Nine months ago today, a new life was conceived. Nine months ago today, I began my day by walking my son into an operating room, for a pseudo-routine jaw surgery, as much as any surgery can be routine for somebody with myotonic muscular dystrophy. By the end of that night, I would be sitting by his bedside, conjuring up every kind of prayer, hope, wish, vibe, energy, and everything in the middle, that when they pulled that breathing tube out of his nose the next morning, he would choose breath over death.
Though I had been having visions for months of seeing my son on a ventilator, sedated, in that ICU, and I thought I was ready for whatever the surgery brought with it, I did not have an inkling of what was to come, much like somebody who ends up with the formation of an egg and a sperm growing inside their body cannot have a true understanding of what pregnancy, let alone parenthood, will be. The hours, days, weeks, and months that followed that date of conception of my new life would bring with them nearly every possible feel, twist, ache, joy, and emotion, mirroring feelings of growing a child within.
Watching him nearly die was like that spotting, turned emergency room visit, convinced I was losing a baby, only to find a heartbeat appear in what I feared was a dark and empty womb.
The moment he opened his eyes and gave a glimpse of the son I knew, similar to those early flutters felt of a fetus inside, known as “quickening—-Is this real? Am I feeling a life inside me?? Is this real? Is my child still in there, underneath that intubation and heavy cocktail of sedatives??
The moment he took his first breath off the ventilator, first seconds, then minutes, then hours—like those first peeks of ultrasound imaging, proving that there was, in fact, a small human in that uterus.
He walked. The baby kicked.
He ran! That little one did in utero somersaults seen across the room!
He came home. He went back to school. He served as the “prop master” in the winter play. That growing baby swelled my body, heart, soul, and every cell, with every imaginable emotion and physical sensation, so much so that I was certain I might burst.
But I had to be patient. This new life had been gestating and was waiting to be born. It couldn’t be rushed. Or mapped out. Birth is a thing most often best done with minimal interventions, left to unfold as it may.
So here I sit. With this new life that has been gestating in me these last nine months, though truthfully has been there all along, just like all the eggs of one’s lifetime form in the ovaries during the gestation of that future life-giver, because I am built for this.
I am pretty sure that I’m in the middle of the labor process, though I can’t be certain where.
Is this early labor, or even worse, pre-labor? Just life giving me a warm-up and a sample of what’s to come??
Perhaps I’m in active labor….finding my rhythm, swaying with each contraction, and not fighting it. Finding my breath. Accepting the process. Using my strength and inner wisdom to take things one step at a time.
I’m leaning towards transition—the most challenging and difficult part of birth for most—as it’s nearly impossible to separate one intensity from the next, barely a moment to catch a breath, and sometimes winding up in a tailspin of nausea, tears, and feelings of doubt. I thank the higher powers surrounding me that I have built the most incredible labor support team around me right now, each one with a unique, necessary, and unparalleled role to keep me present, focused, and surrounded in a web of love that cannot and will not be broken.
I have never been one to wish my life to be anywhere it’s not, but at this moment, I long for the pushing phase. The regained focus. The light at the end of the tunnel. The renewed energy and belief that I will, in fact, be holding this new life in my arms if I persist, just a little bit longer. Though I have attended enough births, including my own, to know that after that final push, the journey is truly only beginning, I fantasize about these new beginnings, a fresh start, new opportunities, and the highest of highs that I have yet to experience, though I know are waiting for me.
But not today. Today, I am on a stretch of working more hours than I am sleeping, but I still find a way to get up every morning and do a few sun salutations to start my day. Today, I’m still laboring, but it is all worth it because I am surrounded by blessings of support, warmth, and positivity. Today, I look at this little collection of my humans and motivation and growth and life I have created on a shelf in my new home, and I am filled with nothing but love, gratitude, and, “HOPE,” as this tiny little painted plaque reads, given to me years ago by a dear friend, along with a healing candle given to us just before G’s surgery that will always remain unlit, but a focal point, just as it has from its place in the ICU to its place here.
Most importantly, I hear my own voice in my head, a voice that has told many a laboring person, who proclaims, “I can’t do this”…….
“You ARE doing this.” And I am.