this post was originally a part of my beautiful and encouraging friend Marie Osborne's crazy amazing blog, for her middle of the night mothering series back in october 2014. it was an honor to write alongside women whose hearts are to encourage others along in the journey, whatever that journey may be. it was humbling to be asked to be a part of it, and it also awoke a piece of me that hadn't been shaken up in far too long. i love to write. it was cathartic and vulnerable and just a really sweet time of reflection. i am excited to add a new series to this blog called diaries of a doula. i learn so much about life and my faith and my relationships through birth work, and i hope i can adequately share those insights with you. i also love that this particular post gives a behind the scenes view of my middle of the nights, as well as serves as an encouragement to pregnant mamas who find themselves in the midst of their own journeys, often times in the middle of the night. i thought this would be a great place to start the series.
The phone rings. The worst iPhone ring that you possibly could choose (the incredibly annoying siren) ringing at top volume, waking me from the depths of sound sleep. A mom is in the midst of journeying towards motherhood. Underneath the moonlight. She needs encouraging words, comforting hands, and a breath of fresh air. Her husband needs the same.
I am a birth doula, and my middle of the nights tend to look like this. With my own two young children sleeping soundly (another reason I know I was called to this work: my children both have been solid sleepers from the get-go. I know, not really the blog series to be discussing children who sleep well…I digress), I often find myself venturing to sleep with my phone on the loudest setting, and my prayers focused towards sweet couples who are anxiously awaiting the arrival of their sweet little ones. I get dressed and grab a snack, only to creep out in the middle of the night, unsure of when I will return and what the night will hold. There is a thrill in it, there is a reverence in it.
While we often talk of motherhood as a society, we rarely speak of birth. If we do speak of birth, it is mostly in jest, or in horror, and often not in the sacred reverence it truly deserves. By definition birth is bringing forth new life. What a thing to be in awe of, what a God to be in awe of!
Has there ever been such a juxtaposition of intensity (or discomfort, pain, or whatever else you want to call it?) and beauty? Has there ever been a more intentional process that has God’s fingerprints ALL over it?
It’s funny what the middle of the night does to moms. Mamas become mammals in the dark. The more you learn about birth the more you see how wisely God designed the process (duh!). With melatonin at its peak in the very wee hours of the morning, and melatonin having been shown to help encourage contractions, it all makes sense. Kind of like how cats love to hide in the back of your closet in the dark to birth their kittens, human labor often begins in the depths of the dark. And for good reason. Comfort. Security. Relaxation. Trust. Even in the dark. Especially in the dark.
There is a spiritual parallel here, yes? The depths bringing beauty, the pain bringing joy, the surrender to the tough stuff bringing GOODness. God’s best for us.
This is birth.
This is life.
This is good.
Even if it doesn’t always feel good.
So To You Sweet Laboring Mamas in the Middle of the Night,
You are not the only one awake right now, timing her surges and wondering what the rest of the night will hold. You are not the only one who is moaning and swaying and trying your hardest to just. keep. breathing. You are not the only one gathering your hospital bag goodies together, wondering if it’s time to head in. You are not the only one calling your midwife telling them it’s time to come over. You are not the only one wondering if there is any way she can possibly handle the cup that God has given you to drink, wondering if it is all too much handle and second guessing your whole idea of letting things play out naturally. You are not the only one who just wishes she could fall back asleep and let the harder work start in the morning. Other mamas are on their journey with you, whatever that journey may look like. Doing the hard work of bringing new life into the world.
What I have found in my own journey as a birth worker is this: There is no greater parallel for life in general than what we experience during labor and birth. There are no greater spiritual truths that I have learned than those I have learned supporting amazing women and their husbands in the journey of a lifetime. There is no greater surrender than I had to offer than that I did throughout my own two births (both happening in the middle of the night). This is my body. This is your temple. Even in the darkness, do with it what you will.
And that couple with the annoying siren ring on my phone? As I reach their house in the middle of the night and I hear mom moaning and groaning, I know she’s close. When she looks at me and tells me in a quivering voice, with tears in her eyes, “I just can’t do this anymore.” I know she’s close. In the darkness her midwives arrive. In the darkness she climbs a mountain unlike any mountain she has ever climbed before. In the darkness her husband watches his wife transform in to a warrior unlike anything he’s ever seen before. And in the darkness she moans and sways. and works. And in the darkness, the newest life on earth arrives.