My husband just reminded me that 17 years, 363 days and 24 hours ago, I went into labor with our youngest, Simeon. My daughter, Sara, was born via C-section after a night at Ziggy’s motel. (You can read more about that in an October 2009 post.) My OB/GYN insisted that I’d have to have a Cesarean with my next child as well. But because my first birth didn’t go according to plan, I was determined that I would have complete control over the next one. (I’m a slow learner!) When we discovered that we would have another child I contacted a local midwife, who was also a good friend, and bartered for a baby.
My new midwife, Siti, was not a fan of western medicine. She was a tiny, cheerful woman with long dreadlocks which reached her hips, and small, strong hands. She had given birth to 9 children, all naturally and at home, and she assured me that a healthy diet, lots of walking and positive imagery were all I really needed. Siti showed up for home visits armed with jars of kale juice, plates of millet with kelp and an old stethoscope. I’d thank her for the meals, stick them in the refrigerator, and eat ribs instead. That could have been the problem….
During the early hours of labor I was a model hostess — offering my aunt and midwife cool drinks and being very kind to my husband — but when a whole day had passed with little progress, all my southern training slipped away. By hour 24 I was no longer polite. They could get their own drinks. I was not in control. My body was in control and I was just along for the ride. I would doze off between contractions and dream of drugs only to awaken to find that the nice lady in the white dress with the needle full of sedatives was only an hallucination. I forgot I was even having a baby. I began to believe in purgatory. I was sure I was somewhere on the 7th level. And moving down.
Twelve more hours. And then, suddenly, there was the most intense feeling I have every had. It was such a powerful force that it seemed to propel every breath every sound and the very essence of my existence from the center of my being outward. I don’t know why it didn’t shatter windows and break sound barriers and thrust everything around us forward on its wave, shaking the world of its axis. And then it passed. Utter calm followed it. Siti handed me a squirmy messy body with a steeply sloping forehead. “You have a son,” she said. I held on to him, floating in that welcome peace. I didn’t know his name, his father would give it to him later. I just knew that there had been a reason for all that had come before and I was holding it in my arms.
Later, as Siti was helping me with the aftermath, I could hear Ron talking to his son in the next room as he gave him his first bath. Ron’s warm musical voice welcomed Simeon Othello into the world, thanking God for him and promising to do his best.
Eighteen years later the lesson is still being learned. I am not in control. But I continue to thank God for him and I promise to do my best. And I still know there is a reason for all that has come before. When I can, I hold him in my arms. Happy birthday son.