Born on Christmas Eve

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She learned she was pregnant while the late summer sun was hot in the sky.

Two tiny pink stripes of motherhood and two flushed pink cheeks as she excitedly dashed and waved her wand of victory at her unsuspecting husband.  The information still over his head, her eyes ablaze with thrill calculating every decibel of the crinkles on her lovers face as the revelation broke through his own ever widening grin.

The season was quickly moving into autumn, and the smells of freshly sharpened crayons and the sites of bright yellow school busses seemed to her to be a message that the entire world was preparing for developing young children.

Halloween decorations across the front yards of her neighborhood seemed to whisper adoringly to her small but busy middle that we each of us can dare to dream to be anything or anyone we want to be.

Magic in the air.

Rain drops brought the end of summer and as such seemed to usher in the whole end of the year.

Shopping malls seem to long desperately to duplicate the vibrant colors of October deciduous trees by ushering in the brightly colored packages ornamenting their shelves and tempting consumers to long for.

She observed how autumn seemed to proliferate a sense of longing, a desire to be like others.  She marveled that this maturity in her thinking just happened to emerge while she achieved pregnancy, a destination she longed to travel to since being a pig tailed little girl toting her dolly in her backpack., peanut-butter-and-jellied chubby fingers pressed stickily in her mamas warm grasp.

“I’m here,” she whispers marvelously at herself, the subconscious joy becoming so pervasive that her hand finds its place on her ever growing yet unobtrusively small belly, more often than she even senses her hand there.  Her hand and her baby, simply, unnoticeably, harmoniously, perfectly together.

She prepared Thanksgiving dinner in her home – a large affair, with great extravagance and beautiful detail, even through her sheer exhaustion.  She wanted it to be perfect when she and her husband announced to their too-distant family that they are expecting their baby.

The Christmas tree went up early, per her insistence.  She wanted the tree up before Thanksgiving and her husband conceded, yet with a grin, caught by the contagion of his wife’s pure, blissful joy.  He was delighted too.

The Thanksgiving feast was stressful, difficult, and marvelous.  That night, when the house was once again quiet, her husband found her, hand on belly, gazing at their Christmas tree.  She was worn, socked feet crossed lazily on the ottoman.  He slid in next to her on the couch, wrapped one arm around her shoulders, and placed a small, brightly colored package adorned with a crisp red bow on her lap.

Face flushed from exhaustion, her dreamy eyes were brought back from their wandering and met his gaze, and the two held a beloved moment of peace, serenity and thanksgiving before she opened the gift.

An ornament.

“Baby’s First Christmas” it read.

He stammered something about how the first Christmas probably really won’t count until next year, after the baby is born, but, that he couldn’t pass it up.

She was sure she felt the baby moving.  She pressed his hand onto her middle and said, “No, you’re right.  This counts.”

She remembers these things, as she labors.

As her contractions build while she stands, rocking, holding her belly.  She remembers these things, as she looks down at her middle, realizing she is wearing the same shirt as that Thanksgiving day.

She is rocking, walking – it is a rocking walking that is a laboring mother’s kind of dance.  She rocks and walks in this way until she is in front of her Christmas tree.  She reaches out and touches the ornament – Baby’s First Christmas – that was placed just a few weeks ago.

She holds the ornament with one hand, her belly with the other, as she heaves a cry from the depth of her soul.

She heaves cries like this in succession.

Her husband stands near, now reaching in for a kind of standing, leaning, embrace.  She falls easily into his arms.  He is strong, and he holds them up, his family.  He is weeping, but she can’t see his tear stained cheeks from where she is.

She labors.  For long stretches of time, she labors, drinking ice water with cucumber slices, changing positions and talking.

Her husband and her midwife take turns holding her, wiping her forehead, encouraging her.

She takes long visits to the bathroom.  Her husband freshens the room after each visit, placing a firm footing onto a large, outstretched bath towel, and sweeps the area of the floor with his foot, lumping the towel into a bundle around his foot, smearing and wiping up blots of birth blood.  He opens up a clean towel and lays it down, this becoming a sort of ritual.  They have a lot of towels.

She comments on more than one bathroom visit that she is afraid of clogging the toilet.  She uses the peri bottle as instructed by her midwife.  She looks intently at her clean white tissue paper colored bright red each time before releasing these wads of red and white to fall into the crimson water of her toilet bowl.  She flushes and sighs.

She decides for a time to sit in her dining room.  She seems to collapse into the chair with a forlorn weariness.  The large wooden table has no cloth on it.  It is covered with wrapping paper  and endless yards of ribbon and gift tissue of every color of the rainbow.  Between two fingers she holds the corner of a single thin sheet of gift tissue and follows carefully to pull out a perfect sheet of thin white paper covered in gold, sparkly glitter.

“How ironic” she speaks softly “that my baby may be caught in tissue.”

“It is because she is a gift” her husband speaks, almost croaks, his first full sentence since this began.

Nobody knows the gender for sure.  This is the first mention, and it is especially powerful because the mom has been hoping for a little girl.

In time, the mother is later squatting, with her husband behind her, her midwife in front of her.

In time, her baby emerges into view.   The mom slips from a squat into a sit, leaning into her husband’s chest.

The mother’s hand, finds her baby, still.

Mother holds her baby, and husband holds his wife.

Midwife holds the space.

The mother looks up at her twinkling Christmas tree.  She can’t see the trunk for the gathering of hope, the message of affirmation of love packaged as gifts to her from her beloved waiting below the tree.  This mother marvels aloud, at the vibrant splendor of the beautiful colors of tissue paper, for the wonderful surprises that they hold.  She quietly decides then, that gift tissue will forever remind her of her baby.  An affirmation of love, packaged as a gift, waiting for her.

“Baby’s First Christmas” she utters.

Her doula scribbles onto a journal as fast as possible to keep up.

This is her story.

 

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{This is a story compiled and edited from birth notes written by an SBD doula, and approved by the mother to share.  As with all stories shared here by others than the parents, identifying information is omitted and only the message of fondness and love from the writer to the family is conveyed.}

 

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Comments

  1. Beautiful, so so sorry for your loss. Please know you are not alone, we are here for you

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