My very first experience with birth was when I was only 5. I will never forget it. My family was camping with a few others, and everyone knew Betsy was very pregnant. I remember her belly was huge, but she didn’t appreciate anyone touching her, she must’ve been so uncomfortable! I will never forget that day, as a friend and I were discovering that water became “unclear” when it was hot. Suddenly my friend’s mother yelled “Oh my God! She’s doing it in my trailer!” Everyone ran around, a bit startled, a bit confused, and all very excited. I couldn’t believe it! Betsy was having her baby right in the trailer? I begged, pleaded with my mom “Please let me see?!” She said a woman needed privacy, we were all to leave her alone. We’d know when she was ready. I begged my friend’s mom, she said the same. It seemed like hours, but must’ve been much quicker. Then, finally, it was time. My mom came and found me and said “Wanna come see?” The excitement and intrigue were something I had never felt. It was like Christmas for the soul. I went in to that tiny little trailer and there she was. Calm, cleaned, collected. Betsy and her five pups.It didn’t matter to me at all that it was a dog birth. It was birth and I wouldn’t know it for another 20 years, but I was in love.
My next experience came 10 years later, and following with the theme it was our cat. I was in a house full of rowdy teenagers, and the house cat. China was going into labor. Everyone was trying to control it. “Put her in the box!” “Get her out of the kitchen!” “Take her outside!” And then something came over me. I looked in her eyes, she was so scared. Not of her body, her birth, but of us. I didn’t know why, but I knew she was. She darted under a low-lying kid’s table in a corner of the kitchen and meowed so loud it was deafening. And then the most magical thing happened. Following instincts I didn’t know I had, I wrapped my body around that table and built her a wall. A peace came over my body, I almost felt part cat! I reached my hand inside, palm open to the sky, and whispered soothing words. China pulled herself over, her bottom half of her body wide open to birth her babies, and she put her soft head in my hand. She gave birth to 6 beautiful, healthy kitties, with her head in my hand all the while.
I didn’t know it yet, but I was a doula!
It may sound funny, but it really was these two experiences that I look back on and now understand my fascination. Pregnant women and babies brought out a passion in me that I would not understand until May 2, 2001, when I became a mother myself. My first birth experience was anything but ideal. I knew I wanted a “natural” childbirth, but really I didn’t know what that entailed.But I am forever grateful for that experience. I was mistreated, pushed around, morally beat up, and my trust shot down. I was mostly alone, scared, miserable, depleted.
And then she came out.
It was a power that transformed me, I knew right then. Legs in stirrups, tied down with dozens of wires and tubes, this is not what birth should be. This is not what birth is.
I was honored to be a mother, love it with every ounce of my being. I went on to study everything I could get my hands on. My passion was ignited.
I trained as a birth doula in 2002, at Natural Resources in San Francisco. I studied with Pam England, and her phenomenal program Birthing From Within, a year later to become a Childbirth Mentor.
Slowly I started to attend births of all kinds. I volunteered for years at hospitals and for teens. I took private clients as often as I could.
And then I became pregnant again.
I knew I wanted a different birth for myself, and we chose to have our daughter at home. Let’s just say this was the experience that changed my life.
I learned what peace really was. I learned how strong I really am. And I learned that birth is perfectly natural. My first homebirth, for what it did for me, was just about the most empowering experience I could ever have.
A year and a half later we welcomed our third daughter, again, right at home. Three very different little people, three extremely different births, one passion set aflame.
Today I have had enough involvement in all the various ways of birthing to know what my calling is. It’s my dream/passion/path to become a midwife and spread the knowledge that birth is not a pathology. It’s not something to be controlled. Just as China the cat was terrified to be chased around, so are human women.Our bodies know how to birth our babies. Ninety-five percent of home births have no complications.
I am extremely passionate about women’s rights in our culture. I want to stand by them. Behind them. In front of them. Wherever they need me to stand so they can find their voice, their needs, their solutions. I want to do this work until every woman in the land knows she has a choice and a voice and her baby and body will birth as they choose. There is always a choice.