The newest member of our family is Audrey Catherine, born on April 24 to Laura Maher, daughter of my sister Kate. Audrey is now in this world, fit and strong and just home from the hospital. If I'd stayed in Seattle for another week, I'd have seen Audrey during that small window of time when she is newborn, an infant, that short and precious time before she will imperceptibly grow into a baby.
I am taken back to the days when I gave birth to my three daughters, a time when dads were banned from the labor and delivery rooms, when mostly male doctors made the decisions and nurses were brisk. A laboring mom was very possibly in this birthing process alone. I certainly felt alone. Birth was a medical event, not a family affair. I remember nurses looking askance when I said I would be a nursing mom. What, no shot of hormones to stop my baby's milk from 'coming in'?
Throughout my labor for Caroline, I remember thinking that giving birth was by far bigger than the nurses and my doctor, bigger than the small labor room, bigger than the hospital, and way bigger than me.
I knew intuitively that a birthing mom is overtaken by the tilt of the earth and the flow of the tides. I felt absolutely at one with the universe, in concert with its rhythms. The energy of the universe is what's big and I was a definite part of it. This is how I remember giving birth. Overrun by a great and good tsunami.
When Kate gave birth to her two children, a few things had changed. She could invite me into the delivery room to photograph the birth of her son Chris and a few years later, to take a video of the birth of her daughter Laura. Denny was there and so was Mom. Families were beginning to participate by their presence.
I think now of the days when Caroline and Jeanne gave birth to each of their four babies. Birthing rooms are family rooms. We are there, giving encouragement, watching.
So many happy tears, such pure love, rush into a birthing space. Every birthing is filled with deep currents of emotion, flowing from the entire universe into the new mom, her baby and then, out into the rest of the world.
So here’s to Audrey Catherine. Welcome to our tribe.