My Labor Day, A Year Later

July 26th.  My labor day.

Waylon popped his head up this morning and smiled at me with sleepy eyes, and I said to him, “At this time last year, you were just beginning to make your way down.”  My water broke around 6:00 am, and the day was just as I had envisioned it: sunny, warm, quiet here on the farm as Edge and I spent the morning slowly walking across the field and back, stopping every few minutes as a contraction came on.  And it was so much more than I could have envisioned–how can you ever prepare for the intensity of a child passing through you?  There is an element of mystery that no birthing class can touch upon, and it is beautiful.  Now, as I call up my memories of labor, I know it was painful, but I cannot remember the pain.

This is what I do remember: a circle of breathing, in and out, ohm; Edge’s hands always in mine; my cousin Amy’s crystal blue eyes soothing me in a moment of pain; pushing, breathing, pushing, breathing, resting; a glass of water with a straw; fresh peaches; herbs–hops, passionflower, so many nervines–and a sip of beer from the midwives; a candle in the darkness of the yurt; and that long last stretch of breathing that pulled me to a place beyond time and physicality until I heard the words put your gloves on, this baby’s coming!

And then he was here.  Cone-headed, squinted eyes, and wet.  It’s a boy, I said before anyone else could speak.  He was here, and just like that labor was over.

His head settled back into its shape, his eyes opened, and the midwives dried him off and wrapped him in blankets.  There is a picture of him looking up at me, and though it’s blurry in my memory, I like to think it was our first look into eachother’s eyes.  Even after a year of pictures, it’s my favorite one.

I’m 35 pounds lighter than I was on this day last year, and Waylon is about 16 pounds heavier.  He’s out with his Papa right now, harvesting flowers.  I’ve learned to savor these quiet morning moments alone, though sometimes when he is still sleeping, I can’t bring myself to turn away from Waylon’s perfect face as he dreams.  I thought I learned the lesson of letting go when he was born, but it’s one I must relearn each time I drop him off at his grandparents’ house, each time I say goodbye.  It’s a constant conflict, wanting time to myself and wanting to wrap Waylon up and smush my face into his plump little cheeks.  It’s a conflict I’ll take.

Today is a bit hazier than it was last year, but warm.  The birds are singing as the sun slowly heats the air, and it feels like rain is meandering its way toward us.  There is so much to do.  There is always so much to do.  But today I remember labor, and that magnificent first moment of meeting my baby, and I think, I can do anything.

first look

Willow Unfurling

Up on our hillside the willows are just beginning to unfurl.

willow

The green buds illuminate in the morning sun, and soon they will burst into soft white wisps.

willow

The willow always blooms just before the pasture grasses are tall enough for the sheep to graze again.  The tree holds tannins that help control parasites in our sheep, so we break some branches for the flock to strengthen them before putting them back on pasture.

P1010599This morning, while Waylon still sleeps, I find the poem I read at my blessing way last summer, a week before his birth:

I am a willow tree,
Strong, yet fluid,
graceful
I can bend with the wind,
but my roots are tough,
indestructible.
Opening to birth my child
is flowing with the wind:
from a soft and gentle breeze
to a stormy gale
back to a soft and gentle breeze.
My body is strong, but flexible.
It is my friend, it knows how to open.
I am a friend to my body
eating well, walking and loving myself.
I shall birth safely, freely, openly
among my loved and trusted ones.
I am the willow, flexible
beautiful, resilient,
endowed with the power of surrender
to the wind rustling through my leaves,
my branches.
My roots reach deep into Mother Earth
Anchored in her strength
I bring forth life
in Joy!
 
~author unknown
 

It seems so long ago that I was preparing for birth.  My babe is turning into a little boy, though he is not yet a year old.  At the same time, my body still holds signs of pregnancy: a belly stretched so wide that it holds the shape of him, smaller now of course, but rounded nonetheless, a remnant curve, a cavern inside where his body first grew.

I look at him and my heart swells, a love so different than the one I feel for my parents (who I do love deeply).  I wonder, can a child love his parents as much?  Can a willow bud love the roots of the tree as much?  Parents know the miracle of creation from nothing; children know the freedom of breaking away into independence.

Perhaps more or less is not the question–the love is different, but vibrant just the same.

Letter to my Baby

As 2014 begins I’m cleaning and organizing the yurt.  This morning I find the journal I kept during pregnancy and start reading through it.  I remember the night of July 25th, asking Edge when he thought the baby would come.  Tomorrow he said.  The next morning my water broke, and though Waylon didn’t arrive until 1:52 am on the 27th, Papa’s instincts were right.  I read the entry from the 25th, remember how I walked through the garden and sat between the Calendula and Tulsi, breathing in their light and calm.  I remember how, with a burst of energy, I pruned the tomatoes.  That night in my journal I wrote to the babe inside me:

Oh little baby, I encourage you to move into birthing position.  I also trust you to do that when it is the right time for both of us–when your body and my body are truly ready.  I love you so much, baby.  Your life is sacred, and you will be born into a beautiful world.  Whatever adventures you choose, I will love you and support you in living from love, in seeking truth, in finding and being joy.  I will do my best to let you go, to give you space, to accept the freedom you are born into, even when I may want to hold on.  I don’t know yet how motherhood will change me–just that is already has, and that it will continue to change me forever. 
 
