A mother’s thoughts on the birth of her daughter.
Cradled in the dark, swimming in the dreaming depths, a unity of water; my body is your home. This cord, like a great chain of being, is life. Soon, you will descend, to travel to earth, through a narrow passage, into the light, and this cord that sustains you will be severed forever. Do not be afraid, if we work together, gently unfurling into each other, it will be easy. You will not be alone, even though it seems like a small death, as one way of being heals into another.
Everyone has had the experience of being born, yet few remember. Once we have travelled through, we grow away from the experience, never to return again. We live our lives somehow unable to see half of the circle, our vision being from one side of a great void of unknowing.
Birth is the beginning of life, through which all our experiences will come to us. The soul, being freed into a new physical form, of air, light, solid earth space, and time, takes on the human condition. In life, all our perceptions revolve around these base elements of being. Space means being separate; you are there, I am here, even the closest of our relations inhabit different physical spaces; this is being.
Mother and baby begin as one and at birth and throughout the early years, they gradually grow more separate from each other. Like kite and anchor, soaring and earthing, taking stepping stones away from the ever disappearing past, towards a future that has not yet come into being.
Perhaps those yet to be born are still free of physical form and linear time, and are actually all around us, and there is no such thing as coming together, only a lack of awareness of their presence? Within the circle of life, birth and becoming, beginnings and endings are close sisters. Yet when the soul enters physical form, everything changes.
At the moment of birth, the energy in the room changes. My daughter surfaces in the pool, between my legs, a gentle eruption of life. She rises from the depths, water ripples in shining falls from her back, as I, her mother, exhale a long plume of relief and gratitude. I lift her in my arms and glimpse an ancient underwater face, the dimpled limbs, the mass of dark hair, foreseen by the midwife, and the gently budded lips, already searching. She is an enormous presence, submerged, now emerging.
I have waited for her in silence, gazing into the sunlit, moon-dappled water, in trance, holding the hope of her. Slowly, surely, with a silken gliding, she came; making few ripples on her journey. Only the darkening and lightening of the sky brought her more clearly into focus, until she surfaced from me, in my great roar of exhaled air. I felt the power of my breathing resounding with the expanding dimensions of her being, her body extending, sliding into water, then air, then earth.
When I knew I was pregnant, late in the autumn, I began the journey to bring my daughter, safely, gently to birth, in the heart of my home. This is where the sheltered pool waters allow me to raise her, gently, to take her first breath. After nine months, curled in darkness, her first movements are wobbly, uncertain. I hold her close to my heart, willing her to grow strong on my milk, so that day by day she can face the challenges of growing and becoming, earthside. I will feed, teach, love and protect this tiny baby, my girl, with unstinting, implacable devotion, as we make the epic journey into her life together. I run my hands over her body, telling her how beautiful she is, and how happy I am to finally meet her.
We flow around each other, and together, the water sparkling on our wet bodies like stars. Through our physical contact, body to body, I sense an expansion of dimensions, and as the depth of our meeting grows, it becomes an opening between us, though which something entirely new is pouring; a wordless sense of connection with all life. As my daughter stares up at me, in her dark eyes I meet the calm lucid gaze of an ancestor, one of the ancient ones of the earth. I feel her taking me far out of linear time and thought, beyond the limited constructs of my own mind into a profound sense of meeting with another being, whose consciousness is not separate from mine.
This state of being is creation, and perhaps it is hard to recapture it, but maybe we can know how it feels again each time we are in deep communion with the rest of life. Perhaps all the world’s great mystical teachings are one in their simplicity; that the essence of life within all is also the deepest reality within each of us; at the very centre, we come home.
Ali Jones is a teacher, and writer, living in Oxford, England. She holds an MA in English, focused on poetry in domestic spaces and has written poetry in a variety of forms for many years. She is a mother of three. Her work has appeared in Fire, Poetry Rivals Spoken Word Anthology, Strange Poetry, Ink Sweat and Tears, Snakeskin Poetry, Atrium, Picaroon Poetry, Mother’s Milk Books, Breastfeeding Matters, Breastfeeding Today and The Green Parent. She was the winner of The Green Parent Writing Prize in 2016 and has also written for The Guardian.