You: always known and unknown, all at once. You, familiar even in your newness; the same sense I get when I meander down a dirt road between Mesquites or Cedars or Pines. Like the experience of overlooking all of Paris from the Eiffel Tower and knowing somehow this moment has always existed in my bones.
I actually house few words for you, your energy and presence. How to transcend the feelings into words is a bit of sorcery that I can’t muster at this point. Feelings that arise in my soul as my hands feel your feet beneath my skin, and as my cervix responds to the gravity of you with a striking pinching sensation. We are together as one for but a short time longer and I am both ready and not ready for this next transition. This is one of the many gifts of breastfeeding; a bodily connection that remains for as long as it needs to. Nursing becomes an instant gateway back to the portal of pregnancy, birth, and primal nourishment. It is a release and transfer of all the cosmos and milky stars from the pitch black of night to you.
At 37 weeks, I am grieving the end. This is simply my truth. Growing my children is something I do well and cherish deeply and savor (like that very last push in which you’ll emerge from me). It is impossible to imagine that my womb will be empty of life for the rest of mine. But you will be alive and well in the womb of mother earth, thriving and loving and adventuring to the very ends of it. My continual gestation will be my unconditional love for you and your siblings, even in the chaos of it all.
These are the thoughts that slush within me as I sink into a deep, salty bath every night. And then I am brought back and begin to think of logistics of your birth: what if I go into labor before my birth tub is delivered…could I birth here, in this tub? Is it deep enough? Will the girls be at school? How quickly could I retrieve them? Will my request of at least a six-hour labor be agreed upon by you? Will I breathe you out like the softest of desert rain or let a deep scream curl around my body as you leave one world for another? Will your siblings be asleep? And if so, will I be able to summon the nerve to wake them as they have diligently requested? Will I have the wherewithal to pull you up to me as you emerge, your slippery body fresh as untouched snow? Will you choose to born in the water, or near my bed, or in the bathroom (so many homebirths happen there)?
And so, like a hotel maid service, I’ve been cleaning and laundering and washing dishes and sweeping every single day. You could arrive any day or as late as five weeks or so from now. My nesting mama brain wants to at least have our bedroom – my birth sanctuary – tidy for that impending day. And so my birth altar has been arranged, every supply is at the ready, bathroom counters are wiped down each night, the toilet is clean, and (very soft) toilet paper is continually stocked in a basket on top of it. The floors are swept and carpet vac’d, the rugs have been washed, my drawers have been organized, and my nightstand stocked with the essentials.
A few nights ago, after explaining to the kids that I’d like their help keeping our room clean and that mama was nesting like many mammals do, I also showed them my birth altar. I told them about the special tokens and the meaning they hold.
And Kaia asked if she could place things on it too. “Of course, love. That would be so wonderful to have your energy there”, I remarked from the bathtub. And she came to me, three times, with the most heart-melting notes and drawings. And she taped two of her plastic horses together, the little colt standing beside her mother covered in fresh, rust-red paint. “Mama, I made this. It’s a mama after just giving birth to her baby. See? The blood? And now the baby is nursing”. And sometimes it is the corniest of gifts that hold the most sacred meaning.
Last weekend, a few of my closest friends gathered in the desert to honor this birth in a Blessingway ritual. It was the most perfect blend of holy and ordinary and bittersweetness. We began on the land that we recently purchased and that will someday anchor a home we will build. It overlooks mountains and a valley and the Palo Verdes are lush and verdant. Together, my friends presented me with a handmade dreamcatcher, and gave me the gift of healing touch with a massage. We sipped hot cocoa and I shared my visions and thoughts for the final weeks of my pregnancy and for my fourth birth. We laughed and watched my best friend’s son smile and nurse in her lap, all as the sun curtsied behind the mountain. I exhaled and whispered a few secrets to the land and to my baby as I offered bits of Lyric’s placenta powder – as well as placenta powder from the babe of my adoring soul-sister from Ireland – to the desert. I can think of fewer more powerful and protective offerings than the placental life-force.
We moved to my friend’s home and were joined by a few other lovely wise-women, who sat around the roaring fire and spoke their truths and wishes to me. Each added a ribbon to the dreamcatcher that hangs now in my birth space. Between bites of sea-salt encrusted cookies and warm quiche, we circled together and made a communal container of fragrant bath salts. We added essential oils and aromatic herbs like rosemary, chamomile, calendula, rose powder, hibiscus, and the most divine Creosote oil that my Sarah had infused for over a year. The end result was that each of us filled muslin bags and mason jars with this dreamy concoction and now get to virtually share in healing oil + salt baths. My car smelled like heaven on the drive home.
Speaking of the drive home…I saw, for the first time in my life, a huge magnificent meteor streaking behind a mountain. Neon green, glowing with a clarity of a diamond, it’s fireball grew in intensity. I gasped, and grabbing my steering wheel said to my friends (who missed it): “Holy shit did you see that?!!”. I honestly thought I’d perhaps seen a UFO crashing to earth. After I got home that evening, I did some research and found that I was witness to the Geminid Meteor Shower. The next evening, Jason and I saw another one as we drove down through the mountains. Jason could barely speak, slowing managing to squeak out “Leigh, it’s so beautiful!!”.
But really? It was you, baby. I felt you so strongly in those moments. communicating in a way that I couldn’t possibly miss. Reminding me of the way we all come into this world; comets barreling through ancient stardust. You are The Light. Your Way has been blessed.
I dreamed last week that your siblings were begging me to find out if you are a boy or a girl. I pleaded with them, telling them I wanted nothing more than to find out myself on that very day you are born to us. But they were demanding and a Seer presented them with a sock of a certain colored-stripe. I saw her place it in their hands and my heart sank to know we’d be Knowing before we Knew. It was a pink stripe. And I was devastated (not that you were a girl in the dream!)…through my tears I told them I’d waited 36 weeks, savoring the mystery, and had not wanted to find out. It felt like something hallowed had been taken from me.
I have no “feelings” about whether you are a boy or a girl. Except that when you move a lot, twisting and undulating inside of me, you exude a feminine energy. It is something I cannot even truly explain. But then you sleep, grow quiet, and I am left to know you simply as my child.
When I awoke, I thought how lucky I am that this is one of the only “fears” I’d been holding. How I’ve given away Fear, surrendered it long ago with my first birth. How I’ve realized Fear will come when it is needed and only when it will serve me. And how because I haven’t allowed it residence, I will be attuned to its tone and voice if I hear it. Otherwise, it hibernates and I am left to live in the Now, the Here, the Only Time There Is.
I am open. I know you will choose your most perfect and precise time to open ME.
I love the you that you are, the you that you will continue to grow into. I am blessed to stand as witness to the journey of you.