I am a midwife. I am a mother. I am the one who stands between the veil. And I am the combination of many, and more, at any given time.
In my workings as a midwife..healer..witch..shaman..mother..sister.
I combine. I am all of these things.
I serve women who choose to birth at home; both with my presence and without.
In serving other women, I know what it is that I yearned for in planning my last birth.
It wasn't the physical presence of a midwife that I did not want. It was the energetics of another person in the room, someone that wasn't connected to me on a deep level. I sought to not include that, rather than feel it as a loss. I wanted someone to hold the space and nothing more.
This is a stretch for many midwives; even those that are experienced and loving and compassionate. But even those attributes convey energy, although positive. I wanted a blank space that I could use as a canvas; I wanted anyone I invited there to be neutral. For many women that I serve, they ask the same.
Protecting normal birth, that is what we do. Not bending and shaping it to suit our needs, but being there, neutrally, to serve in the way that is needed. For most women this is simply being that presence, that white noise. The protective barrier between her and the outside world as she goes deep within. For others, it is being the filter; showing her what she is seeing, being the one she trusts when birth goes outside of what she has envisioned or expected. In both cases, it is being what she needs me to be. Holding the space, witnessing the birth of baby and mother, and rarely anything more than that.
So, for those of you that more practical, you may want to know what this means. How do we hold the space for women and nothing more? What are the skills, or techniques that we need?
In the world of the shaman, the healer, we find our center. The part in each of us that is deep, and rooted to the earth. The part of us that calms us and reminds us that we are right here, right now. Before we can venture elsewhere, we must find this center. Learning how to ground and center is a lot like learning meditation; there isn't one way, but many, and it is the basis for all that comes afterwards.
When I enter a birth space (and often before), I ask for guidance and help. I pray to those that have come before me, as well as the great goddesses that speak to me personally. I do not ask for a specific outcome, as I do not feel that is something that I should have a hand in. I ask simply for guidance and protection, for mama and baby as well as myself, and that I be shown what I need to know. I ground and center, and open my heart, mind, soul and hands. I let it be known that I am ready to receive whatever messages, signs or signals that I need to be the best servant to this mom and baby that I can be.
It's simple, but powerful. I release myself of any fear by doing this; as all I can really do is be in the moment and trust that their is a force bigger than me and bigger than all of us. It releases me of any notion I have that I have any control, or that there is any specific outcome to be expected other than a healthy mom and healthy baby. It makes me really feel my place in the world of sacred birth. Just a witness, a holder of that space. I know I have all the tools I need; whether they be spiritual or as practical as knowing how to resuscitate a baby. There is no arrogance of my own abilities; there is only the deep belief that I will be there in whatever capacity I need to be there in.
When arriving in the birth space, I energetically protect the physical space. I think this is the reason that a lot of women hire a midwife, even without knowing it. The feeling that can come with the arrival of a dear and trusted friend is not just physical. When envisioning this, we see white light; a white circle surrounding the birthing space, or the house or even the entire property. In my travels, some birthing spaces seem to require more of this than others. I could not tell you why other than that is what I feel. Some women or some babies seem to ask for a greater degree of "protection" (or less access to the outside world) than others. If you resonate with this, then you are the kind of midwife that probably already does this. I feel like this simple technique is the prime job of the midwife.
When the woman is in labor, the same thing can be done and repeated for her. Outline the space with your mind, energetically, and energetically enclose her in it. It may sound crazy to some of you, but to me, birth is a sacred passing through of the realities. The woman moves from one to the other, physically, emotionally and spiritually. The baby passes as well from one physical plane to another. It makes perfect sense to find the dimension where we can work with this sacred space as they move through it. That is, after all, the role of the midwife. We find our tools to hold the space; the space where the boundaries between the worlds becomes blurry. We are the ones that see clearly.
Another ancient, age-old role of the midwife is to help usher the baby in; into his new role as a human being, and the woman into her role as "mother". Maybe with less discussion in ancient times, this was the way. What I am describing to you is nothing new! At the moment of ushering, the midwife watches the soul of the baby come in and helps by calling to it, or talking to it, or communicating somehow with it. With the mother, she continues to guard the space while mom and baby find each other in their own time. In most situations, the "work" of the midwife is silent, and happens at a level we cannot see or hear. At other times, I have felt my hands or words guided by someone else; something else entirely. Working to release a baby that has asked or to guide a mother through giving her new one breath. These things happen without me knowing exactly how; and for that I am grateful. I do believe that tools such as these are available to all of us, though, especially when we believe that this is the role of a midwife.
And when it is all done; when the baby is safely here and the mother is finding her new role, we extract ourselves once again. Finding that place of silence, of observation. That white noise, that blank slate for mother and baby. Still protecting her space, and being available for whatever is needed. And then leaving her to create her new life, with this new one, offering the backbone of support; another job of the midwife.
When it's all through, this amazing miracle of life, we also find a way to cleanse ourselves.
Whether we've labeled the experience positive or negative does not matter. The birth is not one that we can call our own, no matter what.
We are the white space, but we also absorb. Just being human, we share in the awe of sacred birth. But it is not ours to really share. For a moment, maybe; but then we must remember to allow it to be. Using the same white light (or similar technique), we can cleanse ourselves of the energies from the birthing space.
We hold the space and nothing more. Blessed be.