“I couldn’t have done it without you!”
I’ve heard this phrase many, many times over the years of supporting new families.
“Oh no! Stop right there! YOU performed all the magic!” My standard reply.
I want absolutely no credit for someone’s birth. I don’t want to be known as someone you “need” around to birth your baby. I don’t want to be known as a “deliverer” of babies or women! I don’t want any of the glory the new family should be basking in. I don’t want to feel like I birthed the baby or made it possible for the baby to come or not come as planned however it may pan out. I make no decisions and I give no advice.
I’ll take the love I receive from parents and gladly. Who doesn’t love love right? I’ll take a small fee for my time and my efforts and my love but that is never a barrier for me not to provide love and care and safe space around birth. I’ll drink in the magic of a powerful birthing woman, a dad who is so in love and so in awe he restores all my faith in men or a midwife or doctor who is gentle and loving delicately undoing any hurt previously done.
I also want to acknowledge a woman’s power. Her ability to cope, manage, roar, succeed, problem-solve, laugh, crack open and let go, love and kill her ego like never before. I want her to own that – to really own her birth as her achievement, as her doing, as her reality or communion with God or her nightmare – whatever it means to HER.
I’m a space holder, a prayer, a napper and a knitter, a believer in a woman and baby’s ability to work together to choreograph this perfect dance of birth if you just leave them the fuck alone. Of course I’ll clean a sick bucket, love a woman, press on her back for hours or days at a time, feed her coconut water through a straw and tell her she’s stunning and listen to the darkness and light as it pours forth. We gather the stories, the hearts desires and disappointments, the hopes and the fears and we do a great job.
Women own your holy births. Birthkeepers own your dedicated holy service. But please don’t get to the two twisted together.
nicola mahdiyyah goodall is a revert muslim who grew up with hip hop based in edinburgh, scotland and london, england. she works with women trying and mainly succeeding to build circles of knowledge and community primarily with birth. she is also the director of wysewomen publishing and facilitates wysewomen workshops and red tent doula courses.