This is a picture of our baby having just returned from his first day out. Truth be told, we were always holding a baby or a camera in those early days, not wanting to let anything, especially time, slip away.
In our prenatal interview, we asked our pediatrician when we could take the baby out, and he said, "What . . .you think there are no germs here? No germs or diseases in the hospital? You can take the baby out."
Stamp of approval.
The high from the birth really took hold on day 3. I gave birth. Something that, during the process, was clearly impossible. Nothing impossible-er had ever happened. But it happened. We did it. I have no idea how. And now he was here and I had been staring at him for three whole days. I'm sure I did other things but I have no memory of any basic self-care. Holding him, watching him sleep, breastfeeding him, studying his face - this being who had been communicating with me all along finally showed his face and his way. And it was all irresistible. As much as I prepared for giving birth and having a baby, I was completely unprepared for the feelings I would have for this child. I never knew love like this. Even now, I don't know what to say about it.
"Let's go. Anywhere. Let's take him out. I have to see the world with him."
So we put him in the sling we had. There were no YouTube tutorials - just guesswork. He fidgeted a little and seemed uncomfortable, but we walked out the door together, down the stairs, and outside onto Columbus Ave. Outside looked so different - crisp and fresh. The traffic, the noise - all too grown-up and sophisticated for all of us. We were breaking an NYC barrier with this baby - showing him all the things he had only heard, somehow sheltered, before.
We walked past dozens of people on the way to the grocery store, none of whom let on that they knew what happened to us. Life is such a powerful force. It comes, it moves, while no one is watching.
Finally, in the check-out line, the cashier smiled and said, "Awwww, how old?" I was relieved - someone saw! I had asked this question of other parents over the years as a matter of small talk, knowing the answer ultimately meant nothing to me. But this cashier - she could really see. "Three days," I grinned hard.
"Beautiful. . . Enjoy him."
With all I've got!
It's what we build here at Manhattan Birth.
We had our Big Bradley Reunion in the park this weekend. What a day! Jenna, Sarah, Amy, and I held a million sweaty babies, and hugged some lovely melting parents. I could see how birthing and raising these babies changes us. We're open and ready for anything.
Someone asked me if I felt a sense of accomplishment when I saw everyone together on the hill that day. And the answer is yes. What we accomplish is community for young families who are usually far from the families they grew up with, forging ahead, barely identifying themselves as the parents they have become. Some folks will move back home for community. Some will stay and make it here. And some who have formed friendships will keep it going, bonding deeply over the years, birthing siblings together, going on vacation together, and moving through this glorious life together. Josh and I have done it with our friends, AJ and Greg, from our own Bradley class. I had no idea how close we would become after 8 1/2 years, and that our babies who took their first steps days apart would become big kids together, get into mischief, share beds on vacation, lose teeth, and expand our family to double, as our faces change - 8 1/2 years is a lot when you get to 40.
Sarah and I taught a Class 1 tonight and I said it when telling my story about Milo's birth, but it's true here of all that has come since he was born. This work, all of you, community, my family, helping others, bringing people together and watching these children grow - buckets and buckets of blessings. Regularly.
With all I've got!
They don't know the boundaries with their clients, how much money they will or won't accept, what they include, what they are or are not willing to do. They don't know, and they get stuck. Because humans are imperfect and that is our target market. Humans. We are always inventing new, specific situations. Somany doulas come to me and say, "How to I make sure I don't . . .(give to much, take too little, get into a sticky situation)?"
The answer is boundaries.
As birth professionals, our clients want us to connect with them so they can feel comfortable being excellently supported through a transitional and sometimes bumpy period in life. That will always mean giving some part of ourselves to the work. My work and life are not separate - they are both very much who I am and are intertwined by my values.
But boundaries - good ones - are priceless.
They give us an opportunity for seeing and communicating with more clarity. We can recharge and refill the well from whence we give so generously. Boundaries give our clients the ability to have their own opinions and in a sense, find their own way, according to their own values. Having boundaries as an independent birth professional teaches the world that we deserve respect, and we respect the world, in turn, too.
Not sure what your boundaries are? Start with knowing the answer to these questions:
With all I've got!
About the Author:
Tanya Wills is a graduate of the midwifery program at Yale School of Nursing, where she received her Master of Science in Nursing and also earned her R.N. (Registered Nurse).