I watched the sky outside turn from dark to gray to a quiet
pink that illuminated every corner of our backyard.I’d never been patient or alert enough to
watch heaven make this transition; completing its daily ritual with a wakeful
blue that triggers the hustle and bustle of the day.
But this morning wasn’t like other mornings. There would be
no hustle and bustle for me today; there would be only counting to twenty a
thousand times with a thousand prayers of gratitude and pleas for strength in
between.There would be only a
strawberry blonde and her dark curly-haired man, working together through each
twenty-second count and kissing giddily and nervously when each one was
over.It was the beginning of a 24-hour
long journey that would prove both exhausting and exhilarating.It would end with us meeting our son.
A thousand more twenty-second counts. A batch of cookies to
distract my body. The blue started to fade from the sky when I questioned aloud
whether I was capable, burying my head into a future father’s chest and soaking
his t-shirt as we swayed back and forth and he whispered words of strength in
my ear.We felt heaven encircle us as
the sky became gray again and my curly-haired man said a prayer – a blessing –
that assured me in the most simple and beautiful way that my body was strong
and prepared.His words were close and
far away at once – my yoga ball had become a raft in a clear and vast sea,
bouncing gently as each crystal wave lapped against its sides.
The pink morning was a distant memory as the future father
helped me into the car and drove me swiftly and silently through the black
stillness of a sleeping town.More
twenty second counts. Four hands helping me out of the car.A brief exam and whoops of joy as someone
said the number “8.”Counting faster
now, struggling to focus and not flee, stepping into a steaming hot bathtub and
letting a synergic team take over: a husband, two midwives, a doula, my body, my
baby, and God.My eyes were closed now,
almost permanently, but I felt everyone’s indispensible presence with each new
ice pack on my forehead, each whispered “I love you,” each soothing pressure
point, each beat of a tiny heart, and each strained breath that left my
Time was an illusion – it stood still and sped by and my
body took over to do the work Mother Nature has trained it to do over a
million years of sacred nights like this one.I was a distant onlooker – There was a team of support, surrounding and
coaching and holding and whispering to and kissing a frightened-looking strawberry
blonde as she pushed and screamed and cried and mentally counted to twenty,
merely out of habit now.
And then it was over.A tiny dark-haired person was placed gently into the strawberry blonde’s
arms, and she was back inside her body, no longer an onlooker but a mother now,
staring into a pair of wide and alert dusky eyes that stared calmly and
curiously back.I stroked his curly hair
and rubbed my fingers across his rosy round cheeks. His smell was intoxicating
and his skin was smooth and his features were tiny and perfect.I could have laid in that now-cold water for
hours more, locking eyes with this new person – my son – and telling him in a
hoarse whisper a million times that I love him more than life.
And now we’re a family and sometimes it’s as though I’m not
in my own body again, but watching myself from the eyes of a little strawberry
blonde girl whose dream of this life has always been too far away to see
clearly until now: She watches as a strawberry blonde, grown-up mother puts the
tiniest little body against hers to feed while she hums a Lithuanian lullaby.
She smiles as the woman hands the tiny person to her grown-up, handsome,
dark-haired husband, who begins to rock his son and read the same story aloud
that he’s been reading to a growing belly for months now: “How to Train Your
Dragon.” She wonders, does that strawberry blonde really have all this?Does one life deserve this much
love and happiness? Is that person with
her two dark-haired boys and dog and backyard really me?
After another late night, the strawberry blonde turns and
sees the sky outside unveiling another perfect summer morning. She kisses a smooth,
rosy forehead that has finally bobbed to sleep and inhales his fresh baby
smell.Deserving or not, it’s another
one of those gifts that can only follow a long dark night.
Even though the trees are still skeletons and a few clumps of dirty snow are still clinging to yellow lawns, I walked outside and breathed in spring today. I let it envelop and cleanse and massage my soul until I felt so renewed I could climb Provo’s tallest tree. My baby woke up inside me and I wondered if he felt it too. The new life of spring, flowing through and around me and washing away the bitter sleepiness of winter.
But for my baby, I realized, it’s always been spring. He experiences the rush of new life every day; in every moment he rediscovers his nose or feels the gentle pulse of his newly formed heart. He feels spring in each new taste that reaches his tiny tongue, in the slow recognition of our voices and in the rhythmic cadence of a muffled story. Spring is his ability to somersault and dance in his tiny, fluid world; to feel his new limbs growing and moving and realizing, piece by piece, that he’s him.
And when he’s born in the heat of summer and he leaves the tiny world where his heart first started beating, it will still be spring. The feeling of the sunshine on his baby cheeks will be new and perfect; so will the chirp of a bird or the vastness of the sky. There will be two new faces to match the voices he could only hear in the world he left behind. There will be new tastes and the new sensation of day and night. It will continue to be spring even into the fall, because every new baby is Spring. Winter is something that only happens when we stop discovering.
Spring has lived inside me since the long winter outside my window began, but I failed to recognize it until today. I failed to tap into the wisdom of an unborn baby.
Tomorrow it may snow. But I’m going to keep breathing in spring.