The Caterpillar and the Chrysalis
Pam England introduced me many years ago, in my first Birthing From Within Workshop (1999), to the idea that we needed to re-define the length of the postpartum period to include the entire first year of our child’s life, not just the first six weeks. Any of us in the group who had had children agreed that it was on our babies’ first birthday (not their sixth week anniversary) that we really felt that we were shifting out of one phase and into another. She offered us the image of the caterpillar inside it’s chrysalis as a way to describe our first year of motherhood. We had given birth to our babies and now, we were transforming into the women that we were meant to become. It was such a powerful validation of the emotional, spiritual, physical changes we had experienced and not been able to give words or context to. Thank you Pam, for that.
The image of the caterpillar in it’s chrysalis has come up many many times since. Something that I learned, many years later, that makes the metaphor that much more relevant, is that the caterpillar actually breaks down into a mushy substance which then re-configures, re-organizes into the body of a butterfly. And hence, the profound significance of the chrysalis, which holds, sustains and nourishes the changing caterpillar. “Create a cocoon around you” we say. Those of us who have been there. “Create a womb around the baby, create a cocoon around you!”…for we are disintegrating into human mush, melting into fleshy liquid, yes, so full of extraordinary potential but so potentially confusing and scary and lonely and we need a strong, loving container to hold us while we transform into the magnificent butterflies that we are becoming. And it is not just our mothers but our co-parents, our fathers, our older children, everyone involved in a growing family needs a strong container of support where they can feel held and nourished as they shed their old shapes and forms and grow into a new way of being their magnificent selves.
“Caterpillar holds the grand dream of becoming all that it can be, with no limitations, it reaches out to become it’s greatest expression of self, spirit and soul.” Presley Love
In deep gratitude to the teachings of caterpillar!
By Sasha Padron