I know that it seems odd that a person who has an admittedly complicated and emotionally fraught relationship with her own mother would seek to witness that moment; when the brave become initiated into a circular existence of parent and child. It’s a primal kind of hazing, and in many cases you can’t have one without the other
I, myself, don’t fully understand why constantly holding space for something that should sting me (as the adult child of an abusive parent), helps to heal me. And to suggest that my own emotions aren’t present in my client interactions is clinical at best – though more likely, naïve; any of my clients could tell you. I cry at every birth.
That moment when the squirming little ball of warm, wet baby gets unceremoniously slopped onto new-parent chests, I feel my sinuses stinging. In that moment, I often step away from the birthing parent for the first time since I arrive. I feel the room’s energy rise with the rush of endorphins that is typical in the mythical and sacred “post-birth golden hour”. My presence, once comforting, essential, grounding, is now additional. The afterglow is beautiful. I snap a few pics, I wipe my eyes. I grab some food from the cafeteria for the hungry army, and usher in a crowd of happy relatives to welcome the new one to the pack.
The birthing parent’s got a halo around them, the support partner is grinning like crazy. New baby yawns and a room of people fall in love.
As I take a step back, my energy starts to drain. The past 10, 19, 32 hours have been a journey for the new family and I’ve been fully honored to support them up to this moment. And now is when the hard part begins. Now, the rewards flow up with the challenges. This experience, this baby, changes you and your dynamic. I want you to know, it changes mine too.
Every time that I can help someone push through the hardest contraction, any chance I get to help a new dad with skin-to-skin – I get to help parents be their best and strongest self. I get to help folks learn how to follow their deepest and oldest instincts, to take another new step forward on their parenting journey. It is an honor, to see parents at their most present, to see them be so connected and in tune with their physical needs and with their gorgeous new baby’s needs. It fuels me to keep moving forward with my own journey, it is inspiring and energizing.
I have one more moment with the new parents. I make lots of eye contact, I give hugs. I fill out my paperwork and switch my clothes. I hop into my cold Jeep, and head home to my sleepy partner. I know that the new parents will call if they need me. I keep my phone on loud just in case.