Ibu Katherine...On Prayer
What you go after eludes you. What you become, you attract.
All that is required...truly required to help another person is love. Simple, clean, humble love. A deep love. An impossible love that can only come from a place in us that was never born and will never die. A love that was once offered to us that has crushed our own heart in its transformative way and that then served as the healing point, the strength we forgot in ourselves...a beacon of trust in us that was shrouded in doubt.
As doulas, mothers, sisters, friends of girls and boys and men and women and humanity, the path to love is prayer. Prayer is an action/inaction of the deepest intent and hope and want and love and care. An impersonal request from your personal divinity which, regardless of your memory of its presence, remains as a wellspring of strength and will never fail you. Your belief in this divinity is what your families rely on their moments of vulnerability They seek your knowledge and memory of this in yourself and also for them. They ask for your reminder to them of this in their birth journey.
Of all the tools you will bring to a birth, bring your Divinity. Bring your heart. Bring your song of prayer. For yourself...to remain humble and open to all who come to receive this new child. For the mother...to remember the things she thinks she has forgotten about herself.
When things get difficult at a birth and you are baffled, say a prayer of help to all the doulas and midwives whose help you need to tap into at those times. The power of prayer connects you to them...heart to heart allowing you access to information and help you didn't know you had!
So in your doula training, in your work,, in your play, while you drive your car, cook your meals...pray. Pray every day with every breath and every desire and every need that you see. Pray from the depths of your deepest deep. Make everything you see and hear and feel and smell a prayer. Walk a prayer with every step you take.
Try to make your prayer a song from the Divine, not your song to the Divine. But don't worry about the song or the sights or the sounds or the desires or the need. Just pray. You see, just the intention of prayer is from divinity. And that makes your heart a receptacle for the answer to come.
In practicing this each moment, you become a walking prayer and then a peacemaker. And then everyone around you begins to respond in peace. And then you become peace. The environment relaxes, people begin to see and believe again. All of a sudden, a baby is born and this child finds itself surrounded by peace.
A peaceful birthing reverberates out to the room and all the people present. It's a memory that is permanently implanted into that child's cells and the Program of Peace is what this child will operate from its whole life. It is stronger than environment or genetics.
It just is peace. And then she/he teaches peace on a cellular level their whole life, just by being peace.
When a baby is born in an environment of peace...when a woman is believed and loved and encouraged during her time of birth, when mom and babe are honored as accomplished journeymen, the result can only be a certain strength and hope that transcends all the doubt and fear that life will present.
July 4, 1982
G, Allison and I drove to Lake Kanasatka in New Hampshire to be with our group of friends last night at their camp on the lake.
Just the smell of this place made me so happy and relaxed. I am really excited for Allison to feel all the good and peaceful things that G and I feel when we come up here.
Woke up this morning on our bed in the living room, rolled over and the sun was rising orange over the sparkling lake. I wanted to show Allison, but she was asleep and when she's asleep, there is no waking her!
An hour later she woke up to a room bathed in sunlight...for the first time in her life!!
We had the best nursing we've EVER had...in the sunlight together. Everything was quiet. Nobody else was awake, the birds were out, a loon was singing on the lake and the lake...it sparkled from the sun and reflected up on the ceiling of the living room where we were nursing quietly together.
After nursing G took her for a walk. I'm sure he is telling Allison all about the mountains and the lake and the nice air and the loons. If not verbally, then in the most important language there is.
I would love for Allison to wake up here every day.
I'm so happy this morning.
I wish I could take a picture of Allison every time I wanted to. When she's nursing or sucking her pacifier she folds her little hands in one way or another and it's so delicate. Whe she's laying on the bed she'll stretch to the full length that her body will allow, with her back arched, belly sticking up and arms outstretched.
Her hads in little tight fists. When she yawns in that position she usually ends up crying out a little because she gets so overwhelmed.
