My Time of Zwischen
by Lauren Kay Weber
I experienced something unexpected this weekend: relief that Asher hasn’t come yet. The past weeks have been occupied with this overwhelming sense of tick tock tick tock. And then? I came down with a head cold over the weekend, starting with a sore throat on Thursday night and then escalating to a full on use-a-box-of-tissues, red nose catastrophe yesterday. Oh, I cannot tell you how happy I was that baby man hadn’t yet come to us because I wouldn’t want to infect him with a 72 hour bug… and how do you keep a brand new baby away from his moo-cow mom? You don’t.
The whole ordeal reminded me of this article that I read a few weeks ago called “The Last Days of Pregnancy: A Place of In-Between.” If you are pregnant, have ever been pregnant or will ever be pregnant, it’s definitely a must read. Or if you’re the husband of one of those someones. Or their close friend, sister, brother. Just read it, okay?
Just some excerpts that I wanted to share with you today:
She’s curled up on the couch, waiting, a ball of baby and emotions. A scrambled pile of books on pregnancy, labor, baby names, breastfeeding…not one more word can be absorbed. The birth supplies are loaded in a laundry basket, ready for action. The freezer is filled with meals, the car seat installed, the camera charged. It’s time to hurry up and wait. Not a comfortable place to be, but wholly necessary.
The last days of pregnancy— sometimes stretching to agonizing weeks—are a distinct place, time, event, stage. It is a time of in between. Neither here nor there. Your old self and your new self, balanced on the edge of a pregnancy. One foot in your old world, one foot in a new world.
Shouldn’t there be a word for this state of being, describing the time and place where mothers linger, waiting to be called forward?
Germans have a word, zwischen, which means between. I’ve co-opted that word for my own obstetrical uses. When I sense the discomfort and tension of late pregnancy in my clients, I suggest that they are now in The Time of Zwischen. The time of in between, where the opening begins. Giving it a name gives it dimension, an experience closer to wonder than endurance.
I believe that this is more than biological. It is spiritual. To give birth, whether at home in a birth tub with candles and family or in a surgical suite with machines and a neonatal team, a woman must go to the place between this world and the next, to that thin membrane between here and there. To the place where life comes from, to the mystery, in order to reach over to bring forth the child that is hers. The heroic tales of Odysseus are with us, each ordinary day. This round woman is not going into battle, but she is going to the edge of her being where every resource she has will be called on to assist in this journey.
We need time and space to prepare for that journey. And somewhere, deep inside us, at a primal level, our cells and hormones and mind and soul know this, and begin the work with or without our awareness.
I don’t know about you, but this perfectly vocalizes my experience at this moment in time. Even as I wait for future children, I don’t know that I will necessarily feel this poignantly on the edge of the cliff, between one state of being and another.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Josh and I are really trying to take advantage of what time we do have. But still, with our bags packed for the birthing center, a freezer full of meals, all my projects done and more, it really does feel like we’re just… waiting.
Oh, also, have you had that baby yet?