It's hard not to have faith when, after struggling in the dark for so long, life rewards your hard work,by turning on the light. Walking giddy from today's workshop, with a doppy grin and oxytocin bubbling from every pour, it was impossible not to think back to myself two years earlier, sobbing all times of the day with the fear and doom of impending labor. For most of my pregnancy, I had little concern for how I would get this growing child out of me when the time came. I was fairly unconcerned about it until taking a child birth education class in which we watched a video of women giving birth. It was while watching these women labor, and sob, and howl like wild wolves that the great fear I carried deep down inside was exhumed. And it lived with me, fed on me, and transformed me in the weeks that followed.
Life is cyclical, so it is no surprise that, little more than a year later, I found myself once again, grounded with fear. Becoming a mother had changed me. I burned to be a better person, a greater role-model for my daughter and still, the more I thought about it, the more this dreadful sensation welled up inside of me. Regret; it looks so simple and clean written on the page when, in reality, it only ever emerges muddied and unrecognizable from the rivers of our subconscious. It was only after weeks and weeks of sifting threw the fine silty mess, that I become familiar with regret and it's faithful companion fear.
I had a loving husband and wonderful daughter, but something essential was missing and in a way, I was ashamed. While it was true that I had survived many of the harrowing circumstances of my life, I had yet to fully overcome them. It was heartbreaking to look back, with a truthful eye, at the opportunities I willingly threw away, and how few risks I was ever willing to take for the sake of my own fulfillment. I was 35 years old and still parked on the tarmac fretting about whether to take off or not. It wasn't my intention to dwell on my regrets. What I wanted to to do was move forward, but that was impossible without confronting the fear that had kept me from seeking my potential and purpose for so long. I was time to learn to stop listening to the negative voice in my head that told me I was not capable, and begin replacing it with one that was more supportive and compassionate .
It has been one of my greatest challenges, becoming my own advocate. But like I said, hard work, does not go unrewarded. Almost two years after my daughters birth, I found myself watching the very same film that ignited my fear of birth. This time I was not watching it in preparation for birth, but as part of a Doula training workshop I had finally had the courage to take. It turned out, my instructor, Debra, was the one who had made the film because, after years and years of supporting birthing mothers, she was inspired to spread the word that fear was not an essencial part of the birthing experience. I never told Debra how I had felt after watching her film because, during the weeks before my daughter's birth, I came to terms with my fear. On the morning of Hannah's arrival, I awoke early to contractions. My husband slept for two hours as I lay beside him, quite and alone, experiencing my rushes without a trace of fear. When he awoke, he stayed by my side and supported me the entire day. My instincts were strong and I followed them and my confidence made it easy for my husband to follow them as well. I felt comfortable in each moment I was in, and I took each rush as it came and, though the experience was intense and as powerful as a speeding freight train, neither of us felt fear. The birth of my daughter was an unexpectedly beautiful and life changing experience. It has changed the way I see myself, and has made me a better parent, and a better person. Letting my fear surface and really feeling it prior to labor was cathartic and emotionally prepared me for the empowering capacities of birth.
The night before the Doula workshop, my fears and doubts did all they could to convince me I was not worthy of such a career path. There would be many others at the training that were more suited, more deserving; what was I thinking? What made me think that I could support a woman through labor, when it was a struggle to support myself through this new experience? The negative voice in my head was making a compelling case when, it finally hit me: I would never feel worthy until I took the first step to becoming worthy. And, with nothing to guide me but faith, that first step would be have to be blind. By thinking, for even a moment, that I could do this, I had already made that step. Now all I had to do was to take the next step by truly forgiving myself for not believing in myself sooner. Completing the Doula workshop closed the circle that began two years before, and ended the negative cycle of fear that had dominated my life for as long as I can remember. In the two years since my daughter's arrival, I have learned that in birth, and in life, you are never wrong when you follow your instincts. I've realized that fear is most often a positive indication that you are on the threshold of something profound. And, if you are willing to show yourself the compassion and support you hold in your heart for others, you can hammer away self-doubt and let emerge in its place the excitement and wonder of the great power that is inherent in each of our bodies, and our hearts. I have yet to assist a birth as a doula, but as I prepare myself for the experience, I can't help but feel, that it has been a long time coming, this labor of birthing and of being born…