Imprints: From the Depths

“Imprints” is where I share little snippets, flashbacks, and memories of the holy work I’ve been honored to partake in as a doula.  These are experiences that have imprinted my heart.

Some of these are bits from birth stories or letters to the babies.  Others are the visions that come to me randomly throughout my quiet moments and remind me that we are so succulently alive.  And so perfect.

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The bellowing was fierce and erupted from that Splitting Open place.   Like a release of tears that spring fast and furious;  like the scream of rage; like the sigh of a heart swelling past its invisible edges.

In these moments, we can feel nothing but the Splitting Open.  It is intense and raw and reveals the inner most layers of our authentic selves.  It is beauty and sorrow, pain and pleasure, mystery and divine knowing.

Her mouth revealed what only her body could feel.  Supple and open to the exhalation of birth’s breath.   She was steady in the water, leaning into the process as if listening with her body.  In the few moments of stillness, her chin would rest on the tub and her husband would curve closer.  The candlelight danced in the corner, just as it did two years ago in the same spot.

Only perhaps an hour earlier, she had swung her legs over the side of the tub and slipped into the calm water.   Her hair, velvet strands of dark stars, glistened.  If peace has a color, it would most definitely be the creamy smoothness of her skin with a dab of flushed pink on her lips.

The presence of holiness had overcome her from the inside out.

And just like it was at this moment during her second child’s birth, she become her most beautiful in the water.   Labor does this to her;  intensifies her timeless beauty.

“Oh, you look like you are Home”, I whispered as she rested in the water.

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With the bellowing call, I gathered her two small children in preparation for the birth.

i do not even recall snapping this photo...

In what appeared to be one fluid motion, she squatted down on one knee.  Though I couldn’t see into the water, the movement of her hands downward signaled her primal response to the coming of her baby.

And just as she had envisioned, her arms brought her sweet babe – thick with vernix –  to her chest.

“Oh there you are, baby”, I heard her say.  I’m still not sure if she really said this, or if it was my own hearts words.  But they ring clearly in my memory.

The room seemed to be frozen in time as she smiled and giggled and her children welcomed their brother from the edges of the bathtub.   Surely the cosmos breathed in on itself as he emerged in only one primal push of her body.

A mother being born again; birthing of her own volition.

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My own Splitting Open occurred in that space, too.  I could summon no words as my tears replaced them all.

Perhaps it was a memory sparked for me, as her moans brought me back to that precise space during Lyric’s birth.

Or maybe it was that it unfolded exactly as she’d dreamed it;  exactly as it appeared to me in the few times I closed my eyes in preparation for her birth.

Maybe there was a moment of mourning, of deep yearning to birth again.

Certainly, my tears were a celebration of us;  the bond of friendship formed over a lifetime (just three years) and through a journey of motherhood.

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For some reason, I could not summon words into a poem blessing for her like I did prior to her last birth.   I kept wracking my brain over what would be the most appropriate token of my love for her as she embarked on this sacred journey.

And so, on the drive alone that morning, I took notice of the crispness of the air.  I drank in the splattering of clouds in the overcast sky.  I allowed the humming of the chants coming through my car speakers to infuse my soul with gratitude.

I repeated a drawn out OMMMMM and let it reverberate through my entire body, remembering how many mothers had consciously (and subconsciously) moaned this precise syllable of BirthLifeDeath as they brought their baby into the world.   The words “Peace, Reverence, Perfect” repeated in my bones.

All of this came to me through her.   I know this.

I turned the engine off and sat for a moment with eyes closed.  Inhallllllle.  Exhalllllle.   Shoulder released.  Smile.

It felt like the ancient ritual of “the sign of the cross” that I grew up with in Catholic school.   A sprinkling of spirit, of cleansing and renewal and hope from forth my body.

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To my dearest S: I had no poem to give.  I had none because you composed it as you opened your entire being for your son.  It was written on the ripples of the water in which your birth blood flowed.   You inked its letters on your child’s soft body as you pulled him towards your heart.

My love note to you can be read through the lens of the camera that I held that morning.  The images you’ll see speak the volumes that my heart had not known to articulate.

Welcome, baby Oliver Sage.  

Welcome, yet again, Mama S.  From the depths, you came hOMe.

Imprints: Begging the Waters

“Imprints” is where I share little snippets, flashbacks, and memories of the holy work I’ve been honored to partake in as a doula.  These are experiences that have imprinted my heart.

Some of these are bits from birth stories or letters to the babies.  Others are the visions that come to me randomly throughout my quiet moments and remind me that we are so succulently alive.  And so perfect.

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From the Birth of Max Orion

The waters that held her son were strong and healthy, remaining intact until three minutes before her son was born.

And sometimes we all want the strongest things in our life to give way, to break us open so that we can be reminded of the fortitude and resilience of Life and Birth.   So that we can howl at the moon as we ride the waves, cursing the fiery sun, screaming out the years and wounds.   We need to be able to release, to know that birth, life, and death are all transmutable.

And thus began her howling call, her “singing over the bones”, her begging to be released.

“Soon”, whispered the midwife “Very soon”.

Imprints: The Morphing Cub

‘Imprints” is where I share little snippets, flashbacks, and memories of the holy work I’ve been honored to partake in as a doula.  These are experiences that have imprinted my heart.

Some of these are bits from birth stories or letters to the babies.  Others are the visions that come to me randomly throughout my quiet moments and remind me that we are so succulently alive.  And so perfect.

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From Birth #8 (a teen birth)

She did it. Of course she did it, I remind myself. As my first teen client, I didn’t know what to expect. But what I certainly didn’t expect was that I’d bear witness to a cub morph into a lioness before my eyes; that this dragoness would reach inside, touch the flame of her very heart, and send that fire down into her belly. I admittedly didn’t expect her birth to be so…uneventful amidst the interventions. I couldn’t have predicted she’d be so strong, both in spirit and constitution and in the force in which she birthed her baby.

And while she birthed her first child upon that bed, I birthed a newfound sense of respect for birthing woman of all kind: a respect that bows its head in solemn greeting, wiping clean the slate of past and future births. A greeting without judgment, without knowing, without expectation. And invitation to simply behold.