Birth is a transformative experience. Your body is pushed beyond new, seemingly insurmountable limits. You become a mother. Whether it's for the first, second, or seventh time, you are meeting your baby face-to-face and that experience leaves you forever changed.
But with each birth, you also get the opportunity to meet yourself. Will you take it?
Many of us are taught from an early age to comply, to not get upset, to prioritize others' needs above our own, to be polite, etc. In certain contexts, these learned traits help us navigate society, keep the peace, and minimize discomfort and conflict in our relationships. Sometimes, we are held back by what we've learned. We lose track of our feelings and needs, we trivialize our desires.
Birth is not the time to be a good girl. It's not a time to be an abusive jerk, but it's okay to stop trying to please.
If you are having a home birth, do not worry about providing snacks for the birth team; we will take care of our own nourishment. Do not feel obligated to invite people who you do not want, or who will bring negative energy, into your birth space. Do not refrain from asking any question, or voicing any discomfort or concern, or repeating those questions or concerns, until you are satisfied with the response. If you want me to massage your neck and then a second later you want me to stop, tell me. Swat my hand away, if that's easier in the moment. I will still like you and will continue to care for you.
Allow yourself to feel. Sit in the discomfort and embrace it. Your partner and I will be there until it eases. Swear, and let yourself get creative; it may lighten the mood and lead to laughter. Scream. Grunt. Make any number of animal sounds. Fart, poop, vomit. Allow yourself to accept whatever may come.
Doulas often encourage clients to sink deeper into contractions, to let them wash over them like a wave, or similar language. It's the openness of mind (and mouth) that opens the body for baby. But no one can make you let go of the control that each of us holds tight, that protective blanket of thought on which we all rely. It's a choice to let go, and it's scary because you don't know what's on the other side. But that's where you find her.
She's you at your own birth, demanding warmth and nourishment at your own mother's breast. She's you as a child, unable to suppress the urge to stick your hands into the soft, supple mud. She's you as you fall asleep, unable to keep your own eyes open one more second, accepting the command of rest. She's you expressing your talent, proud and knowing of your greatness. She's you feeling joy, an electric excitement, like the girl in the rain. She's your purest self, unadulterated by obligations and expectations.
Bring her to your birth. Allow her in. Sit in the fear, and pain, and love, and power that she brings.
I've worked in the forest, in the lab, and in an office cubicle. My favorite and most passionate work has been alongside clients as they reach inside to find their innermost strength, and give birth to their babies. Each birth is an honor to witness.