And when he came to the place where the wild things are
they roared their terrible roars and gnashed their terrible teeth
and rolled their terrible eyes and showed their terrible claws

till Max said “BE STILL!”

til Max staid “BE STILL!”
and tamed with the magic trick
of staring into all their yellow eyes without blinking once
and they were frightened and called him the most wild thing of all
and made him king of all wild things.
“And now,” cried Max, “let the wild rumpus start!”

I am an unabashedly huge fangirl of Lesley Everest, birthworker/healer/inter-spiritual minister and all-around Wise Woman. Pretty much everything that she speaks is gold, but I’m particularly fond of her wisdom surrounding the birth space. She posted these words the other day, and they got me thinking…

As a doula I am sometimes judged for my clients’ behaviours, as if I pull strings that lead them into this kind of ruckus making. Let it be known, I lead no ruckus. Ever. I respect the spaces I enter and am an ambassador of peace. But let it also be known that if a woman gets it into her mind to follow her instincts, even if is unusual, I will NOT stop her. I will not participate in the usurpation of another woman’s birthing power. If my refusal to “control my client” gets me banned from birthing rooms forever, I will leave with my integrity intact.

That’s a hill I’m willing to die on.

I, like Lesley, certainly won’t lead a ruckus, but I’ll enable the hell out of yours if you’d like to have one.

It’s not that I think you need to be contrarian, or adversarial. I think of a ruckus more like like Max’s wild rumpus. I hope you, like Max, will enter the land of the wild things – the fears, the unknowns, and the voices speaking over yours in your birth space – and you know you have it within you to command them to “BE STILL!” And I hope that you will do the magic trick of unblinkingly reminding them that you are the birth-giver, and that they will respond – as they should – by declaring you the king of all wild things. You aren’t ending the wildness or stopping the rumpus, but simply assuming your station as the rightful leader of it all.

I think we (society and birthworkers alike) often hold up quiet, calm, peaceful – even painless – births as some sort of gold standard. I do understand why: This is a pushback against unnecessarily hands-on, high-intervention, bright-flourescent-lighted births that create an environment where birth happens to a person rather than being something they do. But, what about the alternative where birth is loud, rambunctions, wild and painful? Those births are powerful and transformative, too, and if we don’t acknowledge them as such we run the risk of promoting an idea that the “right” way to birth is always a picture of serenity. The antitdote for birth controlled by outside forces is not to promote a different set of constraints like silence, politeness, and modesty.

Where does a doula play into all of this? I figure I’m kinda like that wild thing with Max on its shoulders. I’m following you in your wild rumpus, but I’m also there to give you a boost, to amplify your voice and make sure you’re seen and heard.

I know as the birth-giver you are entitled to be the most wild thing of all.

and made him king of all the wild things
…and made him king of all the wild things…

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