Leonardo Anthony

Birthing story of Leonardo Anthony West,

born Monday 19 September 2011 at 2.24am

The path of roots breaking through. It has begun. From the depths of my womb, you begin to stir, letting my body know it is time – time for you to emerge from your watery haven into the dry outside world.

It’s 5.28pm on the 18th of September 2011. I am alone in the flat. Your father is in the gym. The flat is quiet, but my body is getting louder. I feel the intensity getting larger, but never bigger than me. I call the gym. A receptionist answers. I smile, thinking what her expression will be after the following words; “Please call my husband Jeremy West over your intercom and tell him his wife is in labour and he must come home now!” I hang up and realise the house is in a mess! The dishes! We’re having a homebirth with two midwives, Angela Wakeford and Keryn White coming over – how can I have the place in such a mess?

My surges are about five minutes apart, but nothing I can’t handle, so I pull up a chair to the kitchen sink and start washing dishes between surges. During surges I rest on my arms and breathe in for four, out for eight. In for four, out for eight… until the surge comes to an end.

Each surge is slightly more powerful than the last. I feel the path of roots – your roots – wanting to break through. I feel your need to emerge into the world and to do so beautifully. I am not afraid. I am excited! Jeremy arrives home with two bottles of water, an energy bar and a big smile; “So, Chuckles, it’s finally happening!” he says. “Let’s do it.”

Time falls out of step and Jeremy begins to prepare the room. Salt lamp aglow. A shrine of Mary in radiant candlelight. The meditative voice of a hypnobirthing practitioner, guiding my thoughts through peaceful, positive and focused visualisations. The bed is set up. The Pilates ball is placed beside the pool, which is now blown up and ready for hot water. All ready… No drama. No chaos. No noise. Just you, me and your dad, Jeremy. I am just focused on you, my baby and my breathing… in for four, out for eight as my body surges. Beside the pool and in the bathroom, I breathe through my powerful surges as my body opens up to you on the inside of the night.

Sometimes I feel the Charlene I know slip into the spaces between the night, where the silence between the pain thrives. Bliss. In that that silence, I’m still there and it is there that I write life. Quiet, quiet, I breathe you down. I know you… For nine months I’ve known you. Now you become loud and your voice emerges through me. Only I can hear it.

In the silent spaces in my body, I feel as if in a dream, so surreal the experience surrounded by the blue haze of the pool, ready for me to get in. It’s as if I’ve cut out a slice of the wilderness and all its beauty, majesty, power, strength and silence and brought it into the room where I begin the next phase of birthing my baby. In lucid moments I hear the voices of my midwives Angela and Keryn urging me on encouragingly and quietly, and Jeremy’s loving, smiling face and comforting hands holding mine. The water gives way and allows me to pray; Hail Mary, Full of Grace, the Lord is with Thee. Blessed art Thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death, Amen. The fruit of my womb: that is you, my darling, my beautiful you. Mother Mary is with me. I ask her to help me through this stage and to help me push you out gently. She is a mother and so she understands. I know she is here to help. I feel her strength infuse my body through the warm water and my heart and body opens up even wider. My hands are warm and Jeremy’s are cool. I press them with my hands and press a kiss into them as I pray.

I begin to push as I see the loving faces of the women around the birthing pool; Keryn and Angela. And Jeremy. My beautiful husband smiles and says. “You are doing so well my baby.” Beyond what I can see, I know the room is filled with the spirit of Divine, who is guiding and holding the space in love and sacredness.

I have never known this feeling. The feeling of you moving down, down, down, ready to emerge. There is ecstacy in these moments. It is imminent. I move forward into the unknown, ready for the next push, the next breath, that will help you to emerge.

I feel myself moving through myself, feeling every second of your birth, knowing and realising the power of this knowledge that will never leave me. It feels like the opening of a lotus. The opening of a rose. The gentle, yet powerful push of petals through the leaves.

The moment has arrived. Will I have the courage I need to go to that door and open it? I doubt my energy and my willpower for an instant. Then, without any doubt, I embrace the momentary fear, the pure bitterness and sweetness of the birth, the pure seething pain and the pure unconditional love and bliss. How blessed. How wonderful this moment is. A moment of forever.

2:24am. 19 September 2011. You emerge from the blue waters with eyes wide open. Silent. Beautiful. Peaceful. The eyes of an old wise one. Your eyes meet mine. Your father. The midwives. You see all. The light around us is pink candlelight with blue hues of water. You are beautiful. You are perfect. 10 fingers. 10 toes. Eyes as blue as the sea. Starry Lights in them too… My baby… you have finally come to me. I will never forget this. The intensity of the moment before is but a distant voice from the past: all is quieted and illuminated.

When your life giving cord stops pulsating, your father clips it. It is the moment which for the first time marks your separation from me physically. The love I feel for you is utterly pure and unconditional. It has no end. It is full. It is complete. It is the world and all in it. It is the universe and beyond.

Looking into the depths of your face and eyes, you remind me of the place before this one, where God resides. Just one look from you and you remind the world: you remind us all of what heaven must be like – because you just came from there. I hold you close to me and you hear my heart beating from the outside – for the first time. The heartbeat that lulled you to sleep inside my womb for 40 weeks. Jeremy takes you and holds you close and you listen to his heartbeat too. Skin to skin. We all lie down on the bed and hold you. You feed for the first time. It’s easy, it’s love, it’s natural. We broadcast your arrival! We are so excited! We announce your name to the world: Leonardo Anthony West.

The birthing experience is complete, yet our life with you is just beginning.

I will never forget.

You are the most beautiful thing in the world. What a gift from God you are. I love you.

Leonardo Anthony West, we love you. x

Angela The Midwife