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.