Over the past few weeks, since the release of the novel ‘A Doula’s Journey’ into the world, a number of people have been asking why I wrote the book. And this question can be answered differently to different people, on different days and depending on which direction the wind is blowing. Not that one answer is a lie and one truth they are more like layers of meaning, of ways of seeing and understanding. But I found that there was a part unexpressed, a layer that underpinned them all in some way and whose threads wove through it all uniting and creating a sense of cohesion. Sometimes it is harder to speak of the bigger picture being easier to focus on the little details, the day-to-day, the ordinary and understandable, but what of those things that drive us in a bigger way, in the most inspiring and awe-filled sense of wonder. This is what I want to write about today, to touch upon the bigger, the wider, the holding that lies underneath the activity.
Quite simply I am fascinated by birth because it is the way that we come into the world. One moment we are a collection of cells and then we mix with cells from another being and become a living being all of our own. We live in a world of water and sound. Then the perfect moment arrives and we are born into this world of light and air, taking our first breath as we leave the womb. The whole process is remarkable.
This interest became more important to me when, a few years ago, I started reading research from longitudinal studies that correlated how we were born with how we are as adults. It showed a relationship between birth and susceptibility to certain diseases in later life. It also related our mental and emotional health, including our capacity to love and connect with other human beings, with birth experience. Along with all these research findings I noticed an alarming trend worldwide for increased medical intervention during labour and birth, some of the very things that the research findings had been highlighting such as artificial hormones, instrumental delivery and caesarean section.
It struck me as very disturbing as I looked around at the ills our modern-day society suffers, such as high stress, emotional disorders, substance abuse, rage, violence and abuse of vulnerable people, and wondered if in fact we had somehow played a part in the creation of the sad state of our world. And that if this was the case why weren’t more people doing something about it? And I felt that something needed to be done, somebody needed to stand up and speak out and that not just ‘somebody’ (as you might point the finger and say ‘you must do something’) but everybody who has a voice (and that’s all of us) could stand up and speak out about how these seemingly random things are related. And working together we could take the future of the world into our hands and become co-creators of this world not passive critics of its faults.
If we want the violence in our world to continue increasing, if we want more wars, more abuse, more disconnection then we must continue interfering with childbirth. We must continue disrupting the natural flow of hormones and bonding times.
However if on the other hand we would like a more peaceful society, if we would like more connection and understanding, if we would like to see future generations caring for each other and the world they live in then we need to respect the natural birth process, which means using our amazing technology to save lives not just because we have it.
And just writing these words I realize that this whole area is a mine-field to navigate due to much unresolved trauma amongst us. Some people reading this will be so triggered by the memories of their own children’s birth, which perhaps wasn’t the experience they so desired. Or perhaps the memory that is stored in the very cells of our bodies, the one’s that remember the period surrounding our own birth which happened before our conscious mind come online, and maybe that memory is painful. Perhaps our own birth was difficult. Perhaps we have never thought about it but that now reading these words we do. This can be hard work. This can be painful. This is the mine-field.
What can be done in this situation is to accept the past as if we chose it, as if part of us wanted that to happen and the subsequent learning was what was exactly needed for us. And take all these big feeling and learn how to hold them, how to claim them as our own. Working with our wounding knowing that this is what it is to be human, to feel, to live and that our work is to be present and aware with all that is happening. Accepting our wounding as well as accepting our magnificent nature is about being able to hold it all.
My passion is not confined to helping women give birth in natural uninterrupted sacred space (although that is part of my work), nor is it blinded into seeing some births as ‘good’ and others ‘not-so-good.’ My passion is bigger than that. It is a passion for life and love itself, for all beings to know who they are, to realize the infinite capacity we have to heal and transform what are our deepest wounds into strengths, for all beings to stand tall and proud to be alive.
Yes I am fascinated by birth because it is how we come into this world but my story doesn’t stop there. I am inspired by the enormity of existence. We have the knowledge, the skills and the wisdom to apply what is known about the birthing process to enable new lives to being in optimum conditions. This is incredible. We know so much. Let us use our knowledge to create positive change in the world
So I wrote a story as a way to stand up and share my message with the world. I wished to engage with a wider community of people also passionate by our beginnings. The story I tell is a simple one about how a woman begins a journey into discovering herself and her place in the world, and this happens through the transformational power of witnessing birth. She is drawn into a new world which shakes her up and makes her see life in a new light. She gains the strength to accept herself, who she is and how she became this person. It also touches on the interconnectedness of all things and how no event is unrelated to another in a person’s life. There are threads linking us not only to each other but also back through time to our younger selves, our infant selves and back further still to our parents, grandparents and ancestral line. All of our ancestors live on through us. We are the current manifestation of all those who have gone before. We are the very pinnacle of evolution and of our individual family tree. So much lies with us.