you thought you may forget
i stood witness as you remembered
tapping into the tremendous power found there
residing in you
residing in rhythm
residing in trust
residing in the presence to each unfolding moment
welcoming beautiful life into being
an honor to behold
an inspiration to witness
Just a glimpse
What an honor
To be in your midst
Upon entry I knew
I was standing on sacred ground
And you were present to
Enveloped in that which is bigger than and beyond this world
The laboring, welcoming, birthing of new life
I witnessed you rest in that power
Of the ancients
Tapping into wisdom that words
Hold not claim over
The unfolding adventure
Moving as your body urged
Listening and obeying
I witnessed you being opened
To encounter the urgent realities
Of parenting this one you have been nurturing and
welcoming for so many months
Surrendering to the pressing truth
That we are not ultimately in control
Even in careful and infinite preparation, listening and trusting.
Surrender takes courage beyond all measure
That is found there
In your power and wisdom
Of your having birthed life
full of beauty
of your continuing to birth life
in surrender and welcome
while living in teton valley, idaho i attended a birth of a dear friend and powerful mama…
she recently gave birth to her second child (and though i could not be there in physical presence) i was able to walk a bit with her as she navigated the decision of pursuing a vaginal birth after a cesarean.
her process and story is one of courage and insight for mamas who are faced with the decisions around the birth of subsequent children after a cesarean section.
her story is a powerful one and i asked her to share her process in preparing and birthing a new life into being…
here she is pregnant with her first munchkin…awaiting his arrival…
“1. The importance of being educated about the medical model. The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth was great in this regard. When I could look at the actual studies and stats on things like constant EFM and how it increases the chance of cesarean while doing nothing to lower the incidence of brain damage in babies… I realized it isn’t that safety net it is cracked up to be. This empowered me in conversations with Kathleen (her midwife), and helped me put (her midwife with her first child)’s scare tactics in perspective because I read the medical literature reviews myself and could put their concerns and spin on the data in perspective
2. A community of women who believed in me – numerous conversations with women who believed in me, had birth experiences that were relevant. Some of this community I found in birth stories in books and online as well. Reminding myself of really good stories – like my cousin’s sister in law who had two cesareans and then three homebirths.
3. I did a lot of processing and working with imagery. When I would have a contraction I imagine my uterus pulling up and my cervix widening around the baby’s head. When I did this the contraction ceased to be amorphous pain and instead felt like a good, strong muscular contraction that I knew was doing something good. This worked really well during my dilation stage with Alyosha too. Beforehand Darcy and I talked about imagery that would help me with the pushing stage and what we came up with was my pelvis “floating apart” to allow the baby to come down. I used a lot of water imagery like that. On one of many walks I walked by a stream and this idea came to me of how . a stream surrenders to the contours of the ground and to gravity and flows over rocks, around bends… and that I needed to surrender to labor like that. After that walk I did some watercolor birth art around the idea and took that with me to the birth center. I never actually looked at the birth art but the process of doing it meant it was there inside when I needed it in labor. Also the work “surrender” for me actually produced a tangible physical effect that “let go” and “relax” didn’t – they felt like impossible commands. In yoga I played with these words and the effect they produced in my body. At a critical moment in labor where I started to wonder if I was slowing down and psyching myself out I went into the bathroom and sang that hymn “All to Jesus I surrender” which has the refrain “ I surrender all”. I hadn’t thought of the hymn beforehand but because I had connected with that surrender concept the song just came to me when I needed it most – Singing that hymn was a powerful, spiritual ritual that ushered me into a more intense stage of labor.
4. I talked to the baby and told her that I would do everything I could for a safe and efficient labor. I asked the baby when the time came to get in a good position and “swim on down to mommy”. As it turns out I didn’t push until she was crowning so she really did come on down the birth canal on her own (with the help of some crazy intense contractions of course, but no pushing from me).
I also “loved my uterus” which was something I got from Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth. If you’ve had a cesarean it is easy to feel like your uterus, pelvis etc are inadequate. You can fear your uterus because of all the rupture talk. I chose to put my hand on my belly and “feel love” and warmth towards my uterus. I think it helped.”
thank you dear friend for these important reflections…
there are so many unknowns in life… which can often feel amplified in pregnancy and birthing… unfortunatley in our context, the process of living and birthing is often shrouded in much fear.
as an emerging mama it is as if suddenly we are asked to consider the gravity of the fact that we are ultimately not in control of this being that is finding emergence into this wild world. we continue to have choices throughout this journey… however the processes and outcomes are not guaranteed.
there is something very powerful in surrendering to the unfolding of living and giving life. for an expecting parent the anticipation and process of welcoming the present with all of its unpedictable variables can be a beautiful opportunity that may lay the foundation for the longer term business of parenting…and nurturing new life as a whole