Her birth was as all births are: paradoxically traumatic and beautiful. I remember laboring in the tub in the rosy glow of a salt lamp, my husband behind me, rubbing my back, whispering quiet encouragement in the dark veil of night.
I remember the way the music echoed softly against the tile walls, the gentle swishing of water as I continually repositioned myself, the primal moaning that cadenced with each contraction.
We were the only ones delivering in The Birth Center that night, and it was so peaceful and still, like we were the only people in the world who were awake. The midwife periodically snuck into the room, checked the baby’s heart rate, then left with a heart-felt encouraging word, giving us with a minute of calm before another wave of pain hit.
I remember the pain like one remembers an event through a photograph; clearly, but with the gracious distance of time. With the swell of each contraction came doubt. Could I persevere? Was I strong enough? I had done it once before, but that was hardly an encouraging thought when my body felt as if it were imploding. The relief of one contraction ending was quickly trailed by the fear of a new one beginning.
I remember the agony, the exhaustion, my body shaking like a leaf in the wind, and my vision blurring from the physical strain of birth. The midwife and nurse waited by calmly, trusting me and my body to do what it had once done before, but I couldn’t trust myself. In those final moments, I felt weak, exhausted, and petrified, and ready to give up.
Then, with my husband literally holding me up, in the wee hours of the morning, our child was delivered, her warm, wet body was pressed against my chest.
There is nothing like it. No words can adequately describe it, no image can capture the reverence of that moment. It is something that simply must be experienced to be believed. Every fear, every doubt, every minute of suffering that emptied you to the point of physical and emotional despair is filled, then overflowing with joy and love.
She was red faced and squashed, yet undeniably beautiful, because she was ours. Her loud cries were as deep and desperate as mine had been in the hour leading up to her birth. I knew she was afraid, unsure. Birth, I can only imagine, is as traumatizing for the child as it is for the mother, until the two are reunited.
I held her close to me, reassuring her that I was with her, that everything was all right. She quickly calmed. The tears were well streaming down our faces when Kevin announced that it was a girl. I asked him several times to confirm, which he and the midwife did eagerly, and I looked at our daughter and said, with delighted confidence, “Hi, Lucy.” She, who was up until that point unknown, was made known.
Then, she opened her eyes and looked at me. This, in itself, is a wonder. To know that the first thing this child had ever heard was my heartbeat, that the first thing she he’d ever seen was my face.
When God created man — when he had knelt down in the dust to form him and pressed His mouth against his, filling the dormant body with the breath of life — did He weep when Adam opened his eyes and saw him face-to-face? When Eve, the mother of all, gave birth for the first time, was God there, coaching her through it, knowing from experience the euphoria that would be hers after it was all over and just beginning?
We watched her, held her, spoke to her, fell in love with her as dawn crept into the room through the blinds. Lucy means “light”, and it was as if all of creation was affirming her existence.
It has been one year and one day since Lucy entered the world. I reflect on her birth with birth with nostalgia, her life with awe. What would our lives look like without her in it? I cannot imagine. She was not in our plan, but, thank God, she was in His.