Birth, Breath, and Death: Meditations on Motherhood, Chaplaincy, and Life as a Doula

Amy Wright Glenn
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Menu PhillyVoice. Amy Wright Glenn. I get it.

Birth, Breath, and Death: Meditations on Motherhood, Chaplaincy, and Life as a Doula

Parenting is really hard sometimes. July 21, Social Media Birth is not porn: When Facebook bans images of a new documentary on birth by Amy Wright Glenn Photos and films depicting the wondrous, difficult, amazing, and heroic journey of a mother to open her body and bring forth life are to be honored and lifted up, not banned. June 13, Parenting Affirming the value of truth for our children in an age of dishonest politics by Amy Wright Glenn In the actions we take, the words we speak, the thoughts we believe, we model to our children a way of being in this world, for good or ill.

May 23, Death So, you want to hire a death doula? May 10, Life Lessons Facing fear: cultivating courage and discernment in life by Amy Wright Glenn I am a sophomore at Reed College when a handsome graduate student named Sam asks me out. Investigations Customs officials seize vessel used in record-breaking Philly cocaine bust. We found a wonderful woman, full of passion for her work. As a former opera singer, she sang like an angel.

Her calming, beautiful melodies brought a great deal of peace to the early hours of labor. When Rachel knocked on our bedroom door at on a late March morning, I bolted upright. My beloved niece was soon to be born. Knowing our doula would arrive at our request brought tremendous relief and calmed any lingering trepidation.

Birthing Woman's Spiritual Practice

Her helpful, kind, and informed presence proved invaluable. Rachel quickly morphed into the bravest person I knew. We spent hours walking through the springtime fields behind our home. She labored in the upstairs tub as water washed over her rhythmic contractions.

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At the hospital, she moaned and rocked and said she felt agonizing pressure. She cried and bled. I massaged her body as she mercifully rested during the five-minute respites between contractions.

While pushing, she compressed every bone in my hand. The baby crowned. A threshold opened, and my sister gave birth. The energy in the room shifted with celebratory grace and tearful smiles.

We welcomed this precious one to the earthly realm of gravity, air, and land. She remained conscious, informed, and connected to the process even in the most difficult moments.

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Birth brings powerful and painful sensations to the most intimate spaces of the female body. My sister opened to this reality. I stood transfixed by the life-giving strength found in her feminine power. I certainly held a newfound respect for the vagina. Aztec elders taught that women who died in childbirth go to the same level of paradise as men who died in battle. After attending over forty births, I fully understood why. Soldiers die in battle from intense wounds. They bleed as they sacrifice for a greater cause. The same holds true for women who die in childbirth.

They bleed as they open to life.

The juxtaposition of beauty and pain in each birth astounds me. Each story lives in me. Doulas offer a counterbalance to a medical system that places an inordinate amount of value on gadgets, medicine, and machines. Doulas are called to care, to encourage, and to leave the world better than we found it.

Why not start where the world for each of us began?

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Why not begin with birth? Let us draw strength from birthing women who embody the goddess in her glory. Let us engage with our passions and birth our dreams. Let us meditate on the miracle of our own births.

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This article appeared in the Fall issue of UU World pages Like this on Facebook.