(There are two posts today - see previous entry for Time Capsule post #2)
When I conceived pregnancy #4, my friend and neighbor, S~, conceived at the same time. She didn't tell me she was pregnant until after I'd miscarried, and I cried receiving the news. I love S~ a lot, and was sad we wouldn't get to be pregnant together, sad to be so close and yet at such a distance from an experience I wanted so badly, sad that I might never see a new life come into the world.
I've been struck, occasionally, as S~'s pregnancy has progressed, by repeat waves of sadness. In the last few days, as S~ has gradually moved into labor, this has been especially true. Imagining the intense and joyous scene about to unfold at her house (she was planning a home-birth), it was easy to picture the same scene in my own home. I felt supremely sad.
S~ called yesterday afternoon. "Would you like to come over for tea?" She was having intermittent contractions, needing some female support. I gathered myself, trying not to get too excited – I doubted I'd get to be present for the birth, but I knew it was a possibility.
At first I just sat with S~, drank hot maple sap (her husband was boiling it outside, making maple syrup). I timed contractions, held her hand, encouraged her to talk through her fears, and as things progressed, I coached her through each intensifying wave. "You're on top of it," I chanted, "you're doing this." and then, between contractions, soothing, "good, good, breathe, relax your shoulders." I called her husband inside to fill the birthing tub and look after their two children. He showered and called the midwife. Another woman friend arrived, and later, the midwife and her assistant. "Don't leave my side, Amy," S~ told me repeatedly, "no matter what. I need you."
And so, that's where I was when a new baby boy came into the world, umbilical cord wrapped tightly under one arm and around his neck. He was blue, and entirely limp.
The midwife's assistant moved swiftly to gather instruments, turn on her oxygen tank, while the midwife spun the baby's slack body upside-down on her arm to administer the Heimlich maneuver, tapping on his tiny back to clear his breathing passages.
I stood by, holding S~. I was worried, but S~ was calm. "You're okay," she cooed to her baby, "Mama's here," as the midwife clamped her mouth over his dark face. The midwife breathed into him, then rubbed his chest. Gradually, color rippled into his small body, a red flush emanating from his chest. He opened his tiny mouth and cried.
And later, so did I.