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Sunday, June 17, 2007


I do not know where to begin to unravel the long ball of yarn that is this topic.

I am in my last semester. I am crossing over, have my foot poised to begin a new phase of my life while still living the intense world of MLL.

I have sadness over leaving. I am so incredibly grateful for the families that come into the clinic. They are the most loving and gracious people that I have met in my entire life. I am sure I will meet more in my future practice, but I have been immersed in a culture that still relys on family as a main support, where an appointment that I do with a client might involve 5 people listening to the baby's heartones with a fetascope. Where a birth might involve 4 cell phones ringing at the same time. Where in the middle of the night the doorbell rings 10 times because 10 different people are walking in to check up on a laboring mom. It is not considered interference, it is considered love.

Yes, sometimes it can be a bit overwhelming but it is mostly amazing.

I am so independent, and have been taught very well to rely on myself in times of intesity that the contrast often brings tears to my eyes.

Students being to take on-call clients when the are deemed ready to give continuity of care and you get even closer to the woman and the families. When you chooses your client, you are choosing the family as well.

One of my on-call clients came in the other day in labor. She saw my face and promptly melted, sobbing in my arms, tears streaming down her face. I got scared and thought something was wrong.

It wasn't, she was expressing the pure emotion of transition, she was expressing a complete vulnerability and trust that I rarely feel. It moved me to cry along with her.

She had a trusting relationship with her family, she has assumed all of her life that it extends to the rest of her world and that it included me.

These woman have so much to teach me. The rawness of that moment still brings tears to my eyes.

The places that I am vulnerable are here in these pages and in the arms of my husband and in my role as a mother to my children.

The rest of my life is mostly business. I do not breakdown in my friend's arms, nor in my mother's, aunts, cousins, my doulas, my playgroups, my midwive's. If I have a problem, I may speak about it, rarely with emotion, I scratch the surface in my writing and intellectualize it.

When I was in labor I wanted to be alone, I coped in my brain visualizing my body opening.

Watching a laboring woman cope with her labor by relying on others always blows my mind, watching a laboring woman just unfold in her vulnerabililty moves me because that is so difficult for me to do.

I know that I don't stand alone in this, many of us independent, self sufficient, intelligent, strong, California (and other places) girls do not express vulnerability often. We keep much at a distance, keeping a close circle of friends and a therapist.

There is a whole set of circumstances that brings us to that independence. It would take a book, not a blog to explain them, but you who read here know exactly what I mean.

So here is to trust, to vulnerability, to rawness and to relying on our sisters. I covet my independence and my strength, but....but maybe there is much that is missing from my life as well.

Always having your guard up takes a lot of energy.


Elaine said...

During my first birth, I remember feeling so deeply IN myself. Mark was to my left, another dear friend to my right, another at my feet helping me not to tear. My mom stood sobbing by my side, afraid and elated and in the moment. I remember feeling so overwhelmed and in some ways, disconnected.

With my second, I had to have my husbands eyes to manage a contraction. HAD to be looking deep into him and giving myself up to him or the pain was unbearable.

Here's what I learned from that: life is too hard to retreat into yourself. It was OK, because it was all I knew. But the second birth saved me. Saved and fulfilled and changed me forever. Because I gave up myself and gave myself over to someone else. He carried me through and our bond is so much deeper because of it.

But it is hard to be so vulnerable. It is hard to trust. It takes time and effort too. I think it's worth it.

Can't wait to see you when you get home. I know you will be so changed!

Andie said...

I am so grateful for your words today.

Sunshine said...

Hi Elaine
So nice to hear a familiar voice here and am looking forward to reconnecting.

Your comment is beautiful and I can imagine the depth of love present at that birth.

Thank you

Sage Femme said...

love your blog and the insights you've gathered. good luck as you venture out in the world!

Caroline said...

I am applying to MLL and a midwife friend found your blog. I read it all and spent most of the time crying. Thank you for your honesty and for being so connected to who you are and what you experience and sharing that. Your experience moves me. I see you transformed. I want to share in that experience: The birthing of the midwife.
Thank you,

M said...

beautiful. thought provoking. thank you

Maria Iorillo, LM said...

I went to El Paso too. Would you like to join the brand new Homebirth Blog Ring? How about trading links? I am at "Women in Charge". Thanks, Maria
P.S. Join by clicking the link on the right side bar.

writermeeg said...

Sunshine, this is lovely. Choked me up. San Diego misses you, too. Love, Megan

Maternar said...

that´s a great post. thank you for sharing, it is really beautiful, i got tears in my eyes. raw, trust, vulnerability. these things make life beautiful.

Sun City Doula said...

I am looking forward to applying to MLL in the future. Your blogs are a wonderful read and I am happy you are doing so well. Congrats on all you are doing!

live said...

sunshine, i am LOVING your blog...could have commented on any of these but this one seemed the one because i could relate the most. i'll leave out the details for now but i want to put your blog on my dash board or whatever it is called so i can keep up with you, your life, your words, your vision...i see myself in your writings (topics, struggles, way of expressing yourself, many, many things...thank you for helping me feel more understood...) love, denise