In Laborland, There is No Story or Storyteller

by Pam England

When immersed by waves of uncertainty and the unexpected (both synonymous with childbirth, especially the first time), there is little mind or time to tell ourselves a story about being in labor. Partly because the capacity of a brain bathed in endorphins (especially in unmedicated labor) to think coherently and form complete sentences is diminished. How can a story be constructed or told without full access to words or organized thought?

When labor begins, we are in an ego-rational mind; we can still do modern-day rituals like time contractions, play our labor-music track, or go on social media. But the ancient way of birth often does not honor these prevailing rituals in active labor. As opening progresses, about halfway through labor, the boundaries of the ego spontaneously dissolve (The ego cannot dissolve itself; consider this is a Gift from the Great Mother). Subsequently, most evidence-based information (information not needed) trickles out. Through this natural Gift, we are no longer a visitor to Laborland, but we become the activity of labor and birth Itself. Perhaps at this blessed juncture, we genuinely become part of the enduring chain of mothers who were swept away by the power of labor and whose bodies gave birth in no mind.

Zeus gave birth out of his head. But, we are not designed to birth upward from our modern minds. So, the Great Mother helps by bringing us to our knees in humility and sweet surrender, pulling our attention down, down, down—into our womb. From then on, our experience might best be described not as “I was in labor,” or “I was in this stage or that” but as “I became the activity of birthing Itself.”

There can be no objective storyteller or story-making in the chaos of a potent initiation. When living an experience that takes us beyond the familiar, our capacity to cope or our sense of being “in control,” perhaps we finally experience authentic mindfulness—where there is not much room for constructing a story about living the experience.

The story we will come to tell ourselves will come later.

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