“There is a secret in our culture. It’s not that childbirth is painful, it’s that women are strong.”
It starts out as a chuckle. I am sitting up in bed, awake. Moments before this my sleep was deep and still, a rarity these days. The chuckle turns to laughter. The image of my friend Amy, buck naked in her new boyfriend’s kitchen, sleepwalking, is in my mind. My laughter increases to a level of uncontrollable as I imagine her yelling, “Come and get it everyone! Time to eat”! Her hands and boobs covered in sticky sweet BBQ sauce, her long brown strands of her hair stuck to the rib she is eating. Amy told me this true story the other day. Her boyfriend Barry woke up to find her sleep walking, in the kitchen, her body half in the refrigerator, stuffing her face with leftover ribs. The image grows in my head and I am near hysterical laughter—laughter much deeper than the story warranted. Sure, a funny vision, but not this funny. I fight the laughter, I try to make it stop, but it only deepens, leaving me gasping for air. Bill moans and rolls over in bed next to me. I look at the clock. 4 Am. I am laughing so hard my stomach aches and hardens. Laughter leaves my body in exploded bursts, like elephants on a mating call. I am being too loud and it’s too late at night. I want it to stop now. Stop now, I say aloud. I take huge breathes in, relax and then calmly bathe in a moment of silence. The silence passes like a fast car and laughter begins again. It’s reckless laughter. At this point I realize it is not mine. I don’t own this emotion.
I am not even happy. I am tired. I am achy and have spent all night tossing and turning my 186 pound body trying desperately to find a comfortable spot on the six pillows I use as props. I reach over and smack Bill. He groans again, turns to me and this time says, “What is going on? Are you crazy? What’s so funny? I gotta get up in 2 hours”. I smack him again. Tears are coming from my eyes and laughter is shaking my whole body. Thoughts of being committed arise if this laughing doesn’t subside. I bring my feet to the floor and shift my weight to standing. I have to stop fighting it. I have to just let it go. Then it stops. Just like that, except for a couple of little bursts here and there, I am back to my old self. I instantly begin to cry. What a relief. I feel like I lost weight or something. I go into the kitchen to make a bowl of cereal and warm milk, my sedative of choice. I cuddle back into bed, belly full, spooning Bill. He curls his feet around mine. I begin to dream. I dream I am at a bottom of an enormous rocky mountain, covered in green moss. I look up and the mountain seems to go on forever. The peaks are gray, stone and jagged. I think about turning and walking away, to head somewhere else. Instead, I climb it. I am even more pregnant in the dream, my belly as large as a boulder. I am barefoot. Rain is pouring down and soaking the moss and I am slipping and sliding all over the place, but I never fall. I get on my hands and knees and dig my nails deep into the earth in order to climb higher and higher. The rain pours over my face, sops my hair and fills my eyes. The rain drops continue to swell and widen. I leap over a crevasse and jump over a cliff. I land on both feet. I climb toward a large brown bear. She’s on all fours and eating some ground, but her eyes are on me, staring. They are large and black and kind. She looks at me knowingly. I ask her if she would do this for me, this journey, this trek. She just continues eating and waves me off with an oversized paw. I move on. Fear fuels me up this mount, higher and higher, and I start to feel like I am falling and immediately I slip and smash my face on a rock but get right up and continue. The earth is slick and feels greased. I struggle. Stopping is not an option. Something was waiting for me at the top. I am high in the sky and the ground below me is gone, there is only a spread of blackness. Somewhere from above me, Bill calls out. Finally I am near the apex, jagged like a saw’s tooth. I hook my bare feet into small hole and grunt up to the final plateau. My arms ach, my fingers broken, yet I am exhilarated. I see only one thing. Standing high into the clouds where the air is pure mist, I see the moon. It’s two feet way from me, large and pregnant with a pale yellow hue. I stand and stare. I am awestruck and in love and am given the insight that mountain tops are subtle. Bill and I wake up early this morning. I gulp down a smoothie and head out to our last visit with the midwives. We’re driving the winding roads up to the top of Mount Washington where she lives and Bill flies over bumps and speeds around curves. I snap at him, ‘watch out and start driving like a human being.’ He looks at me and sighs. Each moment I become testier, nastier. Shelley’s home sits at the hill’s crest and overlooks downtown Los Angeles. I lay on a bed that’s against a wall-length picture window. Outside a hawk flies in circles. Crows travel from treetop to treetop. My midwife puts her hand up me and feels around. Her fingers come out bloody, “Nope. Not quite a centimeter. A bit effaced. You need to go home and drink a glass of wine. Relax. Let this baby come out. Give her a couple days.”* We stop at the store to buy wine on the way home. I climb out of my small red Honda grunting as I lift my weight through the door. I notice my feet. They look like a cave man’s feet. They are huge and puffy and the nails are chipped with a desperate need of a pedicure. They look like my mothers feet. I wore a pair cheap plastic flip-flops in black. It’s so damn hot and sticky feet mixed with the low quality of the shoe had turned my foot a dingy blackish gray color. My stretchy yoga pants are sticking to my inner thighs and crotch. I’m wet with pregnancy and sweat. My shirt is a few inches short of my navel and I exposed the world with a bubble of my child’s form, one perfectly pink stretch mark.
