September 7, 2006
Indeed, little one, you are “Worthy of Praise” as your namesake denotes. Through the 24 hour journey of labor and birth you endured, you emerged peacefully, aware, and still connected intimately between both worlds. As a witness to your Mama’s quiet courage and resilience, I write this letter in awe of the incredible teamwork you both demonstrated during your passage of love. I am so honored to have been your Mama’s doula, her servant during the dance of your birth.
Antonio, your Mama and Daddy were so anxious to meet you. They joked many a time as to whether you’d be “black” or “white”. When your Mama was admitted to the hospital on September 5 for a health concern unrelated to her pregnancy, she found out that she would indeed be meeting you soon. “Antonio needs to come”, they said. How excited I was when I got the phone call from your Daddy; it was the moment I had been waiting for. As I drove to the hospital, I noticed the sun was shining proudly and the sky was clear. A warm, summer desert day, as bright as your eyes when you gazed at your Mama for the first time.
When I arrived, your Mama was sitting atop her bed like a Brazilian queen, royal and smiling broadly with perfectly happy eyes. I hugged her and stroked her hair and told her she was so beautiful. Your Daddy was hungry and brimming with excitement over your impending arrival. Soon, your Grandma Esther arrived and we decided unanimously that this was to be the best day ever.
Because you weren’t quite ready to enter our world just yet, your Mama needed a little bit of help to move your little body along inside her birth passage. This was tough, exhausting work on your Mama, but she never complained. She closed her eyes and breathed deeply, opening like a delicate lotus flower on the earliest of mornings.
Your Mama sat on the birth ball and bounced with you, even relaxed in a big wooden rocking chair in the late hours of the night. For most of your Mama’s labor, she had requested that a nature music CD be playing; I would be surprised if you don’t now recognize the sounds of rain, thunder, and birds chirping. It was soothing and helped to set the tone for your peaceful birth.
Antonio, please know that your Mama was a birthing warrior. I can only hope one day you are lucky enough to witness such a woman. At one point, at 2:00 in the morning, she began to sob atop her bed. With your Daddy’s tender arms around her, I looked into her eyes, held her close, and said “Perfect, let it all out, let it flow, we are right here for you, we love you…” She then firmly said she needed “time to be alone with herself”, although she allowed your Daddy and me to sit silently in the dark room, flickering with the light of some battery-powered tea-lights I had purchased. She found an incredible, rocking rhythm to move you through her intense surges, as she sobbed loudly and moaned. I know it sounds strange, but inside I was so excited for her. I knew this was the “moment of truth” for her and could sense she was searching deep inside for strength as she allowed the overwhelming birth energy to surround her. Your Mama was talking to you, I know it. You were sharing secrets and making pacts and only you will ever know what was said. I think that is so perfect, a testament to your Mama’s deep connection and love for you.
As the sun began to rise outside on the dawning of a new day, your birth day, your Mama finally got some well-deserved rest. And when we thought you would be arriving soon, your Mama suddenly received a burst of energy and carefully applied makeup, combed her hair, and donned her silver hoop earrings. She was a lovely sight to behold.
Then it came time to help ease you down and out into our world. For 2 and a half hours, your Mama beautifully and courageously birthed you with every shred of strength left in body. With each push, she added hope and adoration and faith. My confidence in her ability never wavered; she was so strong.
I watched in total awe as she worked to bring you down, down, down. Seeing your tiny head inch forward, witnessing your Mama opening up perfectly for you, was nothing short of incredible. Your very supportive nurse, Charity, coached your Mama with an intense gentleness and kindness. And when your fuzzy, dark-haired head was nice and visible, Charity called in your Doctor to help guide you out of your warm, watery world.
Your Doctor sat patiently for more than half an hour, helping to encourage your Mama with every push. And your Mama, tired but resilient, pushed you out with a fierce, yet graceful, force. Your wet, slippery body slid out in one big grunt, your face “sunny side up” and your mouth pouting. You were born so quickly that the Doctor had not even donned her second glove or called in the nursery staff! When I saw your head emerge, I signaled for your Daddy to come quick…and he did. Grinning from ear to ear, your Daddy joined in the crowd of people loving and urging your Mama on, and welcoming your sweet spirit. We all shared tears of joy and laughter at your swift, posterior entry into the world. You were healthy and peaceful and only cried for a few moments. You were laid immediately on your Mama’s belly and she caressed and stroked your head and face and smiled like the proudest Mama in the whole, wide world. You knew her at once.
I could not have been more proud of your Mama’s amazing efforts! At once point, I had the honor of holding your tiny, swaddled body. We looked into each other’s eyes as I hummed an “OM”, the primal sound of the universe to you. You knew immediately what it meant. I held you close and whispered my welcome to you, telling you how loved you were. After awhile, we laid you again next to your Mama and you tenderly cuddled one another and continued the incredible process of bonding that started nine months ago. What a lovely moment. You had both worked so hard for that.
When I left a few hours later, your Mama was resting as your Daddy and Grandma Esther snuggled your closely and got to know the precious being that you are. I knew you were in the safest hands. It was another beautiful day, sunny and boldly bright, a glorious celebration of life.
I am honored to have been present for your birth. I am humbled to have observed the unfolding of three new lives: yours, your Mama’s, and your Daddy’s. As I sit here today, I am still surrounded by a force greater than us all – the same force that brought you into this world. It lingers. It is bittersweet. And it is completely yours.
Welcome, Antonio Dalton. You are proof of the relentless circle of life, the untamed dance of birth, and the awesome power of love.
Thank you for blessing me ten times over.