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In Reflection: a year since my last birth as a BA

5 Mar

A Birth Chamber, Alma Tadema

March 5th, one year ago, I was 34 weeks pregnant and serving a laboring mother in her birth. I was heavy with child, and while I knelt down under her ripe, fertile belly to listen to her child’s heart tones, I felt my own child quicken within me.

I stooped and I swayed with her, I bent low and I squatted right next to her, with both our round bellies hanging and dangling from our frames. I took my cool fingers and touched her furrowed brow. The son that I carried in my womb, the child that jutted his foot into my ribs as if to remind me not to stretch too far, while I reached out to steady her body in labor –  would soon arrive. 

And all the labor love that I poured into the hearts and lives of the women I served during my 40 weeks of pregnancy would be returned to me in my own approaching birth.

I’ve always wanted to tell mothers, steady yourself because the sacred is mixed with the devastating. And as you labor, still your heart; the intense work of birth is surrounded with holiness of life.

One year now since I’ve seen a mother toil through her labor, and I can still hear in my ears the heavy moan of a life that is creaking the door open for another. I can hear the sound of a body open in birth. 

Make way, make way, her body says as she flings herself into the holiness of life. Make way, make way, my heart says, as I thrust myself into the holiness of motherhood.

One year in which I have set down my love of labor to give exclusively to the fruit of my labor.  And in this year, my motherhood is reborn again and again; dear second child, you remind me that I know nothing – but to love you (and it is like nothing that I’ve known).

I remember a young mother, who was exhausted from her long labor, stretched out on the bed to rest in between her contractions. I watched as her own mother came to her, laid down beside her and wrapped her arms around her laboring daughter. The mother pressed her cheek into her daughter’s head and sang out in a lullaby, “You are so beautiful to me. Can’t you see…” The mother’s voice cracked as she fought back tears, but she continued to sing in hushed tones to her daughter. Her daughter closed her eyes, and settled her body in closer to her mother’s – soaking in the strength of her love.

I feel that mother now, singing to me, one year later. I can hear her, and it is beautiful.

In the fullness of time, one year later.

The Spirit of Comfort

22 Dec



For I heard a cry as of a woman in labor,
anguish as of one giving birth to her first child,
the cry of the daughter of Zion gasping for breath,
stretching out her hands, saying, “Woe is me!”

Jeremiah 4:31

I hear her through the doors as I walk by.  I can instinctively tell, by the sounds she is making that she is crossing the line between pain and suffering. I know she needs help, so I stop what I am doing and take time to respond.  I step into the birth room, and when I see her my heart fills with compassion.  She is whimpering and has a tight and high-pitched breathing pattern through her contractions.  Her whole body (and mind) is fighting against them. Her face is distorted and clinched, her shoulders are raised high by her ears.  I walk towards her.  I smile calmly at her family in the room and explain to them, “I’m Joy, and I’m a birth assistant here, I’m also a doula, and I’m going to help Amy* work through her contractions.”

Continue reading

I Massage Uteruses For a Living

13 Oct


Pictured from the birth of my daughter, the CNM does a newborn exam on Zoe, while the Birth Assistant stands by and charts.

I’m a doula, I assist with childbirth education classes and I’m also a birth assistant (BA).  I’ve gotten a lot of questions about what the difference is between a doula and a birth assistant.  So here’s an explanation of what I do as a BA, next time I’ll tell you what I do as a doula. Continue reading

I Clamped an Umbilical Cord!

30 Jul

In the last 48 hours I’ve attended two births and will most likely attend another tonight. (My guess is I’ll get called in at 3:20 in the morning.  Seems like that’s the magic hour for laboring mothers.) Tonight, I was observed by my instructor, while assisting with the birth.  Which means, I wore gloves a lot, and had a stethoscope around my neck all night.  After the birth, I took (and charted) blood pressure,  pulse, respiration, and temperature of both mom and baby – every 15 minutes for mom and every 30 for baby, (after the initial newborn exam by the CNM). Continue reading

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