Why Birth Matters: Gratitude

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“If a woman doesn’t look like a Goddess during labor, then someone isn’t treating her right.”

~ Ina May Gaskin

Empowered birth transforms a woman forever. But did you know that it also changes the lives of everyone present?

A week ago a sweet mama hand-delivered this beautiful note to me at work. As she showed me her gorgeous, healthy baby and talked to me about how this birth changed her life, my eyes filled with tears. The love expressed in this note is love that I also feel for her. Though we met while she was in labor, I will never forget her. Being present at her birth deeply affirmed for me that this is the work that I was meant to do. There are some very difficult days in this profession; days when I seriously doubt whether or not I should be doing this work. Sorrow, desperation, frustration, exhaustion … in the years since I first became a doula, then a nurse, there have been many times when I seriously considered throwing in the towel.

Dear mama,

It was the greatest honor to be your nurse for her incredible birth and I think about you often. You told me that I changed your life, but I need you to know: You changed my life too. This life’s work has some sad and stormy days. Mamas like you keep me going. Thank you. The future mamas thank you too. 

There are many elements that contributed to our daughter’s empowering birth. I have to thank my husband first, without his love and support our homebirth wouldn’t have been possible. I have to thank our midwives, for providing the option of a safe and rewarding home birth experience. But I also have to thank all of the wonderful mamas that I have served all these years. Each of you has taught me something new, a lesson that I carried with me then and continue to carry with me to every new mother that I serve.

I am I strong enough? Can I do this? Those hundreds of women were my invisible doulas, cheering me on:

youareyouwillORIG

Beautiful Samantha was the very first mama who gave me the honor of attending her homebirth as her doula, eight years ago. Even though I was awe-struck by the experience, she never let me forget that my presence mattered. I will never forget her faith in me.

I will never forget Kristy’s affirming visualization that she used during her home birth with her first baby. She told me she was not afraid of pushing because she pictured her boy “sliding out like a little seal pup.” Today she has two strong boys, and she’s planning to pursue a path into midwifery.

I will never forget my mama who transferred from a birth center to deliver her beautiful twins vaginally. Even though her birth was very different from the one she planned, it was perfect, empowering, and incredibly powerful. Even though her babies were pre-term, they thrived with her love and the sheer power of her prayers.

Thank you mamas, for teaching me. Thank you for showing me your strength, again, and again, and again. With your brand-new babies lying safe and warm on your chest, you look into my eyes and say “Thank you!” My heart just sings and fills with love. Thank you for leaning on me, for shaking your hips, for breathing slow and deep. Thank you for believing in yourself, and for showing me that you CAN. Because you could, I have absolute faith when the next mama looks into my eyes, in the hardest moments of her labor, and says, “I don’t know if I can do this.” I know I am not lying to her when I tell her:

Yes you can.

Your act of power enables every mama after you to have the same faith in herself. Your birth matters so much more than you know.

So I thank YOU.

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