“You look like you’re gonna pop!” A woman in the store says as I pass her. She is obviously too old to remember childbearing days or has never been pregnant, therefore knows not the psychological implications of her comment.
“Twins?” she asks. She obviously does not know the twins etiquette, either. Asking one if they are carrying twins is like asking a woman her age.
“No,” I growl. I’d like to pop her one, I think as my hand reaches back and picks my pants from the crack of my ass. Everything is sticky. My mind is turning evil. I hate people, all of them. This isn’t how I always was. I remember a few weeks ago, a month ago, when I was like a swollen case of walking, talking sunshine. Then I strutted with confidence, ease, grace a smile on my bloated face, glowing with that pregnant thing. The past few days I have felt very, very bad. My neighbor, Elka, a native of India and mother of two boys gave me little advice during this pregnancy. What she did say was, ‘never sit with your legs cross while pregnant’ and when the baby was ‘coming soon, you will feel very, very bad, very angry. Not like all the other time when you felt happy.” This baby must be coming soon. I grab a bottle of wine, making sure it’s more expensive than five dollars and that it’s white. It is well above 100 degrees in the city and just the thought of red wine coated my tongue and throat in fur. In line the check-out person jokes with me. “I can’t sell this to you! You aren’t allowed to drink!” He points to my naked belly. I just stare at him, long and hard, like a cat does when a leashed dog passes them. Ten months earlier I would have smiled big and bright, batted my eyes, sucked in my stomach and flirted. He’s young and pretty hot, tattooed with that scraggly Hollywood hair-do. Today I hate him. He quickly bags my wine and greets the man behind me in line. I waddle out, holding on to my husband, feeling like horrible bitch, like a small monster has taken over my body.
At home I put on my old gray nightgown. I had this one since college days. Almost seven years. It’s worn and comes to my knees with thinning spaghetti straps and a few moth holes. I pour myself a glass of white wine. I fix up my birthing altar. Setting my gray stone statue of Quan Yin on the center of my dresser, I am reminded of my wedding day. Bill and I married in front of that statue just about one year earlier. I am suddenly filled with a cool tingle of love. I am instantly injected with pure euphoria remembering our love has created a person, someone who we will hold very soon, someone to carry on for us. I surround Quan Yin, Great Goddess Mother of Compassion, with candles and some stones I have been collecting– a Rose Quartz for love, a smooth obsidian for fearlessness and Lapis for intuition.
We order in that night. I was done with cooking. I was saving my clean kitchen. I wouldn’t let Bill use it either. Poor guy’s starving. I plan on making a cake during early labor, I read about people who do that. They bake something or have a project, something crafty to do while the contractions start to come. Though I can’t imagine myself calmly going through beginning contractions humming along with the egg beater, I have all the ingredients ready and the kitchen is clean and organized. Tonight we get dinner from Michelangelo’s, the restaurant across the street from us. I order their special chicken, topped with spinach and mozzarella which I will later see floating in the toilet after puking at 5 centimeters dilated. Bill runs out and rent’s some old Soap episodes and the movie, Dog Day Afternoon. We spread out on the futon that’s placed in the living room–an optional birthing site for me. I have one more small glass of wine with some special dark chocolate. About half way through Dog Day Afternoon, although intrigued and entertained by the story-line, I begin to doze off. Somewhere in between sleep and wake I hear Pacino’s character come out of the closet and I wake up again for a few minutes, aware of something, but not sure what. I curl myself up in a ball; my knees are up to my chest and my back against Bill front side. I am totally comfortable for the first time in months. I don’t feel that nagging ache in my hip. My body feels light and easy. I jump up. My mouth falls open.
