This guest post is so very dear to me. It is written by someone I respect enormously. Katinka is the most beautiful woman who Bob and I were blessed to have been able to invite to be present at the births of both Mia and Natalia.
I have asked Katinka over the years to tell me what she can about that day. How she helped us through the shock, I always wondered what she knew and witnessed in the lead up to Natty's diagnosis being delivered many hours later in the hospital.
Here she writes so lovingly about that time. I cannot read this without crying, and we thank her for helping to put us on the right path in those early few hours. H x
Sometimes life brings you the opportunity to really feel what it is to surrender and trust.
Not from a place of fear, but from a deep knowing that the perfection of the soul’s journey in this life follows a greater plan then our day to day perception usually gives us the view of. Once felt and experienced, it becomes obvious that all there is to do, is to be fully present. To trust and to let go of attachment to outcome, so that we act as is needed in each moment, in flow with this greater plan.
Natalia’s birth was one of these magic opportunities for me.
We as people are all so lucky to have the ability to experience being a part of a community, part of a wider “family”, sometimes brought together by what seems like chance, but which, when it really matters in the moments when life is about as real as it gets, gives unquestionable support and opens in us all the chance to grow as human beings.
Hayley had asked me to be her doula for the birth of her second baby, a planned home birth, after having been with her and Bob at the birth of their first beautiful daughter Mia. I was delighted and honoured to do so. Over the last months of pregnancy we’d worked in birth preparation classes, held in the homes of the small group of women seeking natural birth awareness and preparation, and a close bond had begun to form between us all. We’d shared fears and joys, breathing and stretching exercises, helped each other to relax and drop into the deeper listening to the body that is part of this women’s work. Hayley and myself had been in regular communication in the weeks leading up to the birth, all midwife checks were fine and all seemed well.
So it was that the call came, that 5th December night, (St. Nicolas’, patron saint of children, and evening of gifts for all Dutch people) a new life was about to come into the world, as Hayley was in labour.
As Doula and Natural Active Birth teacher I had been in the very fortunate position for many years to witness and hold space for the sacred process that is giving birth.
Not only is the natural physiological and emotional process of labour an opening to life manifesting through us into being, a place where we get to remember our essence as the force of nature and creation, but it offers the change to experience how, in the depth of our greatest vulnerability we also get to touch our greatest power. The illusion of the separation or dualism between the two can fall away. Helpless as we may feel to alter the flow of the birth process, despite all best laid plans and preparation, when the inevitable ‘it bit’ moment of labour comes, most woman, especially when well supported, find a surrender to what is happening and the trust to go within and be the power of life itself. It is both humbling and empowering in equal measures.
Part of my preparation for attending birth would be to pray to Goddess to guide me and protect mother and baby, and call into myself that part of me which is ‘midwife’, ‘wise woman who is with’. As usual, I felt her arrive in my body, in my hands, as the voice which knows what to do or say, while I was driving over to Hayley and Bob’s home that evening.
There was a fine flow to the birth dance, the house warm and nest like, Bob caring and looking after us, different birth spaces prepared and family and midwife on standby. At one stage Hayley was restless, a disquiet as if something needed to happen or was not right. Not knowing what to do in that moment, I prayed and the message I got was that all was as it should be and all that was needed from me was to hold and love Hayley.
So when Natalia was born a few hours later in the bathroom, blue and beautiful, and it was obvious that all was not as we had hoped, this was all there was to do for the Doula: to love and hold, to trust the unfolding journey. To hold for Bob, somehow, bravely, out in the cold early morning light in shorts and t-shirt, waiting to guide the ambulance into the drive. For the panicking midwife trying to get that baby going, who needed the support of the not yet arrived 2nd midwife. For Hayley, courageous amazing woman, on the threshold of a life-change none of us had quite fathomed yet, and for this new baby, fighting to be in that little body. How do you help, love or hold in a situation like that?
Tuning in to you, little Natalia, in that moment when you were still between the worlds, you felt so calm, sure of your path, so strong, so perfect, and I knew that all would be well that day, despite the birth-scene we were all a part of in that moment. You gave me a sense of peace that I was able to hold in my body and for those around me.
Later, when the 2nd midwife, who was a friend of mine having been my own midwife at the birth of my children, exchanged glances with me on the way down to the cars and ambulances, I knew she too suspected the truth behind Natalia’s blue arrival into the world, and she too knew that all there was to do was to love and hold, to surrender to the perfection of this family’s story.
And later still, when, after what felt like waiting for an unnecessary age in Treliske hospital, the clumsy doctor gave the news we were all by now expecting: Natalia was born with Down’s syndrome, the almost unbearable privilege of being allowed to be present to the deep soul journey into love this news initiated in both Hayley and Bob. What a gift you were from the beginning Natalia!
If you are asked to be a part of the life journey of someone when it matters, especially around the times of initiation, which birth and death are the most prominent of, don’t shy away, don’t allow your own fear to deprive you of a perfect opportunity. You do not have to know what to do or say, as long as you are authentic in your expression of that not knowing. All you really need is the commitment to surrender, and be with, to stay present and to love, no matter what. No need for clever planned programs or road maps, anything can and will happen along the way. You may feel lost, it will feel too big, and yes, yes! You can do this in your own unique way. And what amazing treasure and lessons the gifts of taking the journey are. You will be changed for ever!
The rest of the story is history as they say. Throughout it all Natalia and her family have given me such unbelievable teachings on living love and surrendering to the perfection of our soul’s journey, I am for ever grateful for the gift of knowing them.
Thank you Hayley and Bob, Natalia and Mia, for asking me to be part of your special birth journey, part of our lives entwining. Thank you for all the love you make shine in the word and for changing perceptions of what perfection might be or look like where ever you go.
Love and Blessings