This is one of Sarah Zadok’s home birth stories. Sarah, a resident of Ramat Beit Shemesh, gave birth with Joyce for five births between 2000-2010.
It’s 3 am. I’m drifting somewhere in between sleep and awake…I’m curled up under soft down, lying peacefully beside my husband. My belly is big and ripe and my mind is empty… tranquil even. My body is loose and easy, I am totally relaxed. “POP!” An internal balloon bursts inside of me, and a tiny stream of fresh, warm water begins to trickle from my insides. A smile creeps onto my face as I slowly make my way out of bed. “Thump, thump!” my baby knocks sweetly against my belly… “I hear you my angel. Your time is here baby, Momma’s ready for you…”
I put on my moccasins and waddle to the bathroom and as I do, a contraction rushes through my body like a wave rushing towards a thirsty shore. I lean into the wall for support, breath deep and give in. My body is still loose; I am empty, open, and eager. It hurts like hell, but I’m not fighting the pain; instead, I submit to it. Like a seasoned prizefighter, proud and confident of victory, I think to myself, “bring it on.” I let the contraction unleash its force, I let it squeeze and push and pull me. I surrender.
The rushes continue, they intensify, they crowd my being, and I welcome them. All aspects of my being rise to the surface and I transform into my most primal self… As the first rush begins to rise from within, I am daisy in the wind, pure and vulnerable. My head is bowed, my neck is loose, my shoulders are heavy – I sway to the rhythm and the wind of my labor… As the rush heightens, my daisy-self morphs into a tigress, formidable and powerful. My legs are strong and firm on the ground. I am keenly aware of my surroundings, sharply protective of my space, my body, and my baby. I prowl back and forth, purring under the gentle strokes my midwife brushes down my back. For now I am as tame as a kitten, but the wild tiger within lays in wait, ready for anything.
The rush continues to build in its strength and then it peaks, the strongest peak yet, and my tiger emerges like a hurricane – wild and raging. My back arches against the sting of the contraction, my hair is loose and wild and everywhere. I growl, I moan, I roar, I surge…and then I remember – I can’t escape this force, I can’t go over it, can’t go under it – only way out is through it. With this realization, I move into the eye of the storm. I am still with all that is me. Though the contraction whips and rushes through me, I am steady and I am calm. Here in the quiet, I transform once again now into flame, purposeful and illuminating…sweaty and glowing with the glory of becoming mother.
My husband gives me space to be all that I am. He knows this is a world to which he cannot attach. Awed by the force of it all, he prays silently in the corner. I don’t hear his words; only feel their honesty and intensity. I sense he means whatever it is that he is saying, and that feels good. I feel safe with him nearby, his prayer: a protection and a shield.
My midwife wordlessly rubs scented oils down my back. The sweet smell of lavender, clarie sage, rose and jasmine rise all around me. Her touch is ecstasy…. From the small of my back, to my hips, down my legs – all the tension stored in my muscles evaporate beneath her fingers. With each stroke I melt into a deeper and deeper Calm. Her touch reminds me to let go.
I have made a communion with my body and my soul. They are functioning as one whole. Every movement I make and sound I emit comes from a place so deep and innate, so primal. I know I have crossed worlds. I am very present, but I am not “here.” I am in “labor land.” Time does not exist where I am, fear is not welcome. In this land, I am free to sweat, to groan, to rest, to squat, to smile, and to ache. There is no judgment here, just support and love. In between the rushes I send up prayer for all women to feel this blessed.
I feel G-d cradling me in His mighty Arms, He rocks me back and forth to the rhythm of this birth. “This is what your body was created to do.” He whispers. “Okay” I answer, “Okay.” He is my metronome, I sway to His beat. There is nothing else. I am ready.
My body opens like a rose unfolding to the day’s first light and my sweet baby girl descends from her Eden inside and into the garden of this world below. She brings with her a piece of the World to Come. She is covered in its dew, pink with its secrets, and ripe with beginning. She is a part of me, of him and of Him. She is the connection to all that came before us and all that lies ahead.
I am higher than I have ever been. She has eyes and a mouth, little pink, fuzzy shoulders and legs that kick. She is so real. I am drunk with her beauty. A new soul was born from inside of me. Cast from our union, shaped by love and prayer, molded by hope and faith. My baby girl looks at me. She sees me. Eyes wide open to the wonder of it all. There is nothing else than this moment.
She is born, and so I am.