My Thanksgiving this year was spent at the hospital serving a family in birth. The sweet parents had a long go of it, and it gave me much time for introspection and time to reflect on the first Thanksgiving. The laboring mother was new to American culture, and so I also had the gift of explaining our Thanksgiving tradition to her. I wanted to be sure that I didn’t give any faulty information, so I did a little wikipedia reading during rest periods. I read (and remembered the second grade teacher who had taught me this) that a baby was born on the pilgrims voyage on the Mayflower. The baby was named Oceanus Hopkins. How apropos. I wonder what the birth was like for Elizabeth, Oceanus’ mother. Was it calm and quiet or were the seas uproarious and the birthing room a place of chaos and concern? I was thankful to be present for my clients on Thanksgiving, where, at times we weren’t sure where the journey was headed, but we were together, and they were able to make informed decisions.
The Mayflower birth reminds me of my annual meditation on the physical birth of Jesus Christ. I never wondered much about Mary’s experience until seeing Andrew Peterson’s “Behold, the Lamb of God” Christmas retelling musical (a terrible word for such a beautfiul experience) that includes a song titled “Labor of Love.” Labor of Love is about Mary’s experience and tells that “it was not a silent night… you could hear a woman cry … no mother’s hand to hold.” It conjures up images of what it may have been like for Mary at the first Christmas, and brings an incredible empathy for any woman who may have labored alone or without the love and support of someone who understands birth.
As a doula, my goal is to simply be there for a couple on the precipice of parenthood and to be present as a woman who has experienced birth myself and through other women. Welcome to the world Antonia, sweet girl.