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.
To vomit in, from the pain.
She lifts herself to her knees for each contraction.
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.
“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
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.
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
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.
I feel like I saw it All.
The miracle of Life.
In one little boy
In my sister’s arms.