This was published in the February 2013 edition of the now defunct e-zine “Pagan Edge.” The entire year of 2013 had an overarching theme of beginning to end. The theme for February was, well, birth, so drawing on the experiences of others, I put this together. Hopefully this is a fair representation.
Hm. Life is funny in how it all plays out sometimes.
“One breath at a time,” Allyson thought.
“Push!” the midwife ordered.
“Count,” her husband Anthony said.
“Whoo, whoo, whoo,” she breathed, trying to keep count. “I can’t-I can’t do this,” she panted.
“Yes you can,” said the midwife.
“Not just this…parenting,” she thought. “I can’t do it.”
Just nine short months ago she and Anthony had been overjoyed to see that blue plus sign. But soon after the nausea had started and didn’t abate until the second trimester. By then she was struggling with a pregnancy-induced rash so itchy at times she wanted to rip her own skin off. By the third trimester, her midsection was so swollen she couldn’t pick anything up and constantly had to run to the bathroom. She felt she spent more time in the bathroom than in her office.
“Stop pushing,” the midwife ordered.
“Count,” Anthony said.
“Breathe,” Allyson told herself, struggling to do as she was told. “One breath at a time.”
Nine short months ago everything was fine. But then Anthony’s car gave out. They could either pay for a new drive train or a new car. They opted for the new car, but it put a dent in the savings they were hoping to have for the baby. And then the furnace needed to be replaced, and the cat got sick which resulted in high veterinarian bills they had not expected. Everything they had been so certain of nine months ago was now in doubt. The money evaporated as Allyson’s belly and worries grew.
“Okay, push,” the midwife ordered again. “We’re almost there.”
“Whoo, whoo, whoo,” Allyson breathed.
“You’re doing great, honey,” Anthony said.
Ready? Why in the world had she thought they were ready to be parents? There was so much uncertainty in the world. There was so much uncertainty in their lives and now they were about to bring a new, innocent life into their world.
“Push!” the midwife demanded.
There was no going back. She had gone into labor nearly twenty-four long hours ago. She was beyond exhausted. Even with the drugs, she was in pain. There were so many fluids and messes involved that no one, not even her mother, had told her about. She felt grimy and sticky and so badly wanted a shower and to sleep and knew that those two things were about to become a luxury.
“I can’t,” she panted.
“You can. Now push,” the midwife instructed.
Allyson pushed and pushed and pushed. “One breath at a time,” she thought. The pressure and pain passed but she didn’t hear anything. “Anthony?”
He squeezed her hand. “It’s okay; it’s going to be okay,” he said worriedly.
“Why isn’t he crying?” she asked.
A nurse scurried of the room and returned with a doctor.
“Breathe, baby,” she said. “Breathe!”
And suddenly she heard a baby crying.
“One breath,” she thought. “His first breath.”
“That’s our son! That’s our son!” Anthony said. “You did it!”
After a few minutes of routine checking, the baby boy was finally placed in Allyson’s arms. She felt a rush of love and of calm.
“We’ll get through this,” Anthony said, as though picking up on her doubts.
“I know,” she said. “One breath at a time.”