(n.) a passage from one state, stage, subject, or place to another; a movement, development, or evolution from one form, stage, or style to another.
I can pinpoint a few very defining moments in my life and leading up to each of them I could no longer continue to do what I was doing, I had to be different. What I did not realize then, is that I was in a period of transition. I was moving from one stage in my life to another, one version of myself to the next. 10 weeks ago I had one such experience; I gave birth to my first child. A beautiful baby boy. At 6:50pm on January 19, 2017 Bryce Samuel Biles was born. If you ask any doula, or labor coach, they will tell you that early labor is exciting. Your baby is finally on their way and you will soon get to meet them. The last 9 months has lead up to this moment. As you move through the early stages of labor into active labor, every contraction pulls you further from the world around you and more and more into yourself. I have heard it said that the soul of a mom in labor is no longer a part of herself, but she is out searching for her little one in the great wide unknown. Because of my nursing background I don’t typically relate to these abstract ideas. I know and relate to what is physiologically occurring in the body during labor that helps to get that baby out. I relate to fact. But the more I learn about the physiological changes that occur during labor and how they are aided or disrupted by the woman’s psyche the more I can relate to this. If we just look at the way that hormones affect birth this concept makes complete sense. A woman’s body produces a cocktail of hormones when it is time for labor to begin. One of those being Oxytocin. This beloved hormone is so many things. It is the “love” hormone and it is a natural pain killer, but it is also the hormone that causes your body to contract during labor. Another hormone that our body produces naturally, particularly in times of stress, is Adrenaline. Adrenaline is our fight or flight hormone, the more anxiety, worry, or fear we have about a situation the more adrenaline we produce. The important thing to know about these two hormones is that they cannot be produced together. So the more Adrenaline the body produces the less Oxytocin can be produced. So what does this mean? This means that the more anxious, unsupported, fearful, and tense a woman is, the less effectively she can labor and the more pain she will be in.
For some reason when we are in pain our natural inclination is to tense up, to hold our breathe, and to fight against it. This causes more pain. And this is not just true in childbirth it is true throughout our lives. When real, drastic change occurs we fight against it. We fight tooth and nail for things to remain the same. We hunker down, hold our breath, and wait for the moment to pass. We make times of transition painful, more painful than they may have been intended to be. Going from the known to the unknown is truly terrifying. It is the most intense amount of pain you have ever experienced. Every plan you’d made, everything you thought you’d wanted. It all changed. You can’t do this any longer. You can’t continue this way. Something has to change. Transition occurs. When I took my birthing course my teacher, Summer, referred to transition as “the crazy haired lady”. And I think this is just so indicative of our lives. When times of transition come we become crazy-haired, frantic versions of ourselves. We become incoherent just trying to make it through.
But it doesn’t have to be that way!
In my experiences during my labor and delivery clinical being a part of women’s births, and my own birth I have seen a better way. When a mom prepares herself for labor during her pregnancy, through prayer, music, meditation, or whatever methods she uses to create a calm environment within herself, she is better equipped to handle the pain of transition. When women are fully supported, when their choices are met with love and acceptance, when they feel at peace, transition will still come but they will be so much better equipped to handle it. Instead of bearing down, tensing her body, and holding her breath she will let go. She will experience the full power of what her body was created to do. When we stop deciding with our minds what is and is not possible we open ourselves up to the potential that there is something much more powerful than ourselves. Transition is hard. Transition hurts. And that is okay, pain is indicative of change and without change newness can’t be born.
What if we begin to see transitions in life as an opportunity for something new to be born. That we were chosen to be new. In the bible the idea of not being anxious is referenced over 365 times. What if this is because God knew our natural inclination in times of change is to be anxious. What if he knew that anxiety, and therefore adrenaline, only cause times transition to be more painful. Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”. 2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind”. What if our natural inclination in life was not to be anxious, not to rely on adrenaline, but to turn to the one who has the power to give us peace that transcends all understanding. What if, instead of fighting against it, hunkering down and holding on to what we know, we instead focused on what comes after transition. New life! More love than we thought was possible. The new life we worked so hard to grow, that we waited so long for will be in our arms. Transitions in life do not occur for no reason. Transition is an opportunity to trust the one who knows the depths of our power, because He gives it to us. Creating life is hard. Losing life is crushing. Becoming something new can only happen when the old is chiseled away. It is in the times of transition that God is able to show us the depths of His love and vastness of His power, because we cannot do it on our own. When we quiet ourselves and allow Him to work in us newness can be born.