We laughed, Kelvin and I, at all the preparation. Books to read, classes to attend, money to spend. Working so hard to learn how to do what humans have been doing all along.
We wandered around the dining room, practicing. Kelvin’s hands on my hips, my forearms draped across his shoulders. Neck relaxed, body loose, our feet dancing. Deep breaths in and out, just like she’d taught us, contemplating our upcoming reality. Waves, I’d been told. Electrocution, from another friend. A flower blooming. Surges.
A million different ways to describe the indescribable.
Pain with a purpose; it’s what I told my patients. They’d look at me desperately and I’d tell them “you can do this, and I’m going to help you, because this pain is worth it.” I could do this, and Kelvin was going to help me, and the pain would be worth it.
“A woman has pain in childbirth, because her time has come…”
I’d wake at night and consider it. The pain. The privilege. The fear. The joy. I’d pick up a book, and then put it down, not so sure the words on any page could really prepare one for this. “Thump, thump.” A foot in the ribs, again. A tap dancer this little one, 2 am their favorite time to dance.
Babies, apparently, like to come when mommas feel safe. At least, that’s what I’d been told. A safe place, yes. I liked that. I was going to be a safe place, even from the very start. It makes sense, then, doesn’t it, that our little one began their greatest dance in the early hours after Thanksgiving. Mine was a thankful and happy heart while I slept that night.
It woke me from my sleep. The baby. The labor. The new road in front of us.
“Hold on, hold on, hold up to me. Because I’m a little unsteady. A little unsteady.”
– Unsteady by X Ambassadors –
I knelt on our bed, breathing through another contraction. The music trickled in from the kitchen.
Unsteady? Yes. I could agree with that.
We sat at home and I made my body prove it, over and over again. Is this the real thing? “You’ll know,” they said. But I didn’t, not right away. Because while my body had clearly said “let’s go,” my heart and my mind? They took a little longer to acknowledge our new truths.
Where once our arms were empty, soon they would be full. Where once we defined ourselves as two, now we would be three. COULD WE LOVE LIKE THIS?
Labor doesn’t really wait though, does it? The body doesn’t always wait for the mind to catch up. Our tiny dancer was coming, ready or not. And so it went, as it has for hundreds of years. Wave after wave of pain, each one bringing us closer to meeting our little one.
I remember small things in the middle of the big things. Kelvin, always close enough to touch, to say “I’m right here.” The unrelenting seatbelt in the car. The face of Sally, our nurse, when she admitted me. Our midwife, Claudia, squatting next to me on the floor. “You can do this Laura. Trust your body.” Words from the songs on our playlist, creeping in and out of my consciousness. Sally, demanding I look at Kelvin, right by my side, and breathe. The fear, when suddenly and irrevocably my body and mind were no longer mine.
Our wedding song came on when I started pushing, beautifully linking two of our very best days.
“There’s so much craziness surrounding me, there’s so much going on it gets hard to breathe…you make it real for me.”
– You Make it Real by James Morrison –
Real, yes. Things were very, very real.
We delivered that baby together, Kelvin and I. He reached over and I reached down and it was our hands that welcomed our little one into this world.
To our arms. To a safe place.
“We have a daughter,” he said to me, his face a picture of delight. A girl. A beautiful, baby girl. A family of three.
And that verse above? There’s more, so much more. The pain is really the smallest piece of it. Because who would ever labor if pain was all there was?
“A woman has pain in childbirth because her time has come; but when she brings forth her child, she forgets her anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world.”
We do forget. The joy is so much bigger than the anguish. New life is worth the cost.
That moment begs the question, doesn’t it, “Is this how He feels?”
Perhaps the privilege of labor and birth had given me the tiniest glimpse of the pain He is wiling to endure to hold those He loves in His arms.
We hurt our King, over and over again. We consider Him, then we dance away. We read books, go to classes, listen to sermons. Our minds, our bodies, our hearts; each must decide that He is good and right. We make him endure the labor of our distance, our uncertainty, our lack of trust. And then, finally, we let Him reach down and bring us into His arms.
To a safe place.
The laboring, definitively over. His anguish, replaced with joy.
“I have a new daughter,” He says; “I have a new son.”
Welcome to the family.
– – –
Emmeline ‘Emme’ Jean Mansfield joined our family on November 25th, 2016 at 12:26 pm. We could not have asked for a better labor and birth, nor could we ever have fathomed the way one feels about their child. Yes, we can love like this.