I also found that my intuition and empathy for others seemed to be more pronounced then others around me, and people would tell me their life stories within hours of meeting them-this was both a blessing and a curse and sometimes deeply confusing,as I felt within me all they felt as well...
My school teachers suggested that I become a councillor and I followed this path for quite a while, but then stopped with the pregnancy of my first child...another story for another time...
By the time I was in my mid 20’s I had been studying herbs for many years and had discovered that many woman herbalists often became midwives, their job fascinated me, and as my friends began having children, and I was drawn to it deeply.
And then one day in 1996 my dearest sister friend, a woman I loved deeply came to me with news that she was pregnant and asking me if I would be her birth partner, if I would hold her hand and wipe her brow and help her to not be scared?
Hugging her close I nodded and celebrated the new life within her, never knowing how this would change my life.
Her midwives were older and had given birth, they were wise women, and I adored them all.
By the time she was ready to give birth I was as excited and scared as she was, little did I know how that her birthing day would show me the magic, that up until now I had only felt in my bones and seen in dreams, little did I know that this was yet another initiation, that would change me forever.
Finally the call came deep in the night and as I I hung up excited, I know this might change everything. I grabbed the herbs I had lovingly prepared and headed out the door….
And then I ran, deep in the night with my sack of herbs and tinctures all the way to her house, I was excited and in my youthful ignorance, I was expecting a scene like in the movies I had seen, of a woman screaming and needing me to wipe her brow, to make tea and boil water. I could have not been more wrong.
Once I got there, I heard quiet sounds coming from her room upstairs, sounds of talking and laughter. Confused I entered the room and locked eyes with my friend who now looked more like a lioness, powerful and strange, but she smiled at me and told me to come in.
When I finally looked around the room for the first time I saw that the midwives were calm, and used to being at births spoke quietly and in reassuring tones, and that they made small jokes with her man to ease his worry and welcomed me in as a part of the birthing party.
There were candles lit and the room had a wonderful calming glow to it, it was easy to sense something special was happening and then, a contraction hit.
She was farther along in the birthing process then anyone expected for her first birth, and within 2 hours she was pushing. She was on the bed and on all fours, her blonde hair around her like the mane of a lion and the sounds that were coming from her were like nothing I had ever heard in my life. Fierce animal sounds.
Just then the midwives shot each other a knowing look, a glance so casual no husband in the room would notice, but I caught it and wondered of they knew something, if I was right her pain was not normal, if something was wrong.
Within moments though, I realized that everything was fine, that the glance they shared was a simple knowing that comes from years of working with birthing women, a knowing that when the woman’s sounds change from deep moaning to grunts and growls, she is pushing, the baby is near!!
The birthing stool was then pulled out and she was helped to sit on it, now was the time for water to be boiled and warm cloths are brought out to soothe the perineum.
I boiled water and brought the cloths to the midwives and then was given the duty of taking photos of the final moment. with my camera in hand I was able to maneuver myself into the best position to and watch and document the birth happening, and it was here that the intensity of the magic in the room began to fly together, to culminate in a powerful all encompassing moment, the birth of a new soul.
The moment a child is born the energy in the room changes, tears flow, emotions are high, and the smell is deep strong and powerful, for it is literally of blood, sweat and tears.
After the birth everything was hazy and felt surreal, dawn had come and I found myself alone in the kitchen brewing herbs for the afterbirth with one of the midwives. As we chatted away she asked me if I had any plans on becoming a midwife myself, flustered and deeply honoured that she would even ask, I muttered something about perhaps yes I might.
Walking home that morning, the crisp air helped me to put one foot in front of the other, and in complete exhaustion I felt as though I was floating.
Once home I threw myself into bed and allowed my body to sink deep into the bed aching, feeling as though I had been dancing all night, swept away by the fairies and then magically brought home again.
But the aching did not ease as I rested, in fact it began to pound deep in my womb and I began to wonder if I had picked up some of the energy from her birth and brought it home with me.
After an hour or so I got up to use the bathroom and realized that my moon blood had come, in the middle of the month, mid cycle, and with no warning!
Grinning like a fool I got back into bed, relishing the deep ache and cramps in my uterus, and wondering if this is what it must have felt like to give birth, just a little, and trying to comprehend the subtle workings of simple magic, of the powerful workings of my woman’s body, of hormones and our deep connection to each other as woman and to the moon.
And so it was that I fell asleep with these thoughts dancing through my head, and wondering if my fate was to become a midwife, or herbwife or…….