Wednesday, March 21, 2012

somewhere I'll find You

My "nephew" is a little more than 8 months old now, but...


For some reason, the last 48 hours make me think of a poem with the same title as a movie that a boy and a girl in Minnesota sneak off to see.  They hold hands in the theatre.  The poem ends with a line, "... and that's the way it's been ever since," ending with the only period in the whole poem.  "... ever since."

For a couple of weeks, and maybe longer than that, I'd been waiting for my phone to ring and my Soul Sister to tell me that it's time to run to the hospital and cheer as she delivers her son.  I knew that the experience was likely going to blow my mind wide open, but I am not sure that I was prepared for what the experience of living so intensely in the Palm of the Hand of the Most High.  Writing about it is a bit daunting, to say the least, but it feels like some of the phrases need to come out to cement them into my memory...

At 12:55pm on July 1, 2011, my phone rang.  Sister and I usually talk more than once every day, so although this was the phone call I had been waiting for, it took a moment for my ears to connect with my brain and send the message to my feet that this was not one of those regular calls but the one where I run to grab my bag, get in the car, make 6 phone calls while navigating around the parade downtown (Seriously?  Today?  A parade?), and arrive, panting, in the hospital room where I would spend approximately the next 19 hours.

Things started slowly.  Once her Husband arrived, Sister explained that she had gone to her midwife for a check-up... that the baby looked like he was big, about 9.5 pounds... that she was worried that Sister, whose first birth had because of complications been a c-section, would find much difficulty in delivering a baby that large vaginally... that she thought that the right thing to do was to strip Sister's membranes in hopes of hurrying the process up somewhat... that she had slipped and accidentally broken the water... that things were now set in motion.  Sister was worried about her body's reaction to the antibiotics which would be pushed if things kept going for too long.  She was worried about the effects the pitocin would have on her labor process.  She was worried that she might be forced into another c-section, surgery which made the experience of having her first child so hellish.

The pitocin was started very, very slowly.  Labor started very, very slowly.  She was having some mild contractions, and we were talking, joking, laughing, and playing cards until around 11:30pm when Sister began to shiver, and it became clear that she had transitioned into the next phase.  Her body began to amp things up.

This next phase was very different.  Thankfully, Sister's Mother and Father arrived just in time.  Sister was in the middle of what had become very difficult contractions.  Mother hesitated for a moment, wanting to be respectful of Sister's process... her space... but soon Father went to the hotel to sleep and recover from the long, rushed drive, and Mother went to Sister's side.  

Labor felt somehow like a group process.  Sister moved as she felt the need... sometimes laying on her side, sometimes sitting at the end of the bed in lotus... sometimes standing, her arms around Husband's or my neck, squeezing like her life depended upon it... swaying, always swaying with the rhythm of the movement clearly happening inside of her.  We breathed together... moved together... spoke together... prayed together... sung together...

... and I had the strongest feeling that there was an invisible force in the room... that when I looked around, someone else was there and should be counted... someone else was present and palpable, although I couldn't tell you who... or Who... ?

Sister labored... and labored... and labored.  And we thought that it would happen at 3am.  Then we thought it would happen at 6am.  She kept going.  Something was wrong.  She had dilated all but 1cm on one side, that one side that wasn't letting her son's head pass into the birthing canal... that one side that was making it look increasingly like there was going to be another surgery... that one side that was going to make the next 6 weeks so very, very difficult for the mother of 2...

And the midwife was forced to call the doctor.  The doctor, who said to give her an hour.  Stop pushing.  Rest.  Except the pitocin made that impossible.  Contractions never paused.  The epidural that was supposed to help did nothing at all to touch the process... the pressure... the intensity.  This was past intensity.  This was pain.  

Sister kept laboring... and laboring... and laboring.

The nurse and the doula came in and explained that they were going to put her into a position that was going to make this more uncomfortable, but it was the last trick in their bag... the last thing to try before surgery... before spinal block... before general anesthesia... and Sister labored... and labored... and labored.

And 45 excruciating minutes later, the midwife said that she was going to do a quick check before calling the doctor to recommend surgery.

And surprise, awe, and relief was audible in the room as she announced that Sister was ready... more than ready.  To push.

Strength came from somewhere... I'll never know how Sister got the strength to do what came next.  Mother holding 1 leg, me holding the other, Husband manning the oxygen, all of us crying.  Except Sister.  Except Sister who, of singular purpose, was pushing with her heart and soul like her life depended upon it (it did)... like the life of her child was in the balance (it was)... breathing... was it 6 rounds?  Was it 7?  

Closer... closer this time... closer... closer... closer... closer... and there was hair!  And there it was again!  

And Husband, put your gloves on, and come and catch this person... Catch This Person.






And there was a knot in the cord.  A knot.  A knot which would have tightened as Baby grew, cutting off air. Cutting off life.  Saved by a slip of the hand and an accidental bag breaking.

Saved by Sister, whose only thought was for her baby... who was apologizing to him for putting him through so much when her body wouldn't get out of the way... 



Precious and Perfect.

... and I am left with a few thoughts.

That process is a holy process.  I was in the presence of Something Bigger Than Myself... Bigger Than All Of Us... when I saw that little person come into the room.

And do you know what else is miraculous about that?  We all came into the world in some way that is a lot like that. 

"somewhere I'll find You..."

You're not only in the Big Things.
You make miracles... earth-shattering, life-altering, head-spinning miracles every single day, and, cliche as it sounds, each and every one of us is a living, breathing miracle.

And my breath is taken away by how living and breathing and miraculous that can be all at the same time.

I'm trying to let that thought sink in and color the way I talk and think and walk and feel and move... to let that color seep into my pores and make me move...

"somewhere I'll find You..."

... and whatever else happens to that little life... that life, little as the entire outdoors, tiny as he makes me feel... let me be of use to that life.  That one right there.  It's a special one.  I can feel it.

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