The Art of Transition
Twenty two years ago I gave birth to my firstborn son in a small apartment in Lennoxville, QC. It was a bright blue sky day in mid–March. I had just trekked across town, through two feet of snow to get to and from the laundromat, carrying a heavy pack on my back loaded with sheets and towels for my imminent home birthing experience.
I had my first contraction shortly after arriving home. We called the midwife and within a couple hours I had a small tribe of supporters guiding me through the experience; my son's father, my best friend, two midwives, a doula, and the young daughter of one of the midwives.
I felt well prepared, I had been devouring Ina May's book, Spiritual Midwifery for months - my birthing bible. It had instilled in me a deep faith in my body's ability to bring this new life into the world naturally and with relative ease.
I had also chosen an incredible woman, Jeen Kirwen, whom I trusted implicitly, to guide me through the experience. I was introduced to Jeen at an Easter dinner celebration when I was 16 years old. I was so struck by her presence that I decided right then and there that she would be my midwife one day. There's a special kind of ambiance that radiates out of a woman who has facilitated over 1000 home births, a feminine power that casts its own kind of light.
Three years after meeting Jeen, at the ripe old age of 19, and two weeks after breaking up with my boyfriend, I found out I was pregnant.
I was visiting my best friend in Sonoma, CA when I peed on that divining stick, and with the appearance of those two blue lines, my life was changed forever.
I spent the majority of that pregnancy living as freely as I possibly could, embracing my nomadic ways with gusto. Travelling on my own from California to Salt Spring Island, BC to Kauai, HI, working odd jobs along the way, eventually making it to Quebec's Eastern Townships, to the midwife I had chosen as a 16 year old.
But that's a totally different story, for another time.
Back to the birth of my first born son, River. My labour was smooth and swift. It required my undivided attention, a deep focus into the rhythm of my body's contractions, I was riding the waves, breathing my way through the experience. A five hour meditation.
It was powerful but not painful. I felt strong and focused, and well supported, everyone bolstering me with their attunement to the task at hand; bringing this brand new being into the world as gracefully and tenderly as possible.
All was well until I slipped into what is called 'transition' – in birthing speak. Of the three stages of labour, transition was the most challenging for me. I couldn't hold focus anymore, the discomfort was too great, I couldn't find the rhythm of the contractions, I started to feel sick, which made me panic. I felt like I had lost touch with my body, I didn't understand what was happening, I was confused and fearful.
Until my midwife pointed out that I was just in transition.
Her words soothed me, they reminded me that the discomfort I was feeling was just a stage, and a necessary step to finally be able to meet the mysterious being I had been carrying around in my womb for 9 months.
I have gone through countless transitions since then; the beginning and ending (or transforming) of some very meaningful relationships, the creation and dismantling of several businesses, all the various stages my two boys (now young men) have gone through over the past 22 years, the loss of family members and close friends, the seemingly constant leaps into the unknown as I continue to reach for growth... the list goes on.
Life is all about transitions.
Sometimes my life moves at such a rapid pace that I feel like I am jumping from one transition to the next without taking the time to enjoy the processes before and after. But I am learning to slow down, to take stock, and appreciate the in–betweens.
Thanks to Jeen's simple reminder, I am at least able to recognize when I am in transition and to trust in the natural process of things.
I now know that when life (or some part of my life) starts to feel uncomfortable and I feel like I just can't bear it anymore, whatever 'it' might be, I am actually on the cusp of birthing something magnificent – I am simply in transition. Which means that I am about to step into a whole new phase of my life; a new version of myself or a new career or lifestyle. And it'll most likely be better than the last.
All I need to do is Trust.
Through the practice of Trusting, I've learned that the art of transitioning with grace is to remember its impermanence. It's just a phase, a period of time with a beginning and an end. The more I resist the process the longer it'll take. So I surrender, invite ease, breathe and remember that I am moving forward, this is just
a necessary step to get to the next phase.
Trust, then surrender. Life is so much easier than we allow it to be.
They say that our children are our greatest teachers. This was the first lesson my son taught me, and he wasn't even born yet.
River and I sharing deep thoughts, Secrets beach, Kauai, HI 1994