Thursday, December 29, 2005

On Watching My Wife Give Birth

Miah’s water broke while we were eating at a restaurant on December 21 around 8 pm. We went home after that and timed her contractions while cleaning the house. By 11:30 though, Miah contractions were about five minutes apart and lasted a full minute. So we headed to the hospital. By about 1 am, we were settled into the labor and delivery room, but then the contractions weren’t so regular. We felt a little guilty when the midwife came in and Miah wasn’t in active labor yet. The midwife told us to try to rest. I took a nap and woke up around 4 am to Miah’s moaning.

Then the midwife stayed with us and guided Miah through the labor. It was difficult for me to watch Miah go through so much pain. Miah had made the decision early on to avoid using anesthesia. I wrote the following poem about a moment when Miah was in active labor:

Natural Labor

A white rag drops from my wife’s clenched mouth.
Good, the midwife says, face the pain,
make a straight line through the pain.
Then my wife starts to moan
a high-pitched moan
with an even higher tone ringing above the main note.
like a lone fire truck hurdling through the night
sounding its sirens not to clear traffic
but to align all the elements in the universe
to focus all the forces from above and below
calling them to the cause.
As I stand there regarding her pain,
the city marches on,
the jets howl,
the buried pipes and cables whir,
lawnmowers, compressors, and heaters
groan, whine, and growl.
The highway is one long wail.
My wife outmoans it all, the whole city.
Her moan emanates from the walls and floor,
as if her moan never wasn’t there.
Her moan is not accidental
like a leafblower’s whistle and drone.
It is not the sound of a city driven by profit
concrete spilling over steel.
She moans with singular purpose.
She moans as if she is a planet
whose tectonic plates are unbuckling
bearing forth a glowing molten core.
Can she bear this?
She is not a planet, she is a body,
a human and not a celestial rock.
She’s crying for air
because she moaned it all out of her.
All I have to offer is an assurance,
one I do not entirely believe,
that our baby will be out soon.

1 comment:

Robin said...