I attended my first birth this morning at 4:30am. Manuel and Maria Rojas had their little baby girl in Central City Hospital, they asked me to stay with them. My whole body seemed to tingle when I realized they were serious. Leaning back into that fluffy cloud of support all around me, “Allow the miracle to unfold,” I felt more then heard their support. My angels and guides encouraged me to embrace the opportunity for growth.
Maria was having very regular contractions but she was so afraid. Tension rose from her shoulders, rolling the energy up into her face. Her eyes widened and her breath unsteady, the rushes were unfamiliar to her. She had no reference point to understand nor to trust the new experience. She begged me for reassurance as the next one rose to greet her.
“Con calma. Breathe mas larga,” my spanish was not really tolerable. The time I spent in Mexico only made it worse. I became more brazen, unabashed by my inability to conjugate to the correct subject or tense. Most times I just used the infinitive. I knew, my presence was enough. I was holding the space and faith in this woman to birth. The baby called to me to keep her mother strong. The infant suspended in the darkness awaited her first breath. She glowed rosy pink in my mind’s eye, I felt her resolve to enter the world with a bellow.
The dynamic between the couple would continue to unfold before me. She blamed him for doing this to her, for causing her pain; changing her life. She came to America to be independent and have her own life. She was barely here a year when she became pregnant. The life of an independent American woman was slipping away from her. She was repeating the legacy of generations before her even tough she moved thousands of miles to escape it. Servitude and dedication to her family, without her identity as an individual, was everything she never wanted. She was giving away her freedom and she knew no other way to define “mother.”
“So what,” he exclaimed, “She’s gonna get pregnant sooner or later.” His bravado was transparent. He shook with dread. He was ill prepared for the unveiling of her anger as she ripped through him. Her desperation shot out her eyes and dug into him.
How did I understand the depth of their relationship when our communication was so limited. Intuitively, I supported them in their transition into a family. Without words as much as presence, I allowed her to reach out for him and demand submission to the power of the feminine. I trust in the unknown and the universal wisdom that brought us together. I knew this was going to be a huge experience for all of us. I anticipated the gift, holding very still. This experience was an ornately wrapped present in my hand and loved every minute of the unwrapping. Each gorgeous layer, perfectly reflecting the energy of the moment. Emotions are raw and real. The delicious energy that I savor when the energy of the universe is so clear.
I am a doula. I am a wise woman. I am a mother. Mostly, I am, me. There is no other representation in the order of creation that comprises who I am. It is my honor and my birth right but mostly it is in respect to the One that I have given myself permission to be uniquely myself.
I am, outwardly, a white, privileged American woman. I have northern European descendants from Germany to Hungary. My gypsy blood keeps me free and untethered by conventional boundaries. Cornered and pressured, I am like a wild bear defending my territory. There will not be another who holds sovereignty over me. My power is my own. Maria has the sweet, innocence of youth. Her soulful eyes hold a strength of a culture deeply rooted in the earth. Her hair braided into a thick, dark rope lays down her strong back. There is a wisdom in her she has yet to uncover. All they can see is her social status as an illegal Mexican immigrant on Medicaid. We made quite a pair. I demanded respect in her name.
“An epidural would make it all better, why don’t you have one.” The elderly room attended was uncomfortable with Maria’s deep, guttural sounds pouring from her. She felt a rescue was in order. There is a lesson in the pain. With faith, the perception of pain will decrease and transforms into energy. Birth gives women a new understanding of the flow that is life itself. We understood this flow as a small child. We are reintroduced to it again as mothers.
Since she was adding to Maria’s insecurity I asked her to stop offering as she will ask for it when she needs to. Alas, it was too late. The discouragement had taken hold and the other staff members were chiming in. The labor and delivery nurse took control of the situation.
“You must have a epidural to stop the pain,” she described in spanish the bliss of the medication. After the propaganda was complete, I requested that someone tell her the risk and effects to her baby postpartum. They said there was none. This is not true.
At this point, my presence was irritating them. “Who are you?”
“Just a friend,” I stated which was true, because at the time I was not yet trained as a doula. The obstetrician on staff became angry and started to yell at me in the hallway. I realized at this moment what I was really doing here. I stood my ground and demanded on her behalf an interpreter to explain the danger of the epidural regardless of their claim that there were no side effects. They scrambled to get her the information that was her due. I felt all the strength of a pack of wolves inside me as I walked back to join her in the room.
The most interesting thing happened at this point. I returned to the room and felt the room fill with the presence of angels. I was standing in the gateway between the worlds, holding the way open. It was very clear to me that this child asked me to be her guardian. I communicated with the angels and other guides with my heart. I knew from a deep place that all is as it should be. I was completely dedicated to see this through regardless of the outcome.
Maria became unhinged. The possibility of giving the pain away gave her permission to let it consume her until the relief came. Manuel was grief stricken as she begged him to make it stop. She pleaded in spanish, “por favor , mi amour, no mas…” She only needed to have him understand the sacrifice she was making by bearing his child. He could not honor the transformation. He could bear her pleading no more. He looked to me for guidance.
I knew at this juncture, it was not for me to interfere but to help him find the strength to stand by her. This was the turning point in the labor when the baby is close to its arrival. I smiled and stood supportively behind him.
“Remind her to breathe. For the baby, if not for herself. Only inhale and exhale, that is all that is required.”
“But I can’t…” the tears welled in his eyes.
“Necessita va al bano?” I said. The emotional tenor required a change.
“Que?” he wondered at the command.
“It will help,” I nodded encouragingly as the wise woman I am.
We got the help we needed to get her off the monitor to reach the bathroom. I closed the door, “Keep her in there until they come.”
I am not sure what was the inspiration for this but I know the outcome was tremendous. She was contracting strong and consistently and breathing well. I left them to manage themselves. I sat in the rocking chair and prayed. The angels were present and strong. I became immersed in their energy. I felt the love and support of the universe like a warm blanket. I had no doubt that the experience was divinely executed. It is not to say that I knew the actual steps of the unfolding, only that I trust, wholly and completely that all happens for a reason. We were jumping off a cliff into the unknown. Free falling and unencumbered by the fear that surrounded us by the medical staff and their intellectualized concept of birth. Birth resides in the heart, in the emotional body where things do not have to make sense. Feeling our way, we proceeded.
“Where is she?” The labor and delivery nurse returned with a flourish.
I was deeply cloaked in the energy that resides between the worlds. It took an effort to open my heavy eyelids and answer her, “In the bathroom.” I nodded towards the door.
The rest of her entourage pursued behind her, barging into the bathroom with all the urgency of a steam engine. Maria’s cocoon was disrupted. They physically removed her, shouting the whole time about having the baby in the toilet. It was unreal the aggression they displayed toward her. The violation and disrespect ensued. I continued to channel whatever love the universe would muster to embrace her and her baby. The baby was here. She was crowning. There was no time to administer the epidural. Victory is so sweet. I beamed from my place in the rocking chair, slowly gliding back and forth.
Maria pushed the baby into the world within a half an hour. What a gloriously strong woman! I stood by the sweet infant as they insisted on having their way with the baby as they had no further influence on the mother. I just spoke to her in gentle tones as they would not let me do much else. At the sound of my voice, she calmed and focused. The peace from her coursed through me. I knew it was for her I was called to be here.