I am currently engaged daily with writing and editing the sequel to In Search of Simplicity. I present below a little piece about the birth of our first child, Amira in September, 1990:
The pregnancy progressed smoothly. Roughly five weeks before the expected due date, Lucia and I joined several other couples for our first of five weekly birthing classes at Ginny’s house. We had the earliest expectancy date of any of the couples so Lenya and Ginny had delayed the classes a little so as to best suit the majority of the couples.
“You should be able to attend most, if not all of the classes, prior to delivery,” said Lenya at the clinic not long before the first class.
We enjoyed that class, as much for the camaraderie of the other young couples as for the value of the information imparted. Half way through the class we took a break and Lucia hustled, to the extent that her condition allowed, to the toilet. If I recall correctly, the break lasted just long enough for each of the pregnant ladies to relieve their pressured bladders.
Lucia sat in front of me on the floor as Ginny resumed her talk. She was talking about some of the signs that indicate when a birth is imminent. “Not long before the birth, the mucous plug is released.”
Lucia turned to look at me and whispered, “I just passed a plug of mucous in the toilet.”
I thought, Here we go.
After the class, as the couples were making their way out we stopped to talk with Ginny.
“I just passed some mucous, Ginny,” said Lucia, “How long would it be until the birth?”
“That’s hard to say,” replied Ginny, looking a little concerned. “You had better come in for an appointment tomorrow.”
At the clinic in Santa Fe the next day Lenya checked Lucia.
“The baby has dropped,” she said, “You’ll have to get off your feet for the next week. This is too early for us to help with a home birth. By law, if the baby is born outside the window that extends from three weeks before the due date to two weeks after, the delivery has to take place in a hospital. There is a greater chance of complications if the baby is born too early or too late. We will be in attendance even if the baby is born in hospital, but then we would have to work with a doctor.”
The following week Lucia followed instructions and stayed off her feet as much as possible. There was no more garden work for her now. There was much discussion and deliberation between us that week. We were in complete agreement about the idea of a hospital birth. We didn’t want one. We had embarked on this journey in order to give our expectant child the most natural start possible. In our eyes that didn’t include the antiseptic atmosphere of a hospital, where statistics showed that something like one third of all births employed caesareans and even more births used drugs of some kind. Billions of pregnancies had come to successful, natural completion in the millennia of human existence. It was only over a few decades that doctors had insisted on hospital deliveries.
Lenya and Ginny were part of a growing group of excellently trained midwives who were returning to the time-honoured methods of the past, infused with the skills and technology of the present. Between them these ladies had delivered over five hundred babies. They had never lost a baby or a mother. We wanted them on our side.
Lucia and I felt a growing sense that this baby was coming soon. I called up the midwives.
“We are really clear that we don’t want this birth to occur in a hospital. We experienced the water birth of friends of ours a few weeks back. I feel confident that we can do this on our own if need be,” I said with what must have sounded like false bravado.
“Birthing is an entirely natural process,” said Ginny. “But complications can arise, and that’s why there are trained professionals.”
“I understand that, but we just don’t want to have a hospital birth,” I continued. “At the birth we attended recently I watched the midwife pin off the cord, and later cut it. Can you tell me at what distance from the baby’s belly would I have to pinch the umbilicus and could I use a clothes pin? And how do I know when it is safe and timely to cut the chord?”
Ginny reluctantly answered my questions and made an appointment for another check-up the following week.
We drove into Santa Fe for our appointment and we were met by Lenya. She gave Lucia a comprehensive check-up in her usual gentle manner.
“Do you mind if I have a word with Ginny for a moment?” she asked.
“No. Go ahead.”
Lenya left to locate Ginny who was engaged in another examination elsewhere in the building. They returned together a few minutes later.
Ginny spoke, “Lenya outlined for me how your examination went. You are healthy and strong, Lucia. So is the baby. It is still three and a half weeks until the due date. We have agreed that we are here to assist with a home birth from now on. We know we are slightly outside the prescribed window, but due dates are almost always difficult to pin down perfectly accurately.” She winked, “This one may have to be adjusted to a few days earlier.”
Lucia and I each gave the ladies big hugs of gratitude and relief. Deep down I don’t think either one of us relished the prospect of delivering a baby without any help. Amira must have been listening. She was born the next day.
If the eyes are the windows to the soul, then many that I see have the curtains drawn. In a few sad cases the windows are boarded up.
The soul’s innate joy shines through the eyes of every child. Often, a newborn’s eyes are closed. Not so with Amira. The instant she was born she spoke volumes with her eyes. I was totally unprepared for the magnificence, for the depth of Being radiating out from those eyes. I felt as if I was staring into the soul of God.
That baby’s eyes communicated with each of us in the room, individually. To me those heavenly beacons said, “I KNOW YOU. I AM YOUR TEACHER. LOOK AFTER ME.”
I was thrilled. I was devastated. I felt as though I was the recipient of an immense gift and a daunting responsibility. In that briefest of instants my life was turned upside down. No longer was I able to remain a self-centred young man. I was a father now, and I suddenly needed to contend with the needs and wishes of another. And that Other had spoken with immense power and with the eloquence of silence. Never, before or since, have I looked into eyes like that.
I was shattered for weeks.
John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives, a startlingly poignant and inspiring real-life endorsement of the power of thought, belief and synchronicity in one’s life.
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