Third of three, you came after fourteen hours of labor on my side in a bed while I bled from a partial abruption unable to dance through the pain the way I had done with your brothers. Standing made the little black dots of falling-down rush in from all around my vision.
You were born in a hospital with a 24 hour anesthesiologist that I never requested, and shots of demerol that I turned down.
I do not see un-medicated labor as a test of womanhood. I do not see it as some sort of trial of pain. I do not believe that it is a curse of womankind following a bad decision over produce made by the first of our kind in a far distant past. I’m not overly worried about the side effects and risks of medication, even though I always have Every Single One and then top it off by vomiting.
It is simply the work that our bodies do together as you are born. It comes in waves as you navigate my body, and then it passes as we separate from one another. It is the force of gravity, of time, a passage we must make or both of us will die. It is universal to our species. And the pain tells me important things. It tells me when you are pressing against something that you should not be pressing against, because when I move and you pass that point, the pain lessens until it increases again and I move and it lessens as you turn and move and descend and crown and then I greet you and the pain recedes into the background.
I don’t turn down the medications to be a martyr. I don’t turn them down to prove a point. I don’t turn them down because birth is simple and easy.
I turn them down because this is something that we do together. That we both feel out. That we both move through. I do not need to be numbed while you bear the brunt of the work. I don’t need to sleep through your passage to wake up in time to push. I feel each movement that I need to make along the way.
I need to be there, to feel each moment, to be pulled outside of myself by concentrating so very hard. And then when it’s done I’m dropped back into place. I see nothing around me but you and your father. I pay no heed to the bustle of the doctor or the paintings on the walls. I could be here, at home, in a cave, in a bus stop, on the sidewalk. It does not matter where I am.
This is the place that we met, not a physical room in a hospital, but in the meeting of our eyes that very first time at the end of that long journey where time has little meaning and I barely notice that I’m still wearing that t-shirt that I had meant to take off at the start of labor before the bleeding began. I don’t care about the Pitocin in the drip started after your cord was cut and the blood kept coming. I’m consumed by you and not by the details surrounding me.
This is the place that our bodies build together as we work to have you born. The hormones that each of us release, the place we are both born into.
I birth you this way because I want to meet you on this equal footing. Not as an adult meeting an infant, but as two people greeting each other for the very first time in a place where nothing else matters.
Because I want to be there with you in all the meanings of the word.