To my "cancer crab" as he likes to call himself. Happy belated birthday and some thoughts on birth.
He turned 7 in July, while he was off in my hometown with his grandparents and aunties: fishing, swimming, and helping harvest on the farm, their first growing season! Check them out on instagram @warblercreekfarm!
In honor of his birthday I spent a night alone, on a friend's untended land; there in the fading light I gathered fallen materials to create a mandala or earth alter, working steadily and with only three materials- fir cones, usnea lichen, and faded madrone leaves. I created a beautiful work of art to feed back beauty to the bluff where W. and I spent so many hours romping when we lived in this neighborhood. I gave thanks and prayed for guidance about all that feels unsettled in my soul. I have not slept outside alone in a very long time, if ever, and the noise of the owls and other critters kept me awake and my mind jumping for a very long time. Meditation was not working so I simply watched my mind's rapid thoughts and went with it. The owls swooping around me, and the bats as well. With that I let go any notion that "guidance" might come through, and settled in to knowing that my feeding back beauty to this place which nourished me for several seasons was all the guidance needed. The next morning I rose with the sun and left, giving thanks for my son's life and all those who nourish us.
Upon his return, my father in tow, we celebrated with a pizza party with family and friends.
Evening sunlight in the apple orchard and pizza from the wood fired oven impressed my father (his first visit to these parts in five years) to no end! (we do eat well here):) That and the good friendships we have cultivated over the years who have helped raise my son.
It's now August, and the heat and the tourists are here! I returned from a weekend trip across the waters to visit my dear sister friends in Victoria. I came to be of service in any way I could as we eagerly anticipated the birth of J's baby! On Sunday we cleaned the house, and in the midst of it I said, "The baby will come today!" And later that evening sure enough her labors began! The mama labored loud and strong, birthing her dark haired baby boy in the the world the following evening! It was a wonderful tiring weekend, and I am so glad the baby came while I was there...what an honor.
This was the first birth I've attended other than my own, and I felt so grateful for the Sacred Doula Training I did back in the winter of 2009, when my boy was just a few months old. Carrie Kenner of Big Belly Services of Seattle trained me, and I remember it being an invaluable experience, down to the ritual she initiated for each of us and the sisters I bonded with, two of which I still in contact with, one went on to further her birth studies and is now a licensed Midwife! Every woman deserves a midwife, a bumper sticker I saw recently, and I wholeheartedly agree.
From the little I know about mothering and birthing it seems to me that the more we can be around birth, the more we remember it as a part of a human function, and thus that we might have a hand in how it goes along. I will spare you an entire birth history, but if you google Ina May Gaskin, Penny Simkin, Frederick Leboyer, or Shelia Kitzinger, you will find amazing years of labor and history in the world of birth, and what shifting birth away form the home and OUT of women's hands, and into the hospital INTO the often OB-male hands, has done to traumatize humans everywhere. One of the thing I was most struck by in the hospital this weekend were the glum and slightly dazed look of many of the pregnant women I encountered walking the halls. I wanted to remind them of all the women before in their matrilineal lines who'd birthed them, how amazing to be walking, to be carrying the next generation, how women once labored exclusively at home and births were attended by local sister wives and midwifes, and not to fear, birth is hard work, but you can do!
I still firmly believe that a woman births best wherever she feels safest. I also know that childbirth education can provide magical alchemy in empowering a woman to have a good birth and healthy baby, no matter the extenuating circumstances!
If you are mama or know a mama I urge you to take a childbirth education class, look into hiring a doula, have a friend serve as your doula- we are social creatures, meant to labor with love and support! It was such an amazing thing to be in a room filled with ladies, in support of of my friend and her baby. I also urge you to connect with your own mother about her birthing experiences of you and your siblings if you have any- they often say they way you labor and birth is similar to your mothers! At my own birth, I had heard the story of my birth many times, and in attendance were both sets of grandparents (minus my father) two aunties, alongside my midwife and her lovely EMT assistant, plus the papa.
At my friends birth I witnessed how powerful it was to simply have a room full of women to be on hand for extra support- the midwife and nurse and OB all worked together to ensure a safe and respectful birth, and mama and babe are well. My friends and I felt sad only for the lack of birthing songs and ritual, older knowledge that would have been passed on to us, had birth stayed in the hands of the people, which is lost to most of us in this day and age. I wish we had had a few of those to sing to Mama J. and her new raven haired boy, but the songs eluded me for some reason. Perhaps a welcoming song will be in order when I visit again in a month!
It has been a surprising full welcome to this summer month of August, and I have so much to prepare for September- start of school, travel for OWS and wedding, car breaking down, getting fixed, then breaking down again, big life changes to prep for, wood to chop, wood to carry, garden to tend, endless bus renovation/weatherization projects, and ya know bottling up all that rose elixir I can't seem to find the time to get too.....any one want to come visit and help with home projects?!?! All of it has me humming a little song and asking......Where has the summer gone?
I would love to hear if you know any birthing songs, birthing rituals, or welcoming songs?
Do share in the comments below! xo