What’s Mine is Mine

I had an interesting experience a few years ago. A friend had attended her first hospital birth, as doula for her friend. This would be her first certifying birth, as she had just completed her training seminar.

My friend had told me that her friend was hoping for a VBAC. Off they went. Labor went well, then a pause, then the baby’s heartbeat had variables and late decels, then the doctor decided to extract the baby with forceps. My friend saw the doctor offer no anaesthetic and, as he pulled the baby from her body, witnessed the fourth degree tear that ensued. It was very traumatic. For my friend.

My friend went home and cried. For days. And couldn’t talk about the birth. And she cried some more.

She finally told me about the birth, and how it had traumatized her and how she didn’t think she could be a doula. She had told me about her own birth and how respectful and present everyone had been and how terrible it must have been for this woman to have the baby ripped from her body and to have been torn open and asked how anyone could ever heal from that experience. She mourned that woman’s birth. She could not process the birth with the mama.

Many months passed. My friend was leaving town and stayed with me for a few weeks. One day I had an “aha” moment and asked if she would like to process the birth experience. She agreed to. It had occurred to me that my friend had taken something from the birth that did not belong to her. She had taken the experience and labeled it “horrible” and embodied it as her own, and it did not belong to her. She could be neither sympathetic nor empathetic, as she had ceased to solely be present for her friend. She heard me. She got it. She meditated on it. She energetically gave the birthing mama back what was hers and finally could process the birth and talk about her experience.

There are many ways in which we can take what is not ours. When we talk about another person’s malady, when we don’t consider that holding sacred space is not about “me”, when we don’t consider that a story is confidential, (even when not told so), and when we gossip, are just a few.

Please allow me to keep what is mine. And when I hold space sacred for you, I will allow you to have what is yours, and I will hold that sacred, too.

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