March 5th, one year ago, I was 34 weeks pregnant and serving a laboring mother in her birth. I was heavy with child, and while I knelt down under her ripe, fertile belly to listen to her child’s heart tones, I felt my own child quicken within me.
I stooped and I swayed with her, I bent low and I squatted right next to her, with both our round bellies hanging and dangling from our frames. I took my cool fingers and touched her furrowed brow. The son that I carried in my womb, the child that jutted his foot into my ribs as if to remind me not to stretch too far, while I reached out to steady her body in labor – would soon arrive.
And all the labor love that I poured into the hearts and lives of the women I served during my 40 weeks of pregnancy would be returned to me in my own approaching birth.
I’ve always wanted to tell mothers, steady yourself because the sacred is mixed with the devastating. And as you labor, still your heart; the intense work of birth is surrounded with holiness of life.
One year now since I’ve seen a mother toil through her labor, and I can still hear in my ears the heavy moan of a life that is creaking the door open for another. I can hear the sound of a body open in birth.
Make way, make way, her body says as she flings herself into the holiness of life. Make way, make way, my heart says, as I thrust myself into the holiness of motherhood.
One year in which I have set down my love of labor to give exclusively to the fruit of my labor. And in this year, my motherhood is reborn again and again; dear second child, you remind me that I know nothing – but to love you (and it is like nothing that I’ve known).
I remember a young mother, who was exhausted from her long labor, stretched out on the bed to rest in between her contractions. I watched as her own mother came to her, laid down beside her and wrapped her arms around her laboring daughter. The mother pressed her cheek into her daughter’s head and sang out in a lullaby, “You are so beautiful to me. Can’t you see…” The mother’s voice cracked as she fought back tears, but she continued to sing in hushed tones to her daughter. Her daughter closed her eyes, and settled her body in closer to her mother’s – soaking in the strength of her love.
I feel that mother now, singing to me, one year later. I can hear her, and it is beautiful.
In the fullness of time, one year later.