Allison's face is amazing, starting with those 2 huge eyes. So often they're doing nothing but sparkling, but they're so funny when she's mad, also. Her brow furrows, lips purse and her eyes get really cloudy and upset.
It's amazing to get to know this person every moment.
G and I are so blessed.
At 17 days old, our friends hosted a 'Sweet 17' birthday party for Allison. Paul and Eleanor, Linda, Rorie, Marty, Shoe, George and his mom, G's parents were all there. Allison slept through the whole thing!
It was so special, though, with a lot of love floating around for Allison to soak up.
We are blessed with very wonderful friends and family. They all made our wedding special and now they are making our baby's arrival so special.
Whenever I have to leave Allison and do something in the house, I feel especially guilty, helpless and unsure of my decisions about using my time. How can this be so? It's like I'm forgetting something...like loving her.
But overall I think I know Allison is OK. She is surrounded by love from everywhere she looks.
What a lucky baby. What lucky parents.
Thank you, God.
It's timeless. All of it. I guess it was made to be that way so that we can help each other remember the magic and the madness of having our children.
I was cleaning out the barn yesterday and found my precious journal from pregnancy and then the birth of my first baby. I'd love to share my own journey with you. I was 21 years old when we found out we were (oops!) pregnant. My husband was 24. We were hippies living in a barn in New Hampshire sans electric and plumbing, bathing in the rock quarry up the hill from the barn...when it was convenient! I worked as a nanny for a newborn and a toddler (great training for the next 19 years of my life!!!) and G worked as a groundskeeper. We spent our time until our surprise pregnancy hiking, biking, skiing, gardening, listening to and playing music, doing Yoga and dancing 3 times a week.
October 9, 1982
It's magical being pregnant. The first day I was morning sick (last week) I was so excited to be sick that I didn't feel so bad.
Consecutive days, of course, were less and less exciting but still amazing because of what's going on in my body...I'm growing a person!!
My bra size went up 2 sizes in one month! Whenever I go somewhere I feel like everyone's staring at my chest. I'm sure it's just my own self consciousness, but still...
Everything seems to be changing everywhere I look. This baby inside me has already set our lives on a different road and we haven't even met him/her yet. I can't wait to meet my baby.
I quit my job today as a nanny. G is in Boston finding out if we can live there. If not I don't know what we'll do. But I guess I just can't imagine it NOT working out.
We moved to Boston, hired a midwife at a birth center, as we lived with my in-laws and as a result couldn't consider homebirth. Trudy Cox and Winnie Thomas of Cambridge Nurse-Midwives Associates.
From my journal:
June 30, 1982
Allison Kelly Bramhall was born on May 28 at 2:04 pm. It was a Friday. She arrived after almost 2 days of labor and a cesarean birth. My midwife and my husband were both there through the entire, amazing, creative, delightful thing. I LOVE labor and birth! I’m even ok with my cesarean...because I was loved through it all. My midwives never left their space of believing in me...of believing me.
Allison is beautiful with big expressive and inquisitive eyes, a rosy complexion and a very agreeable, loveable way.
She's been smiling since the day she was born and that just sums up her disposition. She sleeps for a good chunk of time at night and doesn’t wake up crying…just ‘ooches’ awake, which is so pleasant. It makes me not mind night feedings most of the time.
I love being a mamma, although it’s made me think I have to be more organized once things settle down! Nothing really seems to get done.
G. is a wonderful father. He reads Allison gardening books and the sports page and goofy things like that and she just lays in his arms and listens to his voice and looks at him with those eyes of hers.
When she was born, the nurse handed Allison right to G. For the next 2 days every time the 3 of us were together alone, G. would cry at a looking at her.
When she was born the 2 of them bonded instantly and fell in love.
Allison weighed 8 pounds, 2 ounces when she was born. At four weeks old, she weighs 9 pounds, 13 ounces. Obviously breastfeeding is going very well!
Katherine works as a homebirth midwife and