The details of his birth are still crystal clear. He came in his own way and in his own time, according to the moment in time that was ordained perfect for him. Despite the miles, we were all there, at that moment when he came through the water and onto my chest—Daddy, Mama, Sister, Brother. Teary, exuberant, wide-eyed—we were all there to greet our new life, Cyrus Stephen.
Five of Us
Each day leading up to his birth, I was “more pregnant” than I had ever been. Having been absolutely certain (to the point of anxiety because nothing was ready!) he was going to arrive two weeks prior, each extra day I had to prepare felt like an absolute gift, even to those final days when I suspected I would forever be pregnant.
On that final day, with beautiful support in place, I decided to do everything I could to get this baby moving—CrossFit, a long walk to Starbucks and back, topped off by an evening massage and dinner alone with a book and a cookie (completely spoiled)—all things that are so soul-filling to me, things that I absolutely love. And all must have been right and ready—timing and schedules and body and baby all aligned, by prayer and belief for the perfect moment—because those cramps started, short and spread, but consistent from day until night.
Perhaps, I thought, it was a false alarm. My body would calm and baby would relax. But my soul knew better. The call to a Dear Friend who long had a bag packed and ready was all it took to put everything into motion. She was on her way. Heads up call to the midwife at the birth center (who likely thought she’d not hear from me again that night, based on her advice—take a bath, drink water, and lay down). Doula on her way to graciously spend the night on the couch. Photographer warned. Cousin set to care lovingly for the big siblings to be.
Then, I absolutely had to get some sleep. It was 11:00 PM, and as relaxed as I was, I was exhausted, and not able to fathom the work of labor without some rest. So I laid. Using the iPhone contractions timer, 60-90 seconds on, a few minutes off. The cramps were longer and closer together now. Then, a moment later it seemed, it had been 105 minutes since I had pressed the timer button—I had slept. The knowledge of rest sent a jolt through me. 2AM. “Let’s get this thing moving,” was all I could think. So, I walked down and Doula aroused with a smile. The cramping had slowed but not ceased. Yoga poses, candles, essential oils, and lots of stairs. Calm, listening to my body, stepping through the surges.
My second or third trip to disappear to the restroom, and I came back with an update—“I think we should go.” 5:15AM. This sent a new burst of energy through my supporters. Dear Friend loading a freezer bag with sustenance, Doula calling the midwife, photographer capturing the moments, I crouching and texting to let the family know—we’re heading out.
We parked blocks from the birth center (for the free parking!) and walked gingerly toward the door, open to us by the (absolute gift) midwife. She welcomed us into the exam room and discovered I was indeed ready to go. 7cm. 5:45AM.
I had my choice of rooms and had already predetermined the upper suite—a beautiful large tub under a large set of windows, a sitting room, and a light, airy bedroom. What I hadn’t thought through completely was the tub. Everyone assumed I’d jump right in, warm water and buoyancy to ease the intensity of the surges that were now coming on strong. And by the time I reached the top of the stairs to the suite, I had decided—yes I’ll try it.
For the next two hours, that’s where I sat, laid, and crouched. Moaned, breathed, sang, called off all touch, and added some incidental comical levity through my occasional extraverted musings (oh mercy! | who thought of this? | restart the playlist…from the beginning!). The experience, at once, both so glorious and so primal
The most beautiful part of it all was my Love. He was there. For months and months we had anticipated his absence at the birth of our third little one. What a shocking difference than our previous two experiences, where he was everything. Supporter, driver, logistics-manager, kid-wrangler, encourager, coach. Right there every moment.
So, in the final weeks before our due date, we grieved that difference we were to face. And we prayed, so specifically, that the time and place would align to join us by video. Both God and Cyrus knew that perfect timing because that is exactly what happened. He was available and completely present the entire time. From the first moments in the tub through even hours after Cyrus was born. Graciously enduring through lost connections and poor audio. Always engaged, face expressive with interest and desire. As I sat down in the tub, we all gathered—Dear Friend, Doula, Midwife, my Love—and he prayed. And there, in that little room, there was hope, connection, and determination. We were all there. We were ready.
Minutes rolled both quickly and painfully slowly into hours. My mind questioned my body—when would it happen, should I stand up and be dry—and each time my body responded with intense surges that sent me back into the water to breath, focus, exclaim, and then relax. There was one moment, not long before he came, that I think I really might have drifted to sleep in those 1-2 minutes between surges, and that rest gave me strength. To push through, to make it to the end.
Sometime after 7 AM, the conversation around me started to turn toward the kids. Were they on their way? Has anyone heard from sweet cousin? And finally, they arrived. As the intensity of my experience heightened, I was certain they should not join us in that beautiful tub room, not yet. But, looking back, I think my body, this little brother, was waiting for them. 10 minutes after they arrived, a death-defying surge broke my water. The relief of both mental and physical pressure was immense. And I knew this was it. Surge. Head. Surge, scream. Body. Born into the water and lifted up onto my chest. 7:56AM.
Immediately my heart cried out for my kids to join us. And in those moments of exhilaration and relief at a marathon complete, body relaxed, I lifted our baby to exclaim, “It’s a booooooy!” I looked to David, our teary eyes meeting. I looked to our son—Cyrus Stephen. Sister and Brother entered the room timidly, wide-eyed, but not afraid. They looked to me for assurance, for explanation. Mama taking a bath, they thought, was more strange than that there was a little purple and red naked baby laying on my chest.
They said little and observed much, never leaving my side. Daddy on screen, taking it all in. With a cautious nod, Bram volunteered to cut the umbilical cord, a sweet moment—almost as if a rite of passage into the role as big Brother, no longer the baby.
Cutting the Cord
Slowly, and with help, I stood and transferred to the soft, white linen bed in the airy corner bedroom. Light flooded into the room and onto the smiling faces all around me. David was getting reconnected and sat with us to take in the newness and joy and curiosity of this new little one.
There was a lot of buzz—Nurse, Midwife, Doula, Photographer, Cousin, Dear Friend, Sister, Brother, Baby. Eat something, drink something, clean up, nurse the eager baby.
He was beautiful. Of course he was, as his mother, of course he was. But he was beautiful in that moment for all the things his birth represented—the unexpected Spirit connection of all my supporters, the absolute perfect timing (so often doubted as it approached), the sounds of Truth floating through music, the scent of freshness and light that wafted, the humbled knowledge of my Love’s unwavering presence despite the oceans between us.
There is a moment, in the tub, with Cyrus newly on my chest, that my ears and heart tuned back into the playlist, and the words could not have been more perfect. I laid my head back, holding my warming son, a smile lifting from my soul to my face, and I sang softly, “You make beautiful things out of dust.” Yes, from dust, beauty came. That day, Cyrus, community in vulnerability and need. Beautiful.
Welcome to this broken beautiful world, little guy. May your life add to its healing and to its joy!
This post was originally published on Doing What We Do and is republished with permission. All images used with author’s permission.