— In the best way, you’ll be the death of me— Ingrid Michaelson
I hear it swirling into the air from my birthing playlist and know I will remember it, feeling this moment is marked and sacred. The moment that reaches up like a child wanting to be held close. The moment I pick up forever. You are coming and I know I will lose myself in this again. I slip into the mothering of you and begin to let go. The rushes are strong. It’s dark out. I am leaning forward in the car. Uncomfortable with every movement. My head is swallowed into the surges of my body so that I cannot think. Street lights blur as we pass. Red light. Green light. Red light. Turning, passing, rushing. Heater is on, no heater is off.
“Turn it off!”
I hold his hand and my husband keeps me afloat with truth, with strong words. Me in labor: maybe the only place his truth is easy. His cynicism is quiet. All the things he does not believe in fall away. I realize he does believe in something: he believes in me.
“It’s fast because everything is okay.”
“You are doing this.”
“I can’t wait to tell our kids how strong you are.”
Another turn, I feel my breathing change. The low, bellowing moans welcome before are now unstable. Baby is moving down, I am open. I cry out insecurely “I think it’s coming…”
Another block, another minute. We have to make it one more contraction. We have to get there. Make it through this one.
“Can you walk?”
20 feet to the door.
“It’s coming!” I scream into the empty lobby.
This time I am sure. The midwife and RN barrel around the corner and sweet Laura, whom I have never met, grabs my hands. I crush her to the ground with my next wave, bearing down involuntarily and she looks up at me,
“Okay mama, you’ve got this.”
They remove my pants and slippers.
“What do I do???” I yell out.
I search her eyes. I am standing, her kneeling below me.
“I don’t see a head yet. Can you walk? We can walk to the birthing room.”
We walk toward the birthing room. We decide to about face and cut through the utility area. It’s dark. The carpet changes to linoleum. We make it 10 feet and now I bring the RN Karen to her knees with my hands on hers, another wave. I wail and hear something below me about not screaming, a muffled, “Okay squat down”. I don’t squat down. Another wave hits me before I can breathe again and I squeeze myself onto my tip toes but I do stop screaming. I let go and in a second I am inside out.
“The head is out!”
I don’t have a conscious thought. I watch my body birthing from above and then, swoosh! The baby drops out of me into six hands including Brent’s. The baby is crying and moving. I see them untangle the little body and press the small frame into my arms against my abdomen. I find my husband eyes and in disbelief I cry out again, this time with joy.
“I did it. That just happened! I’m not pregnant! Holy SHHHHIIIITTT!”
We laugh. The midwives laugh.
“That’s one way to have a baby!”
I waddle over to the room and am helped onto the bed. Baby on my chest. My body shakes with adrenaline and the ripples of the story. We look. His story.
“It’s a boy!”
I cry instantly in total shock. I’d been keeping a secret that the ultrasound tech accidentally told me 5 months ago that our baby was a girl. I don’t keep secrets well but I kept this one and it was not even accurate! It’s a boy! The placenta is ready and I say aloud
“Thank you placenta, no bleeding.”
My body agrees.
We decide his name is Louis Craig Bergey and I can hardly say it- my son will carry my Dad’s name, Craig, and I feel him with us in my breath when I say it aloud. He is with us.
When I stretch and move, my big 36 week belly hugs into my spine with each pose, my breath inside us both. I try to breathe out my doubt. I try to breathe out my fear. I share and cry out.
“I don’t want to do this again.”
I’m still not ready. What if it is fast and intense like Edie’s birth? A hurricane moving through my body. Did I even do anything the last time? Can I trust my body to just do it again? Can I trust Jesus? I don’t “do” anything for him either, especially of late. Is it enough? Am I enough? Known and unknown fears feel sharp in my hands. I can hardly hold them.
—The devil’s right there, right there in the details and you don’t want to hurt yourself by looking too closely—Fink
“Don’t look too closely, Carly” I tell myself. “You can do this.” I repeat it at every coffee shop I sit in, the music loud in my ears.
Press in. Bring the edge up and let yourself ride downhill, the momentum pulls you forward. Push in, don’t fight it, press in, press in.
“Press in!” Brent says when contractions pick up in the car.
“I don’t want to do this!”
“You will still do great, even though you don’t want to.”
So I press in. I let go. Breathe out the doubt. I exhale myself and breathe you in. I exhale myself breathe you in over and over again: Edie Grey and Louis Craig.