Wednesday, September 5, 2007

...on a journey of love

I started my day today trying to write an article about the safety of homebirth. I have argued and debated the safety of homebirth for so many years now that I was shocked and frustrated when it wouldn’t pour off my fingers and onto the page. I panicked, then went searching for statistics. Surely that would get my juices flowing! But the sentences that were staring back at me were flat and uninteresting. They were cold and clinical.

And so I saved the article for future salvage work, wondering if the world really needs yet another article on the safety of homebirth. Until homebirth is universal, and the normal way of giving birth, the world probably does. But today I am bone weary of the fight: for credibility, for women to take back their power, for people to support women’s birth choices, for birth to be seen as a normal, albeit special, physiological event.

After a cup of tea and a walk around the house, I realized there is a reason that my words this morning came across as cold and clinical. I realized that I could argue until I am blue in the face that women are designed, perfectly, to give birth to their babies. I can scream from the mountaintops that it is the very interference that regular care of birth encourages that causes the myriad of birth problems. But that is not why I am called to serve women in this capacity, and focusing on physiology or statistics doesn’t express the essence of birth as I experience it.

I am called to serve women, and the birth process, in a dance as old as time. Birth is magical. At home, you are in a calm, safe place, an oasis away from the linear, tangible world. As you watch a woman sway to the rhythms her body is directing, a serene energy permeates the air. It is wondrous to watch a baby born into peace, caught by his mother or quietly passed up to her, witnessing the first time they gaze into each other’s eyes. Love flows as strongly as the tears of joy and relief.

There are no needles, no tubes, no hospital gowns, no metal bed, no smell of disinfectant. You are home, your cozy bed ready to envelop you safely as you bask in the glow of your birth. Yummy food is in the fridge, and you have with you those people most special to you, those privileged few who you choose to witness the event. No offers of drugs, no one implying that your body doesn’t work. In its place, there is gentle touch, some birth tea, snacks, your favourite music, freedom to move, candle light, faith and love.

There are many days that I question my calling. I throw up my hands and say to the heavens, “THEY AREN’T GETTING IT! THEY DON’T WANT IT!” And then the phone rings, a breathless woman on the other end of the line searching for alternatives, a little nervous that I will patronize her or laugh at her foolish desire to have her baby at home. My heart sings, a smile breaks, and we start the first steps on a journey of love.


Navelgazing Midwife said...

It's so hard, Amy. I've been in birth work for 25 years in January and you would think that with all the work we've done in the past 25 years it would be sooooo much better, but it is SOOOOOOO much worse. The cesarean rate was less than 10% then. Now it's over 30%. There was no such thing as an epidural for vaginal births. Now many hospitals have a 95% epidural rate. Induction rates were less than 5% back then. Now they are over 60% in some hospitals around here. It's horrible and I want to run screaming with my hands flailing in the air sometimes, wondering what more can I do!

What we do... WE... you and I... is exactly what you said. We take care of one woman at a time. We stay in the here and now and we read Mothering Magazine and don't watch the news and we meditate/pray on peace and healing for all of us, we wear our babies, we nurse like there is no such thing as a clock, we support each other as if we lived in a tribe and not in isolated pockets of fear and anger.

We *have* to keep going. There is NO stopping. The compulsion requires it. It is the women who don't even know we exist that are begging for our help, the babies that aren't even conceived yet that want our loving counsel for their parents.

I'll remind you, Amy, if you'll remind me... because I need reminding, too, okay?

Thank you for writing this. It was good to be said.

JDLeJeune said...

Great article Amy. I honestly have never really given home birthing much thought until I heard you were involved with it. Guess I've just been accustomed to the "norm" nowadays. That certainly isn't an excuse as I too tend to be a seeker in my own right.

I have a deeper appreciation for home birthing now. I've always trusted the wisdom of my body, but I never thought of seeing my wife/partner having a child at home. That changes now :)