Recently, via Story Core on NPR, I listened to a couple recount the birth of their first child. The details were beginning to sound very much like our first experience of childbirth. All the months of planning, child-birth classes, joint visits to the doctor, sonograms, and then at the last sudden preeclampsia, skyrocketing blood-pressure and emergency C-section. As I listened to the mom and the dad recount the day, I began to hear the dad’s voice cracking with emotion, and then realized that tears were running down my own face. I was right there, in that moment, feeling all of that deep feeling. Will my wife survive this? Will our baby make it through this? Moments later, they place this marvelous new life in my arms and require me to leave the room where my wife’s condition is still not clear.
Birth. On any level, in any way that we want to consider it–literally, metaphorically, symbolically, of relationships, of jobs, of ideas–packages together in one offering the seeds of joy and terror. Let your own memory draw you back to those moments of birth–in any way that you have experienced it. Isn’t there the potential for joy and wonder? Isn’t there the possibility of terror and loss?
As we approach beginning something new, there will always be risk. There will always be a tug of war–toward joy and wonder, away from terror and loss. Here’s what I’ve learned: it’s almost never just one or the other. I stood by my wife as she gave birth to our three children, and I did not ever escape terror. Nor was I ever without joy and wonder. I know this to be true, too, of those who have walked through birth situations far different from ours where the terror and loss prevailed. Even there, joy and wonder make their appearance and are real, never to be doubted. Even there, even in the face of deep loss. The promise is that birth always brings both. And, that we will always be changed by it.
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And then there is parenthood which brings its own setbof joys and terrors