A brief note before my story begins. A note to the mothers, a note to the fathers. To those who have birthed live children, and those whose young ones were taken too soon. This story— my story, our story—may be distressing to some, particularly those who’ve experienced the birth of a sweet babe, born sleeping.
If this is you, darling human, please feel free to leave this post here, taking all my love and comfort with you. To those who wish to stay, thank you for holding my heart during these moments. It is a gift to share the depths of my humanity. It is a gift to know my heart has been seen, held and loved.
No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.C.S Lewis
I’ve asked if my baby has died and no one is saying a thing.
The midwife moves the doppler across my stomach as I stare at the wall lit by dim orange light (my favourite kind.) There is no sound, no heart beat. There are no voices. There is silence, loud as thunder.
I ask again. Has my baby died? Still, no one says a thing. There are three midwives there. Not one of them has said a thing.
My body begins to push, and once again I am taken by the strength of the contractions. If my baby has died, I think, then I need them to take this pain away. But it’s too late for pain relief, I know that. I’m already pushing. I am on my own, no matter what is happening here.
There is a stillness in the room that wasn’t there before, and I know it is the feeling of sorrow. My sister is across the room, and so is my husband; the sadness is theirs and mine, and maybe the midwives’, mixed together with an odd cocktail of hope and confusion. Is the baby alive? Why on earth won’t they say anything?
Finally I am asked to change positions. They want me to push. Finally they have found a heart beat. A little slow, they carefully tell me, but a heart beat, thank goodness. I will need to give a great big push, they say, and I am okay with that because the midwife has said the only words I have wanted to hear. ‘Brooke. Your baby is okay.’
At least two minutes.
That is how long I thought the very worst.
Now, we move on.
As I breathe between contractions— between pushes—my eyes fall upon the midwife’s necklace, a butterfly on a thin, silver chain. It makes me think of the angel chain in my sisters hand, the one I’ve given her to hold, so Nan can be with me. It had been Nan’s right before she died. I had given it to her. Now it was mine.
And there is the stillness again. In the butterfly, in the thought of my Nan’s chain.
Another moment divine.
I gave birth to a beautiful, healthy baby girl, that night.
She is perfect, and was so from the moment she was born.
I will never forget those moments of indescribable togetherness and comfort.
Was there a divine presence in the room? I’ll never know.
But I will always remember.
I will always be amazed.