Those that knew me well treated me as if I was a sparrow with broken wings. I sang a song of sadness as the days dragged on, replicas of each other, before I knew exactly what had happened. My damaged arms, sticky and heavy with bittersweet molasses suspended my flight; I knew I could become clean again. After two parallel lines told me what I already knew, I stood still in my courage, fear swirling through the pit of my stomach, my mind deaf. I mended myself haphazardly and not without error, but enough to carry on with a new kind of strength that I found foreign and intoxicating. I was paralyzed in my decision, and bewildered all at once. I thought of him, those blue eyes and his Michelangelo hands. Twin flames, spells cast, souls aligned. The love was there no matter what they said, and the love cemented my choice.
Weeks passed, cells multiplied and upon announcement I was berated and accused. The others begged and pleaded, coerced and bullied, spitting venom ferociously hoping I would sway. I stood tall and strong, unwavering and resolute. The knives flew toward us. I ducked and dodged until finally I was granted relief: piercing silence. Sides were taken. We were ostracized and alone with only a few allies…I relished in the quiet, our family able to sprout gently on it’s own. A light was growing deep in my womb that deserved to grow, sparkle and burn without their doubt. My December son. My archer.
Months dragged along towards the end of nine, I was swollen and shining with hope. My pregnancy was an easy one physically, I felt solid and healthy. Emotionally, I was fragile and delicate. At times I was unsure. Mentally, I was porous and starved for information; I absorbed everything I could on birth and the connection of the body and mind. I fell in love with experiencing each moment and working through the fear un-medicated. The ache I felt was overwhelming, I needed to feel it. I had something to prove.
Circumstances I can hardly recall suddenly placed us in a desert, living with my lover’s mother after thirty-seven weeks had passed. My belly was round and protruding, low and ready. I was uneasy, and interested in getting to know the generous woman who would become my son’s grandmother. A person I hardly knew had opened her majestic doors to me, and to the birth of our boy. To my surprise and displacement, in the coming weeks I would have him there in that dry gasping desert.
His date was approaching quietly and with intention, the third day of the last month of the year was his. It passed by slowly with sighs of impatience. When the morning of the fourth came I was determined, tired and ready. Dog in tow, alone otherwise, I climbed the highest point I could find in the desert terrain. The sky was clear and blue, sunburnt mountains stared still and knowing. My pup wandered ahead, intuitive and aware, checking back as I waddled after him. I saw no one else on our trek until I began to head back, walking stick in hand. A woman on the horizon called after me, she had seen my robust shadow in the distance. “Are you by yourself?” she called. I shrugged, “And the dog. We’re headed back.” Her face was kind and felt familiar. She smiled at me, “How far along are you?” “He should have come yesterday. I’m hoping this will help,” I said motioning at the peaks surrounding us. “You shouldn’t be out here alone, holler for anything. I’m a doula.”
As I made my way back towards the car, I noticed dampness between my legs. Slow and steady gushes pulsed out of my body, beyond my control. It was without drama; the stream was quiet and wet. I felt the same otherwise, heavy and pregnant, no rushes or waves crashing. I arrived back home, called to make sure and we waited. Nothing happened, but the water had certainly released. We spent the evening tangled in each other, a fire burning, whispering of our unborn son. He ran a bath, I felt calm and tranquil, like a dream. The love between us grew in excitement, sighs of mystery upon our breath. That night, the moon gave me the most stunning sleep I can ever remember having.
December fifth, I rose late morning rested and calm for the first time in months. An easy pregnancy, but sleep was difficult toward the end. I felt foreign in my body, impatient and weary. Somehow, I was granted slumber the eve before my son would arrive, my last maiden sleep. I was alone and laid in bed until my nerves forced me up and I decided to bathe. Standing there, finally vertical after hours of slumber with water dribbling down my face, I finally felt them. It was not gradual or slow. I was not unsure. The rush blasted upon me, my body tense and writhing. I stood there astonished, letting the warm shower run down my back. My hands grasped the wall. I knew it was time.
I saw blood in the toilet. I made a call, and could hear her smile over the phone. She did not sound rushed or hurried, but casual and calm. I dressed gingerly, bracing myself every few moments and snatched a towel to catch the red trickling out of me. Within minutes of our call, I found it difficult to walk and I knew it was real, closer than anyone thought. I spoke to no one, I felt rabid and wild, like an animal searching for her sacred place. I silently made my way to the cold, marble staircase that led to the room I would birth in, beautiful and glowing white underneath my bare feet. I would not walk upon those steps again without my son Earth side, bundled and new. I clutched the rail on the way up, staggering toward the room, and then to the claw foot tub, my empress throne. I threw the towel down to the floor hastily and bent on all four limbs. Here I was alone, in this stunning room, in this foreign home, where my sweet son would take his first breath.
