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When I finally went into labor, I felt strong and aware and was determined to have the birthing experience I felt robbed of the first time. At the hospital, Marqui and I found a secluded staircase and walked up and down them, urging, both, body and baby to follow my lead. My birthing plan was printed, copied, and honored by every medical person on staff throughout my labor. She pushed to keep me from being hooked up to an IV so that I could move freely, lovingly forced me to drink tall cups of cool water to keep me hydrated, held lavender oil to my nose as I focused on breathing and gently massaged my back with each rising contraction, pressing deep into my skin until they passed. She instructed my partner to play music to distract me, to soothe me, to sway me as we sang, as we danced, as we moved within each moment. She used her body as my crutch, walking with me to the bathroom, blood trickling out along the way, and made me feel like it, all of it, was the most natural thing for me, for her, for us to be doing.

I still cry when I think about my birthing experience. In my mind, she carried the spirit of centuries of 'women healing women' with her and poured every bit of it back into me.

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