The Tooth and The Birth

"Mommy, I have a loose tooth. Can you pull it out for me?"
"No sweetie, I can't pull it out, but you can."
"I don't want to mommy. I want you to do it for me."
"Then it's not time to pull it out, your tooth isn't ready."
"How will I know when it's ready?"
"When it's ready, and you're ready, it's time."
This has a conversation I had with the elder of my twins. She is a sweet soul, deep and feeling in ways that my other children may not recognize or comprehend. She wanted me to pull her not-quite-ready but mildly-loose tooth out for her. I wiggled it, smiled at her, pulled her onto my lap, and gave her the above talk.

This was a pivotal moment for her. She, my gentle spirit, wanted her parent, her caregiver, to do the thing that was hardest for her at that moment - take the responsibility and put it into their own hands. She, who prefers protection to bravery, wanted me to 'take the reigns' and rid her mouth of this wiggly nuisance.

But I placed that power back into her hands, and although she resisted it at first, she soon grew to cherish it. Daily, she wiggled that tooth, and then came to report to me what new sensations it gave her and how it impacted her. Daily, I applauded her for her intuition and her strength to wait until the right time. Some days it bothered her more than others - some days, like the day she jarred it painfully with an apple, she begged me to help her. And I did, but not the way she had expected. She wanted me to pull it - instead I gave her some warm tea with honey and cradled her jaw in my hand, kissing her nose.

One morning, without pomp or circumstance, she came to me and asked for my hand. She then dropped her tooth in my open palm, smiled with self-assurance, and sauntered off with a glint in her eye that only those who have climbed an impossible mountain can achieve. When it was time, and she was ready, she took herself to the bathroom, locked the door, and plucked that tooth from it's nest.

She later came to me and told me that she was nervous, but courageous. It was uncomfortable, but not nearly as painful or scary as prior tooth pullings that were done by others. She didn't want to tell anyone else what she was doing because it was 'her time, her tooth, and she didn't want to be watched'.

So it is with birth. Women come to me and other birth workers/keepers afraid to walk their journey in their own power. They are looking for someone to make the journey for them, do the work for them, or make the choices for them. But look what is lost when a birth worker/keeper takes on that role? If we can come along side of them and encourage them, give them information, and hold their space, they blossom into powerful, self-reliant, strong, capable journeyers.


Sarah Flandro said...

That's so true, I wouldn't have thought to make the connection like that until I read this. What a cute story. :)

xo, Sarah

Amanda DeAngelis said...

I really enjoyed the comparison you made here and agree with it whole heartedly. It made me think about the eagerness with which some doulas and caregivers want that responsibility for their clients. It is an important reminder as to what our role is. And as you have showed, this type of caregiving crosses over into parenting and all types of relationships. Thanks again for your thoughtful post.

KerstenKolacheProject said...

Great post


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