I watch only the opening, mesmerized as something takes shape. The nurse's hands work to help the baby out. Push. That's it. You're doing great. Push. There is a sliver of something solid and dark. Push. They're holding Erin's legs up and she throws every ounce of strength she has against the pressure, strength and power she has been cultivating and storing up her entire life for this exact moment. Push. The head appears and I see her smashed red face and I float up out of my body and hover there above it all, suspended in disbelief.
Time stands still and yet moves faster than seems possible. In an instant this baby emerges and is there among us, a living human being with breath and a voice. A voice we all hear and recognize as a sound we weren't sure would ever exist. A voice that will one day become defined and intentional. That will be loud and carry love and hate and every kind of emotion through the air and into the world.
The baby is outside of her, and Erin lets out a wail, a great crying release. She sobs freely and throws herself back onto the bed. Jon cuts the umbilical cord but I don't see it. I see only the blood that splatters on his glasses, face and neck. The baby is carried to the warmer and fiddled with. Jon goes to Erin then goes to the baby then goes to Erin. He is shaking and has no control over his face. Erin laughs when she sees the blood all over him, and asks that he not get any on her pillow. He doesn't even seem to hear her and just burrows into her neck with some desperation. I have never seen him such a wreck. Standing there next to his wife, he removes his glasses and wipes them clean on his shirt, and it is an image I don't think I will ever forget.
Oh, and the name. Erin asks if we want to hear it. "Alice Aurelia," we hear her say. Two perfect little words we've been waiting an eternity for.
She is here. And now, like magic, we all know a new kind of love.
|Photos by Erin Senge at Alice's 1st birthday party. See more here.|