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Birth as a Work of Art

I see it in my mind’s eye; hear it long before you, my readers, see it. I often start with a title – titles are one of my strengths. The bullet points come next and then I sit down to write and the words bubble forth, as if they’ve been sitting there, waiting to finally be put down, ending up as if they’d been there all the time.

I stop. And read it, correcting typos, changing this word or that, sometimes moving whole paragraphs around because they didn’t seem to fit the way they were sitting. I read it again, put it away and read it once or twice more before publishing it here on my blog. (I used to write IN Blogger, but after losing several posts, learned to write the piece in Word instead.)

Once it is available for your viewing pleasure, I leave it alone for about 12 hours, and then I go back and read it again, usually after someone has commented, and make a couple more last minute changes. It’s rare, after this point, that I’ll go and change something in the meat of the piece. I’ve added a paragraph here and there that clarifies, but not often.

We had The Red Tent on Monday night. Several women attended and shared their stories and it was good... no, it was powerful and wonderful. Lots of tears, some laughter and even more healing.

I witnessed the unveiling of women’s pieces of art. Some of the works were brand new while others were dusty with age. We all helped each other carry them in, especially the heavy ones, and then we sat quietly, studying, wondering, listening to each artist describe her piece.

Birth, too, starts as a thought. Should I have an epidural? A scheduled cesarean? A home waterbirth? Will I have a VBAC this time? Oftentimes, long before the words come out of our mouths about our desires, we’ve been studying, learning about our options and once we feel strong enough, confident enough, we’ll tentatively start mentioning what we’d like to do... almost testing the waters.

Will I be bold and noisy like Mappelthorpe ? Or will I sing softly like Sarah McLachlan . Will my brushstrokes be chunky and globbed with paint? Or will I create wisps with watercolor ink. To whom will I show my work? My partner first? Or my understanding friends?

The commonality between the women included wanting to share her story, wanting to share her story with others who have had difficult or challenging births, wanting to be heard and not judged, wanting a safe place to cry or be angry without someone telling her to get over it already and wanting to know she wasn’t alone. I believe the meeting accomplished that and more.

Listening to the stories, it was easy to see how much the women wanted and needed an understanding female at their births. Over and over, I heard tales of the husband or partner’s lack of involvement during the labor and birth. Women who thought they would be protected from the medical establishment were left to defend themselves – and we all know how little a laboring mom can defend herself, right? However, one of my clients even said she needed me more than I was there for her. I listened hard and with an open heart. I also apologized. So, even women who attend births can be distant and not what the mom needs her to be.

My favorite expression of the gathering came from one of the moms who’d birthed in the hospital, her husband not terribly involved and who had a cesarean delivery. When we were getting ready to adjourn for the night, she said, “What I get from all of this is even if I had a doula, even if I was going to have a homebirth, even if I had a midwife, I still could have ended up in the hospital with a cesarean! That makes me feel so much better!”

We all agreed to bring our art pieces back next Monday night. Some said they’d bring a friend along.

What a privilege to see the inner workings of how art is created!

I love that all of us has something to share.