Life works in strange and mysterious ways. The universe hands you moments you never asked for and gives you opportunities you never really knew existed, or at least not in your own life. At about this time last Tuesday the universe handed me a gift and I decided to take it with an unknown courage and open arms.
This is by far the hardest blog entry I have ever written and one that I hope will do the experience justice. It has taken me several drafts and self-debate but alas I have chosen to publish what I hope is an honest telling of what is without question one of the greatest and purest moments of my life so far…
I was at the birth of my sister-in-laws second child and they were the most emotional hours I have ever bared claim to. The only thing I ever knew about having a baby was how it got there in the first place and a traumatising video in high school biology class that involved a water birth and a lot of downstairs mess. I have filled in the gaps with my dear friends: television and movies. Pop culture has taught me giving birth to a life means hilarious doctors screaming for enemas instead of epidurals, women cursing their men constantly and babies coming out in a painful flash. Well my fellow uneducated friends, child birth is none of the above, except for super human, this-should-not-be-physically possible pain. I didn’t really want to write that last sentence because I cannot tell you the level to which that pain is but being right there beside her I can tell you now that it was so difficult to see her go through it all.
As my brother readied the car for the hospital I stood in as what I hope was the comic relief. I’m still not sure whether my quoting movies and being immature was helpful or just plain annoying, I really hope it was helpful though. As we waited in the hospital I was still in a world of movies and excitement, and in my head the midwives were dressed in 1950s English attire, alla Call the Midwife. But as the contractions reached pain levels beyond the normal strength of man there was no longer a place for jokes. We were taken down to a birthing suite and the midwife said she was 8 centimetres dilated. I looked at my brother “baby is ready to come out!” OH GOD! This was real! As I stood beside her as she squeezed my hands tighter than a bull, I asked again if she was certain she was comfortable with having me there. I asked myself the same question a few more times. Could I do this? Did I have the strength? Would I end up being a hindrance rather than a support? Still entirely unsure of my own future in those moments it was exactly where I needed to be.
There was a very small moment where through clenched teeth and dreary eyes she looked into mine and I had never seen her so vulnerable, so helpless and ready to give up the fight. “I can’t do it” are words this girl never utters and here she was searching for the strength we all knew she had but in that moment couldn’t find. I was overcome with emotion and that’s when it hit me – my brother was the tower of strength he needed to be, right there motivating her, never wavering and it was then that I saw how beautiful, important and overwhelming love can be. (Sorry I’ll go wash my mouth out that got waaaay too sappy).
For me my emotions peaked when in a split second this little bundle of joy came into the world and the midwife swooped her up in less than a heartbeat to rest in the arms of her very deserving mother. As this second old human used her second old lungs to cry her very first tears I couldn’t help but cry a few of my own. For those brief seconds I was looking at the youngest human on this planet.
It was the after birth that worried me the most. Baby is okay, but is mother okay? Still in indescribable pain she got through it like a boss and half an hour later we got the all clear mummy was all good for well needed rest and a little tea and toast.
As I sat nursing my tiny, perfect little niece, a mere 30 minutes old I contemplated a career change. Midwife? I thought. No, I said. I could only ever help bring lives into this world if I had one of my own. Call the Midwife makes me boil with untamed emotions, I literally sob every episode and seeing that first hand, it really is a bit of a life changer. What I learnt was that there is no need to worry about is it a girl, is it a boy, does he have hair, does she have eyelashes? There is only one thing anyone should ever ask for and that is the simplest: is my baby healthy? The Dalai Lama has said time and time again that it is a miracle to just be born. It has taken so many different chances and people meeting people for you to just be breathing, and seeing a birth gave that more weight and power than I thought possible.
At 2.44am my little niece came into this world and those long hours leading up to that one beautiful moment were all worth it. At 2.44am her aunty was running on adrenalin, fear, happiness and wonderment that she thought never truly existed.
As we were led to the hospital room, mother, daughter and father slept soundly while I was still awash with feelings seeking my contemplation over rest. I stared out onto the city as sunrise hit the buildings and I smiled, I turned to look at this girl all wrapped up ready to begin a life and I felt more than privileged to be there for those very first seconds. I found myself thinking about every mother in this world who has given birth and in that moment I understood the unconditional love they have for their children. I only say I can understand it, but I in no way know how great that feeling really is. The bravery, determination, courage and sheer super human strength to get through that ordeal gives you the greatest gift of all. My own mother did that three times, no wonder why she cares so much. I also found myself in awe of hospitals, modern medicine and medical staff. How did my grandmother and her mother survive all that. How do home births work? Some women have given birth all alone, I cannot begin to imagine the strength that possessed them.
Would I ever have that courage? Do I even yearn for that kind of pain for myself? I'm still searching for those answers but I now know for certain that every life is blessed and someone, somewhere loves us, because that moment you were born no matter if it was natural or not you are a beautiful gift so don't waste the time that you have.
For my first niece I wish her every possible happiness and I cannot wait to tell her the story of when her auntie was right there for her very first breath.