The story of a woman’s path as a writer and doula – Laura DEmelza Bosma
Third Voice ‘I am a mountain now, among mountainy woman. The doctors move among us as if our bigness Frightened the mind. They smile like fools. They are to blame for what I am, and they know it. They hug their flatness like a kind of health. And what if they found themselves surprised, as I did? They would go mad with it.’ Sylvia Plath – Three Woman
The Body As A Poem
Growing up in a small countryside town in Holland in a family with four kids I had not seen much of the world yet. My poetry-snare was aroused when we went on a holiday to the Ardennes in Belgium and I was truly impressed for the very first time by the purifying and inspiring effects of being in nature. There was a river that I could feel flowing through me when sitting beside it with my eyes closed. There were mountains where I could see myself in, still – yet full of life. The dragonflies sang the song of the youthful love I felt. Also around the same time I found a poetry volume that my mother used to read when she was only a bit older than I was at that time. It was Jotie ‘T Hooft’s ‘Schreeuwlandschap’ (Screamlandscape). ‘Isn’t that wonderful,’ I thought, ‘to see the body and emotions as a landscape? This is the way I saw it, after feeling the nature inside of me. ‘T Hooft had been a junkie who before he killed himself wrote some very layered, dark romantic poetry in a refined creative language, like I had never read before. My first poetry involved a lot of nature and wonder. Also, a lot of dark romantic influence spoke through me and my words. Poetry was my therapy that I used to illustrate the darkness of my childhood. Being a kid meant suffering to me, probably not caused that much by outer circumstances but more so by my heightened sensitivity. It was this dark work of mine that got published and was received by the literature critics pretty well. Some years after I choose literature as a profession I started to notice that my writing was slowly healing me. Invariably, I preferred to pick Spiritual subjects. I found a new balance of drama and beauty that felt just right for me. This change caused a friction between me and the outside world and when I was reciting my poetry I often felt like I was at the wrong place with it. I wrote two more Poetry-volumes for grown-ups and one for children, but could not get any of them published. I was told by an award winning poet who wanted to read my recent try-outs because of liking my first book, that my new work was ‘too fairy tale-like to really touch’ and above all ‘too feminine.’ He made me feel like I was doing something that was actually forbidden and had make him feel very uncomfortable. It was this day that I was standing in his modern, extremely tidy apartment in Amsterdam, trying to fight back my tears that I decided that there was nothing that I wanted to be more than to be exactly that, what this man seemed to be terrified of. A woman. After a phase of feeling defeated my new dream became true. I became a mother. Given how rapidly circumstances changed and how intense the changes were, I stayed surprisingly calm. I moved country, I first had to find financial security, learn a new language, was in a relatively new relationship, was growing/raising a baby.. But I was a woman as I wished to be, celebrating my roundness, my being on earth. I changed my dream of poetry for being on earth and was most fascinated by the poetry of the body. These emotions that were coming and going were nothing more than the tide having its natural effects on me. My first birth was a wonderful home birth.
The natural being of a Woman and a Doula
“ ‘I became a Doula because every beautiful birth-experience reminds us of and strengthens our divine femininity and means one more child is born in peace…”
Last year I started my course of becoming a Doula. The word Doula is originally Greek and means ‘servant’. A Doula is actually not something a woman becomes. Because of her experience and inner knowledge, she simply is one as soon as she decides to be. A friend of a woman in childbirth labor- which she is comfortable with, could fulfil the role of her Doula. A Doula is a birth-partner, a woman being there for another woman, serving her with whatever she needs materialistically (food, drinks, massage) but also spiritually and emotionally, while the woman goes through the process of becoming a mother: pregnancy, birth and the vulnerable postpartum time after this. The Doula in her course learns certain tools to help a woman relax and lots about the process of birth but most of all gets to experience the healing effects of being together in a protected space with other women. A Doula sees birth as a natural process and helps the woman and her partner to understand this. When any medical interventions are needed during childbirth, the Doula won’t in anyway talk against this, but try to support the laboring woman in the best possible way. A Doula is not responsible for the medical part of childbirth but is there whatever happens and doesn’t criticize anyone who consciously choses a hospital-birth and or wishes for any interventions. It has been proved that the presence of a Doula with the woman in labor makes her feel more comfortable, enlightens her birth experience on many levels, even hormonal (!) and decreases the caesarean-rate. Many animals have Doulas, for example elephants in nature give birth surrounded by a circle of females with on the outside one bull to watch out for danger. My insights that developed over time through poetry – that the body is a landscape and that being a woman means to stay calm while going through tides, shapes the core-philosophy of my Doula-ship:
Being A Doula
A Doula is a woman who understands roundness, who knows tides and is not getting upset by them, like the doctors in Sylvia’s Plath poem do. It is healing for a woman to go through the process of birth while being in her power, feeling loved in a way so that she can trust the natural process her body is going through. The most thankful task I can imagine is to support women to be women. We need our mother-heart not only for our own family, but also for ourselves and our sisters, daughters and friends.
Back to writing, opening up through writing
I have to admit that now is not the time for me to be active as a Doula in the sense of being present in person as a birth-partner, because my third child is on its way to enrich our lives in around two months time. That’s why I am now, after gaining a lot of earth-woman-experience as a mother and Doula, back to writing and illustrating. For my thesis I developed a concept for Creative Writing as a method of birth-preparation for pregnant woman. When you are pregnant yourself and the idea of this method appeals to you, you can contact me online at any time. If you wish, I can guide you through pregnancy with the exercises and whatever kind of Doula-support I can give you. It is time for us women to take our power back to have the most fulfilling birth experience we can possibly have! We are not meant to be lying on our backs as dictated by doctors who want to keep our ancient wisdom ‘under control’. Also, writing can perhaps help you after experiencing a loss of when you suffer from certain fears including pregnancy and birth.
At the moment I am working on an illustrated children’s book about giving birth at home for mothers and fathers and especially for the older brothers and sisters who are expecting a home-birth baby. I find it shocking that there are so many books for children about pregnancy and birth, but hardly any wherein a mama consciously prepares for a peaceful home birth. For me though this gives a wonderful opportunity to celebrate pregnancy and birth in my most loving and colorful way of writing and illustrating.
Laura Demelza Bosma (1986) lives in Austria where she is a mother, a doula and illustrates work for her partner’s Taoist Poetry and her children’s book about home-birth. She can be contacted at http://www.mothergoddesspoetry.blogspot.com