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On New Life

What it Feels Like to Experience Birth at the Age of Eight

I remember waking to my mother’s screams, and believe it or not, it was not an unfamiliar sound. It was December 12th, 2005, in five hours my sister Sammie would be born. The third sister whose birth I would get to witness, and the one I would never forget. I had been waiting the past nine months for this moment and now it was finally here. The excitement shot me out of my bed like a tiny eight-year-old cannon. I sprinted to my older sister’s room, the sound of my feet slapping on the cold hardwood floor echoing in the hallway. I jumped up on her bed in hopes of being the one to wake her and share the news but she wasn’t there, I was disappointed with the realization she had woken up before me.

My mom screamed again, and I ran to my parent’s bedroom, afraid that I might have missed it. Apparently I hadn’t missed much but an hour of labor, with little to show for it. I was glad, my mom wasn’t, but still smiled at me from her bed and said “Good morning, Han, sorry I woke you up.” I climbed on her bed, pushing my way under her arm, like a cat trying to get you to pet it, “She’s going to be here soon?” I asked, putting a hand on my mother’s swollen stomach, trying to feel if my baby sister was any closer to the surface then when I had felt her the day before.

“God I hope so, Hanna.”

All my life my mother had been a pillar of strength. She had always sacrificed everything for her daughters, trading in a career in social work for a career as a stay at home mother. Trading in a lying, emotionally abusive biological father, for our loving, hardworking step-father. She constantly made the hard decisions for our family and did it all while growing babies and raising babies.

I was eight years old and I had already watched this woman bring two girls into this world, and now I was going to watch a third shoot down from outer space and right out of my mom, it was crazy. To me my mom was the most magical powerful being on earth. She had a connection to the universe that no one else I knew had, she could bring fully formed babies into the world, and it didn’t even seem like she had to try that hard. I just couldn’t believe it.

As the night progressed more women began to show up: one grandma had already been there, then another arrived; my two aunts came, each in their own time, then the midwife, and the birthing assistant. The labor got worse, and my mother yelled louder and eventually woke my two younger sisters who quickly fell back asleep in the arms of family members. Those were my favorite memories of the birth, the waiting moments, the family moments. Holding mom’s hands, and bringing her cups of ice to eat. Falling asleep in various places throughout the night and fighting off heavy eye lids with the hum of anticipation that rushed through my body. Listening to stories of from the most important women in my life, memories of the births of their children, hearing the story of my own birth which they all witnessed. All the while the air filled with the anticipation of new life. As an 8-year-old, however, the wait did grow painstaking. I just wanted to meet her, hold her, I wanted to experience that magical moment of life appearing before my eyes.

After a 5 hour wait the moment did come, my mother in the bathtub, everyone finding a good spot to watch from the mid wife speaking in soothing tones, everyone holding their breath. My aunts, both nurses, helping where they could, preparing everything for Sammie’s arrival. Then there are those intense moments of action, and then just like that, a new person entered the room and none one opened the door.

I was in awe, my mother had created not only a physical being, but a soul. A complete creature of thought and feeling, whose whole life would be a collage of experience all that flowing from my mother and into the small screaming baby she held to her chest.

There are several occasions in life that I look back on and marvel at the wonder of the universe and the amazing and mystifying capabilities of the human spirit, but the birth of my sisters will always fall at the top of the list. And as I have watched them grow from those tiny fragile things, into full humans who I love and who inspire and frustrate me I have felt that same feeling of awe and wonder as the day I watch them come in to this world. 

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