Processing birth


This lady.  She has prayed for me, listened, encouraged, believed, witnessed.  She midwifed my birth into a midwife.  Her processing of births with me has helped me gain wisdom and faith in how to be a caregiver and how to be comfortable with birth itself.  She once sent me a poem after a discussion on how a very strange and unexpected outcome rattled us; we’d discussed how birth isn’t one way or another (the only certainty being a baby will come out at the end)– ever! even in beautiful physiologic birth they are all so different… We spoke of births with loss of any kind attached and how they can be so tragic… from the unspeakable losses to the loss of dreams in transports confusing and affecting everyone deeply.  She said when she thought of birth embodied it was sometimes so lovely and amazing and joyous and at other times mysterious and unknown to us.  This humbling poem has remained with me– reminding me to not only be a servant to the family, but also to the birth itself… to what forces may need to unfold that I may never understand.  The best we can do is be there.  The processes of pregnancy aren’t always rosy and perfect, but all things can be “made pretty in its time.”


In Mind

There’s in my mind a woman
of innocence, unadorned but

fair-featured and smelling of
apples or grass. She wears

a utopian smock or shift, her hair
is light brown and smooth, and she

is kind and very clean without

but she has
no imagination

And there’s a
turbulent moon-ridden girl

or old woman, or both,
dressed in opals and rags, feathers

and torn taffeta,
who knows strange songs

but she is not kind.

Denise Levertov


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