Thursday, February 18, 2010

Slow Rainbow

I've been on a journey of slowness during the past few months. Reflection, recovery, rebirth. Every free moment has been filled with cycling, running, long walks. I needed to be incredibly fit to face the births this winter. I was fit and well, but I just couldn't write.

I needed to be totally private this winter, in order to grieve for my dad, help my mum, support my family, and have the strength to help other families walk through their searing life struggles or challenging pregnancies and labours.

We're told that life never gives us more than we can bear. After years of being a doula, and recently dealing with loss at a personal level, I think the gods thought I finally had enough experience to support a large number of clients dancing with great challenges - a client whose husband has been battling inoperable cancer, another whose baby is still in NICU, another whose mum has recently died, and so many clients whose pregnancies ended far too early.

I just couldn't write. These women's stories were too fragile to write about immediately.

Don't think that it's only been a winter of unusual loss. We've just seen a slow rainbow of birth experiences. In between the losses, there have been groups, or should I call them "clumps", of babies speeding through the gate like downhill skiiers. I've expected some of these babies to pump their fists into the air and scream, "Yeahhhhhh!" One was born so quickly into her mothers arms, born at home 25 minutes after her mum called me to say, "I think the baby might come today." Born with mum kneeling alone in her bathtub, husband careening around the corner - "A baby!" When I arrived, mum was nestling her baby in her arms in bed, laughing.

And then there were the amazingly triumphant VBACs. Three women this winter whose first babies had been born by cesarean. The emotional challenges in the last few days were hard to bear for one woman - "Oh, they say that you have an 80% chance of it working, but it's really only 30%." (Booking clerk) "Decide whether you're having your cesarean within 5 minutes." But with strong support, all women successfully pushed out their second babies "the old-fashioned way" (OB quote). What joy! These births will truly change lives.

And there have been so many women who have accepted the unexpected with such grace. They have been so calm. The woman who had to take an ambulance ride at 10cm when her baby pooped in the water...the woman who had to move down from the sweet Cedar rooms to the higher risk area at hospital when her baby's heartrate demanded action...the woman who had to make a decision to have a cesarean because her baby's knees were in the pelvis. These women listened to their babies and made their decisions with slow grace.

I've been able to live in the moment with these women and those they love, helping them to honour their bodies, honour their babies, and cross over to being matter what. The joys have been so great. Isn't it always the way when you are walking beside sorrow.

Just as one client vowed to "smash" cancer, these clients have all been strong, powerful, determined, and amazing.

- Jacquie Munro, Vancouver Doula, Slow Birth