On Digging In
I am a labor and delivery nurse, so the word transition carries a particularly strong meaning for me. In my world, transition is the point in labor when the woman goes from 8cm to 10cm dilated, right before it’s time to push. It is the most difficult stage of labor — when the changes taking place in the woman’s body seem too intense to handle. It’s when even the most composed woman starts to lose control and is ready to give up. Forget all this talk about wanting the baby to just be here already. She takes it all back.
The thing about transition is that once a woman is through it, she gets to DO something with all this pain. She gets to push that baby out. No more just passively taking each contraction as it comes; getting through transition gets her to the place where she gets to show how strong she is as she brings another human into this world. When my patient looks at me in desperation and says, “I just can’t do this anymore,” I know she’s in transition. And I look at her and say “sister, you. are. doing. it.”
Now, in a perfect world, my patient has her partner or her mother or sister by her side as she begins to push, but sometimes there’s no one. Then I get the honor of being her support. At this point she doesn’t care that she just met me. She recognizes her need for help in this time of vulnerability, and reaches out for the hand that is offered. Then comes hours and hours of the hardest work she can muster, and then eventually, there is new life. The beauty brings tears to my eyes every time.
This past year has been one of major transitions for my family. We moved from the Midwest to the Mid-Atlantic, leaving behind our town of seven years and the place that Daniel and I have lived the longest as adults. Daniel started a new job. I started a new job, then started graduate school. Our kids have transitioned first to new preschool and daycare, then to kindergarten and preschool. We have started over in virtually every aspect of community: friends, neighbors, church, school, jobs. It probably doesn’t shock you to hear me say that there have been more than a handful of times when either Daniel or I or both of us have looked at one another and said, “I’m just not sure I can do this anymore.”
I am used to being the strong one. The cheerleader. The one who can convince even the most tired woman that she can indeed carry on. But I have found that I am now the one who needs to be convinced. There are days when I really wonder if we’ve bitten off more we can chew. I wonder why I ever thought I wanted to go back to school in the first place. Then someone, usually Daniel, reminds me of why we’re here, and I find new strength to push through.
Sometimes in times of transition, the work that is being done in us feels like it is too much to bear. The intensity of these changes — changes in our situation or changes within us or both — make us want to quit. It is in times of transition, when we feel out of control and that the situation is beyond us, that we must cling to our support like our lives depend on it. We dig our nails in and remember what we’re made of. What we’re made for. And we get down to the business of bringing new life into this world.
Kymber and her family were a part of the Imago Dei family for six years before they moved to Virginia. As often as possible, she goes hiking in the Blue Ridge Mountains with her husband, Daniel, and their two boys, Elliott (5) and Theo (3). If they’re not enjoying the natural beauty of their new home, they are going to festivals or finding ways to connect to their new community. Kymber is in graduate school to become a Family Nurse Practitioner. She plans to continue working with women, particularly those in under-served populations. Even when she’s overwhelmed by her classes, she is humbled to be where she is and is thoroughly enjoying growing into this new role.