The Proverbial Hokey Pokey


During a pivotal point of my son’s labor I read the following poem by Rainer Maria Rilke:

God speaks to each of us as he makes us,
then walks with us silently out of the night.

These are the words we dimly hear:

You, sent out beyond your recall,
go to the limits of your longing.
Embody me.

Flare up like a flame
and make big shadows I can move in.

Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final.
Don’t let yourself lose me.

Nearby is the country they call life.
You will know it by its seriousness.

Give me your hand.

The golden key for me, the brilliancy of this poem lies in one line: No Feeling is final. To me, this is what labor and delivery is all about. What motherhood and parenting is all about What being a human being is all about. No feeling is final– the proverbial “hokey-pokey” if you will.

In my prenatal classes I hope to empower women to see that every moment is new, that every ache and pain and joy is fleeting. As we practice together, I encourage my students to feel it all and know that whether it is a contraction, a screaming child, or a painful latch, this too shall pass. And that this is what makes life glorious and beautiful.