What has birth taught you?
What a question really. It's a thought I have to really dive into. It's something I want to answer, and one of those moments I am afraid that my words can not possibly reach the depths they need to go to properly answer it. There are a thousand lessons birth has taught me, but each is a whole blog post in its own.
So instead, I'll share with you a piece of what birth has brought me.
Birth has brought me patience.
As I nurture the mother, who is anxious for labor to start. As I turn away from the clock, and hold up a leg during pushing when the nurse has to step out. As I encourage, while mama pushes on in her path- enduring beautifully each contraction. As the home birth first time mother sighs into the side of her couch, wondering and wishing for a shorter labor, as she looks to me with a question in her eyes. I am able to offer only a word, a touch, a hand, a photograph, my presence. I must wait, and wait, and help others endure the waiting. Birth is on its own time clock- its like being in a different universe when you are in the birth space. Patience too, with myself as I learn how to be more for these families. How to counsel, and educate, how to support. Patience is one of my strongest virtues. And while I have always had it, birth has strengthened its pull and weight. Birth brought me the skills to develop it in such a beautiful way.
Birth has brought me rest.
Sometimes I curl into a corner, or lean my head on a wall. I doze, camera in hand on a living room couch, or a hospital waiting chair. I don't keep track of the longest or shortest births I have been to, but I have definatly been in the birth space for 30+ hours on many occasions. That is after long days of my own, sometimes called in the middle of the night. There are moments when I am needed, and moments when I have to hold space, and moments when that call pushes me to my limits, where my body and the room requires me to rest along with everyone else, or call in back up support. So I learned to close my eyes and soak up the strength I need. I learned to sleep with my camera in hand, and my mind alert to every noise. I learned to fall asleep in my own bed, only to be up the very moment any sound emerges from my phone. That type of rest is hard to learn. Its would be easy to be on edge all the time, but I have learned to truly relax. Birth has also brought me the rest that comes from finding your life passion doing what you love. The kind of rest that comes from serving, loving, nurturing others. The kind rest that comes from taking the space your soul needs to heal in between. The kind of rest that comes from true love. Probably the most difficult- the kind of rest it takes to say no, to step back, and to take breaks. Rest in birthwork is non-negotiable if it is to be a forever work.
Birth has brought me understanding.
Compassion as my lens, serving with an open mind. Sometimes birth, or a birth experience, brings a unique challenge or brings with it a deep grief. Your eyes must be open, your heart must see. The beauty, the strength. The fear, the pain. The good and the bad. Learning to hold space for another on their journey- (especially when that journey is difficult or different) is the most valuable gift. It brings me understanding of things I previously knew nothing about. It teaches me the power of unlearning, reframing, and adjusting your scope. It brings me wisdom, the greatest of which is how to change. Wisdom born of pain, but with so much life to give. I feel honored to hold that. Honored that birth continues to teach me and challenge me in so many ways.
Birth has brought me grief.
Deep, world shaking grief. It is not all first breaths, and tiny toes, and glowing mothers. Sometimes, the mother is touched by the moon instead of the sun. A night come too soon. To try to hold space for someone who has lost a child... is like trying to lasso the moon. We can aim, we can love, we can want. But sometimes you just know it's never going to be enough. Death, is so tied up in birth. Sometimes it holds great beauty, and sometimes all we can see is great pain. Birth, of my own child that ended in death was the single most life changing event I ever experienced. Both of the births of my children tore my heart open in such vastly different ways. Those births brought me growth, victory, and deep deep grief. They are my why, something I want to write in depth about soon. Grief, as I have come to know her, often hides behind her name. But in reality, She is just love without anchor. Deep deep love and a desperation of direction. Birth in my own story, and in the story of so many others, has absolutely brought me grief. It has also made me more comfortable with death, a gift I did not expect to want to use, but that finds me searching for ways to guide others on the same types of journeys. Perhaps the future holds space for this on my calling path. Time will tell.
Birth has brought me joy.
The cries I have heard! The exclamations! When a babe takes its first breath after a shaky entrance. When a mother has discovered her strength, and pulls it all up with her child, she is victorious. The sound of her victory scream is like no other. Sometimes it fills the home. Sometimes the silence of it is the loudest vibration. The tears that fall, I collect in my heart and pour them back into my work. The tear of a father, a grandma, a mother, a babe. So much salt and love. Each one valuable and precious and remembered in my heart. Birth has brought me joy like I have never known. To be invited into the sacred birth space, and be trusted to tell its story. To relive those moments again and again as I edit them, deliver them to grateful parents. As I share and craft them into my posts and memoirs. It is an honor to hold and witness and share SO much joy. It is an honor every single time a mother chooses to share her birth photos through me. Every image is worth a thousand words truly, and helps reach a thousand hearts every day.
Birth has brought me inspiration.
An artist my whole life, I struggled to find my place. I sketched, painted and drew. I crocheted, tried woodworking, tried photographing weddings. Nothing stuck. Then I met birth. Then I met mothers. Then I met the mother in me. The art piece I had been longing to create, couldn't come from myself. It is only an artistic reflection of the already divine. The miracle of the birth space. The birth, the depth of a mothers love. To photograph the sacred moments, to stitch them together. To take small details, and stitch them into a story. To open and document a frame with heart and soul. To watch it come together in person, and in editing. To create as I am serving, giving, all that I have to offer. This is what I always searched for. This art.
Birth has brought me home.
Oh the tender souls I meet. The mother who longs for her rainbow baby. The father who wants to catch this child. The big sister that wants to comfort and act as her mothers keeper. The dog who patiently waits, nose to the birth pool. The mother who picks wild berries and cradles a child in her womb. The birth workers I get to connect with. The families who invite me in. The stories I get to hear. Birth stories, and victories. Grief stories and fear. All of the things that make up a person and bring them to the birth space. All the things they bring with them. This is where I unpack my bag. This is where I softly focus my camera lens. This is where I document. This is where I hold space. This is real, raw, beautiful life. This is my home. And tears pour down my face any time I truly stop to consider this.
These are so many many more things birth has brought me. (Grace, love, purpose. Education, tenderness, faith. Prayer, grief, water, passion. Culture, friendship, humility, freedom...) Birth has brought me so much. The work of birth, the act of birth, my own birth stories, and every birth story someone has whispered into my ear. Like drops of water, they fill the ocean of my soul.
Spirit bless the birthing mothers.
The birth workers. The babes.
Spirit bless them.
and may they continue to shine their light through me as I serve in these spaces.<3
- Forever your Birthkeeper
CordeliaGrey Oriana Allen