This topic is calling me at the moment. Calling me to explore deeply for myself, my work and my desire to live my life fully, emotionally and physically. I can see how when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, to allow also the uncomfortable emotions it offers great rewards in also experiencing true emotional highs and self reflection. To explain, I will share some of my personal journey: During my teens and early twenties I tried to escape or numb uncomfortable emotions by having an unhealthy relationship with food during my teens and I worked hard to uncover the reasons for why there was this big gaping hole of 'unworthiness' during two years of therapy at the age of 21 when I realised that I did not want to carry these emotional 'shackles' around with me anymore. One of the many things I learnt about myself was that not feeling worthy and being disconnected from others was directly connected to a sense of 'shame' which had its roots way back in my early years as a child. Stepping out of this place of shame and beginning to believe that 'I am enough', the way I am and with all my flaws has been the gate opener towards my journey of finding true self love in the years to come. Motherhood was the next step in this process and developing a deep respect for my body and what it had done for me. Realising how vulnerable life is once you become a parent, with your children walking through the world with your heart in their hands. Loving myself, respecting my body and having a sense of 'being enough' is what also allowed me to break free of some long held beliefs over the past two years by becoming physically fit. Exercise and losing weight was no longer a question of 'increasing my self worth' but it was simply a challenge...and I love a good challenge! Losing more than 30 kilos in the process has been more than weight loss, I feel I have let go of a barrier that used to confirm to me that I 'wasn't worthy'. I now feel like I have 'arrived' in my body and am loving the sense of freedom I have given myself in the process. Being vulnerable and looking some uncomfortable things right in the eye was necessary for this. I am vulnerable right now by sharing this with you as someone who likes to 'have it all together' and be seen as strong. I am strong but today I understand that I am more so because I also allow myself to be vulnerable...that much I have learnt in my almost 40 years on this earth.
Because I am comfortable myself with vulnerability I can hold others in this space in my work as a doula. I can often see vulnerability before women have recognised it themselves or are still trying to move away from it. I encourage vulnerability because I have understood and seen how essential it is to giving birth emotionally 'intact', with a sense of empowerment in the process and the experience of working with your body through pain. If you think you can 'keep it all together' whilst giving birth and control the process then you are wrong. Or perhaps just lucky. To embrace the process of giving birth wholly and fully it involves opening yourself up to some very uncomfortable feelings of needing/accepting help, dealing with pain (and I'm calling it by the name today on purpose), sitting with fear/anxiety, facing the unknown even though there are no guarantees requires you to be vulnerable. Truly. Probably in a way you have not needed in your life before. Allowing yourself to be truly seen, by yourself and by others. With all your being, anxiety, fear, nakedness...everything. That's when you are stepping into an incredibly powerful place of self discovery that involves learning and the opportunity to work WITH your body and mind through the biggest transformative process you can experience in your life as a woman. Giving birth and becoming a mother. By giving space to the uncomfortable feelings you also create the possibility of experiencing yourself in the most powerful way you ever can, a gift that you will carry for the rest of your life.
This stuff I'm talking about is not easy work. Especially when it comes to pregnancy and birth, a time where the unknown is showing itself to us so clearly and often, in scary ways. Where we try to create a sense of 'certainty' through tests or being overprecautious which often creates new risks in itself. Being vulnerable is hard for all of us but from someone who has seen it, there is nothing more beautiful, humbling and strong when women and couples move into the emotions and take on this journey. Often during a birth there is a moment where I can see that for the woman the moment to 'drop her guard' has come. And when she does it because she is feeling held and she knows through her emotional preparation that this is exactly where she needs to go... then it still touches me to the core; a moment where my eyes often well up as I hold her. And these are the moments where I know I CAN hold her because I am comfortable with her vulnerability. That's a big part of what I do - supporting others as they move into vulnerability and hold them whilst they are in this space.
So if this all left you a bit confused and wondering whether you really need to think about all this stuff to have a baby then I want to say two things: Firstly, you do not need to think about vulnerability to have a baby. You can give birth and try to emotionally protect yourself from the uncomfortable stuff and by doing that may increase your risk of feeling disconnected from the process or loose out on the greatest experience of your own strength and courage - which is not purely attached to a 'drug and intervention free birth' by the way. Secondly, if you are ready to accept the challenge of exploring your vulnerability as you give birth and become a parent to a tiny human being then start by accepting help as you embark on this big work. You do not need to do it on your own. Have a doula and allow her to truly see you, to hold you and coach you through the process - because she has seen the magic that can happen in this space, for others and for herself.
Julia MacLeod is a certified birth & postnatal doula since 2013 and has supported more than 60 families and births during this time. To find out more about her birth doula support send a message or arrange an obligation free Meet & Greet where all your questions can be answered. Take advantage of the current special offer to have 20% OFF when booking Julia's birth doula support package!