This Madonna collage will always remind me of the couple (both artists) who gave it to me as a gift after their daughter's birth. It's a treasure. It will always remind me of all the births I have attended - the layering of experience, the significance of cherished objects, the importance of history, the value of memories, the power of nature.

I see an old family portrait, a pomegranate, the impermanent dandelions, the water lily, the doll I had as a child, that special bike, that beautiful floor fragment, a cupola with light streaming through to the ground. We each see those things in the collage that hold meaning for us.

Labour is like this. Fragments, layers, images - all confusing, deeply challenging, yet breathtakingly beautiful. Our births are not "the pain." Our births are not physical. Ultimately, they are not of the body, they are of the mind. They are personal, they are dependent upon perception, they are ours. We birth as we live.

Birth is not "paint by numbers." Each birth is like a collage - totally different for each woman, each birth.

I've been at 5 births in the past three weeks, with each teaching us new lessons to draw upon. I will look at the collage and name a part for each woman.

- With love and thanks to Tanis and David