A Pregnant Pause

I have two boys--one born under the influence of an epidural, and one born drug-free. I know, you're expecting me to say that I asked the anesthesiologist to marry me, or go on about how you don't really "forget all the pain" in a drug-free birth, but none of that's true. I actually preferred the drug-free birth.

See, the first time around, I got psyched out when the doctor appeared in the doorway at 1 a.m. while I was laboring in the tub, listening to Michelle Tumes and trying to stay focused.

"I don't think you'll deliver while I'm on duty, so I came to say good-bye."

"What time does your shift end?" I asked.

"Seven a.m." he replied.

"What makes you think I won't deliver before then?"

"You're clearly not in enough pain."


I figured if that wasn't enough pain, I couldn't possibly survive the next 6+ hours of "real pain," so I'd better get the drugs after all. (Turns out he was wrong and Bug was born at 4:05 a.m. The "I told you so" in my mind helped ease the pain in the area where the epidural didn't take.)

After yielding the first time to that moment where every fiber of your being says "I can't do this! Bring me drugs!"--I was determined to do it differently the second time.

Not quite 3 years later, I found that by overpowering the uncertainty, the relief that follows delivery is the most indescribably delicious feeling ever. (Bet you've never heard it described in quite those terms before!)

But it's true. Maybe it's that weird psychological thing that the harder you work for something the more meaningful it is when it finally arrives. I don't know. But I do know that when Boo was born (all 9 pudgy pounds of him) I had the conscious thought that "this is the best feeling ever."

You've probably seen the birthing analogy applied to writing many times over. It's easy to find on the acknowledgment page in books or on the 'writer's journey' posts on assorted blogs. And it fits. It really does.

One of the most important things I learned at the writer's conference this week is that I've been in the 'transition phase.' In giving birth, it's the period where the mom-to-be loses her confidence and calls for back-up/drugs, like I did.

But in writing, there is no back-up/drugs. When a writer loses confidence and gives in to the uncertainty that threatens to overtake them, there are only two options. 1) Give up and call it quits or, 2) power through the doubts and keep moving.

I left for the writer's conference at Mt. Hermon feeling more uncertain than even I recognized. I went, looking for assurance that now is the time to get back to writing in a way I set aside a long time ago. At the very least, I hoped for confirmation that writing is still on God's agenda for me.

He gave me that confidence in many ways, including agent Judy Mikalonis' class where she shared a quote from Art and Fear, "Uncertainty is the sign of opportunity and impending birth." I so needed to hear that!

And in case I missed the point, God was gracious enough to send a new industry friend who said "You're a writer." When surrounded by so many who are more prolific, more published, probably even more talented, I needed to hear that too.

If you've been around here for a while, you likely weren't even aware at the beginning that once upon a time I was a 'real' writer. I didn't put it in my bio, I didn't have my books in the sidebar. I didn't want to claim it because I've lived so far from that place for a long time and was afraid of putting it out there and having people expect me to "prove it."

So here I am admitting that yes, I AM a writer.

And I am going to follow through with sending out the things I promised to editors and agents. And I am going to move forward through this birthing process again. I don't know how long the labor will last or what the next baby will look like. But I'm going to power through the uncertainty and keep going and see what God delivers when the time comes.

Has God been calling you to something hard? Are you at the point where you're ready to move forward or quit? I know the feeling. I'd love to support each other as we go through the transition phase.

(Thanks to the suggestion from Angela at Becoming Me, I entered this post in Scribbit's April Write-away Contest. Check her site for other inspiring writing, or to submit your own entry on this month's topic, "Mom.")


Anonymous said...

Art of all types is a priviledge to be a part of if that's what God is calling you to do. I say then do it with all your might! It will, however be bitter sweet to be sure. It's the rose and the thorn ~ to quote a recent song on the radio. But, to be a part of God's creative process is magical and it's what I'm called to do ~amongst other high callings~ wife and motherhood to name a few.

Anonymous said...

Oh, This is from me,

RefreshMom said...

Thanks for the thoughts Karen. I'd love to see the art you're working on now. You know, I still have the watercolor you gave us when we got married (15 years ago).

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

This stirs so many feelings in me...I'm not even sure what to say. Glad for your week, Mary. I'm sure you'll be unpacking your feelings and thoughts for weeks to come.


Melinda said...

That quote! Oh my goodness, that QUOTE.

Thanks for sharing some Mt. Herman with the rest of us. And YES you ARE a writer.


Elizabeth M Thompson said...

Mary, what a great post! Thanks for sharing so vulnerably with us. The workshop you referred to had a huge impact on me, too! I had never heard the writing life described that way. I came away encouraged and ready to write.

Angela said...

I loved this post. Reminded em of my own deliveries...and I loved the inspirations you derived from it. I think you should enter it in Scribbits writing contest.

Kristen said...

i'm so there. i'm uncertain and second guessing everything, and running away sounds really good right now! i'm struggling to hear what God wants for me, and in the midst of it i'm wondering if it's the right time to focus on writing. i mean, aren't my hands full right now? so your analogy hit home!

by the way, my first birth was also an epidural. it was so long i decided i didn't have the energy to continue (and let's face it, i was scared). second time was so fast and intense (5 1/2 hrs), i didn't have time for drugs but was out of my mind (quite literally!). and the third one... well, that was perfect. no drugs, 2 hrs and 45 min, fully in control, and beautiful. third time's a charm?

Beverlydru said...

I love this post. What you've described in your birth experiences expressed my sentiments exactly. And the analogy with the creative process... oh yes, it makes me gasp with the truth of it.

Jill said...

I love this post! I'm in the same place myself - just doubting and worrying. Not a good thing. But having 3 children - 2 med free and one with an epidural that only led to spinal headaches (the worst pain I've ever experienced!) I could so relate to what you said. Thank you so much for sharing. This is going to linger in my mind for awhile.

Scribbit said...

Well being a writer is definitely very much like giving birth--though I'm not sure which is harder :)

Antique Mommy said...

So true - giving life to words and children are both hard work. And both rewarding. MOST of the time! Excellent post.

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