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.


Unknown said...

your eloquence never ceases to amaze me Cheri. What a beautiful dedication, not only to your two wonderful daughters, but to all mothers and the labour of love that becoming a mother is. Ysa is such a gorgeous little girl, and the perfect blend of both her mommies - happy bithday sweet Ysa!

Anonymous said...


Wow! A year already....I was priveleged to be at the birth of my granddaughter 4 very short years ago. Grandbaby number two is on the way, due in December, and I hope to attend at this one as well. Such an amazing moment to witness, brought out the momma bear in me a tad. An experience I was so humbled to have been a part of.


Anonymous said...

A beautiful, beautiful tribute and honest sharing of your heart. God in His graciousness knew that Ysa would need you there to retell the story of her beginning. He is a God of love and definitely loves you all even in the face of tragedy.

Eden Lang said...

love you mom.

Anonymous said...


This was an absolutely beautiful tribute. There are so many talents your sweet family has... the gift of words is one of the top.

I remember seeing Merin towards the end of her pregnancy – she was glowing, she looked stunning, and she was so excited with the anticipation of Ysa’s birth. Yet she was content waiting, not one stitch of complaining, she was everything I want to be ‘when I grow up’. And when I see this picture of Eden with little Ysa... I see that she has taken the gift of motherhood to a whole new level. They are both a tribute to you and how you raised your family.

The fact that Merin was insistent on having you at the Ysa’s birth was a blessing to all of you. I’m sure it meant the world to Merin to have her Mom with her and Mike, and what a blessing to Ysa that she will be able to hear that story over and over. It is also such a gift to you that you were able to see – in a new way how very strong your Merin is.

Happy Birthday to that beautiful baby girl, she is a perfect combination of Mike and Merin as well as Daylan and Eden.
What a little treasure you all have.



thanks chari for sharing! and you are so right, it is such an amazing lesson that we are so capable beyond our understanding.

nancy said...

Cheri,this is such a beautiful heartfelt tribute to both Merin and Eden. It will be very special to share the memories of Ysa's birth with her. My biggest regret in life is that my mom never had the chance to meet my wonderful daughters. It makes me feel so happy for you when I read about the incredible bond you have with your daughters through their birth experiences. It truly is the circle of life... The photos at the beginning and end are so beautiful

Jill said...

You are such an amazing writer! What a wonderful treasure to have all of these memories and to share them with us! Thank you:)