Joy’s Birth Story
by Laura Shanley
“Only when one is connected to one’s own core is one connected to others. And, for me, the core, the inner spring, can best be refound through solitude.” -Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift From the Sea
It’s a warm November morning in Colorado. I haven’t slept well and I’m irritable. My husband David and I have been fighting and I’m nine months pregnant. I’ve been feeling contractions for the past 24 hours.
David says he is going to the library. Good, I think to myself. I need peace and quiet. The minute he leaves, my contractions change and I know birth is imminent. Four-year-old John and two-year-old Willie are sleeping. I think about calling my friend Laurie but decide not to. This time I am giving birth alone. John had been born into David’s hands in our bedroom, and Willie had been born into mine, with David and John standing near by. I know I can do this one myself. This is my challenge. This is my mountain to climb. I know I can do it.
I take a shower. The contractions are intense – more intense than they were with the boys, but this time I am alone and I know I am afraid. The water soothes me. I cry. “I AM NOT AFRAID,” I say aloud, “I CAN DO THIS!”
I get out of the shower and take out my little baby bathtub so I can stand over it and catch my baby. The phone rings. For some reason I answer it. It is the secretary at the university wanting to order donuts – I run a donut delivery service out of my home. I tell her I’m in labor and to call me back later. She panics and says, “But who am I going to give this donut order to?!” I hang up the phone and laugh – her concern is not that I am about to give birth, but rather that her donuts may not get delivered.
I return to the bathtub and straddle it. I am not pushing. This baby is coming out on her own. I look down and see a face covered by a thin film. The baby is still in the water bag. It breaks as she slides into my hands. She looks into my eyes as her body emerges. I am elated. There is no one else in the world – only she and I. She is the most beautiful gift I have ever received. I hold her close and cry. I have climbed the mountain. I have reached the top and been rewarded beyond my wildest dreams!
Within minutes the placenta slips out as I squat over the bathtub. I tie and cut her cord and put her in a baby seat. Suddenly I’m exhausted. I lay down on the couch and begin to hear strange, lovely sounds – ocean waves gently crashing on the shore, and wind chimes – but we are a thousand miles from the sea and there is no wind today. I am in ecstasy.
The boys wake up, kiss their sister, and make me a glass of chocolate milk. I drink it down and ask for more. An hour later I get up and take a shower. I feel wonderful. As with my second birth, there are no after pains. We all get dressed and put our new baby in a white wicker doll carriage. Down the street we go, off to find David. I am floating on air. I am high.
We find David. He kisses me. He kisses our new baby. All is right with the world.
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My daughter Joy is now a yoga teacher in Colorado. Click here to read Joy’s article, “Attachment Parenting: A Natural Choice.”