It Takes a Community…

…Thank You For Being My Community.

“Childbirth is an experience in a woman’s life that holds the power to transform her forever. Passing through these powerful gates—in her own way—remembering all the generations of women who walk with her… She is never alone.”

—Suzanne Arms

When I was pregnant with my first child back in 2006, I wanted some form of ceremony or ritual to help celebrate this life transition.  I didn’t know anything about Blessingways, and really felt like there was a lack of culture and ritual about such a magical and transformative time in a young woman’s life.

I was surprised one Sunday when I walked into a friend’s home and it was filled with my friends.  They threw me a traditional baby shower where we shower the mother with gifts for the baby.  This was great and so helpful, adding some of the necessities of baby care and even some cute toys.  I am truly grateful for all the women who came to give their gifts to my baby, and for the thoughtfulness of the host to do this for me.

Yet somehow, this didn’t seem like enough to mark my passage into motherhood.  I feel we have lost the traditions that once honoured people making huge transitions in life, and the transition into motherhood is probably the biggest one a woman could ever make.  Where was all the motherly advice from those who walked before me?  Where was the support in making it through the birth process as a powerful and confident mother?  As much as I had people around me, I felt I was making this transition alone.

I was a guest at a Blessingway earlier this summer and discovered that this was the ritual that I felt I was missing.   All the women in the room introduced themselves, how they knew the pregnant mom, and something inspiring or special about her or their relationship.  We went around again and shared motherly wisdom from each of our own experiences of birth and motherhood.  We strung beads onto a necklace while giving our blessings to the mom and baby.  The necklace was intended for her to wear in labour, to bring her all the energy and positive wishes of the women who were supporting her.

I knew instantly this is what I wanted to mark my transition into motherhood of my third child.  When planning my Blessingway and choosing the guests I was to invite, it made me sad at the lack of womanly community I felt in my life.  I do not have any family where I live, and although I have incredible friends, we are all so busy with our lives that it is sometimes months before we really connect.  I found myself suddenly craving that connection with other women.

On September 18th I was the guest of honour at my own Blessingway.  It was fantastic and what an honour and blessing it truly was!  My friend opened her home to all of us women, losing wine glass and a white rug to some red merlot.  A local midwife who I know through the birthing community, drove an hour from her cottage, where she left her guests just to attend.  She isn’t even my midwife but she wanted to show her love and support.  All the words of support and encouragement really helped to fill that space where I felt a community of women was missing in my life.

On September 23, at 38 weeks pregnant, I went camping with some great friends.  Feeling the connection to these great women again was empowering.   On Sunday and Monday, after returning home, I felt on top of the world.  I felt strong, powerful, and like a pregnant goddess with my Buddha belly.

Then the news of my plans to live stream my birth hit the media.  The whirlwind of camera crews, live radio broadcasts, and news reporters hijacked the past week of my life.  It has been great because I have been able to share the message, and due to the power of the internet, people are hearing it around the world.  Simply put, birth is normal and women are powerful.  I have to be honest and say that it has been stressful.  When reporters ask questions like “How are you going to feel knowing that thousands of people will be watching you?”, “What if you have a stillbirth?” or “What if things go wrong?”, it does make you stop and question yourself.  You question all the positive thoughts, the confidence you have in yourself, and the process of birth.  I guess this is another example of how others are willing to dump their fears and insecurities on you when you are pregnant, instead of giving you love and encouragement.  With that said, the media has been wonderful, respectful and encouraging.  They have been great help in the sharing this important message.

On Thursday, I was asked to speak at Carleton University for a reproductive rights class.  Speaking to a university class for young women was so inspiring and invigorating.  This is the group of women I feel like I can empower to know they are strong and capable.

The last week has most definitely been a journey with ups and downs and I have to say, it has concluded on the highest up I can imagine.  My favourite quote of all time is by Marianne Williamson:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

I have been supporting women through pregnancy and birth for a third of my life now.  The part I love about it is inspiring and empowering women to know that they can do it, and that they are powerful.  The media frenzy has reinforced in a way my recent feelings of playing it small, helping only handfuls of women I have spent time with personally.  Right now there are over 5000 people around the world planning on tuning in online.  I feel like I’m finally playing big, serving the world, helping women see what I hope will be an easy, natural home birth.

This brings me back to the connection with the community I was missing in my life.  That has now come full circle.  As a result of the past week, I have now created in my life a circle of support that spans the globe.  The hundreds of encouraging and positive comments and emails that have been pouring in are overwhelming.  From the mother of four in Nova Scotia, to the group of nursing students, to the kind words from New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, Germany, and Singapore; I thank you all for your kind words and support.  I do not feel as though I will be giving birth with an audience of spectators.  I feel like I will be giving birth with a circle of supporters, banding around me, protecting my sacred space, and sending volumes of positive and loving energy to me and my baby.  Unlike my first birth, I do not feel like I am making this transition alone; I am making it as part of our global community.  What an amazing way to give birth.

