I become a three-year-old mom today

Three years ago today, this happened:

photo by our doula, Candace Palmerlee

The marking of this day feels more significant than any other, which has surprised me. It looms over my own birthday or wedding anniversary. I anticipate its arrival as the walnuts ripen and with the little showers of shell crunching down from the squirrels that frequent our tree. I can smell its approach in the dry autumn air. And then, starting on September 8, the day I went into labor, I follow my birth log that our doula wrote for us.

10:25am Contractions every 2-3 minutes.
11:00am Long lull in contractions, perhaps 25 minutes without one, contractions resume ever 5-10 minutes apart when laying flat on side.
11:45am Nurse changes to Jacki, the “radical natural birth nurse.”
12:00pm Vaginal exam, 7cms, 0 station
12:40pm Walk on roof garden

I love marking the time, reading these facts and remembering what it felt like in my body that day. The quality of the sunlight, the anger that possessed me when we had to wait and wait in triage at the hospital, the sound of our yoga ball squelching around and around on our hardwood floor in the middle of the night. I’ve never *sensed* an experience more than this one. And I savor the details that my body remembers.

I live in such a brainiac world that there are few experiences that require me to be deeply feeling inside my body. That is why I love birth so much. It eventually demands everything–every pre-historic moan, every trickling bead of sweat, every deepest-darkest thing you didn’t even know you had. And there’s a joy in that animal darkness. And there’s fear in the joy. It just tunnels in like that to the place where everything is all mixed in with everything else.

I often tell people that having a child has expanded my emotional territory in all directions. There are moments of quiet happiness beyond knowing, and despair that can sweep me out to the furthest reaches of myself. I never knew I was so big until I started becoming a mother. And that bigness and depth and expansion all crescendo-ed at birth.

No wonder I make so much room in my life to remember it.

12 thoughts on “I become a three-year-old mom today

    1. With a Sep 4 birthday, I’ve been accustomed to get a (joking) lecture from my mother every year about what LABOR day REALLY means! 🙂 I like your version.

  1. “having a child has expanded my emotional territory in all directions”… Couldn’t have put it better! 🙂 In our family, we make a habit of congratulation a birthday-person’s MOTHER (who did the work, after all)—so Happy birthing-day! 🙂

  2. I love that birth was such an empowering experience for you. Sadly I didn’t share that… my son’s birth was pretty terrible actually. But motherhood? Yes, motherhood empowered me like you wouldn’t believe. I can still remember walking along the street with my totally gorgeous child in my arms on a spring day like this one we’re having here today, feeling so full of joy and strength and KNOWINGNESS. Technicolour memories.

    1. you know, annie, even though it was an empowering experience, there were definitely parts of it that were really sucky for me. going to the hospital SUCKED. while we were in triage trying to get admitted, they were so patronizing and not taking me seriously even though i was bellowing through contractions like a cow. and i got so angry that i peed on the floor on purpose.
      “Technicolour memories.” love that. and the british spelling 😉

  3. I love, love, love this posting and your picture really speaks a thousand words….the look on your face brings me right back to my birthing experiences. You are an amazing mom with a great personality!

  4. That photo is incredible. We do not have one like that–just of L. a few minutes later, on my shoulder–and I remember him being much less purple and bloody and more sort of white and clean. Of course, he was basically yanked from me, so maybe he wouldn’t be so purple and bloody. Incredible photo. You know I could write and talk about birth all day long, but I still felt this physical welling up when I saw that picture, like I wanted to barf, cry, and clench my stomach muscles!


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