As I approach the birthday of my eldest son, I am graced with beautiful memories of his birth. But as I have pondered this momentous day in my life, I am reminded of the women who midwifed his pregnancy, his labor and his entry into the world and I am moved. As with many of my life adventures, I chose a less traveled path, giving birth at home, no drugs, no nurses, hospitals or extensive intervention…just me, my husband, my dog, cats, and a team of women standing with me, my midwives.
I think mistakenly, midwives are associated with the birth only, but for me, they were the support team, the education force, the steady reminder of my need to be present, joyful and aware as this life grew in my belly. The night my son was born, I was 2 plus weeks overdue, huge, excited, nervous. After too many false starts to count, having contractions stay strong was exciting. My midwives had prepared me so well, educating me to trust my body, educating me to be willing to be uncomfortable, to surrender to what would come, so I dug in. His birth was for me a moment of sitting with God. I can’t possibly describe it any other way….in that space between contractions, I wasn’t in my living room, I wasn’t fatigued or worried, I was enveloped in this loving domain, this totality of all and nothing. I remember the contractions would come and I would breathe and breathe and then relax back into it…for hours and hours. My midwives would check on me, check the heartbeat, and walk away. They told me later, that watching me labor was inspiring, that we all should hope to labor like that.
I would hate to give you the impression I never hit the wall…because I did, I remember crying out….”I can’t do this” as the pain intensified, and no position was comfortable. And my midwives stood strong, held space, and let me lament, knowing that I would labor on, and I did. It’s this space holding which brings me to ponder the role of midwives all through out our lives. Of course, not everyone needs a birth midwife, or rather not everyone births at home or even has children, but so many times in our lives we need people who are there because a transformational space needs to be held, because we are entering uncharted territory, and they know the landscape. So many times we need people who won’t be afraid of our fear, our weakness, our pain or our need to cry. Think about all the midwives who have graced your life: friends, family, therapists, doctors, even strangers who have been there helping you birth something beautiful and new.
Healing, true healing is so much like pregnancy and birth, all the shifting and changing, all the aches, pains, nausea, headache and sleeplessness that can come out of big release and transformation. I think in long ago ways, this was the role of the healers, to stand and be willing to hold space, to remind us of our journey, to shine lights into the darkness, to let us know its ok to be in the darkness too. Healing is a lot like giving birth, eventually, you reach a point, where it’s going to happen, the momentum has been set, and no one, really no one can step in and do it for you.
My birth with my first son, was a spiritual crossing point for me, all that waiting, and yet, when the crescendo hit, it hit fast and hard. I remember stepping out of the birthing pool, and walking into my bedroom, I was stunned by one big contraction, made it to the birthing chair, squatted, felt the need to push, reached down and felt my son’s head…called out “I feel his head” and totally freaked my midwives out because they figured I had hours to go. We look back comically at this moment, as everyone scrambled to be ready to assist, and there was my husband, waiting to greet our first born, in all his slippery new baby awesomeness. Forever reminding me too that we should never assume people have miles to go, for in an instant, after one big contraction the baby can be born and new life is begun.