Bill looks at me, waiting for me to say something. “What time is it?” I ask. “Almost midnight.” “I just felt something. It’s not like before, it different.” “A real contraction?” “I think so.” And then again, like my lower back and lower belly were being squeezed from all direction, it takes over. “Wow. It’s starting. It’s here. Let’s go for a walk.” I get up to my feet and begin looking for my sneakers, a bit frantically. Is this it? Shit, there is no turning back. I stop. It takes over my body again and I shudder. I feel queasy and excited. It is, without a doubt, the start of something big. Bill is still sitting on the floor watching me. “Come on! Let’s go!” He jumps up and turns off the movie. You’re sure?” He asks. I tell him to please make that the last time he asks a question like that. He gets my shoes, puts them on me and ties up my laces.
Walking is good to me. My body is cruising down the sidewalk like riding waves, up and down, smooth and steady. It has a job to do and it’s starting to take over. The thinking straps on my mind loosen and I let go of any unnecessary brain work. I have walked for months now, everyday, it is so familiar. I walked about twenty miles a week during this pregnancy. Even in the summer heat, when I would be sweating down there and my inner-thighs would rub together painfully, chaffing my flesh, I walked as though it were my religion. And now, in labor, I can feel it loosen my hips. It’s keeping my mind still. I walk by Raj’s Liquor store. He has already closed up. I walk by Netty’s, the restaurant on the corner of Silver Lake Boulevard and Effie. It’s that pricey place that makes some really good bread pudding and their pumpkin ravioli is to die for. We walk up the hill to the dog park. I double over with a contraction so strong I get down like a dog to breath through it. I am totally unaware that anybody else besides Bill, who stands guard above me, exists. I hear cars pass and the buzz of distant city voices. They aren’t from my world now. In this moment I am living elsewhere. In the next moment, I get up and complain. I whine. I let my mind judge the pain. I remind myself not to do that. I say out loud that complaining is not invited. The time span in between my contractions is short, too short. It is unlike what they tell you all about early labor in those classes. This was no cake baking time. They are coming on top of one another yet I still am able to have mini-conversations with Bill.
“It’s back labor. It’s like my back is trapped under a dinosaur foot. I don’t know if I can do this,” I doubt out loud and Bill quickly and firmly reminds me that I most definitely can. From this point on I am a believer.
We are walking and walking. I want my contractions stronger and faster. I want my baby now. I walk as fast as I can and let the surges come to me—-strong and filling me up with the most unusual and grateful force. I am on all fours. I’m leaning against Bill. I’m squatting. I am pressing my face into the earth’s dirt of someone’s front yard. I beg out loud for strength. Each time I choose to relax, I open just that much more. I am beginning to understand the process. To take this passage the key is to move freely and then completely relax. And when each contraction is over, I walk, walk, and walk. After an hour we head towards home. I am in the shower. How long have I been in here? Are my socks on? Is this me in this body? I lean into the cold tile and dig my nails into the old grout then catching this tense act, I immediately shake my hands by my side, loosening each finger and my wrists. I open up some almond oil castile Soap. It smells horrible now, thick and sweet. I squirt it against this concrete-hard belly of mine and rub it in. I feel the baby kick and I wince in pain. I get out of the shower, Bill holds my hand. I throw up in the toilet. I puke up dinner. I puke up fear. I puke a bigger opening for my baby to come out of. I go back in the shower. The sound of the water hitting my rock hard stomach was like a tropical storm on sand. I want it to crash against my back, to crack open my flesh and let relief ooze out like warm jelly. I want pressure. I want some pleasure. I am angry, scared shitless, completely fearless. I am excited. I feel full of a warrior’s passion and joy. “There Bill, right there, press hard,” I beg his hand. “No! Not there! Here!” He moves his hand somewhere else. “No! There! There! To the right!” I grab his hand with mine and move it. Not there either. Why does my back feel like it’s splitting in half? I moan loudly. I try to remind myself, as soon as the feeling starts to roll down the hill, to find balance in the pain, to let it pull my lower half down and to allow it to lift my upper half higher up. I somehow find a rather large space of peace and safety right in the middle. I get out of the shower for good and crawl into my bed. “Rest.” Bill instructs. “You need to rest.” My world enters into stillness for a moment. And when the next contraction comes I accept it without sound or movement. I let it move through me while I am motionless. It is by far the strongest, longest and deepest one that I have. “Call my midwife. Please.” I surprisingly remember and desire to be polite. I begin to feel thanks and devotion for his presence. He feeds me carrot soup. A cracker. Some Gator-Aid. “Are you sure?” He asks. I ignore this.
