Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Birth Songs

to my daughters


I. Fire
Though we named you for fire, you came to us as snow. In silence and midnight you changed everything in sight; we did not even know you were a part of me until suddenly we opened our eyes and saw a world transformed by your existence. We did not know anything about carrying or birthing babies but our love for you made us brave. We walked the journey toward the beginning of your life determined to birth you in the gentlest, kindest way possible. Only we were novices; we were young. When voices older and-- we thought-- wiser told us to hasten your coming with drugs we listened because we thought we could not trust our own voices. Your birth was not gentle, nor was it kind; the drugs made my rushes unnaturally strong and we chose medicine to relieve the pain so that I could birth you without surgery. I could not feel you move through me toward life but I pushed with the memory of my muscles and you moved. In blood, and chaos, in joy and triumph, you came into the world. Your Daddy says I cried out in joy-- my baby, my baby-- as you passed into the midwife's hands and that the cry, the exultation, was louder than any other groan or sigh I made in your birth.
Ember Rose. Flower of fire, firstborn daughter, burning of my heart.

II. Water
We waited for you, as desert people wait for rain. We danced you down; we prayed. As they search the horizon for any cloud, as they lift their faces for any coolness in the wind, we searched for any sign of your coming. And come you did, rushing in to fill and swell my womb. We had another journey before us, and this time we promised you we would trust our wisdom. We told the midwives that we would not bring you into the world early unless it was to save your life. We prepared to wait, as we did with your sister, we thought your birth would come slow. But you came as a strong current, as a tide rushing to shore. Before we even got out of the driveway, I birthed you into your Daddy's hands. He caught you and gave you to me wrapped in a bath towel. The paramedics had come and again we followed voices not our own and went to the hospital, which was not necessary because you were strong and beautiful and healthy. We spent two days waiting to go home with you but you never left my arms. You slept beside me even in the hospital bed, happy with my breast and our love.
River Lynn. Rain child, ripple of joy, water to my soul.

III. Song
You swept over us suddenly. You rushed in like a north wind, rattling shutters and overturning trash cans and changing me, again. Like a blast of air in my face you stole the breath right out of my lungs. And then turned it into song, into hope as you grew and grew strong inside me. We chose wise women to catch you and knew they would leave room for our voices besides their own. Your birthing began as a little breeze that slipped in through my bedroom window and woke me with the first of my rushes. Your eldest sister waited with me, in the darkness before dawn, until we knew you were coming. Birthing you was unlike any other experience of my life. I walked with your Daddy outside the house and lifted my face to the sun when the rushes came. I knelt in water and moaned, and sang, and even wailed, in those last moments, when your birth was a roaring wind in my ears and body. Then you were here. The midwives gave you to me in my own house, and I closed my eyes to rest in my own room. The house was hushed and holy as your Daddy and I slept with you nestled to my breast. Piper Haven. Little sand piper, little bird girl. Song and wind, music to my world.

3 comments:

Ed of Chesapeake said...

Lyrical, Karen, just lyrical. I'm sure your little women will treasure these words some day. They (both the words and the babies) are beautiful.

karen_m said...

Thanks Ed :) I do plan to give it to them when they are older, at the beginning of their Stuff Women Need To Know Book (Volume 1, lol)

Nathan said...

You're still a poet, Karen! Don't give up on your writing!