During our prenatal work with the doulas they introduced us to a Birthing from Within concept that uses a labyrinth as an analogy for the birth process. It equates the birth of a child to the twisty, turny unknowns of a labyrinth, where one minute you are close to the middle, the finish, the birth of a child and the birth of a parent, but then an unexpected turn forces you down a new path. It is a nice example for how unpredictable and often uncontrollable labor can be, and for us, it accurately depicted our experience.
The analogy also goes on to convey that exiting the labyrinth is relatable to the process of adapting to life as parents, and of finding yourself and feeling comfortable with yourself in this new role. There was a statement that stuck with me, one that I have thought about many times over these last few months with you. It explained that this process of exiting the labyrinth and finding your way as a new parent can take up to a couple of years. Two years! For some reason I found this comforting rather than unsettling, a sort of justification that this adventure we were about to embark on was going to be a big adjustment and that we might rightly struggle a bit as we proceeded through it. It provided some reassurance to know that settling into this new role as a parent takes some time, and that we shouldn’t expect it to be completely easy, natural or intuitive.
About a week before you were born we went to a nearby labyrinth and walked through it. We each silently pondered our way through it, the dogs by our sides (wondering, I’m sure, why we kept changing directions), and I took comfort in reflecting on my pregnancy and the impending arrival of you. I also enjoyed thinking forward to the next stage in our life, as parents, and the little family that was about to be born.
At this time, and shortly thereafter, I often thought of exiting the labyrinth, and ever since then I’ve been taking stock of where we’re at along this path of retreat from the middle. These past few weeks, and even months, I feel like things have really been clicking. Even recently, through a few rough nights when you weren’t sleeping well and your little cold when you weren’t feeling well, your dad and I are solidly established in our roles as parents, but still also as husband and wife, and as best friends. I realize that we still have a lot to learn and experience – that our role as parents will always be evolving and forcing us to adapt and learn and that we’ll be challenged in ways we still cannot imagine – but at this point in time I feel confident that we have exited that labyrinth. We’re ready to move freely outside of its winding confines and to explore the world confidently as a solid family unit.