a dream of two births
December 23, 2008 § Leave a comment
this afternoon i took a nap. and i dreamt of being in a multi-tiered tree house with dark wet steps, ramshackled wooden rooms like in a fixer-upper house that is always being fixed up. i was downstairs in the living room with a woman about to give birth. she had asked me to be there. this was her second or third child. she knelt on the couch with her head against the wall behind the couch and moaned and squealed and her baby came slithering out. i didnt do anything but be there. she pushed when she wanted. she moved as she wanted. i remember her rolling on the floor. i remember her on her back. at one point she grabbed my hand and squeezed.
while she was nursing her baby, a woman upstairs sent a child to ask me to come to her birth. we walked up the slippery stairs. it was raining. her room had two maybe three walls the rest of it was tree branches shielding her from the rain. patches of green and blue sky peeked between the overhead branches. her child too came out of her body in the midst of groans and shakes and shrieks. we were all wet from the drizzle.
i woke up happy and warm thinking about outlaw midwives. why did these two dream women request that i be at their births. they caught their babies in their own hands. i barely did anything but hum under my breath, hold a hand, and witness. they did not need me there at all. but they wanted me there.
when i work as a doula, i work hard to make sure that the mother knows that she didnt need me there. that she did it all herself. i liked it best when everyone in the room is just enamored of the mother and child and i could slip out of the room with a soft goodbye and with barely anyone noticing my departure. i like it best when they wanted me to be at the birth, but they know and i know, they didnt need me to be there.
one doula said to me that the best thing that she could hear from a mother is: i couldnt have done it without you. and i cant help but think: it could be an indication of the disempowerement of the primacy of the mother during birth when a mother says that to a birth worker.
did those dream mamas want me there just in case anything went wrong? i dont think so. i think that it was more about them wanting a witness to this incredible physical, psychological, spiritual ritual of transformation. someone who could hold the sacred space with her and her new-coming child. yes, part of being able to hold that space includes knowledge about the process of birth, but more importantly it is to be spiritually engaged moment to moment in this intense and common space of life.
an outlaw midwife is an empty bowl. letting the birth space and rhythm fill her.
an outlaw midwife is an attentive witness to a miracle.
an outlaw midwife stands at the precipice of life and death because that is the place where birth happens, it is the place where a mother in labor stands, it is the place where all of us must journey in order to come into the world, in order to bring life into this world, in order to let go of this world.
an outlaw midwife stands at the the precipice between dreams and reality and says: thy will be done.
so shall it be.