I flipped my car end-over-end and landed in a ditch. I was sixteen. I was probably driving too fast for the rutted dirt road. When the car came to a stop, I was hanging from the ceiling by my seat belt. I crawled out the shattered passenger side window. I was unharmed, but not unscathed. To this day I am a nervous driver and and even more nervous passenger.
In the years after the accident, I was a newly-minted driver when it occurred, I slowly gained more driving experience and incremental confidence. My dreaded driving maneuver: the highway merge. Luckily there were not many occasions in my day-to-day driving that required me to enter the fast lane. If I wanted to partake in the excitements of big-city Wichita, however, the merge became a right of passage. It had to be done. The witness to this feat of nerves was typically my friend Jason. Poor Jason. I didn't trust drivers to yield to incoming traffic. The speed of the metal hurtling toward me nearly left me breathless. Not breathless enough. My coping strategy involved screams. Great, huge, unbridled screams of terror as I merged. This could not have reassured Jason. Yet he hung in there. Gritting his teeth no doubt.
And now as I prepare to enter the fast lane with the arrival of baby number two, I am once again faced with the incontrovertible fact that I must merge. It must be done. There will be screaming. I must merge into a life in which I am a mother of two under two. I will have a son. There will be lots of screaming.
The screams will be functional, I'd like to think. And hopefully mostly metaphorical. I will scream and moan his hot, little, active body into this world (hence, functional). And then there will be the screams involved in allowing my vision of how life proceeds (and the illusion of my control over it) to be dimmed, stripped away, and returned to me in ways I can't hope to imagine. (Thus, metaphorical.)
I have realized that it is not so much the act of merging that is required. It is the fine art of the yield. The merge is me acting on the stream of life. Here what is needed is the realization that I must yield to others what I cannot possibly handle alone. I must give way to the forces of childbirth and allow a baby boy to pass through me. I must slow down and allow others to help me care for my almost-toddling baby girl. I must give way to those who will care for me and my family as we reorient ourselves with a new little one. I must yield.
Yield. My new mantra, for childbirth and for life. Give way.
And not just to give way, but also. . .
to give up possession of
to surrender or submit oneself to another
to bear or bring forth as a natural product
to be fruitful or productive : bear, produce
to give up and cease resistance or contention : submit, succumb
to give way under physical force (as bending, stretching, or breaking)
to give place or precedence
Even though many years have passed since I found myself upside down in a ditch, I am still a nervous passenger when riding in a car. Just ask my husband. But it is true that I have learned to merge, both as driver and passenger, without actually screaming. I believe that I can learn how to deftly, perhaps gracefully, yield too. It is time. If you hear some screaming, however, don't worry. It is just a part of the ride.