Hello beautiful woman, mother,
May we carry you for a moment with our arms so wide. Can you let yourself be carried by the warm water and all that is inside her? I will promise that you can do it yourself again afterwards, you will not lose anything. You will only gain something.
She walks into the pool and she is clearly in her postpartum phase. Her body in total caring status. Her breasts are full and tense and her belly is still nice and round. Her eyes are with force and she smiles. Very wide. Her eyes just don't follow. They stay behind.
Marjorie has invited her to into the water with her 7 week old daughter. Her partner, the father of her newborn child, passed away three weeks ago. Because he was already in a coma, he was never able to meet the little one.
A very precarious situation that requires total connection with ourselves, each other and the baby. The baby is still asleep and so I have time to work with her before we go into the water with the small one. She has trouble transitioning from vertical to horizontal. You can imagine that this woman has had to survive for a long time, that her nervous system is on fighting modus and surrendering herself has not been… in a few minutes. I feel into her. I look at the signals her body gives, I observe her breath and her facial expressions. But I also tune in to her energy, heavy, expectant, sad? What do I feel? Without giving this value I let it be. It's not up to me to imagine this session in my head. It is up to me to observe her, to listen to her deeper need.
No fixing or forcing. To be. Just like that water, which is one of its most beautiful qualities.
I hold her and start rocking her slowly. Very slowly and attentively. Soon her body begins to shake, pure release. Her nervous system is regulating. All I do is be there. I gently guide her body through the water. I give a little impulse that makes her body slide through it, at her pace. No big movements, interventions. But gentle touch after which the water moves her body. I'm here for her, with everything I have within me.
And then we hear babbling. Her little one wakes up, sharp again. As she was known.
Sintra, May 2022. I'm in the car with Marjorie. The place where we eat chocolate, joke and cheer with the kids in the backseat. But it's not just that. It is also the place where we have good conversations. Where we open our hearts about being a doula. About what it means to us; being doula in every fiber of our body. About what the water gives us and the women and couples we follow. About the authenticity of the waterdoula and her authentic qualities. The qualities that she does not only take with her during birth or a water session. No, these qualities shine through in everything we do, touch and create. In everything we see, behold and experience.
I name a few: listening deeply, being present, beholding, following, being grounded, embracing and flexibel.
That morning we gave two water sessions together. Sessions in which death and life were largely present. Death and birth floated to the surface on many occasions. How could it be otherwise, because isn't it true that we may face the fact that when something is born, something irrevocably dies. Inside us, very deep inside us. And when we as humans are faced with death, something new is born deep inside. And in both cases spaces arise in our inner world that we previously did not know existed.
Back to that moment in the water. Two beautiful parents-to-be enter the water. Tired, both very tired. Stressed, overwhelmed by everything and everyone from the external world. We chat and float a bit after which we decide to work a little deeper with them. We see and feel the tension. Bodies used to being ON. To survive and in all probability be very good at it. And these bodies cry out for relaxation. To be able to dive into the core from that physical relaxation and to let go, discharge and regulate. Marjorie works with the pregnant woman and I take the big and especially tense body of the future father in my arms. I feel responsibility in his body, a lot of responsibility. You know, the one that weighs on your shoulders or hangs over you like the sword of Damocles. Born from a desire to do good, to be able to do everything for his wife and daughter, to make sure they lack nothing. An oppressive sense of responsibility. I watch and listen to him. Where is his need? What does his body indicate? What can he handle right now? I hold him close to me and cradle him. "It's okay, you're good the way you are and you're already doing great" is what my attitude conveys.
And there they go, as if one by one all his muscles relax and as if the burden of impending parenthood is literally being carried away with the water. After an hour I let him land gently and he takes his time. All the time he needs to be able to ground himself from this experience. The water has made room to take care of himself, to go back to its core to take care of its new family from that great well of love instead out of duty or a sense of lacking.
His wife is going through a very different process. Marjorie carries her with all her love. And in addition to the many tensions that reside in her body, tears are now also arising. Tears of fear, the deep fear of dying. Fear of being under the water and losing total control. Funny actually that we call it 'losing control', wouldn't it be better to call it 'gaining freedom'? Perspective right?!
She literally gasps and pushes herself out of the water. Tears flow freely and she lets herself be held. She encounters this in herself a number of times. And she understands what's happening, in her head. Her body just needs time and space to embrace this loss of control.. oh no gaining of freedom. As if she has been given an essential exercise for the actual birth. She goes for it, full on and eventually she floats together with her man for a while enjoying each other's love and connection. Once out of the water we see two souls who have come to rest, who have been able to leave pieces behind. Grateful.
Fifteen minutes later it is time for our next guest. A young woman who lost her baby a few weeks ago. She was 5 months pregnant. A beautiful tall woman steps into the water. With a heavy heart. With a lot of luggage. She lies with her legs tight together and her arms at her side. Eyes open. Fear, sadness, disassociation. The pool filled with her emotions. Stuck emotions.
Again we look at her body, what does she ask of us? We feel very gently, looking at her facial expressions. Marjorie and I keep in constant contact with each other. We are in tune with each other. We rock a little, float a little. We let her get used to the disappearing frames, to the space that arises. Very slowly there is softening in her limbs and we are following this movement
The first tears roll, there is sighing and shaking. ‘We are here. Present. We are here for you.’ We are now an hour further and she shares her sorrow with the water. And with us. We sometimes say.. half of the pool is tears.
Working as a doula in the water is listening deeply, being grounded, beholding, being present, following, embracing and swaying.
Hey.. isn't that exactly what you need during your pregnancy, birth and motherhood?
The circle is complete again.
'Geboortewerker met een sterke passie voor de kracht van vrouwen, lichaamswerk, water en ... schrijven.'