A certain kind of solidarity exists among mothers when it comes to the waiting room outside Labor & Delivery. Those of us who have gone before, especially just recently (but I can imagine the feelings remain forevermore), know what’s happening inside. At some point I even recall the physical sensation of a contraction rising, the tight grip that moves from the outside of my hips inward and down, a wave pushing the baby toward the shore of its new world.
Contractions, a water breaking, a worrisome sign – any of these push the mama off the plank into a free fall. Once she hits the water of hard labor, the decent slows down. Moments become flashes of images. Time moves faster and slower all at the same time. She swims deeper and deeper into the pain, the fear, and the unknown. Someone shouts, “the head is out!” and she pushes herself from the bottom with all her might, climbing back up, up, up to the surface as hard as she can.
Mama lifts the baby and gives the cry of gratitude. We did it.
Every birth story is unique. The interplay of doctors and nurses, how pain was managed, the centimeters – all of these measure our depths at different points, but the dive is much the same.
So when the father or the doctor or the text finally emerges – mama and baby are fine! – the women, we join in our own cry of celebration. We remember gasping those first breaths of motherhood, sometimes more than once in our life. We take in another deep breath, in her honor.
We do this every time one of our own moves to the birth chamber. The intermittent hours, sometimes days, sit heavier as we know she’s diving deeper. We silently will her all of the things we discovered we needed in order to find the strength to climb back up, baby in arms.
Motherhood contains countless decisions about raising these babies, doing things right. But on the day of birth, those huddled around the maternity ward – in person or via group text – don’t care about any of them. We’re remembering our birth-days, not in a selfish but in an effort of solidarity. We’re with you, if only through our personal experience and how we now share in it together.
We’re with you, sister-mama.