Friday, December 7, 2012

The Blank Page

The second-year specialty midwifery students (me in two years) are officially done with "school" tomorrow - in the spring, they do an extended internship/job situation where they work as a midwife under a preceptor before graduating in May.  At a send-off dinner for them tonight, we sat around and listened to stories and memories of their last two and a half years here at Yale and I sat and thought two different things, overlapping in my head like two lines of melody in the same piece of music.  One was, "That's only two years away, and that will be you.  Holy shit."  The other was, "What makes you think that you will ever be up to the task of doing this thing, this sheltering and fostering and holding and catching and guiding of new life into this holy glorious fucked up world we are in?"

I don't know if I will ever stop grappling with that second question.  Truthfully, I don't think I ever should.  Because birth is a small thing, yes.  It is everywhere, it is billions upon literal billions of people.  It is over and over and over, the hormones and bones and muscles and breathing and work and sometimes it goes horribly wrong, but mostly it goes so right that it becomes just another whisper in the babble that never ends.  And sometimes, I can picture myself doing it.  I can see how it might look, and I can see students like those I saw tonight, who are doing it and have done it and look, Cait, yes it's a real thing and it will happen to you because you are here and that is why you are here.  But so much more often, and probably for years to come, what I feel more is the vast and gaping space between my fierce intention and my complete and full acceptance of the knowledge that this is just all so much bigger than me and bigger than I can catch and bigger and scarier than anything I could ever do.  And how on earth did I think that I could be that person, catching life and bringing it in?

Because birth is also huge.  It is everything.  It is the dark and terrifying tunnel, it is the orbit, and it is the way out.  It is endless hours, the single moment, it is the breaking down and the building back up.  It is sometimes the end, but it is so much more often the beginning of the very beginning.  The very first page.

There is something that I repeat to myself a lot, ever since starting this program.  One of those things is that, "Done is better than good."  This helps, sometimes a lot.  But another is this: The first and most important thing you need to do is show up.

You have to show up.  That's always the first step.  There are steps beyond that, and they might be hard, and you might never feel like you were ready until after you've done your first (or tenth) one.  But you have to be willing to show up.  You have to be willing to write the first page.

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