It’s a chilly April morning. The sun is just starting to rise over the horizon. Silence. Then a low moan. Another contraction hits and Sarah instinctively knows what to do. She grabs John around the neck and drops into a deep squat, rocking and moaning until the contraction passes. I look at my watch. I have been here only two hours.
Sarah had called me the night before to let me know that her Braxton Hicks contractions were getting stronger. I suggested she eat a good supper,then take a bath and go to bed. She sounded different this time and I thought this just might be it. I smiled to myself when the phone rang at 3:15 a.m. and I saw it was Sarah. I was surprised when I heard a man’s voice. “Holly? This is John. Sarah has been pacing the bedroom for the last hour, and she is starting to moan. I think we may need you.” In the blink of an eye, I was out the door.
There is a low fog rolling across the fields as I drive in silence. When I arrive, Sarah is still in the bedroom. She is leaning over the side of the bed. I wait for her contraction to end then I whisper in her ear that I am here. Sarah looks at me and smiles. She starts telling me about the dinner party she had the night before. How her friends could not believe she was considering a home birth. She was so proud of standing her ground as she spouted off statistics on the safety of home births.
Another contraction hits. Now she is silent. It takes all her concentration. As soon as her contraction is over she continues her story as though the contraction never happened at all. This woman is amazing. All of a sudden her eyes get wide. “I think my water just broke!” I look down. Her nightgown is wet. “Yep, that is your water my dear.” John calls the midwife to let her know it is time to come.Contractions are now only three minutes apart and demand all of her concentration. Lynn,the midwife, arrives and checks Sarah. We are all surprised to find out she is dilated 8 cm!
The sun is rising. Sarah and John do not notice it, but I do. It is streaming in the window through Sarah’s damp hair, shining on her face like a beacon from god. She is a true birth goddess. “I don’t think I can do this,” she says. I reply with, “Yes you can!” She is almost there!!
She works through four more contractions. Then a change. Did I just hear her breath catch? Lynn and I look at each other. Lynn must have heard it too. Another contraction. A grunt. Sarah is bearing down. She holds on to John’s neck and squats even lower. This is my favorite part. In this moment, time stands still. I am studying Sarah. Her face contorts in terror, then confusion, then goes blank.
This is it. A primal, cosmic knowing. She surrenders herself to the the universe, to the ancient wisdom of all the women who have come before. She is one with heaven and earth. She reaches down instinctively. “I feel hair! Oh my god, I feel HAIR !!!” Her power is renewed. With the next contraction her first-born child slides free of her watery home. A girl! She sits down on the floor and clutches her daughter to her breast. John is crying. Sarah is crying. I am crying. The sun is up and its warmth fills the room as if welcoming this new little life.
Once everyone is settled in, I take my leave. The air is still damp and cool. As I drive back home I watch the world waking up. Neighbors leaving for work, children at the bus stop. No one is aware of the miracle that just happened at the end of their block.
Adams, Berks, Chester, Cumberland, Dauphin, Lancaster, Lebanon, Montgomery, Schuykill and York Counties