Why do I sleep with my phone by my bed, make sure it is perched on the edge of my bathroom sink when I'm in the shower, 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 might 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 takes tremendous innovation to make financially sustainable?
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 to move), and mopping drops of 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 hockey games of my kids, birthdays, concerts, parent/teacher meetings, and date nights, absences 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 of the palpable shift of energy from fear to inspiration in a small prenatal class on on Saturday afternoon. Because of the majestic power of the labouring body and awe evoking stamina of the labouring mind. Because of the holiness of each human's very first cry. Because of the depth and intensity of the intimacy within the birthing space. Because of quiet dawn baptisms of babies by their fathers' tender tears, Because of the look on a physician's face when he finds himself deeply moved by something he had known about women's strength once but had forgotten until just now. Because of the healing these experiences generate as they accumulate one blessed birth at a time.
These moments are like manna to this doula's soul. I am a doula to bear witness to Creation's power, to transformation of epic proportion, to "Oh My Gods" ,"I DID ITs" and "Hallelujahs" whispered first in disbelief...and then shouted from the rooftops when the achievement is rightfully owned. I do it because I am enriched beyond my wildest dreams, regardless of how many times I lose sight of Birth's grace in the darker, lonelier hours when I'm not sure I am of use.
I bear witness to the shifting of couples into families, to the trembling novices into majestic warriors, to the future ancestors unfurling from wise bodies, to the welcoming souls Earthside in peace, hearts bursting, arms opening, masks falling away, owning, reclaiming, spiraling, radiating love.
To the hard working labouring woman who looked deeply into my eyes with her endorphon tinged gaze and asked me, "Lesley...how? How do you DO this? How do you watch all of THIS and go through this with us with so much presence?"
I answer you this from the bottom of my heart: I do this for the love of Birth
I don't make anyone's birth great. Greatness emerges from within those who are dancing with the energy of Birth, I'm not particularly necessary there, because anyone could birth in a ditch if they had to and be awesome. But when the birth givers, their babies, and those who support them are simply held with honour, respect, and love as they work to bring forth life, there is an opportunity for me to bring in a measure of peace to the experience. I like to believe peace is a good thing.