A Birth, A Birth and a Death

Sometimes it just happens. You meet someone on a holiday, you hook up, and months later, find yourself in the same city, with that same person, planning a life together, anticipating the new life that you carry within. Yes, it happens.

I remember that call, asking for help and guidance, meeting with the couple for the first time, hearing about their plans (he is moving to Atlanta), and agreeing to be their doula, or guide, as they called me, through this very unknown and unplanned time in their lives.

Moving forward to the birth….it was exquisite. I arrived at their house (he moved in with her) and she was meditating to a beautiful CD, doing yoga and he was making sure she had water, juice and snacks. He was happy to see me. She just smiled. She and I moved from her room downstairs to up, and he followed with the CD player, same meditation, for hours.

Her parents came for support, encouragement and to prepare food. (Her mother, recently diagnosed with cancer.) Mama and I went into her bedroom and she went on the bed for a massage. Baby started gyrating. Membranes broke. Mama took a shower and we gathered things to go to the hospital, 30 minutes from the house.

Mother and daddy kissed their daughter good-bye. It was so touching.

It was a phenomenal and peaceful birth,; at the last moment, I asked dad if he would like to catch their baby. He did and it changed his life forever, he said.

A year later, the couple married, their wedding covered in a national magazine. They purchased a house, conceived again. I remember getting the call. What was I doing in mid-October? Attending your next birth, I hope. And, by the way, how is your mom? She is not well, was her answer. Not well at all. However, she is very excited about this baby, and hopes she lives to meet it.

We were in communication weekly through her pregnancy, as she needed support because her mom’s cancer was spreading, her health failing, and she was in hospice. And, as her estimated due date got nearer, she said that her mom’s doctors couldn’t believe she was still alive. Was she suffering? What was she holding on for?  I suggested she ask her mom. And she did. Of course, there was only one answer: to meet this baby. My client felt the pressure of that. I suggested that she allow her mom to live with her decision without feeling that pressure.

And, then came 40 weeks…we talked. And then, 40 weeks and 6 days. She called. I am ready, she said. I need to get things moving along here. My practice will start suggesting interventions soon. What suggestions do you have, Shari?

It only took seconds. I said I would give her suggestions for “natural induction” tomorrow. Then, I asked her four questions. When did you stop trusting that your baby knows when to be born? When did you stop trusting that your body knows when and how to have this baby? When did you stop trusting god? When did you stop trusting your inner wisdom? I said to think about that and tomorrow she could call for the induction suggestions. She never called.

That was Thursday. Friday, she spent the day on a task: storing summer clothes and bringing out winter ones. Saturday, she went to a party and when asked when she was having the baby, said tomorrow. Indeed, in the supermarket on Sunday, felt that first rush, called me, finished shopping, and four hours later, unexpectedly birthed her baby in the peace of their new home. I was there a moment afterward, helping hold things together, calming the paramedics who had been called, preserving the sanctity and sacredness of the moment. She untied the string that the EMT had placed around the umbilical cord, and felt as it ceased pulsating. Her husband severed the tie between mother and child when it did. She nursed her newborn, birthed her placenta in bed, and the EMTs departed. Her husband brought her soup he had made while she was in labor. Everything was perfect.

The next day, it was quite cold, and they stayed home alone, tending to their newborn daughter. Their two year old son was brought home that evening. The next day, they all went to visit her mom, who held the baby — and took her last breaths only hours later.Image

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On Birth Stories and Healing

I have been reading some birth stories that clients sent me. Often I assist in finding lost misplaced memories, filling in the blanks, as when giving birth, sometimes the mom’s timeline gets skewed. It’s interesting how some women remember their births.

I remember one of the first times a mama shared a birth story with me. It was a previous birth, one at which I was not present. It began beautifully: The sky had just opened after a raging thunderstorm, and as I looked out the window at the first ray of sunshine anyone had seen in a week, I felt that first surge of energy from my womb. Little did I know what lay before me, and that I would meet my daughter later that evening.

Quickly the story soured into a litany of sad comments about interventions that culminated into feelings of weakness and despair, the mom believing (as she had been told) that this was all to save the life of her unborn child, and then resolve that her body was not, indeed, capable of knowing how to birth a child without the capable hands of some expert at the helm, taking charge. (Later, as she read her hospital chart: failure to progress.)

At the end of the story, however, things changed and became happy again, because this mom had forgotten buried these feelings between the time of the birth and the writing of the story, and there was a thrill of having a beautiful and healthy baby and it was: her perfect birth.

Whaaa?

With the previous birth, she told me in our initial visit, she felt her doula did not help in ways that could have prevented these interventions. She had heard that I was strong and capable, and would advocate for her in the new hospital and help her husband know how to speak for her when she couldn’t speak for herself. And, didn’t I know something about hypnosis? And, did I think that the problems she had with her first birth could possibly happen again, or maybe even mar this birth?

That began a journey into her past that helped her reclaim her power, her inner strength and resolve to have this baby the way she wanted, when it was ready to come, in the position preferred to give birth.

There was lot of self-forgiveness in those hypnosis sessions. She felt she had to forgive herself her ignorance. She engaged in knowing her options. She changed her previous birth story to reflect her truth.

And in this birth she changed her organic memory, remembering her body’s knowledge of what she carried all along: she was made to have these babies in a normal, natural way, and she could do it. She would do it. Then came birth day, rainy, cloudy. ImageAs her baby emerged from her body, once again, the sky opened up and the sun shone. She took him to her chest and she cried for herself, for him, for her three year old daughter. She had reclaimed her human right as a woman.