As Aron sleeps peacefully in a nest of blankets at the foot of the bed, Bruce gently wipes the sweat from Karen’s frowning face. My girls and I watch reverently, deeply aware of the significance of each simple detail.
The bathroom is close and Karen makes the trip with her partner’s supportive arms around her.
No intelligible words are spoken, yet we all know the time is right. Stockinged feet drawn up, belly round and rigid, face contorted with concentration and exertion- the beauty of this woman’s purpose is indisputable.
“I see the head….I see it!” whispered cries echo from one to the other. Joy permeates the room. We each stroke the creamy head in awe. Karen and Bruce are in complete contact with this new life even as it emerges. Their eyes, locked on the infant, reflect an indefinable unity.
The child is completely coated in white and as he inches his way to his mother’s breast he is caressed and loved by welcoming hands and eyes. Wonderment catches in our throats and thoughts, unspoken, are understood. Aron is pulled gently onto the bed, completing the circle. Still warm and woozy with sleep he meets his new brother within the shelter of his parents’ embrace and they share a toast to life. Bodies and spirits joined in a prophecy of things to come the family rests together.
We withdraw to the kitchen for our own embrace in the overflow of warmth radiated, reflected and magnified by our participation in this most remarkable experience.
When the family migrates to the bathroom, a whispered conspiracy takes place. In a hurried cleaning blitz, bed sheets are changed, books, toys and blankets are gathered up, firewood is stacked and readied.
Unable to tear ourselves away, we watch and fuss for a few more moments as the four settle again into bed. Then, before welcomed participants become beloved intruders, we steal away into the night, carrying with us a pearl to be cherished forever.
By Jo Sutt, 1979
My sister and her two daughters lovingly attended the birth of my second son born at home in 1979. It was my second homebirth. She was not able to arrive in time for my first baby’s birth. I will never forget how wonderful it was to have her present. I remember vividly how warm and grounding her hand felt when she held my foot. It was such a simple thing and it was so important to me. I am so grateful for the stories my sister courageously told about her own hospital births. They were stories that made us weep for all mothers and babies who endure a medical model delivery. Her stories helped me decide to have my first homebirth and to become a midwife.