As a singer, I recognize there is something inexplicable in the voice. When we sing we resonate with something that goes beyond ourselves, we connect to a Whole we are part of.
I rediscovered spirituality after years of singing. But it is only when I sang while giving birth that I fully experienced faith. I had faith in my own body and soul, I had faith in my Ancestors who gave me life and who were teaching me how to do it myself. I was one and many; I was my mother, my grandmother, my great-grandmother and many mothers whom I owe my existence. I was assisted, honored and respected by dedicated birth keepers. I was loved and supported by my partner. We all respected and believed in our daughter who was competent and actively participated to her birth into the world.
The place we chose was a place where women gave birth every day. We were in Bali, in the birth center Yayasan Bumi Sehat. I liked the idea to give birth in the place where other women go. I felt it had holiness in it. I trusted my midwife, Ibu Robin Lim, and I happily surrendered to this powerful initiation. I had fresh flowers in my bath and on the newborn placenta. My child was welcomed with a song, a Gayatri mantra, sang by the midwives. We were all crying feeling that the moment of a beginning of a new life on Earth is holy.
When women prepare for childbirth, they are filled with joy and gratitude, but also fear and insecurity. They choose their place of birth and they go there full of trust. They expect a loving motherly care, they count on wise birth keepers, they surrender to birth when they feel everything is in place. They are in the right place.
As an activist for human rights in childbirth I hear many stories of birth. I can see many scenarios and I cry often. Sometimes tears of joy fill my hearth, sometimes anger eats off pieces of if. When I feel it harden, I have to step out and sing. It’s hard times for women and children in childbirth, and it’s huge the effort to help them.
I woke up this morning with a thought in my mind. Places where women give birth are sacred. In the Mediterranean culture, the seed and ground of the Western civilization, they were honored. Women would make offerings to the Great Mother of us all, and they would have special places where to give life. These were holy places. Women would make cakes and bring flowers. The cakes would be in the shape of the moon, the croissant. You’ve heard about it. You probably tasted it and you were delighted too. They would make sweet offerings in a round shape, such as a birthday cake, to honor the placenta (“pancake” in Latin).
When a woman gave birth at home, her sisters, cousins, neighbors and friend would bring cakes, food and wine to celebrate. The whole community would honor the mother, the baby, the father and the house.
What happened when women started going to the hospital? We forgot to honor places of birth. Today, birth places forgot to honor mothers, babies and fathers.
Every full moon we shall bring sweet offerings to the places where women give birth, so to remind the mothers and birth keepers inside that they are holy.