About Dr. Nancy

Dr. Nancy is a childbirth educator and has coached numerous women through their pregnancies, births, and in caring for their young children since 2001. She has been practicing family, wellness chiropractic since with a focus on prenatal and pediatric chiropractic and caring for the whole family.
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12 Responses to It Takes a Community…

  1. Angel says:

    I would just like to say hello to you and your family from my family here in Alabama, and a big thank you for sharing this experience with us!! It is so thoughtful of you to share this wonderful experience wth everyone! I know you can’t wait to meet your new precious little one! Hopeing for lil’ one to arrive soon. :)
    Thanks and Many Blessings,
    Angel

  2. Dominika says:

    HAPPY DUE DATE NANCY!!! Hopefully it will be soon! We are very excited for you!!! You are such a great inspiration for all women across the globe. Also for us, you and Micheal were a big support before Latika’s birth and our daughter was born happy and undrugged. I’m hoping my next birth will be at home in the jacuzzi tub:) Thanks again! Happy 5th anniversary of your 1st Birth, Happy Birthday Leilani and Happy early Thanksgiving! Oh boy, you guys have lots to celebrate this weekend!
    xoxo

  3. Dr Elizabeth Nichols says:

    After reading your blog this morning, I had tears in my eyes.. I am soon to be 55 years old, and was thinking back on my very clinical birth experience 24 years ago..my beautiful daughter is wanting to have children one day, and I will share your story and web page with her so she will see there is another way to do it when her time comes… I love the notion of community and ” woman power” you promote.. I wish I had known someone like you all those years ago…
    Thank you for thinking globally…my daughter and I will be with you, sending love and good wishes to you and your growing family..on your birthing day!
    Dr. Beth

  4. Dr. Nancy says:

    You can definitely use it as a teaching tool. You can also use my previous birth if you go to videos of birth on my page it is the first one.

  5. Heather says:

    Dear Nancy,
    I watched your second child be born on youtube today and I was amazed at how natural it was! Giving birth in water seeme like a good way to stay cool and also support your stomach during the process and pain. I also liekd that you were in your own home… a familiar comfortable environment and able to share the miracle with the whole family! I kept asking myself why you weren’t sreaming in pain like they do on tv! Are they exaggerating the pain (why would they do that to us?!)? What techniques do you use to reduce the pain? My husband and I are currently in the planning stages of our first child and exploring a lot of different questions we have. We live in Ecuador, so there aren’t a lot of options when it comes to giving birth… but I would definitly like to have a natural birth at least. I hope to watch the birth of your third soon! Your courage and love for other mothers is inspiring. Thank you

  6. Jerusha says:

    I learned when I had my first child using the HypnoBirthing philosophy that I needed to think and speak and hear positive things about labor and birth and avoid the negatives that would lead me to doubt. I did this fairly successfully and I am sure that effort, in addition to all the positive affirmations my husband and my Doula read to me while my son was coming closer and closer to our arms, made the comfort, gentleness and peace of his birth possible.

    Nancy, in keeping with that valuable lesson, I’m telling you that I am excited for your birth! You are going to have a relaxed, calm and blissful experience. You and your baby will work together in harmony and all will be well.

    I am sending you uplifting, positive energy and encouragement and looking forward to seeing your labor and the birth of your newest child.

    I may even see something in your labor that I will incorporate into my next birth. I look forward to learning from your experience and sharing in this joyous event with you!

  7. Nikki says:

    So happy you are doing this. I am helping a friend of mine in her natural birth and she told me that she was still really fearful and asked if I could find more positive birth videos for her to watch and that is when I came across you! I am excited to witness your birth live and even more excited for my friend! Is there a way to save this to use as a teaching tool in future childbirth classes?

  8. linda welch says:

    I love what you are doing .It is so crucial and important…thank you thank you thank you I am a woman who has experienced 2 amazing births myself I had a doula educate me back in 1997 and she allowed me to watch her 3 homebirths which were video taped by friends. her husband was a physician- a neuro surgeon. Birth As We Know It is another amazing film. I am in upstate Ny changing the culture of birth. I adore Suzanne arms and have taken her Birth Advocate training although I consider my self a Birth Passionist! Let get more midwives and doulas…..the only place in my town to birth has none & csect rate is 45%!I chose to drive the hour to have the births I wanted and deserved.Bassett Birth center in Cooperstown Ny Love to all of you Let’s Keep Up and We Will Be Kept Up! Linda

  9. Best wishes to you, Nancy. I look forward to virtually attending your birth!

    Also, I’m going to do a segment on you in the Mama Natural Show, which airs on Tuesday on YouTube and my blog, http://MamaNatural.com

    I’ll be featuring a short clip from your video to help tell the story, and I’ll include a link to your site. Hope that’s all right with you. I think my tribe of natural mamas will be very interested!

    Again, best wishes. Go, mama, go!

  10. I can’t wait to see your birth, but I wish I would have known about the lec you gave at carleton. I would have attended had I know.
    Good luck this week.

  11. Jan says:

    I’m really looking forward to seeing your birth Nancy.It is a wonderful thing to bring new life into the world.My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family,Jan

  12. amanda says:

    As I wipe the tears from my eyes after reading your post, I remember the day you opened my eyes and changed my life…..I became pregnant with my third child…..and you asked me about my first two birth experiences. No one ever asked me that question before….and as I began to answer you…I realized that my experiences were surrounded with fear, the unknown, and being at mercy of others that decided my fate. I spent the next few weeks thinking …and realized that I had NO power over me, my child or my experience. I watched the “business of being born” that you recommended. As the credits rolled, my husband and I decided we were going to do it the natural way. I was a healthy, strong young woman and had no medical problems….so when I went to my first appointment to confirm my pregnancy with my GP……she was horrifed to hear of my plans for a home birth….she tried to convince me that I was putting myself and my child in danger. Needless to say…she was horrified with my decision…..HORRIFIED!!!
    You helped me through adversity….and encouraged me to seek the birth I wanted.
    Thanks to you and your husband….not only did I have the most powerful, life changing home birth experience…I feel like a powerful capable and confident woman.
    My husband “caught” our daughter in November 2008 on the floor of our ensuite bathroom with a midwife present. Not only did you change my life, my husband has been forever humbled by the experience….and our daughter will hopefully grow into a future where women give birth naturally, happily and safely in the comfort of their own homes surrounded by their families.

    Amanda
    My family and I wish you 100 years of health, wealth and happiness.

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