When it comes to birth, there are so many things we can do to ensure that we are educated, prepared, in touch with our babies and looking forward to the the actual delivery. We can exercise, we can eat well, take really good childbirth education classes and get support.
Birth is a time of growth, not a pursuit of the “perfect experience”. In birth, we have to relinquish control….give in to the process, allow our need to be in charge to disappear. Babies, especially the position they are in, dictate what it going to happen in a birth. They write their own story. Hard indications for procedures are hard indications. I don’t fully subscribe to “at the end of the day what we want is a healthy mum and a healthy babe.” Of course we all want that! What we want is to be OF our experience, not DEFINED by it. I have attended women over the years that have been open hearted and open minded and these are the women I most love to work with. I find that rigid birth plans are often a recipe for disaster. Too much control is just that—-too much control. To quote Ami McKay’s wise midwife, “Every birth is a lesson.” Nothing is perfect, but it can be perfectly okay. There are days when my heart bleeds for the experience a family has had and I used to be egotistical, smarmy enough to think it had anything to do with me. Now, I sit in what I feel and allow myself to truly listen to what I know is true… if, unnecessary interventions did not happen, if the birthing team did everything possible to follow the natural course of the labouring woman, if she was fully involved in all of the decisions made and the outcome was not what she had hoped for then this is how it was meant to be. Then we celebrate the gifted surgeons that can step in. Then we celebrate the strength of the woman. Then we celebrate that the baby gave us signs that all was not okay. We also celebrate that there is so much about birth that we do not know. There is magic, mystery and grace. Grace is a state that can change the world. Each time I attend a birth, I am in awe at the way it is touched by grace. I am baffled by the mystery of the process. I can feel the magic…the way the room changes in temperature, the way the energy shifts and the way senses are heightened just before the arrival of the baby.
I can honestly say I love the women I work with and sometimes I am lucky enough to have become very good friends with these women and I watch their children grow. We work through the experience together. We are heart and hand fasted. Today, I feel blessed to have witnessed two astounding events this weekend and to have met two beautiful young authors. Your stories, my sweet, sweet girls, have etched themselves into my very soul and I will not soon forget the strength, the bravery and the trust of your mothers. May these stories you have both started continue to be as eventful as the way you entered this world.
With much love,
Category : Blog
As I await the birth of two babies, I cannot help but think how blessed I am to be living my life’s passion and loving it. From the time I first saw my youngest sister, I fell in love with babies. There was something about her– the way she responded when I talked to her, carried her, played with her. Almost eight years older than her, I truly was enamored. At that time, I had no idea that babies would become the biggest life lessons for me and would introduce me to a new tribe that I would love being a part of.
From the time this baby showed up in my life, I wanted to be in contact with babies any time I was given a chance. At twelve I babysat a 3 month old child full time in the summers, 5 days a week for 10 hours a day. I loved him too. This baby had a hole in his heart, and technology not being what it is today, he died at the age of seven and it broke my heart. He had lived near my house and after school I would piggy back him home and take care of him until his mum came home. We spent many hours together and when he died, I lost faith in so much. This was one tribe I did not want to be a part of. What I did not lose faith in was babies.
A few years later I met my then to be husband and at our wedding his brother, our best man “warned” me — all my husband wanted to be when he was young was a daddy. Well, two weeks later, he was a daddy in the making as we conceived our first child on our honeymoon. Terrified, we tried to find our way to parenthood. What was missing for me was a feeling of belonging when I was pregnant. If only I had then what I have now…. a “tribe” of women, so to speak.
These women have common interests: my youngest sister is the mother of twins, and I cannot tell you how I go to her when I question myself. In my mid thirties, I really struggled with being a mum. It was as if something came over me and I had no idea what I was doing. I believe that this comes to all of us as we mother and I have encountered it hundreds of times over in my Calm Mum classes. This common thread of questioning ourselves is threaded through our tribe as mothers.
Some of the members of my tribe are in the same line of work that I am. We share information, offer advice on difficult cases, support each other in times of extreme fatigue and really are “birth junkies”.
Other members of my tribe are people I seem to have “collected” as I have moved into mid-life. My soccer sistas push me on the pitch, my daughters, ever-changing, push me to question my intentions, not stay stagnant and be gentle with people, situations and time. My very close girlfriends (and there are only a few) become very tribal as we cross border shop, discuss our relationships with our partners and train for half marathons. The older I get, the more I need the tribal mentality. As I wait for my pager to go off, my own tribal instincts keep me on my toes. This “knowing” as a mother, a labour support provider – will bring me dreams (not always accurate), deep sleep when I need it and light sleep that will allow me to wake easily when Beethoven’s fifth (my page melody) rouses me. I can “feel” a baby coming and I let my tribe know. Other members of my birthing tribe have shared anecdotes. Tribal prayers and well wishes are powerful and although I am away from my tribes at times, I am always a part of them. Coming home to a tribe, being loved and accepted and part of one is powerful. Think of your tribe or tribes….. please share your story with us….be part of ours!
With much love,
Category : Uncategorized
As I inch closer to a new decade, I have decided to write a letter to myself twenty years ago. Back then, I was young. I was pregnant with my first daughter and truly knew nothing. I had no idea that when I gave birth to this beautiful, incredibly complicated creature that I would screw up more than I could possibly imagine. I had no idea that a tape in my head would be activated and that all that had been engrained in me in my childhood would affect her so much. No clue that I would feel at times like I was losing myself.
My letter looks something like this:
Dear 24 year old Carol:
Firstly, you will get through this. You need to know that you are not at all prepared for the trials of labour you will go through to bring this child into the world. You should have had labour support. Doctors don’t know everything. The advice most people give you will be shit. That’s okay, because you will find a way to heal. It will come from inside with some guidance – from wise women you will meet along the way and from your own ability to trust your body. Secondly, you will need to step out of the way of yourself A LOT in order to let your child GROW – physically, emotionally and spiritually. You will not have the answers for everything, but that is okay. Instead of searching for them on the outside, turn inward. The answers are inside you. Disconnect from that voice that is not yours — the one that tells you that you are not good enough, not smart enough, not confident enough. It’s okay, Carol, there are women that are going to help you through this. There are some of them that have been there all along. You just didn’t know in what capacity they were going to show up for you, but they do. You will have bad days and you won’t want to get out of bed, but that will come to pass. You will truly feel lost, but it won’t always feel that way. You will question everything, everyone…but do just this – come back to your baby, your biggest life lesson. No one knows her like you do. Sit a little longer and nurse her. Nap with her in your arms more frequently. Although each day feels like groundhog day, the routine will change. Empathize with her more. See the world more clearly from her point of view. Take it on with her. She loves you. More than you know. It will be okay…you will come out on the other side of mammahood physically and emotionally changed. A sense of peace will find you in the middle of your forties after a particularly dreadful week, when a wise woman told you that writing a letter to your younger self would put things in perspective for you. I promise it will be okay.
With much love,
P.S. What would your letter to your younger self look like?
Category : Blog