Sunday, January 17, 2010

birth on the brain

My life is very full right now, projects and passions pulling me in lots of different directions. Still, one thread is emerging of late; and it pulls me forward with a gentle, steady tug.


after months of dawdling along with a distance doula (birth assistant) program, my friend Elsa's imminent birth snapped me into action. She asked me to be her doula; this would be my first (human) birth. a few weeks before her due date, it dawned on me that i actually knew next to nothing about the basic processes of birth, and also had lots to learn about concrete support practices for a laboring woman.

A month later, i've got 2 child birth preparation classes under my belt, have read a ton of books...and just this past week, i had the opportunity to support elsa through her labor and birth out at Twin Oaks.

its a bit uncanny how fully this has taken hold; like the flip of a switch, its taken over my brain. on the intellectual level, i am now endlessly fascinated by odd quirks of birth, birth viewed through historic and anthropological lenses, individual women's birth stories.........and on the flip side, attending elsa at her birth and in the post-partum period felt totally intuitive, instinctual, natural and easy. some part of me clicked in and knew exactly what to do, how to be, where to put my hands and how hard to press. the more deeply i was able to tap into this intuitive stream, the easier it was. and what a gift to be working with 2 amazing, powerful women (midwife and her assistant)--wise, skilled, warmly compassionate and supportive forces of nature.

i also love that every time i post anything about birth on my facebook status, i get 5-10 comments from other women, about their births or birth in general. folks that i haven't communicated with in years, maybe even since high school happily volunteer tidbits from their own birth stories, or words of advice or encouragement.

i came out of the birth still unsure if it is my own personal path to bear a child (or children). its a tricky question that sky and i have not yet resolved. he feels done, having done it once. i'm not sure. nothing is for sure at this point, and a lot will depend on the future we create together.

the most moving part of the birth was seeing the intensity between the parents as they labored together: such deep intimacy and closeness as well as emotional and physical expression! its the same thing that i loved about playing weddings with the vulgar bulgars. i just love participating in and supporting people in these huge, sacred, life-changing transitional moments of life. there's a rawness, a depth of experience and feeling that is just so special to witness and support.

i'm still not sure where this is all heading--hospital doula? opening a birth center? donating services to anyone who comes my way? apprenticing with a midwife? being a mother? being a midwife?

but i do feel solid and sure that this one part of my path.