“Call Shelley. Please. Now.” He comes back with the phone and Shelley is at the other end. “Let me hear you breath”, her voice was a reassuring song that hope may live. “Breath through a few contractions for me and let me just listen to you.” I get out of bed, walk into the kitchen and straddle on a wooden chair. The lights from the busy street project against my dark kitchen wall. A cool breeze from the window envelopes my body. The feeling that my baby is squeezing out of me starts right in my center. It moves up and down all at the same time until it is the owner of me and I am just a renter watching this event. I breathe. A few more pass through like a hurricane and I use my breath like the wind to spiral it through. Then there is peace. There is silence. I wait to hear Shelley speak. “You’re doing well. You’re working too hard, though. Your breath is too strong. You’re early yet, save the energy.” “I am not early Shelley.” I am blunt and direct. “This baby is coming soon.”
She sends her assistant over to our apartment. Seannie is petite and Irish with soft, watery blue eyes that match the scrub pants she’s wearing. Seannie birthed three children, the last baby she caught herself with Shelley watching from a distance. Seannie told me she loved child birth, she loved the feeling of her child squeezing and sliding down and opening up her flesh. As she walks into my bedroom, her commuter mug fills the air with the smell of freshly brewed coffee. I have a big, bad, heavy contraction, on all fours on my bed as soon as I see Seannie. When it’s over she lifts my nightgown up over my backside, rubs my back a bit with chilly hands. I noticed it was morning as the grayness begins to peek through our rice paper shades. Seannie slides her hand in between my legs and checks me out.
“You’re ten centimeter! You’re there. Do you feel like you have to push?” I don’t feel like it at all. I feel like I have at least a couple more hours. But as soon as I hear her say the word ‘ten’ I yell “Yes! Yes! I want to push!” Of course I want to push this Carlos Rossi wine jug sized human out of my yoni. I want her out and I am ready to bear down this baby. I’ve only been in labor six hours and am feeling very impressed with myself. “I want you to give me some short and consistent breaths while I call Shelley.” She looks at Bill and says she hopes Shelley would make it over for the birth. I hear her on the phone telling Shelley I was open and ready. She jokes about how they should always work with yoga teachers—they labor so quickly. Shelley is in my bedroom in fifteen minutes which means the 110 Freeway was clear, that she caught all green lights on San Fernando Road or she ran the red ones. She checks me. She sighs. I am not fully dilated. I am only half way there. I am five. I can’t let this mess with me. “I’m only half way?” I weakly say, to myself and to everyone else. Bill takes me hand and kisses it in sympathy and encouragement. Seannie apologizes over and over. Shelley gives Seannie a sharp look, a teacher scolding her pupil, and directs her to take me on a long walk. I moan through another contraction and moan at the thought of having to walk. Bill puts on my sneakers for me. Seannie finds some loose pants to put on under my now blood stained–thanks to the mucus plug– nightgown We live in a hill community of Los Angeles. Silver Lake is made up of winding streets with public staircases that go from level to level. It is a botanical covered neighborhood and the air is alive with the smell of ocean and jasmine. I walked these stairs nine months of pregnancy. I lifted my knees high and hiked the city steps as my stomach got bigger and heavy and each step got harder and higher. That morning, Bill, Seannie and I begin our ascent out my back door and up those stairs for a couple levels. We take a right turn when I can’t go any higher and head down Occidental Boulevard. It’s about 6:30 or 7am, I am told, just in time to catch the commuters heading to work. We get some strange looks, to say the least. I guess I can’t blame people. It must be a sight unusual to them. I am large and swaying between a man and women, all three of us linked by arms. I stop every few seconds to moan like a jungle animal, groan and then smile, thanking myself and my baby, knowing my body is doing a good job. One women gives the thumbs up at me and tells me to keep breathing. Seannie glances at her in thanks. Another woman looks horrified and as we stop in front of her driveway and all do an ‘OM” together so loud and long it may have vibrated the ground. Seannie begins to talk about the real estate prices in the neighborhood in between my contractions. This seems totally rude at first, and I am about to ask her to stop, but then I start to hear her like a master- in –training; she is using technique. Her conversation is keeping me focused on the reality of things, the real life of things in between contractions. I am not allowed to judge myself or the pain or take the time to fear the next sensation. And as soon as I need her, she is there, silently guiding me, kneading my back, sending me love. But when it is over, we are back to strolling in an over-priced neighborhood. Bill is a pillar of support, a solid stone in my pocket, the soon to be father of our child. I radiate all four of us some love, as I am filled with a presence of something so grand, as majestic and eruptive as a mountain, something I have never been graced with before, at least not to my recollection. Despite this being out and out painful, or let’s say the hardest job I have ever endured, the first thing on my mind is love and gratitude. Never before has pure pain carried me to such a high ground. There is something that is happening in these contractions that chips away the leftover emotional junk I carry. It’s molding me into a much finer sculpture, lighter with less baggage. It’s forming me into a Mother.
