Alice’s Story

February 10, 2011

Sylvie’s birth.

Outside the open window is the May dawn. There are pauses between contractions when life is so sweet, so light, and somewhere in the little world out there a blackbird has begun to sing. Through my unopen eyelids I can see the delivery room, pale mauve walls, surgical green bedsheets. I could drift into sleep because I have been labouring for a day and a night now…

But the respite is brief and the pain is upon me again, blotting out everything, engulfing me. It is a pain that burns through my bones, the deep searing ache and grind of my baby’s head plunging down through my pelvis. A black pain that will return as desperate nightmares. I am both as close to death, and as alive as I have ever been.

In the deep dark well something is glittering; within the pain I have discovered the most amazing source of power, and the power finds a voice and the voice is an open ‘O’ and the sound that howls from me is the wild cry of opening, and I must open myself to this experience and trust the tidal wave of pain and power and I am calling louder than I have ever ever allowed myself to call out (because if I can’t yell now, when the hell can I yell?!) and the noise that I make sounds better to me than the most wonderful opera singer and while my body does its thing inside my head I rotate the growing epiphany of my voice and it is fascinating to me and I am twisting my husband’s thumb from its socket and I am revelling in the pain he must feel because I am feeling SUCH pain, and the sound! The sound I am producing is just amazing! Rich and full and from a place so deep that maybe it is the wall of sound that is pushing down, pushing the baby out and ‘Don’t push!’ the midwife tells me, ‘not yet. Breathe, breathe’ and it is torture again as I try to hold a whole heavy human being inside me. I try to suck her back and it is the hardest thing anyone has ever asked me to do and I long to grunt and strain until my eyeballs roll in my head, until I drool and I don’t care anymore all that matters is that she must be born soon because I cannot do this anymore I CANNOT do this anymore and ‘It’s time. I can see the head. You can push,” she says and the joy and the pain and the animal passion of pushing and somewhere I can hear my husband telling me how proud he is of me and how we’re nearly there, and “I’m going to split’” I shriek as the searing firey stretch scares me suddenly, “No, no, hold on, breathe, and one more push…” And a hot gush and a wriggle, a slither of legs and arms between my thighs and the pain just stops, but everything else begins, and she is flip-flopping up my flaccid belly, alive, alert, my wide eyed beautiful baby and that is all I can say as she lies on my chest and we look at each other, “My baby, my baby, my baby.”

Alice, London

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