I have to admit, I didn’t always think of birth as beautiful.
There are no pictures or video clips that captured my first labor or my daughter entering this world. Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect. Not to mention all the information out there about what’s “ugly” about birth-you know, bodily fluids and looking at the placenta, oh dear!
Maybe it’s the births I have had the privileged of attending, or my own impending third labor and birth. But there is very little about the whole process that I don’t see as beautiful now. It’s in the laboring woman the entire way through, even when she is at her “worst” because of the natural way she’ll choose to do everything, even talk or move.
The beauty is in the entire house as it gets ready for birth, with supplies here and there intermingling with everyday items. The awesome fact that no one is watching the clock, but instead the weather outside to remember what happened when. And definitely in the husband or partner or kids who have no choice but to be part of the moment that has seized the room.
And I don’t see the birthing woman as separate from her body now, as I used to think of it. It’s not about her uterus pushing her baby out, or how far dilated her cervix is. The beauty is in gleaning that information from the woman herself, as she unknowingly does exactly what she needs to do to make birth possible for her baby. There is nothing as beautiful to me as a woman left alone to hear the own voices in her head that tell her exactly which way to swing her hips, or exactly what sounds to make when she doesn’t care who is listening.
I suppose, in short, that there is nothing as beautiful as birth to me because there is nothing more glorious than seeing someone be exactly who they are. I thought a while ago that the “goal” of birth was to handle it quietly, or efficiently. It wasn’t until recently that I realized it is beautiful when it is handled just as it needs to be handled. For some that means focusing quietly on the contractions, and for others that means primal moaning and groaning. It is so rare and infrequent to see someone being themselves to the very core of their being, so much so that it is uncontrollable for them not to honor this.
It’s also a thing of beauty to see the woman in labor transition so easily back and forth from being in a contraction to coming back to earth, even just briefly. It reminds me that, as natural and normal a process as birth is, it still is this amazing, incredible, mysterious thing. I see beauty in the unknown, the unpredictable-ness of labor and birth, and this beauty commands my respect.
Seeing things in this new light should be interesting. I have practically no documentation of either of my children’s birth, but I am a new person this time! I am looking forward to capturing the beauty of my third child’s birth so that she may have it some day as well to appreciate. And I hope instead of seeing what’s right there, she also picks up on the beauty that was her life coming into this world.