She Had One Job (a birth story)
Amaya was born at home in 1998. My husband Gabriel and our daughter Emily were with me as Amaya came into this world. Emily, who had also been birthed at home, was just a few months past her fifth birthday.
My family and I were well cared for at Amaya's birth. We were attended by our midwives Shannon and Jennie and by our dear friends Lisa, Kendra, and Randi. Randi was seven months pregnant herself at the time.
As I labored in our bedroom the early morning hours, Kendra played with Emily. When Randi arrived she took a turn being with Emily, and they went to a nearby park to play for a while. Gabriel and Lisa and the midwives supported me as the morning continued and labor progressed. I remember that Lisa and Gabriel had their hands on me while Kendra sang and prayed and minded the video camera. And I remember leaning on Jennie while Shannon rested.
Things progressed smoothly, and pretty soon it was time to push. Around that time, Randi and Emily returned from the park. It had started to drizzle. (Blessed rain from above. More on that later)
As I did my labor thing, Emily came in and out of the room, attended by our friends, with the attention span of a girl her age. She really wanted to be at the birth, and we had given her an important role: she was the one among us designated to name the sex of the newborn upon arrival. (I say “sex” because we used that word then, but now I would use the word “gender.”) Emily would announce to the world if it was a girl or boy - it was her One Job!
Unlike many pregnant women, I did not want to know the gender of the children I carried when I was pregnant. During both of my pregnancies, I wanted to bond with The Being without knowing very much about the baby at all. I am so grateful I trusted this intuition and developed this connection with my babies. (End side note.)
I labored in my bed as Jennie and Shannon prepared for the imminent birth of our baby. Gabriel was at my side holding my hand and Randi was at my head. Lisa was at my foot on one side and the midwives were on the other. Finally it was time. We called for Emily and Kendra to come in from Emily’s bedroom where they were playing, and I remember seeing Emily standing with Lisa at the foot of the bed as she watched me push.
With a few pushes, the baby was born and the midwives quickly brought it into my arms all wrapped up.
Gabriel said “Everyone remember, it is EMILY"S JOB to say if it’s a boy or a girl!” I peeked, and I know what I saw: girl parts. I was elated! I noticed Gabriel saw the same thing I did. But we kept quiet because Emily had One Job!
And she looked closely at the little babe and said, “I think … it’s a boy!”
All of us adults in the room figured she just didn’t identify the parts correctly. It sure is a lot to take in. My husband gently corrected Emily, saying, “I think maybe it’s a girl.” And we all agreed, even Emily upon further inspection, that Emily must have seen something that just wasn’t there.
But the truth is that Emily had One Job! And she did it well. We just didn’t know it at the time.