After an hour of walking, it is time to head home. “Let’s see how much magic that walk did.” Shelley says to us as we walk inside. Shelley must have just finished meditating. She’s sitting in zazen on my bathroom floor. She looks lovely to me, a golden master whom I trust. I think how happy I am my baby will be born looking into her face, into Seannie’s face, into mine and Bill’s faces…all faces of sincerity and peace. She looks up to us. “Let’s check you out.”
I am nine centimeter open. I am beginning to spin. I’m tired to say the least, yet I am filling up with an awesome sort of energy; ready and waiting to finish this part of the journey.
I eat a bit, I drink some juice. And then I begin to squat. It’s funny, no matter how many times I glued my feet to the floor, bent my knees, and dropped my hips down into a squat for frog pose while I was pregnant, it did not completely prepare me for this moment. My legs buckle and ache from weakness and fatigue, my feel slide around under my body. I begin the practice of pushing. One belly breath in, deep. Hold. Push. Exhale. Pop. My water breaks all over my bedroom floor. Seannie mops it up quickly. Shelley notices we have the same toe-nail polish one. “Look,” she says to me, “the same color as mine”. Our eyes meet and she smiles. She has the ability to keep things light. “Time to be really powerful, honey,” she whispers as she places a gentle hand on my cheek. I nod. I look at both of our feet. Our toes are practically touching as she is down on the floor, facing me. My polish is chipped, hers are perfectly painted.
I move to the bed and continue what will be the hardest and heaviest journey in my life. My head is pressing up against my headboard. Bill has one leg lifted and wrapped up behind me, Seannie has the other. My feet are almost wrapped behind my head. My arm extends out past my leg and my hand is pressing hard against the wall next to me for some power, some leverage. I push so hard I cry out loud a profanity. I push so hard I begin to feel angry and regret. I push so hard I feel years of childhood fear come up to my throat. I push so hard I feel anger rise up from my organs, anger that has been stored away for decades. I taste all my mistakes and regrets in my mouth and I grunt them out. My chest aches. I have never felt so lonely or cold. I begin to see red and I push even harder. I did not expect this. I didn’t know I would be releasing thousands of years of bodily and emotional oppression. It is somewhat like the first time I tried to stand in Warrior pose for several minutes and I cried as my heart bled out toxins. Pushing is like that, but one million more times difficult. “I am too tired. No more”, I moan. Shelley runs out of the room and is back in a flash with my framed black and white photo of Paramahansa Yogananda. She holds it up for me to see. She gives me a gentle lecture. “Marybeth, look at him. He says there is abundant energy in the Universe. You believe that. Ask for it. Take it in. There is plenty of energy for you. Find it within.” I focus for a moment on that. I feel a surge of light come into my body through my head and I am shocked to find another push in me. “Feel Marybeth! Reach your hand down, feel your babies head. I want you to feel,” Shelley says. I half-heartedly reach my arm down between my legs. My efforts are on pushing, not feeling a head, and I am annoyed at being distracted. But I feel her. My fingers move up through my open yoni and land on squishy, warm, fuzzy flesh. A warm peach, that’s what her head feels like. A baby. A baby human was emerging from me.
