Of all the experiences of my life, giving birth was the most transformational.
I remember thinking during my first labour.. “Why didn’t anyone tell me”?
But thinking now what I wish someone would have told me.. I can’t really say.. There are no words to describe the enormity of the experience. I think what I really wished I had known was that labour and giving birth was a rite of passage, a spiritual experience, a shamanic experience, that I would never be the same again after going through this gate way.
Each time I gave birth I learned so much about myself, how much I could give, how much I could surrender, how big I could be, how I was a speck in the universe, and I was everything, what trust is, what this baby required of me and how best to be their Mother.
My teacher Jane Hardwick Collings says this.. “You have the birth you need to have, to teach you what you need to learn about yourself, to take you to the next place on your journey to wholeness”.
The first time I heard this I felt challenged.. my births were not straight forward, there were complications in all of them, why did we have to go through all of that..? But as the years have passed and I see what each birth and baby has taught and continues to teach me, I can see that their pregnancies, labours and births were exactly what has brought me to where I am now. Not whole, but on the eternal journey to wholeness. My babies births have been the single most informing moments of my life that make me who I am now.
And, every pregnancy results in a birth.. abortions, miscarriages, still births, live birth… In honouring all of these births and the teachings they bring we are honouring our whole journey.
Other women I have spoken to who have had complicated births, interventions, caesareans, unwell babies, still births, can find this statement challenging too.. it can make them angry.. especially when outcomes were not good. It can be very difficult to trust in a process that didn’t work out how you had dreamed or expected. Unimaginable that this is the way things were meant to be and that there would come a time that you would understand it all.. Maybe that time won’t come, and maybe this is too much to contemplate in the shock of a traumatic birth experience. I certainly couldn’t get my head around it for a few years.. I can still get in a tangle with it, what was my part? What was the other people’s parts..? There are so many stories in a birth, and especially in a birth that required transfer, intervention, surgery.. So what I come back to is my story, how I felt, what I learned about myself.
I’m not saying it’s the answer, or even right. It could be wrong, I’m not claiming to know..
It is for me, a worthwhile contemplation that I return to over and over when I need to remember who I am, why I am here and what have I learned that can help me now. Also in parenting the child, I remember their birth and what they needed from me.. it is usually always the answer to what they need from me now.
My first baby taught me that I could trust the process, I was strong and capable, and I needed to have control over my environment.. where I was and who was there. My first baby also taught me that when birthing in hospital Women need an experienced birth attendant.. so I then trained as a Doula. Thank you my first baby
My second baby taught me to share my fears and burdens and they would be eased, and to pay attention to my intuition and mother knowing. He showed me how strong we were together. He also taught me the importance of holding and maintaining the mamatoto (mother baby) bond in NICU.. my first baby’s NICU experience helped us to be much better prepared for the more serious needs of my second baby and his time in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit).. Thank you my second baby
My third baby taught me about true connection with my unborn baby, how she could speak to me and help me prepare for Motherhood of 3.. she taught me I was right to trust birth and to return to homebirth after our first two experiences. She taught me you can be strong and still flexible. She taught me that she would come my way if I gave her my full attention and focus, and asked very nicely, and that together we were so powerful. She taught me deep peace. Thank you my third baby
My fourth baby taught me that I do things in two’s. She showed me the wisdom of the breech baby again.. and this time I listened. I opened my heart to her coming into this world in which ever way she chose, and while I listened she showed me how to mother four young children. She taught me to go with the flow, to take the path of least resistance, even if it felt like the longer way it was always easier and more joyful. Then she turned. And I was still learning the gift of trust with my 4th birth.. Our blessed three day labour was an epic adventure in trust.. Thank you my fourth baby
My fifth baby taught me that just because it happens doesn’t mean it’s meant to be, that the medical path is sometimes necessary, to call in your women when you need them and they will come. Thank you my fifth baby.
My sixth baby taught me again that I do things in two’s and to remember what happened the last (2nd) times.. I trusted the process, I let go. Thank you my 6th baby.
The stories of my births feel like lifetimes in themselves.. how could they all fit into my life? I am still finding more in each story. I know I will keep drawing from these stories forever, for guidance, for a path, for reflection and to treasure the children that are here with me and the ones that couldn’t stay. I love them all, my teachers.
And why my children experienced these things in their births is for them to discover on their own journey’s to wholeness.