I couldn't help but phone my husband in the middle of it... just to share (and to gloat, but mostly to share). I was smack-bang in the middle of a swirling pool of sound - soaring African melodies all around me and those voices were lifting the roof with joy! I was blessed to be attending a midwifery-student-friend's daughters wedding - a full-regalia Zimbabwean wedding with all the colour, costume and music you could imagine. Sadly for me, Kelly hadn't been able to attend - the wedding fell on the same day as our children's Sunday School concert... so we had split up between the two events...
Now I am an African music lover from way back - as my CD collection will attest. So to be sitting amidst live, impromptu songs of praise and celebration gave me quite a thrill - and I really wanted Kelly to share in the experience. "Can you hear that!?!?!?" I was yelling down the phone. (Honestly, how could he NOT have heard!)
So the wedding was completely amazing. But guess what? Even though the colour, the sounds, the multi-language conversations and all that beautiful wedding joy was quite something, there was just one thing on my mind on the long drive home...
We're all SO different, but really, we are all the same.
And so it is with birth, too.
Rich or poor, black or white, young or old, surrounded by whanau, or on your own, birth is THE great leveller. It meets you at the door and says: You know what? You're mine now. Doesn't matter who you were yesterday, today you are a birthing woman, just like the thousands of other woman around the world who are doing this right now. Your pain is the same as their pain. Your anxiety is the same as theirs. The doubts about your ability to cope mirror those that are running through their minds. Dirt floor or sterilised hospital birthing suite - in the middle it's you and me, together. A birthing woman.
As a student midwife, and in the years leading up to this, I have attended many births, with women from many walks of life. It never ceases to amaze me that regardless of who is birthing, she needs the same basic things:
To feel safe
To feel loved
To be told that she is doing a great job
To be reassured that she CAN do it
And to know that until she has, you aren't going to leave her alone...
Full of colour, costume and soaring voices.
All so different; yet, all the same.