples about using epidurals. But at the end of the day, they don't really change anything all that much.

Emommy said...

Thanks for your thoughtful and SO TRUE post. During the birth of my first, I learned two things: holding on for dear life to my husband's antiquated crucifix helped during contractions, and I realized for the first time in my stupid mind that I COULD NOT DO THIS, that in fact I could do NOTHING in my life. And just as soon as that fear overwhelmed me, there was that blessed cross, reminding me that He already did all things for me. Which you said in your lovely post much better than I have here. You're in our prayers!

Katy said...

Wow, emommy, that's great! I always think I'm going to fix my gaze on the crucifix (it's usually behind me, over my hospital bed, not in front of me), or pray pious things, or exclaim something really religious as the baby crowns (you know, being a "witness" to the nurses), but nope. Just sweating and pushing sounds :)

At least Jesus is thinking on me as I deliver! I usually get around to thinking about Him as I hold my new baby.

Gauntlets: woohoo! You are an awesome writer, expressing for us all what we often feel (about other pains, too, not just birthing). God bless you!

lisa said...

Katy: I don't know anyone who ever exclaims anything worth recording during crowning. I think even the most pious woman is screaming, crying, whimpering or saying something polite company has to bleep out.

But, don't worry. Your "witness" is that you were even open to conceiving in the first place :) THAT is mind-blowing for many people.

Kristi said...

Praying for a safe and quick delivery! I can sooo sympathize with this post! I remember feeling exactly like you before having my youngest daughter. And even though I still get the "worries" I would love to have another! I can't wait to hear your birth announcement here :)

Untamed Shrew said...

I think you said it best to me a few months ago:

There is no good way to get the dear thing out.

Kyrie eleison indeed. Prayers ascend on your behalf.