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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
13 January 2005

It's 3:30 in the morning. Yet again I am sleepless, my body tired, my mind wandering, skipping about the practicalities - the must-dos, the shoulds and the have-tos. Then blankness and nothing. Sit and stare.

I am full of baby. Breathing is an effort. I suck in air like I'm submerged in water and full of pressure. I waddle down the street. A penguin in forty layers of clothes and mindful of the ice under my feet.

I wake in the morning and weep. I feel sad and without knowing why. Perhaps it is that I am mourning the loss of my old life and not yet living my new life.

My joints are loose, my tissues soft. I am a Barbie with bad elastic. My oesophageal sphincter droops; food comes back up burning a hole where my heart should be. The palate at the back of my throat is relaxed and full. I snore like an old man, violently waking myself up with my wild sleep animal calls. I expand my intercostals, sucking air into my lungs, compressed small balloons shoved underwater.

And then I cry again. And belch non-stop like an overweight trucker.

My skin is perfect, my stomach smooth. Only two small blue lines extend an inch from my flattened bellybutton. My body round like a basketball. A perfect ball of baby. His feet pushing against my diaphragm, head down and fully engaged like a racehorse ready to be let loose from the gate. He's been waiting like that for two months. I ask her to stay until she's done cooking.

29 January 2005

It is 2 o'clock in the morning. I've been up since 1:11. In angel math, these numbers indicate all is well with the world, that I am on the right path, a reminder I need because I feel lost and confused. I spent four hours today putting away baby clothes and tidying up, and I thought I was losing my mind.

Four hours.

How will I make it through eight months of domesticity? I had a little breakdown, tears falling madly, until Mike reminded me I don't have to stay home - the baby and I can go and take photos, go to the library, write. He doesn't expect a clean house and folded laundry.

Still, I am becoming obsessed with being ready. The laundry isn't done and the floor isn't swept. My hormones feel out of control and my life doesn't feel stable enough to balance them. I am very tired.

3 February 2005

I don't remember exactly where it started, but this baby was conceived in love, and encouraged to come out with love. I feel like a whale, moving slowly through the sea, tangled in the blue sheets, my belly bumping up against my husband. Laughter and long sub-marine cries.

I feel the first contraction shortly after Mike has drifted back into sleep. I hold my belly like a secret, feeling the muscles ripple, quietly and softly like the wind across the still ocean. My heart quickens and my stomach clenches with excitement. It is minutes and then hours before the next wave.

We spend the day getting ready. Washing the car. Returning books to the library. Gathering food. Normal activities punctuated with small cramps. As I lean over plump red tomatoes, my muscles clench. When I request sliced turkey at the deli, my baby kicks his way down. I cross my fingers my water doesn't break between the islands of fruits and vegetables, or in our clean car. I hadn't thought to bring towels on our domestic adventure.

Kim arrives in advance of a snowstorm that drifts the roads. I hug her warm body, feeling mothered already, safe with my dear friend and doula. The evening feels like the sleepovers we had in junior high. The three of us laugh and talk, eat snacks and try to watch an awful movie. By 10:30 I can't concentrate on the screen, only on the conversation. Later, we go to bed.

4 February 2005

At 2 o'clock I cannot sleep for the contractions. I get up and light a candle to the Blessed Mother and offer a prayer to the Divine Feminine, requesting the assistance of all the goddesses. I walk around the living room, circling the couch, stopping every few minutes. I do yoga poses in between the contractions. At 4 o'clock Mike wakes up, hugging me and holding me when I stop my pacing. I feel as if I am nesting, burrowing a safe space into the living room floor for my baby to come. Kim hears our voices and wakes up, feeling guilty for leaving me alone. But I reassure her I needed the time to ground myself, centre my spirit in my body, girding myself for the coming storm.

Once Mike and Kim are up, the contractions get harder. I continue to circle the living room, singing softly with Sinead O'Connor. I hold my baby in my stomach and sing I have a universe inside me. I have to stop now and rock through the contractions, shifting my weight from one foot to the other, coaxing my hips open, shifting my baby down.

At 6 o'clock we call Barbara. I ask Mike to ask her if she remembers why I didn't want drugs. I ask Kim and Mike if they think Advil will help. The contractions feel like bad period cramps. I don't know why they think this is so funny. I begin to zone out and am convinced once Barbara arrives she will use her wise-woman magic and the pain will dissipate.

Kim asks me if a bath would help. She draws the water and I slide in gratefully, but not gracefully. My belly floats in the tub and my baby floats in my belly. I can see the muscles tighten. It feels close now.

