The past two days have been a lot. Birth work is beautiful. It fills my cup and is where I find peace. It can also, at times, require sacrifice.
Saturday I got the call that my grandmother may not make it through the week. I planned to see her Sunday, but was called away Sunday morning to a birth. It was beautiful, exhausting, and powerful. As I hit the 'Start' and 'End' button on my phone's contraction timer texts of 'hurry' flitted across my screen. I tried to keep my expression neutral and loving while I hip-squeezed, grabbed water, admired, and muttered encouragement. I can only hope I did an adequate job of it.
Twenty-fice hours into the thirty hours I was there I received news that my grandmother had passed before I was able to say goodbye. While I was holding space at the gate where life begins, someone I love dearly slipped through the exit. I wasn't able to make it to her in time.
I could have left. Most would not have blamed me, and I believe my lovely clients would have forgiven me. But my grief? It's not going anywhere. There was no need to rush home to it.
I am all too familiar with the pain of a missed goodbye. I seem to be collecting them. Each one will be with me always. I will have the rest of my life to feel that emotion and work through it. My clients, on the other hand, only had today to meet their baby. They were in a vulnerable place, as all birthing women are, and had gone in expecting me to be there the whole time. That day is the beginning of their new family. The time to honor each birth is finite, and sacred.
The juxtaposition between the two transitions was noteworthy. Life coming in, though a joyous celebration, is work; It can be long, challenging, and a trial. Life going out, though heartbreaking, can be peaceful. The opposite, for both, is also true.
And so, I stayed. There was great healing in seeing the cycle from both ends that day, and I am so honored to be trusted as a gatekeeper.