• Rebecca Burkett, LM, CPM

Endearment of a Brother, to the Love of an Uncle: A Birth Story Poem

Written and shared with permission by Christian B. Smith



I cried with joy on my way to meet her

She smiled so big when she saw me.

My sister has often been compared to sunshine.

The woman who has been by my side since I was two

Was having her baby.

And had asked me to be by her side

As she brought her son into the world.

An honor of a lifetime.


Her husband greeted me

My mom followed on my heels

Her dear friend came straight from work

Doing double duty as dear one and doulah.

My sister is incredibly brave

She has traveled the world by herself

And today she adventures inward.

Today she chose to birth her baby at home.


When I arrived the contractions were mere pauses in conversation.

One conversation was to make sure to name them “waves”.

She rode them in silence, at first

Then, as the waves grew in size, she bent over

Bearing their weight.


There were many hands to hold her.

At first the loving doula, hands on her hips

Speaking words of encouragement

Reminders to breathe.

As the pain grew so did her gravity

Moving us all in close, partner, mother, brother

Hands reaching out, finding a shoulder to squeeze

A part of her back to rub

Her hand to hold, fingers to stroke

Finding anyway and every way to pour love into her body.


By the time the midwife arrived, we had rooted around her

Loved ones never far, a hand on her leg, or foot, or back.

The midwife said she had never felt so much love in a labor before.

Our family doesn’t go to the gym, but we never skip heart day.


As the waves grew in frequency and intensity

Celine, my sister, her face normally so full of energy and awareness

Sunk into her body.

Her eyes rarely open

She went inward

And revealed the goddess just beneath the surface.

Her face, chiseled by the labor

Became the divine mother, determined, focused, strong.

Divinity was always there, hidden in her humanity.


I have never seen a king or queen look more regal.

She is a sovereign of her body.

And like all who rule, subject to the natural law.

Labor brings all women to their knees

In worship, in prayer, in despair and in hope.

She is now both the creator and created.


She is a portal

Like the pool her husband and I fill in their living room.

This living room has never been filled with so much life.

The pool is lit with small lights along its base.

It looks mystical.

It suddenly strikes me we have found the fountain of youth.

It was always with us

Birth is the resetting of the clock.

Our inner child becomes outer

And we begin again.


It is not easy.

My sister no longer speaks now

Only small words.

Water.

Bowl.

To vomit in, from the pain.


She lifts herself to her knees for each contraction.

Bent over

She is the feminine atlas

Bearing a world not on her shoulders but in her belly.


She enters the pool with her husband.

Her holds her.

Their love is palpable.


The waves are now productive

Her child is coming.

An he is announced with an ancient clarion call

More impactful than a thousand heralds.

Her moans have become guttural calls

Like nothing I have heard before

Primal, painful, emerging from deep within.


In her face I see myself

Where for the chance of gender go I.

And I weep for her pain.

I want to take it away.

I grip her hand.

There is nothing to take it away.

This is life. Life is painful.


She speaks.

“I think I pooped”.

I realize now what the little net the midwife has is for

Fishing out the detritus of her humanity.

Birth is messy.

Life is messy.

The pain and mess will be cleaned by tomorrow

The pretense of order will begin again.


The midwife tells my sister to direct the energy in her voice

Downward into her pushing.

Celine become silent

Muffled sound escapes her mouth.

Like an earthquake under water

That foretells the tsunami

This little being will wash away their old life, certainly.

And they will be grateful for it.


The midwife announces him

“Your baby will come through your legs”.

My sister looks down

And sees him

Like a merman from the depths.


“Oh my God! Oh my God!”

She lifts him from the water

Overcome with emotion

She can’t stop repeating

“Oh my God! Oh my God!”


If anything is God, he is, she is, we are, and this moment is.

She holds her son to her chest

As she is held in her husband’s arms.

He doesn’t cry, curled up on her breast

But he breathes.

And we all breathe.

And my sister, for the first time in hours

Smiles.


Her smile is normally sunshine, like rays through clouds

Hinting at the divinity above.

But now her smile is heaven itself.

She has brought it down to earth.

Where cherubs meet soil.

Baptized in blood.


The water slowly turns red

With the waters of life.

The tide pool from which all life emerged.

The loving couple sit with their child in matrimonial bliss

As they look into his eyes, and he looks at theirs.

Like lock and key.

Like root and branch.

It is timelessness.


Until it isn’t.

It’s time for the placenta.

Again, we are on her bodies time

As it slowly releases another miracle.

The midwife lifts it from the water and shows us natures midwife.

A jelly fish, a mushroom, a disc of red and gore and life itself.

The chord is clamped, the husband does his duty

And cuts the cord.

The baby is now fully in the world.


Separated.

Together.


The midwife suggests leaving the pool

And getting on with this life thing.

She hands the baby to the second person to ever hold him

His grandmother.

My mom, who 32 years ago held my sister

Now holds her grandchild.

With an indescribable joy written on her face

Reverberating in the way she holds him.


The little one’s eyes are fully open

He looks at my mom, he looks at me

He is taking in his world.

As he has become centered in ours.


385,000 babies were born today.

164,000 people died.

The circle of life is larger than we can comprehend.


And yet

I feel like I saw it All.


The miracle of Life.


In one little boy

In my sister’s arms.


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