The contractions are only two minutes apart. I am beginning to contort with the pain. I try riding through it, sliding under it, flying over it, but it catches me by my heels and pulls me down, making squirm and struggle. Panic begins to creep in through the door opened wider by each contraction. Frightened, I leave the tub. I stand at the window, watching the bare white landscape, willing Barbara to arrive sooner. The February morning is stark. Snow and white clouds seem to bleed all the colour from the world. I see my neighbours leaving for work, pulling away in their cars through grey puffs of exhaust. The workers I see everyday march to their offices, crunching across the snow, breathe clouding in their passing. All these people unaware of the momentous shift happening inside our red brick apartment building.

There is a photograph on the door of our bathroom taken at a Roman coliseum in France - it reads Vomitoire. This room has seen a lot of action in the last nine months. I sit on the toilet, feeling as if all my insides will be pulled out with the baby. I rock frantically on the porcelain, Mike kneeling in front of me. The lights are too bright and I want a candle lit.

I go to the window again, willing Barbara closer. Finally I see her and I ask Kim to run downstairs and ask her to hurry, hurry into the house where my child will be born.

Time and order begin to expand and contact. I am pulling into myself, blocking out the world. I do not even notice when Barbara comes inside, I am just aware that she is there.

Then. I am in the pool, magically inflated and filled with water, and I am wracked with pain. I am on the couch, the pain pulling me apart. I curl into my body, holding it tight, willing myself to stay stitched together. I am on the bed writhing and crying, knowing I cannot survive this.

I mentally exit, walk to the car, drive to the hospital. The pain shoves me into a brick wall. I back up in my head, call an ambulance, walk down the long hallway to the ambulance. The pain yanks me down. I get back up again, call an ambulance, two attendants come to carry me out on a narrow white stretcher. The pain flings me off the stretcher onto the floor.

I envision gas masks, a thick long needle slipping into my spine, sweet narcotics sliding through my veins. But even through the haze, I know getting to the hospital is more difficult than staying where I am.

Mike enters my hallucinations and manages to get me up, walk me to the bathroom. A single flame and the smell of beeswax fill the room. He sits me on the toilet and kneels in front of me, willing me to focus on him, the sound of his voice. He reaches down and pulls me out of the hole I have dug with the pain, and slowly I begin to emerge. Each contraction becomes a wave and I stop fighting the heavy water and bit by bit I slide over the waves, and less water pushes me down. I have stopped drowning and begin to swim. I surf the contractions and chant, it's ok. I leave behind my mind and enter my body.

I can feel something coming out. I call to Barbara. It is the amniotic sac, pushed out in advance of the baby. I wonder briefly if my baby will be in the caul and protected against drowning in the sea. I stand, I sit, I lie, I float, my face contorts, I pluck my fingers against the puffed plastic of the pool. I grip at Mike, pull at Kim, focus on Barbara.

It's ok it's ok it's ok draws me through a contraction. I submerge back into the pool. On my hands and knees, belly floating in the warm water. Cold cloth on my neck. I am gripped by another contraction. It's ok it's ok it's ok. I roll onto my back. It's ok it's ok it's ok. The sounds rise out of my chest, vibrating the air.

I roll in on myself. I am ready. I talk to my baby. It's ok baby, you can come I am ready I will be a good mother I will give you all the love I have to give I will love you fiercely for all your life for all the universe for all eternity.

I stand and Mike anchors me. I pull against his hands and push down. Barbara tells me I can feel the baby with my hand. I reach between my legs and feel bone in a place there is normally space. Possibility becomes tangible. Wet hair over a skull, the first touch of my child.

I become animal and primal. I am so supported by my husband, by my doula, by my midwife that I have been lifted to another plane. I am alone in the room. My body is making magic, doing what it is designed to do.

I am held up like an offering as I push, allowing me to open up to the place where light meets life, where light becomes life. I call to my baby again and in an explosion of fire and water the birth is complete. A new human being slides into my hands. I scoop the baby to my chest, close to my heart. And my heart cracks wide open.

Mike's tears fall down over my face, landing on this new life, christening the baby. The three of us cry and rock in the muddy water. I lift aside the towel and umbilical cord asking, who has come to us? We laugh with surprise. It is not the child we were expecting for nine months, but rather it is the child whose name we have been calling across the universe for seven years. It is Gabriel.

For the next few minutes, I stay attached to Gabriel by the cord. Through the tough sinew I can feel how my heart pulses, infusing my child with oxygen and life. When I have birthed what remains of our physical connection, Mike cuts the cord.

My beautiful child, with red-gold hair has been birthed into this world. And it is good.

2,080 Posts
A beautiful story - thank you for sharing it!
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