What my midwife taught me about writing and life

November 1, 2016

“What would it be like to welcome yourself home, to welcome home your whole body and mind? To make it all right to be here? No more worry about not being good enough, no more worry about not being perfect. Welcome home. What would it be like? What kind of mind would you be willing to feel vulnerable with?”
– Ed Brown

My midwife, Kaye, taught me about birth, but she also taught me about writing and life.

To trust in myself.
To ignore the critics.
To do my research.
To breathe deeply, despite the pain.
To rise above it, move through it, open, and roar.

Her uptown office was homey.  It smelled of patchouli.  The rooms were lined with wooden beds and low, comfortable 1960’s chairs. Indian and Guatemalan quilts stitched with faraway places I visited in my pregnant, insomniac dreams. Shelves held birthing books, photos, and big breasted primitive statuettes.  The walls whispered of a thousand birth stories of a thousand women pregnant, pushing, crowning, nursing, weeping.  Rejoicing.  Mourning.  And every emotion in between.

As a twenty-nine-year-old woman discovering birth and myself in the process, it was mecca.

We found home birthing beautiful. It was good in the way a steaming loaf of homemade wheat bread is good. Scratch the granola stereotype and unassisted horror stories you might have heard. We read, we studied, we knew the odds. We came home in home birthing: to possibility, to strength, to wholeness.

I’ve been unpregnant for ten years now, but ironically find myself pregnant again. But this time with an embryonic story waiting to be birthed on the page.

Kaye passed away from cancer a few years ago. I didn’t attend her funeral. I couldn’t, I wanted to remember her alive, not in a coffin. But knowing Kaye was transformative. Time spent with her passed as if in a dream. I had sat at her feet, thrumming with the pulse of life through four babies including twins, all home birthed. She was my catalyst, my midwife, my friend.

As a writer, transformative possibility exists everywhere: the library, the afternoon carpool line, the pew at church. What are we waiting for?

Waiting for the perfect moment to write (or do any Great Thing We Are Meant To Do) is not only ridiculous. It is a waste of a life. Because there are no perfect moments, only moments to seize and write and write again. And keep at it until a sentence is written, a chapter, a book.

Are we coming home to ourselves? Are we listening? Are we taking notes, breathing deeply, and birthing the beauty we are meant to? For me, the answer coalesces in Rilke’s words:

Look deep into your heart where it spreads its roots, the answer, and ask yourself, must I write?” -Rilke

Yes. For me, as it was with home birthing, it is with writing.  My answer is a resounding yes.

What it is you must do in your life? And what is your answer?

November 2, 2016

2 Comments

  1. Sandra

    November 3, 2016

    I want to hug all your words to my soul like a dear blanket. Reading your words is just like listening to you speak. So much passion, illustration and illumination. Yes. I too am on the cusp of waking up to myself again and will be birthing a new project too. It’s calling to me and I can’t help but feel I need to do a little nesting this time around too.

  2. Teresa TL Bruce

    November 4, 2016

    Birthing our stories can be just as painful as birthing our babies — though the gestational period varies more.

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