When I first meet with a new client, we discuss their goals and plans for the upcoming baby’s birth.
Many of the families I meet will be experiencing birth for the first time, and they often tell me about the stories they hear from their friends. These stories are sometimes scary and powerful, but mostly scary.
I also hear how they watch programs that depict birth as hard and traumatic--again, sometimes powerful, but mostly traumatic. I usually laugh and tell them that if they actually showed birth as it is, the vast majority of us would stop watching and the program would be dropped.
I tell families that for thousands of years (with the exception of the last 200 or so), birth was primarily done at home in support of a midwife, and imagine how many women survived to see them here today.
I tell them that they are built to birth and their bodies are not designed to hurt them. Our bodies have an ancient wisdom. Birth is, and will naturally be, a powerful experience for them. I have a few analogies that I use. Since I love to hike but suck at it, I talk mostly about “the mountain.”
When getting ready for a hike, I make sure I have food, water, a first aid kit, and toilet paper. I tell everyone where I am going, who I am going with, and how long they can expect me to possibly be gone for. No one ever tells me not to climb that mountain because it's going to be hard work. They all tell me to enjoy the climb--it's worth it at the top.
Upon arrival at the mountain trail, I set out to take my time, enjoying all the things around me. I stop to take everything in: I smell the air, hear the birds, listen to the wind in the trees, and imagine the stories the trees could tell us. It is easy at first. I am breathing heavily, but I can talk and have fun. Then, the mountain starts to curve upward, and my breathing gets heavier. My sentences are broken and my legs are starting to hurt. I am now thinking, “I hope this doesn't get any harder, I hope this doesn't go higher, I REALLY need a flat path right now.” Now I reach the base of the hard part--the steep climb upward. I look up and think, “OH SHIT, I have to do THAT!” I take a deep breath and I begin to climb, swearing, huffing and puffing, my legs on fire. I stop, look up, and think “I can’t do this!”
Meanwhile, people are coming down, saying, “You’re almost there”,”The top is beautiful”, and “So worth it!”. In my head I am cursing them and hoping they fall off a cliff somewhere. I have hit that wall, between my drive to do it and my drive to stop. It’s a mental blocker, and it's hard--it really is a struggle. So I take a deep breath, look down at my feet, and put one foot in front of the other. I go slowly and take my time. Sometimes I look up and swear again, but I pick a point and I focus on it. I just have to make it to that tree, that rock, that person, etc.
Finally, I arrive at the top! I sit, I breathe, and I take it all in. The glory of my surroundings: the view, the fresh air, the sights and sounds. I think, “I DID IT!” On my way down, I become the person I wished would fall off a cliff somewhere--glowing and satisfied. I did it. I conquered the mountain.
Birth is the same way.
We start fresh and we think, “I’ve got this!” We stop and rest, we take our time, and we conserve our energy. Once we get going we can hit a mental blocker. We think “how much longer … can I really do this? … this hurts … it’s too hard ... I need all the drugs!” The choice here is yours. Dig deep to find that something to hang on to, and hold onto it hard. Grab your partner or your Doula and hang onto them, we have got you too!
You’re not alone--we are climbing beside you. Whether you make it to the top alone, or whether you are supported to the top, you WILL get there.
You will find wisdom in yourself and your body and the ancient roots that made us. Once at the top, the end result is beautiful. It’s deep and rich with life, a story, and possibility. You can't wait to see what it has to offer. On your way down that mountain, you will be saying to others: “The top is worth the climb!”
Help support families through strength and wisdom, ensuring that you are the keeper of a sacred event and unfolding in life. Like the mountain, tell her that the top is worth the climb..