Unitarian Universalist Hysterical Society
Inherent mirth and dignity

The blood spattered pause

The blood spattered pause

Photo by  Shawn Appel  on  Unsplash

Photo by Shawn Appel on Unsplash



Without darkness, nothing comes to birth. -May Sarton

Without enough splattered blood and guts to rival a murder scene, nothing comes to birth. -Liz James

There is this part in childbirth called "crowning"--I think they call it that because your more delicate parts are arranged in a stretched "crown" around the baby's head.  "Crown" is a bad term for this, because it calls to mind images of fairies laying wreaths of flowers on one another's hair.  

A better name for it would be "Magmapalooza", because it calls to mind volcanic eruptions.  Or "AAAAAGHHH!!  I CHANGED MY MIND PUT IT BACK!!!!"  Because in that moment, you realize that this is the worst thing that has ever happened to anyone, and how did you forget about physics and there is just no way this will work.  You change your mind, and decide the baby will have to go back.  And then you remember moms who told you this is what would happen, and how they told you that the only thing to do at this point is to push like HELL.  So you do.

And then, just at the absolute worst part, the doctor looks up at you from The Valley of Blood and chirps "now we're all just going to pause for a minute and let things stretch".  

To be clear.  She chirps this WHILE THERE IS A HEAD SITTING INSIDE YOUR VAGINA.  Which to be clear, feels exactly like HAVING A HEAD SITTING INSIDE YOUR VAGINA.  And the doctor tells you that this is a great moment to just rest and let things stretch.  Take a few deep breaths and, you know, hang out.  WHILE THERE IS A HEAD SITTING INSIDE YOUR VAGINA.

Blood, screaming, push, and…

… pause.  

That’s how it’s done.  There’s no other way.

The blood spattered pause.  The moment when you are up to your neck in it and there’s no going back, but suddenly you stop. 

In life, it is too easy to mistake this moment for cowardice.  You can’t quite finish coming out of the closet, you can’t leave the job with the horrible boss even though you’ve set everything up, or you can’t quite speak all the truth you were hoping to power, and you suddenly become… frozen.

It is not cowardice.  You were not mistaken.  You are not too tired, or not adequate to the task.  This is not the beginning of self doubt or failure.  

It is just the blood spattered pause.  

It is when your mind and soul are stretching.  When you are becoming sure, more grounded, more open.  When you are taking a moment to minimize the tearing and to gather your strength.  This is not cowardice, this is wisdom.

It is not a falter in your voice when you pause to listen, inhale, breathe.  Courage is a thing you push out, yes but courage is also a thing you stretch into.  A thing you gather up.

And then you push again.  

Because you know deep inside yourself that there is no way that this beautiful, precious, slimey blood soaked miracle is gonna be willing to fit tidily back where it was.  Things are different now.  Tearing or no tearing, it’s gonna happen.  The coronation has occurred.

Originally posted on Liz James Writes. You’re welcome to use this piece in a service, online content, etc—whatever you want, really. Ideally, please attribute to Liz James or the UU Hysterical Society.