One of my earliest memories led a near 40 year journey through The Stages of Being. I would say that I am now in Stage 4. Understanding. I am here because of some very patient and caring friends. And now that I am here, with the fog of ignorance lifted, I feel expanded. And so I must say this:
At first I was afraid, I was petrified. The dogs, of any size or breed, had me terrified. But I learned how to move away and supported by my friends, I grew strong. And now I can get along. No dogs scares me. No dog scares me! I learned how to understand and no longer live with fear, I feel strong, it has no hold on me.
But it took time.
So much time.
And I could not have gotten here without friends by my side. They showed me how. They did not jest. They were never cruel or put me to the test. They showed me love and I learned how to move away. Away from fear, I found I could tolerate, and then accept, and now I understand. There is still room. Room to grow, I can see the possibility. So THANK YOU! To my friends. Thank you to my friends for helping me.
The Five Stages of Being are also a great way to see where we are as a society in our approach to birth, and why it is so rare to hear of birth as a celebration.
FEAR: In this Stage of Being, we experience a physical reaction (rapid rate rate, for example), feel anxious and wary, possibly even angry. In order to avoid the experience, we will choice ‘avoidance’ options in an attempt to numb or ‘void’ this response. It is also easier to hand the responsibility of this over to an authority. This usually means a high intervention birth, with a belief of being saved.
TOLERANCE: In this stage there is a level of knowing that birth is a part of life, but still preferring to avoid fully experiencing it…there is a holding back and a reluctance to compromise. There is still a feeling of avoidance, which tends to led to a ‘managed’ experience. Birth is processed, but not experienced.
ACCEPTANCE: This is the stage where women start to feel more open to the experience, and will seek to compromise – to make some decisions more actively and look at the options more openly. Less likely to avoid the experience more more likely to have a ‘plan’ that states “I will have a natural birth, unless medically warranted’ (see here for why this is a problem).
UNDERSTANDING: This is a stage where the power shifts back to the individual. This is where agreed differences, without judgement, can exist in harmony. This is where open communication and enjoyment come into play. The individual becomes assertive, and able to explain their needs, whilst understanding the full context. They may seek support, and do not which to avoid the experience. They are more likely to have a map (rather than a plan).
CELEBRATION: This is a Stage of Being where the individual takes full responsibility and immerses themselves in the experience. They acknowledge the importance of this important life event, and seek to engage in the experience completely. They bring joy and confidence, choosing care providers and supporters that fully embrace the celebration.