"Just then a contraction hits Katey, and like a well-oiled machine her sisters jump into action. They are all pushing on her body at different strategic points, and as Katey growls and mumbles and digs down into her gut to survive the pain, everyone else is calling out from different corners of the room, 'You're doing it!' or 'That's awesome!' or 'Keep it up!' The cheering and pushing and growling continue for what seems like a couple of minutes, what must have seemed like eternity for Katey, and when it's apparent that the contraction has ended, the room immediately sinks right back into silence. No one talks. Every single person is focused on Katey's next move.
"This goes on for another hour and a half, because even though she is dilated to a nine a lip has formed at the cervix and is refusing to budge. Katey is miserable, her hair is completely soaked with sweat, and you can hear that her vocal chords are shredded from all the groaning. At one point during a contraction she yells, 'Please! PLEASE! JUST HELP ME!' And I want to cry, her mother is bawling, and everyone else is cheering, 'You can do this! YOU'RE DOING THIS! HANG IN THERE!'
"The rest of this story goes like many other birthing stories, because when it was time to push she pushed like a champion, and I happened to be one of the lucky ones in the room to have a view of the baby as she came out, first her head and then her right arm came flying out, like, 'Ta da! Here I am!' And then everyone in the room started crying. They named her Lily Blanche.
"But what I guess makes this story quite different than any other birth I've personally attended or seen is the reverence with which every single person in that room treated the experience. It was like church in there, and for the hour and a half that I witnessed it, I just couldn't believe it. It almost didn't seem real. And as much as it was Katey's experience and everything that she had hoped it would be, it's what she gave to the rest of us that I won't ever forget. Because we all had to come together, all four hundred and eighty of us, for her. We all gained something incredible from forming that community around her.
"And the courage that she showed, the endurance, the sheer power of getting through contraction after contraction, I was just so inspired, so touched to be so close to something so primal and raw and vulnerable as she was during those hours, so thankful that she let me be a part of it. And I knew I would never be the same person after having witnessed it."*
This made me cry:) To me the pain, the courage, the strength, the weakness, the joy, the connection, the divine....this is what birth is about. And I feel like somewhere we've lost that....somehow. Or perhaps we've never found it....perhaps it's like many things in life, we don't know what we have until it is missing.
I don't care, really, what choices we make in birth except for the fact that we need to make the choice to experience the Divine. If we're not doing that, then we've missed out.