This is what I wish for us both:
to love each other freely
to see each other honestly
to respect each other
to allow the space we each need to grow
to joyfully share many moments
to grow together as a family in love
 
Baby, you have already changed my life.  You have already brought wonder, joy, love and mystery to me and your Papa.  We both love you so much, and we are so excited to see you and hold you!  Thank you for being here with us, for coming into being inside me, and for all the wonders you will bring and share.  I am doing my part to get ready for birth, and I know you are doing yours.  I will be listening for the time you say when~
 Love and Namaste,
Your Mama
Waylon, 2 days old
Waylon, 2 days old

Wonder, joy, love and mystery: these things remain an ever present part of our days, and as we enter a new year, I carry my wish for us forward as a resolution of sorts–that we may continue to grow and discover each day as a new adventure.

Three Weeks, One Day

Three weeks, one day

He is smiling, growing, already over 10 pounds

It was yesterday that I felt the energy to get up, walk, process carrots and peaches, to enter again into the wider world

Before that, the womb of the yurt held us both

and we ate, slept, sang, cried, danced

still we do these things, but now I am here for a moment alone

while Waylon and Papa explore the woods

and I drink in the sounds of buzzing grasshoppers and singing crickets,

their rhythm quick like Waylon’s breath, their song pulsing like my own heart as I move into the world anew

Time no longer moves to the rules I once knew–

it expands, stands still, shrinks, strolls along, and changes as it pleases.

To be with a baby is to be with one who only knows the present

he has brought me further into this moment, right now, where the air vibrates with grasshoppers and crickets, the faint rolling of cars over pavement sound in the distance, and the short squawk of a bird calls out across the field.

Three weeks, one day

I am learning how to live honestly–

to do exactly what my body and soul needs to do,

which is the only way Waylon knows how to live.

To live pure and present

He shows me the depth of freedom we are all born into

Welcome, Waylon

Waylon has been with us for eight days now.  This morning Edge said the word “Sunday,” and it sounded foreign to me–time may be moving, but days and hours and minutes melted away when I went into labor.  Now, moments blend together like breath as I deeply inhale, filling myself with this life in front of me: a baby boy.

He was born at home, filling the yurt with his first cry at 1:52 am on July 27.  I looked down at him on the bed and announced, “It’s a boy,” before the midwives could tell me, and I fell back onto Edge, who held me as I held our son in my arms for the first time.  Now, the memory of physical pain has melted away, and I remember only the whole room breathing with me, the clarity of my cousin Amy’s eyes as she helped me through a contraction, the calmness of the midwives as labor intensified, the steady encouragement of Edge as I held him with all my might through each push, and the easy release of Waylon’s body as it squirmed out after his head finally made it through.

Waylon’s birth changed me in a way that has no words.  Everything but breath and love fell away.  Even in the pain I could breath, I had to breathe, and through the pain I found release.  It was the biggest letting go of my life–my body physically opening to let this being that grew inside me out into the world.  So it is that birth has taught me the first lesson of motherhood: letting go.

Letting go brought Waylon into this world.  Letting go brought love, space and peace.  May I remember this always, especially when I try to grasp onto him as he grows and needs to expand or contract without us.  Let me always remember how we did it together–how I had to push, how he had to leave my body to meet my eyes, how we had to put space between us to know each other in a profound new way.

Thank you, Waylon, for your breath, your voice, and your life that you share with your Papa and me.  Thank you so much.  We’re so happy you’re here.

Inward I Go

My energy is shifting, pulling inward towards quiet and rest.  I am peaceful as I move slowly, as I walk down to the greenhouse to seed and water, as I sit in the doorway and look out at the mountains.

Inward, inward I go, finding it harder to listen to the stories of others, feeling a need to speak only of my experience now, unable to graciously stay interested in conversations that shift to comparisons as friends and family tell me they know how I feel.  I don’t have the space for the stories of others–I am filled with baby now, and the only story I want to hear is one that is not yet written, one that moves without words and teaches me to speak with my breath instead: out and in, down and up, empty and full.  Each moment brings the lesson of contraction and expansion, quietly preparing me for the waves of birth.

 

The Day I Was Born

I was born into this world
twenty-six years ago today.
Imagine my mother:
full, ready
was she nervous? expectant?
They told her they had to cut
to pull me out–
my brother before me had been pulled
the same way.
She told me she did
go into labor–
that despite the doctor’s schedule,
it was in fact the day I decided to come.
 
It took twenty-three years
for me to be born naturally.
In a dream I held my mother’s hand
and breathed with her as she scrunched her face
and pushed me out
and the three of us were there together:
daughter holding mother holding daughter,
finally realizing the freedom of birth.
 
Now my own womb grows with life
and I understand how my mother is a daughter, too
and so will I remain
even as birth transforms
and this child makes its journey to greet the world.