A Birth Story for All Mothers

by Chrysula on December 18, 2011 in asking,empowering women and girls,mothering

Baby boy is three. Fiesty, mischievous and finally (it took til the fourth child) introducing us to the joys of permanent marker on the walls, scaling impossible-to-climb surfaces and the shortest alpha male you’ve ever seen.

His birth was eagerly awaited. We knew he was our last, and I’d lost two pregnancies prior. I honestly thought I’d never get this child to the earth. I was out West with my husband’s family and my parents were over from Australia. Beloved (my husband) was commuting back and forth from New York. The flight was arranged for him to be present for the birth and we prayed baby boy would not be early. But the best laid plans… Despite doing anything and everything to stop labor once it hit, I learned you cannot stop this little guy. He was ready and if Dad wasn’t there, oh well.

He was the ears and voice, she was the hands and eyes.

The gift he gave me though, was my mother as my labor coach. My darling mother-in-law was with us for the delivery of our third child. My own mother, usually 10,000 miles away on these occasions, was with me this time. Quite the modern event, with Beloved on speaker on my cell phone through the night as he translated my laboring sounds and requests to my mother. His experience and knowledge of me and my needs in labor, combined with her tender love and desire to support me, was an inexpressible combination. He was the ears and voice, she was the hands and eyes.

My mother gave birth four times, each a high risk c-section, in the days before walking epidurals. She had never been conscious for the birth of any of her children. My baby boy was her very first time to witness a birth. She loves all of her grandchildren equally of course, but this guy will always have an extra spot!

Mum was able to stay over with me on a cot bed. My father-in-law who’d been waiting patiently, reported back in at home. I would loved to have seen my kids faces the next morning when they got the news their brother had arrived! As the day got moving, two sisters-in-law, my best friend and a niece all came to welcome baby boy. We were encircled by love. And just 8 hours after he hung up the phone, Beloved walked in the door. The airline (thank you Delta) had moved heaven and earth, a week before Christmas, to get him to us. Baby boy turned his face to Beloved’s voice in clear recognition and snuggled right in the minute I placed the child in his father’s arms. Love at first sight does not begin to express the gorgeous relationship that began at that moment.

I am celebrating my son today, whilst seared in my brain are the stories of women all around the world without any of the resources that made my simple birth story so happy, so beautiful. Resources like infrastructure for good transport, easy ways to communicate, attention from medical professionals, clean facilities, medication to stop bleeding and other complications, people who listened to me.

One thousand women die in childbirth every day (two of them in the United States). Giving birth is still the most dangerous thing to do on this planet.

Amidst your holiday preparations, make some time to watch Diane Sawyer’s 20/20 Special on “Giving Life: A Risky Proposition”. You will cry. But you will also have hope. And you will have more love for all mothers. Because every mother counts.

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Image credit with gratitude to Manahi Taber-Kewene.


Tiffany December 18, 2011 at 1:57 am

Beautifully written Chrysula. Simply beautiful. And I might add, I watched some of that 20/20 special last night while wrapping presents–very humbling indeed.

Chrysula December 20, 2011 at 9:40 pm

Gratitude for reading. The show was stunning, and so hopeful!

Elise December 18, 2011 at 4:43 am

Beautiful! Thank you for sharing such warm memories (and that captivating photo). How important to remember the blessings of giving birth amid loving support, relative comfort, and good sanitation. It is a wonderful thing to treasure the memory of birth. I know I do.

Chrysula December 20, 2011 at 9:44 pm

Thank you for your reflections. It *is* important to remember, to be grateful, and to be aware so that we can do more to ensure everyone gets those memories.

Wendy December 18, 2011 at 9:05 am

So well written, you have such a gift for writing and imagery. This story is even more meaningful to me since you lived close by at the time. I love you. Wendy

Chrysula December 20, 2011 at 9:42 pm

Wendy I remember being so mad no one in my family would let me come to your pre-school Christmas concert the day after he was born!!! But I still treasure the video :) and your inspired teaching of my girl! xo

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