Seven years ago today I became a mother for the first time. With the herring, comes the reminder of how my son was born. Three days before I gave birth, I looked out at the ocean from my window and with bountiful excitement, I saw the incredible sight of a turquoise stream filling the ocean between islands. The herring spawn had arrived right in front of my house!
The turquoise is the simultaneous release of thousands of the little male fish, filling the water with their milt and fertilizing the millions of eggs that were also being simultaneously released by the fishy wombed ones.
Everything is Alive!
"When I eat this, it will die." Last night my oldest child described this insight as he devoured some homemade sauerkraut. My response was that it would be transformed to nourish his life. It would feed his own breath, warm body and curious, growing mind.
This morning, I feel it in my bones that everything is alive! I'm gearing up our family canoe and heading for the beach with my two sons, one of them who is turning seven years old. This is not any average celebratory birthday or beach day for us. This is the annual herring run! It is officially spring here on the west coast with the incredible arrival of hundreds of thousands of female herring. With bellies swollen and ripe, this incredible bio mass is ready to lay their bulging abundance of eggs on beds of seaweed.
This is the season of incredible breath taking, bounty of life. The ocean comes to life with the pulsing urge of birth in the wind, the water and shores. Warmed by the sun and with all of it's ecological resilience, the ocean reaches a point of dynamic stability that is ideal for the reproductive physiology of the herring. All at once, the birthing process of new life comes pouring forth! Gulls and eagles serenade the skies, seals and sea lions frolic and float. They are all free to be, free to lay, to soar, to live, embracing their power of wild existence.
In the next few weeks, the eagles will have their turn to lay and sea mammals to birth their live young. It is an incredible time of witnessing, celebrating and to revel in the swollen potential of life... it's everywhere! I can't help to compare this birthing forth of freedom to the natural physiology that we carry as humans, and where we are in our freedom to embrace our own autonomous power, originating within the primordial experience of childbirth.
The Birth of Spring & Celebrating Childbirth
As a doula and mother I witness this dynamic surge of spring with so much awe, fully aware of the delicate balance all around me that awakens this wild, natural cycle that simply knows no bounds. It pulls, it pushes, cools, flows, warms & releases, takes flight and calmly allows itself to be carried by the current... all in it's own time, it's own place, surrendering to itself with it's own power within to bring forth life! To revel in the wildness of life and it's uninhibited, unbound abundance of power is an important way to connect with that part of ourselves that knows exactly how to give birth.
I opened my front door and breathed in the sight and smell. The unmistakable, familiar scent of the ocean breeze combined with fish pheromones and all to create the distinct essence of what I can only simply describe as fresh ocean sex. For three years previous, I'd wait at this time of year to catch the nearly shore bound fish to pickle or fry up fresh, and to dry the row laden seaweed out for soups and winter meals.
Both my doula and my son's dad were there and I immediately went into directive mode, commanding "Get the pails! Buckets! Nets!" Enormously pregnant and bulging with my own womb full with a sweetly nestled baby inside, I could feel my baby's head reaching the deeper depths of my pelvis. As I waddled swiftly down the beach, my baby floated and swayed in his own little ocean. Yup, amniotic fluid has been proven to be quite similar in mineral composition to sea water! Wombs never ceases to amaze me.
My breath feeling full of baby pressing on my diaphragm (my organs officially feeling jammed like sardines), I squatted on the shore and breathed in the cold ripples of wind and sea. I warmed up at the thought of my own approaching birth. Little did I know, was how powerful this fishing excursion would be on my connection to the incredible capacity of life, and in my own surrender of the wild current of birth that pulsed everywhere around me!
Facing my Fear of the Unknown
Two days later, my mucous plug released and soon after amniotic fluid trickled at intervals down my thighs. That night was a new moon, and I spent it actively in birth with the house dark, feeling warm, safe and comfortable. This is the ideal environment for any mammal to give birth in, and it is imperative that it remains undisturbed. I could clearly hear the deep guttural quakings and songs of sea lions coming from across the straight, and as I sat in stillness for a few minutes before the break of dawn, my doula joked that they were cheering me on. This stillness was my incredible body's way of giving me a rest, as transition was roaring just around the bend of my journey to meet my son. Childbirth was the most fulfilling and intense experience I've ever had, preparing me for the huge task ahead: the enormous role of being a mother.
I was now ready on all levels, in my mind, heart and body to become a mom. Time stopped as I pushed my baby out on my hands and knees and I felt his head emerge in one push, too quickly to feel the ring of fire. My baby was still fully enclosed in his bag of waters! He was born in the caul! The amniotic sac felt slippery and strong just like fresh seaweed as we pulled it up and over his head. Still on my knees, I wove him between my legs and I held him close, collapsing on my back, surrendering into motherhood and embracing my need to rest. Forgetting for the moment the feat of the long night, I stared at my wondrous little baby. The currents of life taking me into a whole new realm of responsibility, I was gently yet swiftly carried on my journey into motherhood.
Womb Wisdom Reflections
Seven years later, as I am writing these words I'm brought back to that moment with so much awe and revelry for the power that is birth. Sometimes it's the simplicity of life, and the answers that we have within us that can nurture us the most. Just as the wild ocean currents seemingly brings with ease an abundance of life, there remains a delicate balance in the life cycles. I am reminded that we have the wild currents within us to give birth, and it is a simple yet delicate process. Like the wildness in nature, we have all that we need inside ourselves to give birth in our own way, in our own time. This is the wild nature of birth, which will always be a part of us.
It is necessary, now more than ever for us to revel and respect the incredible power of human birth. To connect and surrender to that part of ourselves that knows exactly what to do. To trust ourselves and this incredible capacity means to respect this delicate balance as we would with any other birthing creature in this wondrous wild world. After all, birth is a primordial act and connects us to the most wild and ancient wisdom that rests in the deepest parts of ourselves.