I called for my partner desperately, “You need to come back.” I attempted to count the moments between each rush that crashed but was distracted by my rhythmic and deliberate breath; the ritual became important and real. Numbers made little sense. Time became abstract and somewhere between the counting he arrived and drew me another bath. The rushes continued steadily, a white lip barreling down, waves foamy and unrelenting in power. Soon, there was no time between. They bowed down one after another. I was terrified with exhaustion and begged my body for even a moment of rest. They never ceased, back to back, I cried out to no avail. Just as they would subside, another would come. He knelt by the tub, whispering soothing words calmly as I writhed and squirmed in the water, splashing and groaning each time my belly tightened. We quickly developed an essential pattern that I became acutely dependent on, latching onto his arm in despair, knuckles white with distraction. As each rush reached it’s peak he would press down frantically and firmly onto my hips easing the wrenching between my legs just enough, until I sighed with relief. As it ended, his strong hands would make their way to my back, pressing down in heaves and finally, my entire body would become limp. My eyes closed loosely, a leg stretched far across the tub begging pardon. He combated each look of worry and fear with declaration of my strength, hoisting me back up from where hope had fallen. He was constantly one step ahead. As my eyes rested for those brief, forgiving moments, before they could open again in anguish he presented me with exactly what I needed: a sip of water, pressure where necessary, striking words of encouragement.
As the two of us breathed in unison, he saw our son make his way down, transitioning into what was next. As he pressed my bones hard, I suddenly felt a voracious desire to bear down and a new kind of ache presented itself. It was only he and I, alone in this chamber, working through the strides of labor together seamlessly. My new desire to push left me frightened, could we do this alone? This sent him fanatically staring out the window a few feet away, leaving my side yelping, “Where is she?” until I shrieked for him to return. He clambered back towards me bravely and within moments she floated up the stairs, arriving to our birth room with an air of calm and resolve. I whimpered at her, begging permission to push and she smiled, “That sounds like a beautiful plan.”
I thrashed in the deep tub of water working through each moment methodically, my eyes slammed shut, floating into my own realm. Soon I needed to get out, back on all fours, onto the floor. The water became irritating; I had a new wind. We worked together intensely and she was our guardian of safety, allowing us to take the lead confidently. I trusted myself more upon her arrival, and needed her less. I reached down between my legs to feel his hard skull pulsing in and out of me: he was coming. I begged for help, blinded and bewildered, unsure for only a second. My body became limp and wilted in exhaustion. “I can’t,” I screeched. She smiled and said, “You can. And you are.” I repeated after her painstakingly, “I can.”
I squatted upon the birthing stool with wild eyes and shaky knees. The rushes were long, hard and meaningful as I hung from my partner’s waist, my face buried into the fabric of his pants. I inhaled his scent, the smell calming me, permeating my body, as we inched towards the moment we would meet our son. I began to peer down into the reflection below me, a mirror rested on the floor. I watched as his head moved down, and retracted back with every groan. Something happened. I attempted to escape from the pain. I pushed in between contractions, the weight lessened, and so did my progress. She looked at me showing little emotion, asking me plainly to bear down when the time was right. I realized I could not fly away. The only way out was through. My attempt to avoid forced me to kick through crashing waves, fast and hard, choking until I made my way to the surface. I knew I would burst out in agony and the shining light at the end of our tunnel was well worth it. Yet another gust of wind carried me through. I grunted and wailed and pushed with every ounce of courage I could muster until I felt a slight shift. Movement down. Upward over the mountain without pausing, without reprieve, without thinking, until I felt my prince carry his crown. A warm cloth on my skin and a white-hot ring of fire.
She demanded I stop abruptly. I held my breath and obliged to the best of my ability, brakes screeching and sliding down the path. Hours or minutes or seconds passed and I bore down again until I finally saw his white waxy skull gaping out from my body, liquid sloshing down toward my feet. “Oh my god. Oh my god,” I whimpered repeatedly. A few more pushes and his crumpled body slid into my lover’s hands. 4:33pm, the moment he became a father. Tears streamed down his face in glee as he passed our baby to me delicately. I felt calm and joy and relief, my bones loose, the room enveloped in a miraculous haze. Our son sputtered cries of life into the air, looking up at me handsomely and bemused. I smiled at him, stunned, my eyes dry as the rest of my body wept and sobbed. My December son. My archer.