The story of your birth is unfolding within me again, just over two weeks later. When I watch the video, I can feel the bones in my pelvis unhinge as if you were pushing your way through once more.
I watch your body rise and fall on my chest as you sleep, like a tiny sailboat on a gentle sea; so easily we still fit together.
I laugh as milk drips from the corner of your mouth and I am reminded that we gestate together infinitely, really. Through the minutes and days and years we each grow and shapeshift and curl up beside each other in understanding. We will, I am sure, go through cycles of mystery too. Just as we did when you lived in the dark cavern of my body.
I look down at my body and notice the linea negra on my belly…it (and 20+ extra pounds of cushion) lingers as one final reminder of our pregnancy. I awaken in the morning, my hand still often resting on the soft of my abdomen where you were nestled deep inside just three weeks ago.
A few days after you were born, I cradled my jiggly belly in the shower and said over and over “Thank you, thank you, thank you” to my womb for growing my heart inside out four different times.
Julien…your name not coincidentally as buttery and fresh on my tongue as the “pain au chocolat” I devoured every morning in France when you were but a tiny sprouting seed. Julien; your name destined to be misspelled for your lifetime but it is true to its French form. Because when I viewed Paris from the top of the Eiffel tower, I felt like a tiny part of me belonged in that magnificent city.
Your birth transpired so organically, both unlike anything I could have expected and yet almost exactly what I had been so gently hoping for. Our bathroom will always be a hallowed chapel now: the way the candle’s glow matched the quiet and focused intensity of your birth, the way the salt lamp cast the same warmth as the heat that coursed in my center, the chants and songs that emanated from my bones, the way the depth of the bathtub encased me so that it became a refuge and altar, the laying of hands, and the certain communion that began and ended in the water.
All the hours I spent wondering how your birth would transpire and, mostly, how your siblings would be involved couldn’t have prepared me for the astounding beauty of their presence. Each of them, dressed in pajamas and with mussed up hair, sat in silence on a bench and held my space as I labored. Jason said he will never forget their faces, peering over the edge of the tub, as I breathed you into the world. Their voices smiled and Kaia said softly “You’re gonna catch it!”.
And I did! Julien, I welcomed you with my own hands and there are only words written in stardust and birth blood that can describe that. Those words don’t exist on Earth.
“Oh, hi sweet, sweet baby”, were the first words I uttered to you. I remember rubbing your back and your fuzzy wet head and feeling the velveteen of the vernix on your skin. Let it be known that mamas do what they can to imprint the smells and sensations of birth and of their babies on their own bodies. Yes, we are made of star stuff. And of Birth.
And now I know that I birthed in that bathtub so that I could revisit that space, again and again, and remember.
The logistics of your story are still being written. From my waters releasing at 5:30 pm, to my first real surges around 9:00 pm, to you on my chest at 11:17 pm…the in-between was a culmination of all of my births sewn together. I experienced moments of profound peace and connectedness and moments of losing my breath and of wishing to grow gills.
I love the way you slowed me down and pushed me to the limits of awareness with your birth. Julien, you are something else. The sweetness of your birth lingers like delicate sea salt on the smoothest of chocolate; a way to help me tenderly navigate through the finality of my birthing years.
Oh yes, I have always loved you. That’s just the way it is, my son.
Julien, my sky, my way home, my treasure.
“I have come to know you
Through the sounds that
You are played
Like an cello
Into the ocean’s high tide
I have come to know you
In the ripples of the
Where you unfurled
Your very first cry
You are sung
Like one note
Called out between the mountains”