Saturday, July 7, 2012
For the Love of Birth
Why do I sleep with my phone by my bed, shower with it on the bathroom sink, on call 24/7, never knowing for sure where I'll be when the sun sets on my day or rises on my night? Why do I witness several births in a row that leave me angered, sad, afraid for the future of women and their babies brought forth in our technocratic birthing culture, only to go back again and again to seek and find redemption? Why do I subject my body to sleep deprivation that would crush a frat boy, sometimes finding the only place upon which to curl fitfully during pauses in a long birth is a hard little chair (and not even that if other family members are present in the birthing room)? Why do I do a job that can be so financially limiting because I can only take on so many clients in order to serve them well (and protect my health), living in constant worry that if one goes into labour while I'm attending the birth of another, I will lose substantial funds I budgeted for (one must always pay their backup!). My income is at the mercy of Nature, no schedules or time limits to count on. Why do I happily subject myself to every bodily fluid (and solid) imaginable, grasping sweaty hands, wiping vomit-y hair, cleaning amniotic fluid off legs (or occasionally my face if I wasn't quick enough), and blood off floors? Why do I stand in the vortex while conflicting politics are being thrown around, having my own passionate opinions, but keeping quiet to spare energy for the task at hand, which is to help a woman birth her baby in HER happiest way possible? Why do I take it upon myself to do the daunting task of educating couples about normal birth when, when I ask who in the room might be interested in an unmedicated birth, I am met by the sound of crickets? Why do I frequently miss important soccer games of my kids, birthdays, concerts, parent/teacher meetings, and date nights, things that I know cause wistfulness in those I love? Because it matters. Because it is a calling that is stronger than my resistance to heed it. Because the palpable shift in the cultural paradigm of a small prenatal class on on a Monday night, the sheer power of a labouring body, the awe of a human's very first cry, the baptism of a baby by her father's rapturous tears, the global change the healings create as they accumulate one blessed birth at a time, the look on a physician's face when suddenly he is deeply moved by something he knew about women's strength once but realized he had forgotten until now.... are like manna to this doula's soul. I do it to serve witness to power, to transformation, to "Oh My God" and "I DID IT" and "Hallelujah". I do it because the payoff is beyond my wildest dreams, regardless of how many times I lose sight of that in darker hours. Couples into families, boys into men, future ancestors unfurled and welcomed Earthside, hearts bursting, arms open, masks fallen away, owning, reclaiming, spiraling, radiating, love, Love, LOVE. To the gorgeous labouring lady who, while in the bath to help ease her pain (during a break in contractions), looked deeply into me with her wide, endorphin glazed eyes and asked, "How do you DO this? How do you watch ALL of this and go through this with us? For us?" I answer you this from the bottom of my heart: for the love of Birth.