Birthwork Changed My Perception of Birth (And Vice Versa)
Today I am writing at the request of a reader who has recently given birth and has been enjoying my blog while squishing on their new baby. They want to know how #birthwork prior to my son’s birth (a little over 12 years ago) changed my perception of birth/giving birth and again how the birthwork I’ve done since then has changed my perception of birth/giving birth with regards to my upcoming #birth. I might add in there how giving birth, period, has changed my perception as well.
Thoughts on birth pre-2003 (my son was born in September 2003)
If I recall correctly, when I was a very young child I didn’t think much about birth itself, but I did think about being a mother and having lots of children. Being raised an only child may or may not have had something to do with the desire to have lots of children, but I can not say for certain.
Of course I remember Cammie’s birth since it was the one that led me into a life of midwifery and out of a life of self-destruction. You do not forget #twins, as an inexperienced 16 year old in the partially finished basement of a friend’s house (whose parents were out of town for the week). That birth turned on a switch somewhere deep inside of me that I can not really explain easily without using the word “epiphany” for lack of a better suited name for how I felt afterwards. Also, the post-birth high was better than any other high I had experienced.
I didn’t really have an opinion or preconceived idea about birth prior to Cammie’s twins other than the typical clichéd spectacle that birth is portrayed as on TV and in movies. You know, lots of pain and blood.
Between Cammie’s twins and the birth of my son, a whole world of birth happened before my eyes: illegal Mexican immigrants living in abject poverty, Fundamentalist Christians living off the grid, Mennonite and Amish families living in tiny Oklahoman towns that are hard to find on a map, and super crunchy neo-hippies. The common thread in all of these births was that birth is hard work, messy, often painful, simultaneously predictable and unpredictable, and most assuredly mysterious/magical.
I was never scared of birth or of giving birth, even in spite of seeing some births end in sadness & heartbreak.
Birth is as safe as life gets. (Really think on that for a moment)
I believe that I felt as prepared as one can feel when it came time to give birth to my own child. I mean, understanding the science, biology, and mechanics behind birth is akin to understanding the reasons for the specific layout of the Sistine Chapel or how a Latin Mass follows a certain schedule, but until you are a true believer or have faith, meaning in this case until you have physically given birth, you can not fully understand the transformative, mystical event that birth is. You can dance all around that feeling and understanding, study it ad nauseam, but there is no true understanding until you have been on that journey for yourself.
Birth is change. (I was prepared for change, but I was not prepared for how the change would manifest.)
Thoughts on birth after giving birth to my son
I firmly believe, like I said above, that your perception of giving birth changes (and dramatically, I might say) after having experienced it for yourself.
There is a kind of #knowing that was probably a part of me through some kind of woo-woo cosmic imprint to begin with, but it’s almost like it was knowledge that I couldn’t access until I gave birth myself. I definitely gained my sense of #intuition regarding birth once I had given birth myself. An ability to *just know* if things are okay or if something is not right with a client or baby. I trust that implicitly. That’s not to say that I didn’t have some kind of intuition before giving birth, but it was not the same and was something that I would have second-guessed (and did at times).
I definitely have more and a greater respect for birthing families and their desires around birth than I did before giving birth. Their birth has nothing to do with me. I am only there as a space-holder and a kind of guide to point out things along the way. I am not there to change things or mould the experience into something that makes sense to me or that suits my ego. It is not about me!
I have also learned that what seems like a risky or irresponsible plan at one birth or with a certain client can seem totally and completely perfect and logical with a different client or birth. There is NO ABSOLUTE and there can not ever be.
Birth is chaos. (You have to be somewhat chaotic to follow its lead.)
Thoughts on birth as I approach my due date and the challenge of giving birth again (after all these years)
I know and I do not know.
I know that everything will happen as it is supposed to. I know that I will have everything that I need. I know that I have prepared myself well, but without dwelling on any one thing too much. I know that everything will be okay.
I do not know how it will happen. I do not know when it will happen. I do not know if it will feel different than last time (in the metaphysical/spiritual sense). I do not know if it will seem as transformative as birth was with my son.
Over the last several years I have attended the births of a lot of friends. New and very old friends. I have seen the amazing transformation of them into Mother/Parent, over and over and over. I have fallen in love all over again with every one of them at that moment they reach down for their babies and greet them. I have seen the fierceness and knowledge in their eyes when they know that things are not right.
And I gave them all my love, support, and wisdom to the best of my ability.
I know that I have surrounded myself during this pregnancy with love, support, and wisdom (from some of those same friends). Those three key elements will also surround me during birth. That is all that I can ask for.
Birth is knowing and not knowing. (It is a logical, spiritual, and heart paradox.)
Birth is perfect.
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