Iver John came like all the others have come. Not born but expelled as if he were suddenly poison and my body must be rid of him. I’ve been a doula for twelve years and in those years I have wiped many brows. I have sung along side women the low guttural birth song that eases babies into the cold air.
But my babies, my babies don’t ease.
And so when my body gripped for the first time on the morning of September 26th I immediately knew what to do. There is no groaning cake. No packed bag. No excited glances between mother and father. There is only a slicing acknowledgement that I must slow down the expulsion at any cost. Sit still. Relax. Breath. And then in the amount of time I could watch a sitcom, I hold a baby. No one has ever delivered one of my babies but me. I don’t consider myself overly brave but birth is mine and I have never thought to allow a doctor or midwife or husband to first touch a being that I alone have been carrying for 280 some odd days.
Iver slid into my hands in the bathtub that my husband had finished tiling only days before. Our house isn’t even close to being “done” but I wanted a clean tub to birth my fifth baby into. My second boy. Sixty seconds after my water broke my son moved down to that searing place of limbo, the place where I am always certain I will be stuck at forever and never survive it. I lay back and did everything in my power to hold him in for just a few more breaths, but for me that is not an option. I caught him in my hands and brought him to my soft belly and he peered up at me with eyes full of the same shock and confusion that I’m sure my oldest daughter saw in me on the day she was born. What the hell just happened? Now I know though. Now I know that any baby of mine won’t take but minutes to lay in my arms and suckle my breast and sleep in my shirt. It’s only magic and not the curse that I once thought it to be.
He was perfect as all babies are. No matter their structure or beauty or digit count. In a house full of neighbours and friends and children and fathers and grandmothers he was loved with a fierceness and brought into the mundane joy of our lives.