I awoke one morning thinking birth is like sky diving. This thought comes, ironically, into the mind of a woman afraid of heights. A woman, perhaps least likely to personally determine the accuracy of the idea, as I have no intention of voluntarily jumping out of a plane. Even so, here are the aspects of each that lead me to the conclusion:
- With both birth and sky diving, others can witness the events, read about and discuss different options and become educated by ideas. But we can’t really KNOW birth or skydiving until you’ve been there.
- All the preparation and education available doesn’t eliminate unseen risks, although both are relatively safe when the processes (steps involved) are understood.
- Both are life-affirming events, and are not medical events unless and until a medical need is present.
And perhaps the most important comparison, both have dual aspects of perception:
When sky diving are you falling or weightless? This opposite-yet-simultaneous perception, this duality of experience is also present during birth.
The energy of labor, the contractions, can be painful and ecstatic at the same time. The exhilaration of the process, the overwhelm, the anticipation are merged with the ebb and flow of timeless labor. When you’re in the middle, everything takes a moment and an eternity. It’s overwhelming, all-consuming, everything.
During labor I held the most intense feelings I’ve ever experienced. But they could not be neatly labeled as one thing or another at any moment. The sensations physically and emotionally intertwined so completely that a new, unnameable experience was created in me.
Did it hurt? Yes.
But it opened me in a way I had never opened before. My body shifted. My heart shifted. My being shifted. I was no longer the me I thought I knew. I suddenly understood that my capabilities are not definite, but infinite.
I still think sky diving might be like that. (And I’m still not sure I’ll ever know.)