Birthing the Circle
Crossing the threshold to Motherhood and Circle Holder
This was first published in 2019 by Spiritually Fierce
As I entered the space, the heat and closeness of the air, the tinge of red in the light from the scarlet canvass, gave the impression of a waterless womb. There were red rugs, red throws, red cushions, scattered everywhere. It was uncomfortably intimate. I nervously took my place on a cushion, my self-conscious face matching the furnishings.
The tent filled with women speaking in hushed tones; their wisdom and confidence shone forth from their whole beings. I was an imposter, completely out of my depth.
We were seated in a Circle and following a guided mediation, the sharing began. Each woman took her turn to share a birth story; her own, the birthing of her children or a birth she had witnessed. As we went around the Circle, there were no interruptions, no opinions or advice offered.
I listened to the experiences and feelings of these women and I felt my anxiety and nerves fade into the red tinted air. I began to grasp the sacredness of this time and space. I heard intimate details of the birth of their children and listened to the retelling of their own births from family memories that had been passed down. They gave words to the pain and ecstasy of childbirth, to the joy of a new baby and to the devastation of loss, and the grief that follows. I saw the interconnectedness of life woven together word by word by each woman.
I hardly knew these women and yet I trusted them completely to witness me without judgment.
I had never felt an overwhelming urge to be a mother, I just assumed that I would be. And now, at 38 and in the early stages of my third pregnancy, it wasn't a given at all. With one hand on my tiny bump, I shared.
My first pregnancy was ectopic. I was lucky; it resolved itself and the only care I needed was a daily hospital visit to check my hormone levels. I was given a heart shaped soft toy with the muttered words "sorry for your loss".
My second pregnancy was a silent miscarriage. I’d been referred to the Foetal Medicine Centre because of my history and age. It's an odd moment when you hear "there's no heart beat". You feel pregnant but the life inside you has already ended. I went through the physical miscarriage the night before the surgical procedure. I was persuaded to have it anyway to ensure that "nothing was left behind".
I tentatively shared that I had not been overcome by grief or sorrow. I had not felt that I was mourning the loss of a baby; I didn't seek a deeper meaning or blame myself. I recalled the overwhelming sense of disappointment tinged with sadness and the shame; I should have felt their losses more deeply.
I also shared my mother's story of my own birth. I was 2-weeks late and put her through a long and painful labour in an unsympathetic hospital. I realised that I had internalised her experience and claimed it as my future birthing story.
Sitting in this Circle of women was the medicine that I hadn't known I needed. Through the process of using my voice without self-censoring, without fear of criticism or judgment, I was empowered to unburden myself. I was able to share the beliefs that had bought me to this point. I delivered into this sacred sanctuary, both my fear of losing this third pregnancy, and my terror of a horrendous and painful birth.
I was seen and heard with love and compassion and this had a powerfully transformative effect for me and my pregnancy. I left that Circle with a renewed sense of my own power; I knew that I had to take self-responsibility for my pregnancy and to free myself from the beliefs that were clearly not serving me.
I created my own support Circle; my doula, a home-birth midwife, a spiritual mentor, a Psych-K practitioner, a naturopath and a massage practitioner. These women educated me, listened to me, held me, encouraged me, loved me and never doubted me. They helped me navigate my way into actually being pregnant and out of my beliefs that first babies are late and labour is long and difficult.
Two weeks before the expected due date, a 6-hour labour and 30-minutes after we arrived at the hospital, our baby flowed earth side, and we called him River.
As the complexities of life with a baby and a business took over, I remembered being held and witnessed. I remain in wonder and gratitude that birthing my son, made me a mother and set me on the path of Circles.