Before Jonathon was born I went to the childbirth preparation classes that the General Hospital held. I felt prepared. I believed everything they told us - even the leg-puller about no pain, just discomfort. I had heard the story of my own birth since I was young. I was a month early and my mother thought she had a bad stomachache (I was her first child). Her doctor arrived just in time to catch me after a very short labor. I thought "Like mother, like daughter" - easy, peasy, piece of cake. (The fact that Jonathon was a good two weeks or more late should have been my first clue.) When I was pregnant with Eden I prepared like mad. I attended the best Lamaze class I could find. I practised daily and made David practise with me. I was not going to be caught flat-footed again!!
Fast forward a generation. Eden was pregnant with Deacon (my first grandchild). I was invited to be a support person during his birth. Once again I felt prepared. After all, I had given birth five times - naturally. It was hard work but what a high!!! Once again I ran smack into reality. Wow! Giving birth is a lot easier than watching/supporting your daughter while she has the experience. I would have given a lot to have done it for her - it would have been easier for me! So like my own second experience with childbirth, when Merin was expecting Ysa and wanted me to be there with Mike and herself, I was much less sanguine and much more apprehensive - only this time there was not much that I could do to prepare for the experience. A large part of me wanted to not be there. I knew from experience that it would be hard to watch my daughter give birth. But Merin wanted me there...more, she absolutely expected me to be there and so I was.
The memories of those 34 long hours are precious to me. It was, as I expect most births are, a very intense time. A lot of hard work was being done. I will never forget the way that Merin worked through her labor. She preferred to stand, alone, in the center of the room. She had brought classical music with her to the hospital - the music that she had worked (hard) to for most of her life, the music that was not only comfort but discipline to her - and it was playing softly. As each contraction began she gathered herself as I had seen her do so many times when she danced. Only now she closed her eyes to center herself and gracefully swayed from side to side until the contraction ended. She looked so incredibly calm and beautiful - so full of grace. (Later she told me she was not feeling calm. lol.)
What a wonderful privilege to be present at the moment of birth. To witness a brand new person enter the world. To witness the joy of the new parents. To feel intense gratitude - not only for that new life but also for the well-being of my own child. The pride in the accomplishment. The humble awareness of God's goodness and power. For these things I am twice grateful. Sharing the experience - being there - with both of my very beloved daughters is a bond and a blessing that I cannot find words to express. And it is a bond to those children.
Perhaps Ysa's birthday will always be closely linked in my mind with Merin as the day of her birth was one of the last, intense memories I have of Merin. I am extremely grateful to have been present that day. I can tell Ysa the story of her birth because I was there. I am the keeper of that memory for her. I see it as a tender mercy, an evidence of the grace of God. On the eve of her daughter's birthday I remember Merin and her labor of love and joy.
Ysa is blessed in having wonderful parents - now and at her birth. It is an incredible comfort and joy to me that although she has two mothers, both are my daughter. Eden is the very best mother that I can imagine for Ysa, the mother that Merin wants for her. The circle feels complete.
Unwisely, I would have done the work for Eden if I could have. Now I can see how cheated she would have been if that had been possible. We are pushed so far beyond what we think we can do/stand/be when we give birth and I believe that very pushing teaches us not only to treasure our babies but that we are so much more than we think. Capable of so much, much more. It is the first great lesson of motherhood.