We are honored to share this post and introduce our client, Emily Lamarche. Emily’s first birth was a planned home birth that resulted in a Stage 2 hospital transfer. Her second, was also a planned homebirth where she chose to transfer. Written shortly after her second birthing experience, here are her reflections on the impact and gift of her birth experiences. Although birth doesn’t always go as we hope and plan, Emily shows us that when birthing people are well supported and heard, it can still result in satisfaction and valuable personal discovery.
For years, I have heard about women whose birth experiences have been invalidated and pushed aside under the pretense that, the important thing is that you have a healthy baby. How utterly dismissive!
Everyone agrees that it’s important to have a healthy baby and since no one disagrees, let’s just take that as a given and address what we’re really saying to women - your stories, your voices, your experiences don’t matter. But they do. They do matter. The way a woman births is important - to her body, to her infant, to her family, to her psychology. To know your options, to have your voice heard, to have your choices respected and to trust your care provider… these are the tenets that form the foundation for a positive birthing experience.
As I look back at Sylvain's birth story, considering the experiences of countless other women who have suffered and been made to feel less-than, I recognize what a gift it has been for me to experience birth surrounded by people I love and whom I trust implicitly to respect my voice, give me the best guidance, and honor my choices. It is a story about birthing with choice, love, and empowerment.
In many ways, the seeds for Sylvain’s birth story were sewn three years earlier with the birth of Brielle. So many aspects of her birth shaped the choices I made with this labor. I think it can be safely said, however, that if Brielle’s birth story was one of fortitude, then Sylvain’s story is one of empowerment.
Sylvain Alexandre Lamarche was born at 12:20am on the morning of May 8th, five hours after labor began. I delivered him with the strength from my own body. I delivered him without medications. I delivered him without interventions.
I. Delivered. Him.
True, I didn’t do it in the place I though. I would, but then birth often takes you to places you don’t expect to travel. Birth takes you into the deep places.
The Birth Mother inhabits the dark places, the fearful places, the painful places, the powerful places, and the places of in between. She does not make choices for you, but walks beside you until you emerge into the place of light and peace. She is ancient. Timeless. Mysterious - The silent observer, the keeper of space, the knower of all roads - those traveled and those not taken.
In another life, I might have walked a different path - I’ve seen something of that alternate path in my dreams, but I will never know for sure. I don’t expect to ever walk the ancient pathways of the Birth Mother ever again. Her season with me is over. She has seen me through two magnificent, magical, beautiful, difficult, transformative births and has bestowed upon me the gifts of fortitude and empowerment. And now, she has handed me off to the care of another. But in our time together I have learned something important. Birthing mothers are powerful. Birthing mothers are sacred and each of our experiences - epidurals, c-sections, homebirths, hospital births - are valid and deep and important. We have all walked with the Mother. We have all traveled her road and on her road, become mothers ourselves. Our stories are the mystery, the beauty, the lessons, the gifts, and the power of birth and life, in all its immense and unbounded glory.
In the days leading up to his birth, I wrote a poem for my son, and it seems right to include it here.
At once. As eternal as the stars in their heavens and as immediate as the breath from my lungs, Child, I know you.
My soul vibrates with the ancient recognition of your face, while my arms revel in the new delight of your warm weight cradled against my heart.
I called out to you, and from the unknown galaxies you came. A spark of life that nestled deep and waited with patience through the tumult of re-entry.
And now here you are, wet with the emergence of life. Your own self, yet for a moment, tethered to me by the cord of blood, stardust, and eternity.
I called out to you, my child, with a song of love and longing, and you came. Home, to my arms.
I touch the face of god.
Our son is healthy, and strong and just exactly right. He is the addition that makes our family complete and he was worth every agonizing moment of morning sickness, every hour of aching feet, and every frenzied second of labor. He is also my proof that by body was built to do this miraculous thing called birth. Thank you, Sylvain. I love you.
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A special thanks to our phenomenal midwife, Hope Willems, our wonderful doulas Kersti Smith and Wendy Everett, our amazing nanny, Nancy Hall, my extraordinary husband Hugo with his unending love, support, and trust in me, and to the tribe of women who held me in their web of love as I crossed the threshold from pregnancy to birth. I love you all. You mean more to me than you will ever know.