Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Grief is more intimate than joy

Perhaps the biggest thing I learned at this weekend's birth was the two sides of grief. There is the public part, which I have always thought was so important. To be among friends and family who share your sadness or keep company with you in your sadness is so important to healing.

What I witnessed this weekend was grief's private side. It took away a mother's voice so that she could only speak in whispers. It doubled over the father with noiseless screams. The physicality of descriptions I could use is so appropriate: wracked with sadness, convulsed with sobs.

These parents created a labor and birth space no one could invade. In a room full of people they stayed, forehead to forehead, in a cocoon all their own, communicating with their eyes and their kisses. No one dared disturb them. This intimacy is what we doulas try to help parents achieve at a birth. Grief facilitated the process far better than any doula ever could.

When they get past the immediate grief, I think they will be pleased with the birth they gave their baby. Though the labor was induced, it lasted only about 12 hours. And the mother waited until transition to get an epidural; she labored well with the pitocin contractions. Best of all, she caught her own child and pulled the baby onto her belly with the help of her spouse. This was something they wanted to do even before they learned that their baby had died. Theirs were the first hands to touch their child.

Send your loving thoughts to this family as they figure out how to move into a future that was supposed to include a baby and does not.

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Blogger mm said...

So glad that you were able to help this couple make this experience what they needed it to be.
I've had hospice clients, death is something I am comfortable with... but I truely believe that this would be one of the most difficult things to bear witness too.
Thinking of the parents, hoping you are doing okay too.

10:04 AM  
Blogger I am a Milliner's Dream, a woman of many "hats"... said...

My heart breaks for them and I am so glad that you will be able to (when the time is right) help them to debrief and joy in the birth experience they gave their babe.


5:23 PM  
Blogger WinterWheat said...

It's just as much a position of privilege to be present, to serve as a witness, during a death as a birth. You did both. Prayers and strength to you and to those parents.

On a happier note: love your blog. I had a doula at my daughter's birth and spent 10 years in A-squared, so it was natural that a google search would bring me here at SOME point. :-)

9:38 PM  
Blogger Louisa said...

Thankyou for sharing doulicia.

10:34 AM  
Blogger One Hot Mama said...

The first birth I ever attended other than my own was a stillbirth. It was a dear friend of mine, and her second stillborn baby. It was an intense, sad, beautiful, horrible experience. The baby was not full term, but was a completely formed little boy nonetheless. My thoughts are with the family and with you.

7:14 PM  
Blogger doulicia said...

Thank you all for your support and encouragement here and in the previous post's comments.

I visited the family last night and they are beginning to heal. It was so, so good to see them share some tentative smiles.

8:39 AM  

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