On September 28th, 2015 a wild red moon orbited so close to the earth, it eclipsed the sun. Nearer than ever before, it shone like a star, like a red, fiery, hot star – except, it was the moon.
Promising the harvest. Promising the night.
Promising to light up the dark.
High above the gold of the eastern mountain tips, but low and close, burning bright into the sky, we traced its luminous shadows. Full of force, a howl, endings, and beginnings – we watched it rise and heard its wild call – we listened close, and so we made you.
Like your sister, you had been waiting for us and not the other way around.
That first week in October you were a tiny wonder I was having deep in the secrets of my mind.
One morning, I drifted into the bathroom and unwrapped a pregnancy test. A few minutes later two blue lines filled the tiny space made for enormous answers.
You were due June 12th.
Early in the pregnancy, it was clear that contending with Rafi’s birth was going to require some work. I was offered a prenatal appointment with Dr. Minikel, the surgeon who delivered her.
She was everything we remembered, but more.
Diving right into the deep end, swimming our collective memories, she never hesitated to support my dreams of a VBAC, she’d only offer the most necessary pieces of information and occasionally respond with, “well, if you were my sister, I’d say this to you…”
I was sure I wanted a VBAC, but I knew it would take the right cocktail of support and healing.
The hunt for my doula began with a search for a specialist in VBAC deliveries. With decades of experience and lists of recommendations, Holly quickly emerged as our perfect fit.
As the weeks went on I searched for you in my dreams, the sweetest mystery I loved chasing.
Somewhere in my second trimester in the dark early morning hours of pregnancy, Rafi awoke before the sun. Laying in bed with our heads touching, completely silent, I wondered over and over again if she would have a brother like a song on repeat. Moments later in her sweet voice, she looked up at me and asked, “brother or sister, mama?”
Since we opted to keep your gender a surprise, we only had Rafi, our oracle. Sometimes you were a boy, sometimes a girl, and on occasion, you were a dragon – the family favorite.
Weeks later, adrift in April, I could not quiet my mind. I was practically levitating with anxiety thinking about your birth. Nobody was home so I went outside and laid in the grass, closed my eyes and started to breathe. I imagined being in labor. Dada beside me and Holly at my feet. As my breathing deepened, so did every detail. The room in focus, the sound of everyone’s voice echoed; your birth began taking place in my mind free from fear. And right from that crystalline, you arrived, my sweet little girl.
I kept that moment close for the remaining weeks and each time I felt afraid or uncertain, I would close my eyes, breathe and remember where I met you first.
I had my final ultrasound on Thursday, June 9th with Dr. Minikel. I learned that I was just 1 cm dilated.
On Sunday morning I woke to heavy cramping.
By 3 p.m. I was on the couch trying to remember when my last contraction was. Full of distraction – it was as though each throe came from nowhere, until an hour later when they spiked in severity.
We asked Ama to come and get Rafi for dinner and keep her for the night. When the front door closed behind them, I cried.
By 7 p.m., after eating and showering, my contractions began to organize. By 9 pm they were about eight minutes apart and stopping me in my tracks. By 10 pm I was moaning. By midnight Dada deemed it time to go.
The drive to the hospital was miserable.
We arrived to an empty Labor and Delivery floor. After waiting several glacial minutes to be escorted into triage, Dada was visibly impatient. Holly came in just as I was hoisting myself onto the bed in triage. It was 1 a.m.
We learned that I was 3.5 cm after a visit from the doctor. Expecting more by then, panic took over; Rafi’s complex journey to an emergency c-section and my subsequent blood transfusion had begun that very way.
But still, waiting for me in room three, was our L&D nurse, Doug.
Each contraction came and I imagined ascending. My body the path, my body the container for everything. I reached into my quietest place and searched for bravery and stamina. When fear hovered, I weaved in hope – holding onto my dream of a natural birth. It was a dance. When pain took over and I was so hot that I thought I might melt, I traveled back to the place where you and I first met.
At 3:40 a.m. there were no breaks in contractions. I begged for an epidural, but I was strategically ignored, signaling me to keep fighting, reminding me that I was making progress and to trust my body.
“But why aren’t they stopping?”
Touching my hand, Holly said, “I think you are in transition.”
Triumph and fascination swept over me – this was the threshold, the frontier, the bridge that would take me to you.
At 4:35 a.m. Doug grabbed my hands and said, “O.K. mama, here’s what we’re gonna do. Each contraction you’ll take a deep breath and hold it like you are underwater, then you’re gonna push from your center like crazy.”
Excitement eclipsed the fear and joined forces with the pain. Each contraction became an opportunity. It was so hard. I was so tired. But you were coming. The clock said 5 a.m.
I was pushing, Holly at my feet, Doug and Dada on each side.
In my mind, deep inside, past every part I had ever known, I found a path to you, past fear, past everyone and everything else that existed. I called in every cosmic support.
The room became my dream.
And before Katie, the midwife could come in to catch you, your head was guided out by Doug.
You were here.
“Oh my god, it’s a girl,” I cheered. “Welcome to earth.”
My body, an entire universe of joy.
Your eyes like pools – aware and calm.
Later that day, the door swung open and Rafi climbed into bed. She asked to hold you. Gently nestled in her arms, she looked long and hard at you with her soft eyes, and without a space between her heart and mind she said, “I love you so much, baby sister.”
Once we were three, and now we are everything.
June 13th, 2016
8lbs, 2 oz. 20 ¾” L
Born into the first quarter of a new moon, an election year full of loss, transition, and tumult
-joining this beautiful world full of suffering.
Bringing with you a meditation on light, so that we may learn to see, despite the dark.
Author: Ali Lawrence
Author Bio: Professional writer, mother, baker, wannabe dancer and obsessive communicator, Ali has a pretty poet heart with a brain for practical wordsmithing. She’s not a visual artist, but craves creating imagery out of language. Ali believes that with the right alchemy, words have the power to make magic happen. She works as a writer, editor and Book Doula from her home in Oakland, Ca. A mother of two young girls, she finds constant inspiration and endless wisdom in them. Her sun is in Gemini and her moon is in Scorpio and the rest of her is on fire.
Link to social media or website: Instagram @alawrencewrites