Monday, January 26, 2009

Healing Through Birth

This photo is of my littlest one, right after her birth. I've got birth on my mind these days, and I couldn't help revisiting some old photos.

I was at a birth on Thursday night. If there is a more rewarding job than being a doula, I can't think of it right now. Any of you doulas out there who read this will agree. We women are a powerful lot. Seeing that power radiate is something else indeed.

This birth is on my mind because it was a "Healing Birth". That's what I call second births, when the first one didn't go as the woman planned. Since I have three young ones at home, and my doula partner has two young ones and a third on the way, doula work has taken a bit of a backseat in my life. Our clients are primarily return clients, and a few others having second babies. It is so special to see a baby sister or brother born when you were also a part of their big sibling's birth. It is even more special when the second birth heals the wounds of the first. When a mother is overjoyed with the experience, and so very, very proud of herself.

I don't say this to mean that anyone should feel badly about their birth experiences. I feel the opposite. And I don't presume to say what that birth should look like. But the reality is, for many woman who wanted to give birth in a certain way, when things don't work as planned, there are feelings of regret. So along comes the next birth, and in my doula experience so far, they have all been healing. I don't suppose they all are, but I have been fortunate to witness many women go on to birth how they dreamed of, and it feels great to be a part of it. Who wouldn't love to be part of that?

Even better when the Grandparents are there. It is quite something when a Father is there when his daughter gives birth. He doesn't have to be in the room for the impact to be made, either. This Father at the birth on Thursday was over the moon, and he was on a different floor. But he seemed so honoured to be there, and said as much to me later. I know my Dad feels a lot different about birth after being at my son's entrance into this world. He was in the backyard with my father-in-law, listening while I roared him out. He worked at UBC at the time, where the Midwifery Program was in it's early stages, and boy, he was praising that program to anyone who would listen. A week earlier, he wasn't sure I should be having a baby at home with a midwife, and the next week, he didn't know why anyone would birth any other way if they had the choice. Too funny. And though it wasn't in the plan for them to be there, I was so happy both my father and father-in-law could share in something that in their generation was not where men were invited. And when I had my third baby, there was no question that they were coming as soon as they heard labour had begun!

I feel so incredibly lucky to have had the births I did. My first was born in the hospital. If I had a regret at all, it would be that I didn't have the confidence in myself to have a baby at home then. And the birth was so bloody fast I probably would have been safer at home, and spared myself the agony of trying with every ounce of my being NOT to push my baby out in the truck on the ride to St. Paul's! But it was a great birth, and I have never in my life felt such a sense of pride in myself. My next two births were at home, and they were much more "me". Even as far as how social my husband and I are, and we practically had a party as the family members joined us! At my last birth, including the midwives and my lovely doula and best friend, Sarah, there were 9 adults and 2 (pretty much sleeping) kids! And excellent champagne too. Not bad for a party!

Ah, birth. I could honestly go on all day. If any of you reading will share your birth stories, I would love to read them.

Now I'm off to knit that little baby a little somethin'.


  1. Well, I won't share my first experience as I am one of those that it didn't go as I had hoped and still carry some remorse from. I am a couple of months away from delivering my second and this time with a midwife.. my first was born at Women's. I am hopeful this time around will be different and am trying hard to let go of all the fear that over came the delivery of my daughter. Your post here has reminded me of that. I so wish I would have had a doula as well but I do have some good mama friends who have also inspired me to believe that a more positive experience this time around is possible.

  2. I loved reading this post. My last birth is still fresh in my mind and my experiences were very positive with both- despite being hospital births (I wanted a homebirth, but it was not an option with no midwives locally, though I did manage to have one travel to be with me at the hospital.)Even though my first birth was a positive experience, I would still say I healed any fears I had after my first(looong and unexpectedly early) labour with my second birth. It was an incredibly powerful experience and I felt so present with the intensity and beauty of it. Birth is an amazing thing, being a doula must be an incredible job- and I'm so glad there are women like you out there doing it. I don't know how I would have done it without my doulas.

  3. Shael,
    I wish you all the best for your upcoming birth! It is so hard to let go of fear but try to think positive thoughts. You already know that no matter what the birth looks like, you get quite a fabulous, life-changing reward!

    Thank you for sharing your story! It's hard when homebirth is not an option, but in reality, it's the positive energy, the wonderful people surrounding you and supporting you, and the way you feel about what you are capable of that is the most important in birth, isn't it? In our doula practice, we call it "Homebirth At The Hospital". Sounds like you had that!

    Enjoy life with two. Believe me, it gets easier (which is why I had three!!!)


  4. Beautiful Bonnie....just wish I could have been at your 'parties'. You always know how to entertain, my dear.
    Loved hearing about your healing birth analogy...I certainly healed with each birth. Like you, I have no regrets...each birth taught me something new about myself, each one was a gift. That theory is not limited to our own births. I find that each birth I attend gives me a gift as well....what an honour it is, to do what we do. Love the blog.

  5. Big Sister Faire is 7 today. She will forever be one of my best answered prayers. Can I talk about prayer on this blog? Have to!
    It was June of 2001. Bonnie, Jason, Grandma Marilyn and I travelled to Trail, BC for a wedding. Bonnie was pregnant, after having had a how would we make this trip as comfortable as possible? I removed a middle seat from our minivan and put an Ikea (remember Poang) foot stoll in its place, so Bonnie could have her "feet up" for the drive. Snacks were provided, and the drive went well. We checked into our hotel in Trail and shortly thereafter, Jason phoned to say Bonnie was not feeling well, and needed to go to the hospital. We took her to the hospital and in she went to be checked. In these circumstances, my mind, and I'm sure all of our minds, were full of thoughts of care and concern. As I sat there, I thought..."you know, we've done all we can think of to care for Bonnie....I've got money in my pocket....and there's not a darn thing I can do about this". Then I thought, you could pray! I've never told anybody this, but I got up and went to see if I could find the hospital Chapel. I looked up and down the halls but couldn't find it. I saw signs for nuclear this and spectrography that, but couldn't find it. I was just about to give up when there it was, a little sign that said Chapel. I went in to this little, sparesly furnished room and got on my knees and said, "Dear God, I have never been more serious about anything in my life. I want this pregnancy to continue." One has to be careful about these things, because God is sovereign and as I have grown in spritual maturity I know I don't get to order just what I want....I must accept His sovereignty and trust and obey no matter what. All I know is the pregnancy did continue, and on February 10, 2002, our amazing Faire was born. And guess what, our equally amazing Shea and Isla have followed suit! God is so good, which is not easy to accept during tough times, but if you ask me if He has blessed us, what do you think my answer is? Yes for Faire, Yes for Shea, Yes for Isla, Yes for Bonnie, Yes for Jason, Yes for Bonnie's family, Yes for our family, etc. Yes for so much. How many yeses can one blog take!
    And now it's 7 years on. Happy Birthday Faire. You are doing so well and you are loved so much! Keep up the good work!
    Pop Pop.