Perfect and difficult and full of love

I have been on a very hard trek these last few weeks with women into life and out the other side. And here I am to tell the tale. I was with Sue as she labored through her triumphant VBAC, a labor that wandered at it's own pace, from challenging through becalmed, through fiercely demanding, to the exquisite moment of love and fulfillment which was the birth of baby Ada.

During the day, as Sue was laboring, Paula came in to the birth center. "I haven't felt the baby move". I check the heartbeat. I find none. Check again. Pain and sadness. The sonogram confirms that at 8 months, the healthy baby she grew so well, has died. We cry. We hug. We cry some more. We plan next steps.

And meanwhile Sue labors, and then she gives birth.

As Sue labored at the birth center, Jan labored at home. All night, Jan rocked and dozed, danced and napped. We talked on the phone every so often. After Sue went home, I went to see Jan whose third baby came unpredictably slowly, but just the way she was supposed to.

And the very next day, I am with Elissa having her second baby. Labor was a rough path and then baby Jonny was born: beautiful Jonny, perfect Jonny, but Jonny is not the baby Elissa had expected. He looks different. He is different. His genes slipped or twisted and his life will be hard work at first, for Jonny, for Elissa, for the whole family. Elissa's shock at giving birth to a baby with an anomaly becomes resilience. They learn together because they have to.

And then, as if the world is testing me, another tragedy. I am screaming soundlessly.

Before I can breathe again, mothers are laboring and opening and reaching down for there babies, again and again and again, beauty and perfection.

And my mother, who I love because she is my mother and she is a wonderful mother, my mother who modeled love and mothering, is dying suddenly and swiftly. I fly across the Atlantic. I help her to turn over, to sip through a straw. I comfort her "You are doing beautifully, perfectly, everything is just the way it is supposed to be". I breathe with her, help her breathe gently in a way that helps what is happening to happen in the way that it is meant to happen. She is leaving me. My sisters and I read her the poetry she loves. Her breathing is slower, more irregular. She stops. She leaves. She is gone.

And after the funeral I fly back to the mothers and babies, and it is all just the way it is supposed to be. Perfect and difficult and full of love.