My next push is like lightening surging through me. I look down to see a bulge framed by my flesh. I push again and the bulge gets bigger. Seannie rubs my perineum with clothes soaked in warm chamomile infused oils. Another push and a small head squeezes through my skin. One large dark baby eye is opens and looks around the room. Her head resembles a shift in the earth’s plates, uneven and rather square. She is a transparent color of periwinkle blue. She is stunningly beautiful. Her shoulders are broad and stuck. Shelley reaches inside me, what feels like up to her elbows, and helps the baby come down and I gently push. Slipping and slithering and wet, a child is born. A child is born in the same bed she was conceived. This child is upon my chest. I am over myself with joy and exhaustion— and quite honestly—- the promise to myself to never go through anything like that again. We cover the baby in soft blankets and Bill and I lean in and touch heads and wrap ourselves around our new family. We massage her back, waiting for her to cough or cry. We speak to her in small mommy and daddy voices. We say how much we love, how long we have waited. I repeat the word ‘Baby’ over and over again. Shelley lifts up the covers for a split second and Bill says, “It’s a girl!” We always knew she was a girl. I put by nose into her head and smell her mixture of life and the powerful presence of fresh blood. In this gray morning, a misty and mystical marine layer coats the air and naturally dims our room. A small yellow candles flicker and burn the scents of sage and cedar. I can see she has a pink face, the face of a Buddha. Her light hair is fine and her lips are the shape of a rosebud. She still has not cried or taken a big gulp-like breath. I imagine it to be like in the films, where the baby screams instantly. She is wheezing quietly, slightly gasping for air. She doesn’t seem to want to latch on to my breast. Shelley gently lifts her from my arms. She is suctioned some more. No response. She is aspirated. No fluids are coming up, which means her lungs are clear, yet no response. They give her oxygen. My baby’s small hand which is attached to a tiny muscular arm reaches up to the oxygen mask and pushes it away. She does not like it. Shelley laughs. “Give her time. She is fine. Her nail beds are pink and her heartbeat is perfect. She is so strong she is pushing this mask away. Can we give her to daddy for a bit while I take care of you?” Shelley asks me. I am shaking and whimper a yes. I am scared. Is Shelley telling me the truth? Is she okay? Why isn’t she crying? Breathing? Bill takes our swaddled daughter and walks out of the room. I hear him introducing her to the dogs. I hear him bring her into the backyard, introducing her to the world. I birth the placenta. Shelley stitches me up. She assures me my baby would be okay. “She just needs some time.” I remember a teaching of Yogananda’s regarding choosing life. He says when we are born, we consciously choose to take our first breath, acknowledging and accepting that we are leaving the heavenly place we came from and entering an earthly plane where we will live. My daughter is just taking her time, contemplating, making sure here with us is were she is needed.
What seems like hours pass and Shelley is still stitching me. I am aching to nurse my baby and be close with her and just then Bill walks in with her. “She’s doing better. She’s breathing a bit here and there. I think she’s just fine,” he says. The entire pregnancy Bill said that he knew labor would be an intense spiritual lesson for him. I always thought he meant in the usual way labor is. Later I find out that the time he spent with our daughter those moments after her birth were unlike no other for him. He experienced complete selflessness for the first time in his life. He left himself, he says, and gave everything he had to his daughter, in hopes for her to breathe. While he was in deep meditation, holding her, she began taking her first breaths Bill lays her in my arms. Her face is that of an angel. I can see yellow light around her head. Her nose is smushed to one side from the birth canal. Her eyes are open, dark blue and observing me, her mother. I begin to nurse. She still has hard time, but she’s trying—her lips are searching and feeling for me. Her breathing is still irregular, but it exists. “Name her. She wants a name.” Shelley says. Bill and I had debated names for awhile. We just couldn’t agree. She came to me in a dream while I was pregnant and told me her name was Rose. “How about Mia Rose?” Mia was a name we spoke of briefly months before. But it was the first one to come to my head now. We both look at her. Her wide eyes were of a Libras. Libra is ruled by Venus, whose symbol is the five-petaled rose. She smells so sweet. I breathe her in. Bill repeats the name, “Mia Rose.” She takes another breath. She latches on my breast. She begins to suckle. Mia Rose it is.
We sit on the bed and basked in the sun of our creation. It is a godly feeling to make a human. It is even more so to birth one. But to hold one, so new and pure, is beyond godly: it is God. My oldest sister, a first born daughter walks into our room with my mother, a first born daughter as well, to meet Mia Rose, another first born daughter. I look at my mom and tell her I never knew until this moment how much she loved me.
That night Mia slept between Bill and me. Despite being up for twenty-four hours laboring, I stay awake for most of this night as well and just stare at her, watching her chest rise and fall, her eyelids flutter, her small hand tightly squeezing my finger. “Welcome to your first night on Earth, Mia. Thank you so much for coming.” I whisper in her ear. It wouldn’t be the first time I thank her for coming to me. It wouldn’t be the first I stay up all night to stare at my daughter’s miraculous face.
Notes *In no way did my midwife ever encourage me to drink alcohol during my pregnancy. She knew that particular day that I was stressed and really wanted to labor to begin. She thought one glass of wine would do just the trick to relax me and let labor begin. I was about 4 days overdue and getting bigger by the second….and wine is a lot gentler than castor oil!
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