In the red tent with sixteen other women. Some who I've known for years, some I met that night. We connected as mothers or doulas or on the way to becoming midwives or all of the above. I'm usually no good at these types of things. I don't open up easily in front of large groups.
The first moments in the tent have a shyness to them, everyone worked on getting settled into the space physically emotionally. The first poem was read, "Tonight we toast the naked ladies, those leafless lilies that flaunt their fine pink all through the crush of saucy August..." to cut up the awkwardness, and let the stories out.
Three candles to represent birth, life and death, three topics we circled around. The poems and stories wove through these central themes, tears go to laughter, laughter back to tears. I found solace in discovering I'm not the only one loosing their mind practicing the terrifying act of raising a son, and unleashing him into the world (also known as kindergarden). I found joy in the fact that several of us had the same midwife grab onto our newborns as we pushed them out, passing their slippery bodies up into our hands or bearing witness as we ecstatically caught them ourselves. All these stories, different and similar to my own.
I lay in bed that night remembering. In my first birth I had a strong sense of the female. Women, women, women all around coaxing me through birth, women present in the room, women in my mind. Then right in the peak of labor, at the darkest point the women/myself said "This is what you'll do now." Over nine years ago, the light that turned on right before I pushed out my daughter still glows. At times it has flickered, changed colors or threaten to burst, but a calling is best when answered. A calling is not easily ignored.
I lay in bed that night honored. I scoop up these women in the tent, their loss, joy, hardships and carry them with me, knowing that whether they know it or not they carry me along too.