Kaleidoscope

"For we live with those retrievals from childhood that coalesce and echo throughout our lives, the way shattered pieces of glass in a kaleidoscope reappear in new forms and are songlike in their refrains and rhymes, making up a single monologue. We live permanently in the recurrence of our own stories, whatever story we tell." - from Divisadero by Michael Ondaatje

Shattering reflective pieces of a kaleidoscope tumble in my mind's eye. These are a million moments of experience, random sounds from births - a cry, a laugh, tumbling beside facts, data, then mingling with sparkling words from literature, history, and art. Our experience of life is beautiful and complex and always changing.

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650

I completely missed it. I passed the six hundred and fifty baby mark a while ago, but didn't stop to think about how many babies that REALLY is... Well, they're not all babies now. Many are heading off to high school or university, but close to 70 wee ones are still waiting for their first birthday.

Photos arrive as each baby reaches his or her birthdays. Christmas cards arrive showing long-limbed children I hardly recognise. But I never forget a labour. Those flashbulb moments remain strong in my memory.

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Intuition, Trust and Red Flags

It’s funny how, over the years, I’ve only been given the births that I can handle. Each birth prepares me for the challenges of the next. What amazing gifts these women give to each other.

When I began my life as a doula, I was still breastfeeding my one-year-old son. I knew that I could only manage six hours away from him. For me - I couldn’t stand the breastmilk backlog! For him - hey, he needed me. For the first year, the births were amazing. I was never needed for more than six hours. I was only faced with long births once my son was able to go longer between feeds. Though I do remember pumping midway through long births for a few years...

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...the way some collect spoons

After the Birth

in her mind
she goes over and over the details,
how, close to the end,
she could no longer stand
the sound of her husband's breathing,
the pain
and the need to keep pushing
long after the baby was out
and the midwife gone

months later,
she still wants her husband
in bed late at night
to tell her once again what happened
but he is tired of broken sleep
and the crying babe
so she turns to other women
and collects birthing stories
the way some collect spoons

I'm home from a birth that spanned the night. Driving through the dark, I saw the husband turn left on yellow, wheels spinning ahead of me. She walked through the shushing doors and slowly lowered her body to the floor. - Are you feeling pressure? She nods. Husband with tears in eyes. Woman low moaning, rocking , swaying, hand tracing circles in the air. Ready to push so soon. In her own room now, windows open to the dark night. Birds singing at 2am. Such power. Then blocked by the power. Moving sitting, kneeling, no use, can't push, squatting, no good, standing, pushing in the chest. I shake her hips and she surrenders to the deep power and slides the baby down, body opening, and out into her arms. Dad streaming tears. Mum laughing laughing laughing... "Sophia!"