Siblings at Birth: A Rite of Passage into the Family
We birthed all six of our children at home. Although the first four were what are now called “unattended” births (meaning no official birth practitioner was present), all but our first were attended by their siblings. For my husband and me, the decision to have our children with us at birth seemed most fitting. We considered birth to be the expansion of the family, and therefore an experience that the whole family should partake in.
In each of our births, our kids observed, casually commented and interacted to the level that they each chose. They were free to come in and out of our room throughout the whole process and they all elected to be present for the actual moment of birth. Regardless of their age, they did not react with fear or anxiousness. Rather there was in all of them a sense of awe.
Having our kids present at birth was one of the best family decisions we ever made. It set us up, in part, to be the close family that we are today. Certainly, each and every one of our kids got real clear about where they came from. They saw how they were an inherent part of their mother. They developed a profound trust in the abilities of the human body. They watched their mother gather strength and courage to complete a challenging process. They experienced their father providing unconditional love and unwavering support to their mother. And when they witnessed their sibling emerge into this world, and the miracle of life’s first breath, they saw how the baby was cuddled, embraced, loved and accepted, just as they had been. They gained an immediate protectiveness and connection with the new baby as their own.
Children also bring their profound wisdom to birth. After my fifth baby was born, I curled up in bed with him, drawing him close to my breast as I had done with the others. His older brother, who had just witnessed me shedding the necessary blood, sweat and tears, snuggled up behind me and said, “Aww, it was all worth it, wasn’t it?”
I believe that being present at birth allows a child to connect to their primal, human, vulnerable self in order to better unite with their liberating, invincible, spiritual essence. As individuals, they are strengthened in their trust and respect for the inborn intelligence that resides in each of us. This powerful experience imprints itself on their very being. Best of all, the value of birth becomes established as a familial tradition. Now our children have had their own homebirth experiences with all of their baby’s siblings present. And then, shortly after, all cousins, aunts and uncles show up to celebrate and honor the precious new expression of life. We all share in the emotions, the love and some much-appreciated food. Everyone bonds together as a family just a bit more tightly.
For our family, these births continue to contribute to the special connection we now share. We all live within five minutes of each other. We get together every night of the week for dinner. We share our minds and emotions with diverse and interesting conversations. We share our love as we witness the cousins joyfully play. We partake of some much-appreciated food.
This article appeared in Pathways to Family Wellness magazine, Issue #48.
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