Thursday, May 24, 2012

The ordinary miracle: More thoughts on Arden's birth.

For about three years now, I've known that I'm supposed to work with birth. That's one reason I was so, so excited to attend Arden's birth. But as Thad came to pick me up from Jessica's house and we drove away, I was really surprised by how I felt. I thought I was going to have this euphoric, other-worldly feeling, and I didn't. I was happy, but I mostly felt tired. And hungry. I came home, cooked up some bacon and eggs(at 1AM) and stuffed myself silly, and then fell right into bed and crashed. I wondered if the lack of the euphoria that I had expected meant that I wasn't really called to birth work after all? I was too tired to really think about it much.



The next morning, however, was very different. I literally couldn't think about anything else. The fact that I had just witnessed, for the first time, a human life being brought into the world, totally consumed my thoughts and I knew I needed to process. I turned on a movie for the kids, and went into Hayden's room to get some quiet time. I turned on Sarah McLachlan's Ordinary Miracle, and just cried. I wrote out a whole page of thoughts and feelings. It felt really good to get it all out.



I wonder if it's like this for birth workers after every birth? Do you ever get used to it? Do you have to take time to process after every birth? Birth is so miraculous, and for most people, it's something they only get to experience a couple of times in their lifetime. What must it be like to be a witness and an assistant to the miraculous on a regular basis? Does that change your outlook on life? Does that change your attitude, your interactions, your choices?



That song, Ordinary Miracle, was one of the ones that Jessica chose for her labor playlist. She said that was a perfect song because it so perfectly describes the birth experience- both ordinary and miraculous. I couldn't agree more. Birth is miraculous- a brand new human being that never existed before is brough into the world, and a mother is made out of the woman that used to stand in her place. But birth is also very normal- it's simply a part of life that's been happening ever since humans have been around. Man and woman come together, a baby is created, and a new life comes into the world. It's the circle of life.



Isn't it remarkable?

Like every time a raindrop falls

It's just another ordinary miracle today.



I think that's the one thing that stood out to me most about Arden's birth- how perfecly normal it was. The house was so peaceful and buzzing with life. Jessica's older two daughters were baking in the kitchen. All the adults were talking and laughing between contractions. At one point, Jessica's oldest got ready and left to go teach a ballet class. There was no fear, no worries, no drama. Just a loving family ready to welcome a new member. As the video feed was turned on later on in the labor, several viewers commented that they thought it was so cool that Jessica's older daughters were there as their mom labored. Honestly, until they mentioned that, it hadn't even crossed my mind that that's something different than what a lot of people have. It seemed so normal to me to have them there. It seemed so normal to them that they were there. They were just there, helping, waiting, playing on my ipad. ;)



It was the same after the baby was born. Jessica's second daughter was the one one in there for the actual birth(Arden came out so quickly that the first and third daughters missed it- so sad!), but afterwards they all gathered around to meet their new sister. Seeing the family bonding together was so incredibly sweet! At one point, Jessica's third daughter asked if she could hold the baby. Jessica asked her to take her shirt off first so that she could be skin to skin with Arden. It brought tears to my eyes to see the sisters bonding that way.



After the placenta came out, the midwife examined it to make sure all the parts were there and that everything looked okay. The placenta- again, while it's not something you see every day, it's perfectly normal! Jessica's girls gathered around as the midwife examined the placenta, and she gave them(and me!) a mini lesson on the placenta. She showed us all of the different parts, the fetal side, the maternal side, and the amniotic sac. She even pulled the sac apart and showed how the it's two different sections- amnion and chorion. I had never seen that before, and it was just so cool. I've always been fascinated by the placenta, and this was the first time I've gotten to see one up close. I'd bet people really would have commented if they had seen Jessica's daughters examining the placenta up close, but the camera had been turned off by then. Shortly after, Jessica and Arden went to take an herbal bath in the birth pool. (Side note: herbal baths after giving birth are the. best.) The whole family was gathered around- there was no uncomfortableness with the nudity involved, just excitement about the new baby. Jessica's oldest even came over and put her hair up so that it wouldn't get wet. I dunno about your family, but that wouldn't have been normal or comfortable in the family I grew up in. It was so refreshing to see a family that was so comfortable in their skin, so comfortable with each other, and so comfortable with birth. The whole experience was incredibly miraculous, and yet also incredibly normal. The combination of the two was just breathtakingly beautiful. Definitely a memory I'll keep with me forever.



Do you agree that "Ordinary Miracle" is a very fitting description for birth? Has that been your experience too? If you're a birth worker, did you ever get "used to" experiencing the miraculous on a regular basis? Has that changed the way you experience the rest of your life?



  1. It never went away for me. Years and many births after the first one I attended I still have to talk and process each birth. Over time the processing became more analyzing in order to improve my skills and to learn from each experience but still there's the emotional component that has to be worked through too. That's why people call themselves "birth junkies." The high and the low. That fatigue you describe, that's normal too. I think it's just that we're so in the moment attending a birth that we pour ourselves into that and crash when it's over.

    Thank you so much Anna, it was such a blessing to have you there, with our family. I'm honored you were a part of our ordinary miracle. ~Jessica

  2. I have always called birth a "Simple Miracle". Simple because it's been happening just fine since the beginning of time. Baby's grow in secret, no one tells them when to grow hair folicles, organs, finger nails, they just do! They didn't take a class or read a book and they grow perfectly and even know when to come out! Simple. Miracle. Every time. Every single time, it's a true miracle! I've attended over 300 births as a doula. Babies teach us so much. I learn something at each birth. Blessings.

  3. It truly is an ordinary miracle. A great description of it. I just witnessed my best friend giving birth to her 3rd, but first born at home. It was amazing to watch her go through each stage as I was with her since the midwife did a stretch and sweep in the am. She was amazing and I am soo happy that she let me with her! Her and I did it together and her hubby watched the younger two. We were supposed to be reveresed roles but it worked this way :) I will never forget seeing her dancing to I am sexy and I know it at about 6cm dialated with her 4.5yr old and 2yr old!