After I attended enough homebirths, I started to notice patterns:
The light banter between partners that usually means labor is still in the early stages, as opposed to the quiet support of the later stages, often spoken directly into waiting ears. The midwives giving the birthing mother space to find her way, to settle into what feels right to her body and her baby, drawing closer and more hands on only as needed. The brows of hard working mamas growing knitted with deeper concentration that is often needed as labor gets more active. The noises growing deeper and louder, closer together, perhaps even asking for more encouragement now.
And then it happens.
Sometimes it’s a surprised growl in response to an intense contraction. A wild-eyed look. A hand grasping another’s with the strength of 10. A cry for relief, a colorful phrase, or a mournful wail that it simply cannot be done.
The birth team often smiles at each other in recognition of this phase of labor, often a bit teary-eyed with memories of their own births. In that moment they wish to ease the mother’s pain so very much, but they also know this is her path alone, a final surrender to meet and bring forth her child.
They will do all they can to support her, from hot compresses to words to help her connect with her power. She can let go, give herself over to the sensations to work with her body and not against it. That panic is temporary. Some women don’t even outwardly seem to experience it. But for many, it is the most intense phase of labor.
Birth rarely goes how she pictured it going, but what major life event goes exactly how we had imagined it?
The gift of transition is knowing that in moments of great difficulty, we can trust our instincts.
As a new parent, that plays a huge role in finding one’s way and making decisions for baby and family. We are different people after baby! That doesn’t mean we lose original selves, but that we accept that there is a new normal now that is valuable and valid, and we get to shape how that looks for our family. Each age and stage will be another transition. We will face criticism and questioning, just as in anything else in life. It will feel more personal because, well, it relates our kid(s)! But if we do our research and trust our instincts, we can confidently own our decisions. And of course raise kind, generous, awesome kids that will shake up the world in their own way.
Throughout life, we go through major transitions in homes, jobs, relationships and more. Some happen as a lateral movement, with pros and cons both ways. Others leave us grinning and giddy, hardly able to believe our hard work that has finally paid off. Still others leave us in tears on the bathroom floor at midnight, feeling like we cannot breathe. And any variations in between and all around. No matter what, none of these things ever happen as we imagined them or ever could have predicted them. Kind of sounds like that phase of birth, huh?
So we can connect once again to our intuition: What is it telling us? What fits?
Trust yourself to know.