So welcome, little Eve, our newly unfurled Rose
May your precious innocence
Refresh our garden as it grows
With hope renewed in Eden to make a brighter place
A paradise enlightened by the glow of your sweet grace.
Uncle Perry, 7 October 2012
My first daughter waited for fireworks. The full moon. A partial lunar eclipse. She wanted her photograph on page two of the local paper: First baby born of the decade.
My second daughter waited until the time was perfect; until she inconvenienced no-one.
I had been frustrated and wanting baby to arrive. No amount of walking in soft sand or pineapple made any difference. Sunday the seventh was the first day I did nothing, and was happy just to wait. After a hot morning at the markets, we had lunch at my parents’ house. That afternoon, our stomachs full, the niggling that had been happening every afternoon that week and the previous week began. Niggle. Niggle. I kicked Gregor under the table, and smiled at him. This could be it. I was saying. We decided to wait on, in case it really was it. Finally.
The time was perfect.
Going in to labour now would mean we could leave Elka at my parents’ house, and be able to explain where we were going. What was happening.
I had a bath around 5pm. I was sure, now, that this really was it. Contractions were evenly paced, five minutes apart. My body was doing what it has known for centuries how to do. I sat quietly in the bath, my birth music on the stereo. You better ring the midwife, I said.
My first birth was relatively fast – I was fully dilated within three hours. We decided this time to go to hospital straight away, so I wouldn’t be driving half an hour in full labour.
We said goodbye to Elka. She was so excited. The baby was coming.
Twilight. The light was familiar. It was the same time of day my labour with Elka had begun. I always knew labour would start at that time of day.
By the time we reached hospital, my contractions were more frequent.
The time was perfect.
Many patients had been discharged that afternoon. The birth suite was quiet. The whole hospital was quiet. My midwife, Julia, met us, and took us to a beautiful teal room. The lights were dim. A picture of a whale and her calf hung on the wall.
I had time to settle in to the room, change clothes. I sat on the gym ball, a blanket over my back, and leaned against the bed. I stayed there for one and a half hours. Contractions surged. My body was doing what it has known for centuries how to do. With each contraction, I breathed deeper, and let myself drift with each wave. It was everywhere in my body. My mind. And then the tide would go out, and I would rest my head against the bed. In the moment. Allowing myself just to be. Not to anticipate. Just to be.
It was nine o’clock. I began to doubt myself. My strength wavered. I acknowledged this was transition. Moments later, I kicked the gym ball away, and stood by the bed in a standing squat. My muscles quaked. I was bearing down. The sounds changed. Without thought, my body did what it has known for centuries how to do.
Gregor was there. The midwife was there, both kneeling behind me. I placed my hand on the baby’s head, and instinctually caught her, guiding her body up to mine. My body was doing what it has known for centuries how to do. My baby was birthing as it has known for centuries how to birth.
We didn’t think to check the sex initially, so overwhelmed we were with the power of what had just happened. She came out in the caul. An omen. The cord was wrapped twice around her neck. The midwife lifted it off, and she regained her colour immediately. She was a girl. Elka was right all along.
I hadn’t given the birth much thought before it took place. I wanted a natural, intervention free birth, ideally, but knew you couldn’t predict or control every situation. I hadn’t done much to prepare. But somewhere inside of me I knew it would all be fine.
It was. The time was perfect. The birth was perfect.
Little Eve, our newly unfurled Rose, you make me proud to be a woman. You remind me of a mother’s strength and the power of birth. You gave me the greatest gift – a perfect birth, a perfect baby. For that, I am grateful.
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