The day he was born

I was running back upstairs for something – well, “running” is probably a generous term, let’s go with “waddling quickly.” I was waddling quickly back upstairs for something when my water broke. I had heard that sometimes women can’t tell for sure if their water has broken, but this was unmistakable. Andre was about to leave for work, but instead we called the midwife. “Well,” she shrugged, “statistics tell us that you’ll have a baby in the next 24 hours. Let me know when you’re in labour.” Before she hung up she suggested keeping busy. We decided Andre might as well go to work and get things organized before the baby came. I had a coffee date planned with a pregnant friend – they’re the most forgiving when it comes to last-minute “I can’t come; I’m in labour” cancellations – and she had invited her friend Kate – also pregnant – who she wanted me to meet. I told them my water had broken but that I was still up for meeting if they were. “We can always leave if my contractions start,” I said. They were both game.

I waddled the four blocks down to the coffee shop to meet the girls. Before we went in, we decided to walk a few more blocks to the grocery store to buy a pack of Depends. I immediately put on a pair, then gave the package to Lindsay, who was due in a few weeks. She put two in her bag and gave the rest to Kate, who had a few months to go. That taken care of, we went to Bridgehead. 

We laughed and talked. Kate, my new friend, was delightful. (Our two babies, who met before they were born, are now in the same class at school.) We gloried in the last hot days of August, knowing that none of us would be teaching this semester, that our commitments lay elsewhere. I relaxed into the moment before the beginning, before everything changed, before this new life entered our world. For a few hours, I lived fully in liminal space.

Then the occasional twinge of something that I had been feeling became more clearly a twinge of… maybe a contraction? It was time to go. As we left, I tried to hug Lindsay – whose baby would arrive a few weeks later, bigger at birth than my baby who’d had time to grow outside of the womb. Our giant bellies made the hug impossible and we laughed again. Someone passing by wanted a picture. “When are you due?” he asked as he snapped the shot. I replied casually, “Oh, I’m actually in labour now.”

How I wish I had a picture of his face. How I wish I had the picture he took of us, laughing, our bellies so big we couldn’t wrap our arms around each other. Still, I doubt a picture would have captured the joy of that moment; probably better to hold the image in my mind.

A few hours later, the liminal space was gone, and our second child arrived.

Happy birthday, Mr. 11. You make our world better.

Thanks to the generous hosting of Two Writing Teachers, I write a slice of life every Tuesday. You’re invited, too.

13 thoughts on “The day he was born

  1. Once in my graduate program I took a Folklore class. My project was recording birth stories. They fascinated me. Yours is so matter-of-fact. Water broke, coffee with friends, a few Depends, and poof, I’m a mom. So fun to read.

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    1. Your summary made me laugh out loud. I may just need to write that in my notebook. Heeheehee. The truth is that there is more to the story once I went into labor, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to write the whole thing. Mr 11 came into the world in the way he lives in the world: fast & furious. Even after that first newborn cry, the midwife said, “Well, that’s a cry you won’t ignore.” Been like that ever since. 🙂

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  2. What a treat to catch this story! I was smiling and/or laughing throughout. The distribution of the Depends Would make a perfect movie scene. And Margaret’s description above also made me laugh. Your delivery is indeed remarkably matter of fact and here you are 11 years later, so much the wiser. Happy birthday to Mr 11!

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  3. What a wonderful memory of Mr. 11’s birth-day! Your story reminded me of sitting beside some newer moms at dinner last week. I overheard them swapping birth stories. It felt like so long since I had heard one since (a) my oldest is 10 and (b) I don’t hang out with groups of women anymore thanks to Covid. Hearing a story about your second-born, who is the same age as my firstborn, was a nice trip down memory lane to those moments of friendship and swapping stories.

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  4. “I relaxed into the moment before the beginning, before everything changed, before this new life entered our world. For a few hours, I lived fully in liminal space.”
    Before, before, before and liminal – wordsmith 🙂
    What a great memory. The waddling, the expression, the picture, and the great Mr. 11!

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  5. This was so wonderful, Amanda. I loved every word. I laughed right out loud at the pregnant friends being the most forgiving if you cancel due to labour — and then you didn’t cancel! LOL! Thank you so much for sharing this.

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  6. This is such a wonderful story! These lines popped out at me: “I relaxed into the moment before the beginning, before everything changed, before this new life entered our world. For a few hours, I lived fully in liminal space.” How lucky you were to know you were in such space–how rare it is that we can recognize it and lean into it. I think that was, perhaps, your son’s first gift to you.

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  7. So calm about being in labour! I can’t imagine feeling that way. Once a friend called me to come stay with her older children because she was in labour. I whipped myself into a frenzy packing a bag for myself to spend as long g as necessary there. When I arrived everyone was watching a movie and she was mopping the floor on her hands and knees (with baby wipes.) She was like you – completely not worried about the whole thing.
    I love how you’ve shared this story!

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