I opened my newspaper (online) this morning and was inundated with the news that Kate, the Duchess, is in labor. When I asked my crews guys if they were excited they all looked at me like I was nuts. Fair enough. I am not a person who stands around waiting patiently with my camera for a glimpse of royalty. I am just not one who worries about their daily lives or what it must like to be them. I have never desired their lives, anymore than I ever wanted to be a musician, an actor or even an artist. I have always enjoyed my anonymity, even in my writing. Even knowing my name, you will never find my blog in the millions out there. I like that.
However, large and anticipated events always bring to mind my own incredible moments. While I certainly hope Kate is taking a lot of drugs to get through her labor, that is a very small thought in mind. Instead I am remembering my own labors.
They say each labor is different, and I suppose it is. Nobody can prepare you for it; not those annoying and quite frankly disgusting videos of child-birth, not nurses or even your own mother. It is that profound. For my son, it was twelve hours of intense labor that felt like minutes. I was so focused on what was happening between me and the child I wasn’t interested in anything else. I could sit there in incredible pain and simply catalogue each change, each movement, each little breath moving through me to him. I almost felt like I knew his thoughts, his feelings, the very fear he had for the unknown.
For hours I talked to him. For hours I rubbed my belly trying to show him that I was right there. While his father was taking a nap in the chair, my son and I traveled a journey only a mother and her child will ever get to experience. While his father left to go to the bathroom, to get a drink, to make a phone call, my child and I fought for our lives. Dramatic perhaps? If you ever had a child you know that the fight, the amazing strength and absolute conviction you have at that moment is incredible.
For my second labor it was no different, although instead of twelve, my daughter and I only fought for five. I was not the kind of patient who needed that much reassurance, I knew what was happening better than the nurses surrounding me. I didn’t need to know when it was time to push, when it was time to rest, and when it was time to let go and allow nature to find her way. It was a overwhelming journey that I would not trade no matter than pain. And it was my one journey in this life that I got absolutely right.
I often described it like tunnel vision. That ability for the mind to rid itself of all the distractions, all the unnecessary noise, the ability for our senses – smell, taste, even the breeze on one’s skin, disappears from thought. Instead the only thing I could feel was my child. The only thing I could recognize without thought or direction was my child. I have no idea to this day if the bed I was laying on was comfortable, or if the television was ever on. I don’t know how many nurses were in my room, and I didn’t care. Too me, the one thing I needed from my husband was translation. He could speak to them, I was just going to lie there and feel. I would only get to feel it twice in my life. And therefore, I was going to hold it close until my dying day.
Don’t get me wrong, I did not enjoy pregnancy. I am not a good pregnant person. And I really, really didn’t enjoy the 36 hours after the birth. But when I fell deep within my own soul and brought forth those babies, life was about as perfect as it could get. There was no death, no worry about money or feedings; there was no hurt, no desperation, no scary monsters waiting for me with bated breath. There was just a job. A requirement of me and my child that was flawless.
My children are a long way away from those journeys. They don’t remember them, as life demands. The knowledge that there was fear and pain has been wiped from my memory and replaced with the smiles and laughter of those children. The unspoiled beauty of labor remains the greatest thing I have ever done. And on a day when thousands and thousands are waiting, anticipating the arrival of a new baby, I think of all the thousands of babies that were brought into this world with the same love and devotion that my own children celebrated.
I am not naive, trust me I am too cynical for that. I am well aware of the thousands and thousands of children born each day into abuse, hatred, poverty and desolation. I know that they are there. I know they took the same journey as my child, but their light will always be significantly dimmer than my child’s. I know that there are children born in this world that are slaved, sexually exploited and treated as nothing more than dirt. It is hard for me, I who had such a magnificent moment with my child, to understand the discontent, the broken connection it takes to not feel gifted simply by a child’s first breath. Despite my cynicism, it is not something I can ever understand. Although ask me what I would fight the hardest for and that is always a child’s smile; mine or someone elses.
I can’t tell you about my children, there isn’t enough room and despite their unique ability to drive me insane, they are mine. I very rarely if ever share them completely. I protect them, while letting them fall. I encourage them, while letting them fail, and I build their dreams, while teaching them about pain. I work so hard to find for them the parallels, the balance, and the ability to understand that there is always horror, but there is always light. And a child being born into love is a light that is stronger than any weight on earth.
I of course wish The Duchess all my best; but I also want to say thank you to her for reminding me about my own passage. Thank you for giving me the gift of a moment’s perfection thinking about those two babies I brought into this world with all the love I had in my soul. Thank you for reminding me to hug them just a little tighter tonight, and to say my prayers clearly so that God will watch over them when I can’t. Thank you for reminding me that there once was a journey that I took privately, personally; and while the whole world wasn’t watching, it seemed the stars were holding their breath. Thank you for giving me that today. It is a great treasure given to mothers. It is a secret world that no one can ever breach; not with words, not with deeds.
The journey of bringing life to this world is sacred. And tonight the memory is mine.