Category Archives: homebirth

And Now You Are Three

Dear Peter,

It was a beautiful September morning just like this one when you were born in our bedroom in the tiny one-bedroom apartment.

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I knew I would love you as soon as I saw you, but my pregnancy was full of worry. Unemployment, food stamps, job hunting: it seemed like the worst time for our family to grow. But there you were, growing in my belly.

I knew how patient and forgiving you would be. My easy child. My mild one. But it was hard for me to trust, with all the worry that filled our lives then.

Labor with you was hard. You were in some weird position. Not quite posterior, but not quite anterior either. I kept telling the midwife: “He’s stuck, right here,” pointing to the spot where I felt you not quite descending. But everyone reassured me that things were progressing normally.

The only way I could push you out was on all fours. No other position worked. As I lay there with my head in your dad’s lap, my first thought was: “I can’t do this.” My second thought was: “I don’t want to do this.” And then I realized that I simply had to. So I mustered up all the energy and vigor and strength I had even though I felt nothing but doubt and dread and fear. And I howled you out of my body.

I had to stop pushing for a second, though, as the midwife gently rotated your shoulder. I was right. You were a little bit stuck. But with one little tweak, you came flying out.

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The boy who taught me to trust in love. The boy who asks for so little and gives so much. The boy we needed at just the moment when we thought our world was falling apart.

And now you are three. And Daddy has the job. And we have just what we need. But most of all, we have you. And we are eternally grateful.

Thank you for coming just when we needed you most.

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Love,
Mommy

***

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Push: The Story of Two Births

1.

“Don’t push,” Martine said, “wait a minute,” then gently reached inside and unfurled his fisted hand.

“Stop pushing,” she said again, and uncoiled the cord from around his neck.

It was January.  The year had just turned.  The moon was full.

He slid out of me into a warm pool of water.

Uncoiled, unfurled.  He seemed to come out on his own.

While I pushed, I chanted “Om” and “Open.”

That was the easy birth.  The spiritual one.

Difficult child.  Passionate child.  Easy birth. Ben.

2.

“Push,” Karen said.  But I didn’t want to push.  I wanted to sleep.  I wanted to go back to the way things were, before the other child began rooting inside me, before unemployment, Medicaid, food stamps, the apartment that wouldn’t sell, the fight in his mother’s backyard, the despair, the longing.

He was behind me, holding my body up.  Karen was on the other side.  “You can push,” she said, meaning “push, NOW.”  And then I knew.  And I found it somewhere, the beast that comes out when a woman gives birth.  But not a beast.  And not just a woman: me.  I found strength—but not strength, because I had none of that left.  Courage—but I didn’t feel courageous at all.  Love, maybe it was love.

There was no choice.  If I ever felt God, it was then.  It wasn’t about me anymore.

It was going to be the hardest thing I’d ever done.

And it was.

I pushed.

It was the autumn equinox, and I could feel the earth shifting into alignment.  I could feel the leaves lose their luster.  I could feel the sun split the sky into darkness and light.

And then he was here. Peter.  Who does not push.  Who melts into your arms.

Where does he keep the rage and fire that brought him into this world?