Birthing beauty (#BOAW2018)

One Woman

Giving birth, all women become

One Woman.


There will be blood.

There may be tears.

There will be fear, and also wonder.


This particular woman sweats

trembles, grunts, vomits.

By Madman2001 (Own work), via Wikimedia Commons

I offer a cool cloth for her forehead

best if dipped in a bowl of ice water

so cold my fingers ache.


I offer a shoulder where she can bury her head

a place where she can rest her weary body

for a moment before labor claims her again

before she must go on.

She cannot go on.

She must.


By Kattiel (Own work), via Wikimedia Commons


I travel beside her.

I cannot take away her fear or eliminate her pain.

But I see her.

I hear her.

I say

you are beautiful.


By PiA DiStefano. (Uploaded by Piadistefano, the artist.), via Wikimedia Commons

My “day” job

I began working as a birth doula in 2003. Since then, have accompanied nearly 200 women on their journeys to becoming mothers. At first, the awe I felt at witnessing life come into the world was all-consuming. “Wow,” I’d say to myself, surprised every time, “There’s a baby!” Now my focus has shifted to the women.

Babies are cute, but women are where the true beauty resides.



This post is part of The Beauty of a Woman BlogFest VII! To read more entries, and potentially win a fun prize, visit the fest page on August’s McLaughlin’s site between today and 11pm PST March 9th.


25 thoughts on “Birthing beauty (#BOAW2018)

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  1. How true and glorious. What a wonder to have been a doula for so many mothers, and to be part of so many births. Birthing is the center of our lives, of all life, and we humans tend to squeeze it into a compartment. Maybe because it’s hard to bow to so much beyond our control? Thanks —


    1. I’m always amazed at how many women never think about giving birth until they’re pregnant (I was the same way), probably because our culture pays so little attention to it. Imagine if we devoted as much time, energy, and money to the process of preparing for birth as we do preparing for war…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ah, the miracle of birth! So beautiful. I was able to witness the birth of my first grandchild. My daughter-in-law did a great job. What wonderful work you do. When I had my babies back in the ’80s, I’d never heard of a doula. In fact, I first heard about doulas a few years ago. I would have benefited greatly having a doula with my first baby. Had a major blowup with hubby when I was going through transition. He stormed out of the labor room, and I turned on my side and cried through the labor pains, feeling so bad I’d have to divorce him and raise my baby myself. Then when I was wheeled into the operating room for delivery, hubby came in with the physician’s mask and clothing and I saw his smiling eyes looking at me as I was ready to push our baby into the world, so I fell in love with him all over again and forgave him for being a butthead in the labor room! Haha! In his defense, he’d been working overtime and hadn’t had any sleep the past two nights and it was a 23-hour labor. I can laugh about it now!


    1. I’m not surprised you hadn’t heard of doulas in the 1980s. The concept was “born” in the 1970s and even when I had my kids in the late 1990s, there were far fewer than now.

      How awesome that you were able to witness the birth of your grandchild. I hope if my sons ever decide to have kids, their spouses will invite me into the labor room, but I’m not going to make any assumptions. And thanks for sharing the story of your first birth. Birth experiences are one thing women never forget… even into their 80s and 90s, the details remain clear.


    1. Thank you. I am sensitive to the fact that not all women are or will become mothers, and one thing I never want to do is create an “us vs. them” feeling between women who have children and women who don’t. Giving birth and raising kids is by no means the only opportunity for women’s beauty to shine forth, as BOAW demonstrates so clearly!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow, I hadn’t realized you were a doula, Audrey! Such special and important work. I’m sure you see beauty within it perpetually, just as the people you work with see it fiercely in you.


    1. Birth is pretty raw and visceral, so it seemed fitting. And this definitely felt like a safe forum in which to share it. Although others may come to it knowing me only as a fiction writer (which might be a surprise), I’ve gotten over trying to keep my two passions separate.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s one of my go-to sites for images, especially for blog posts. And these just seemed so perfect for your poem—showing how birth has been part of women’s experience for centuries.


  4. Lovely, lovely post, Audrey. I had no idea that one of your many, many talents was as a doula. Constantly, you amaze me, as does “Birthing Beauty,” where there is fear and wonder. Yes, Audrey, you do hear and see her. ❤


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