Birth story excerpted from Sheri Menelli’s book Journey into Motherhood: Inspirational Stories of Natural Birth
More stories at https://smenelli.wordpress.com
In My Deepest Meditation
By Yael Solomon
To my dearest Yakir Daniel,
YOU REST, SECURELY CUDDLED at my breast, as I begin to process your birth. I have wanted to write it down for the past three months, ever since you entered my life, but I haven’t found the perfect moment… until now.
Your father, Amichai, and I returned home after spending the weekend with my parents. We joined them at a barbecue with friends before heading out on our two-and-a-half-hour drive back to Philadelphia. Although I am not much of a meat eater, that day I seemed to have consumed enough steak and hot dogs to feed a small army. Unbeknownst to me at the time, my body was storing energy for your labor, just hours away. The barbecue was fun and I laughed a lot, deep penetrating laughs. At one point, I thought I felt a muscle pull from a particularly long belly laugh. In retrospect, it was my labor starting. Your aba (father) and I believe that you were created with laughter, and therefore it was only appropriate that your birth began with laughter.
After we arrived home and settled in, I began my nightly ritual of yoga stretches. Without this thirty-minute practice, I was unable to sleep. At around 2:00 in the morning, I was still stretching! I realized that these “tight muscles” were probably contractions! This was it! I’d finally get to meet you! I woke up Amichai to tell him and he went into shock. He told me to try to sleep, or relax and to try to do my birth project. Yet the contractions were getting closer together and more intense. All I could focus on was you.
At this point, your aba had fully awakened and called in our support—the midwife Barbara, and Yiscah, my soul sister. When I called your grandfather, instead of passing the phone over to my mother, he hung up on me! It was 2:30 in the morning! I had to wait for the next contraction to wash over me before calling again.
Your aba was in rare form—filling up the birthing pool, clearing an area for the midwife to place her equipment, lighting candles and putting on the music we had chosen to welcome you into the world.
The world was so dark and still; your aba and I submerged together in the birthing pool—alone and intimate before the cavalry began to arrive. You had been created with love and light, and we wanted a private moment to complete that circle of life, your creation and your birth.
As people began to arrive, they respected the quiet atmosphere we had created. We wanted your entrance into this world to be as peaceful and serene as possible. Yiscah arrived first, relaxed and aglow. She and Amichai took turns massaging my back and hips for 11 hours. They offered words of encouragement as they escorted me to and from the bathroom.
I remember being in the warm water and surrendering to the contractions. They were the intense energy that was bringing you forth into the world. I loved every second of it! It wasn’t painful; it was intense. It was an experience I had never had before and one that I would never forget. This was something only you and I felt. It created a truly spiritual bond between us, a bond that I will always cherish. I know that there were other people in the room, a halo of support and love, yet I was hardly aware of them. I was cognizant of your aba’s loving touch and Yiscah’s soothing hands, but that’s it. I too was encased in a womb—waters that brought me back to the Garden of Eden, where the universe began. I was in touch with all women from all time who had given birth and who will give birth. It was such a feeling of empowerment!
At one point, I was asked by the midwife to get out of the pool to encourage my cervix to open. I had been pushing prematurely and as a result my cervix had begun to swell. I guess I was just really eager to meet you! That was an incredibly intense time—the room was dark and very still. I could hear the candles flicker and the incense smoke waft through our intimate home. I lay incredibly still, in my deepest meditation. I don’t think I had ever achieved such a level of spiritual focus, except at your aba’s and my wedding. Suddenly I felt a shift in the room, and sensed Sara Imeinu’s (Sara, the matriarch’s) presence. She represented all women to me and guided me through this most challenging part of my labor. “Open up. You are a vessel,” she kept softly repeating in my ear. It worked. I tapped into resiliency that I had stored in my soul and made it through—bright, glistening and glowing.
Barbara, my midwife, wanted to check my dilation while I was on our bed to make sure the cervix was completely dilated before I got back into the pool for the water birth we had planned. But higher powers were at work and this was not meant to be. Your heart rate began to drop and Barbara felt you should be birthed on the bed, on my back. It was the VERY position I was so adamantly against. This was the birthing position that used to be enforced (and sometimes still is) in hospitals for the convenience of the doctor, and often to the disservice of the laboring mother. Yet, did I hesitate? Did I protest? NOT FOR A SECOND! Your well-being was of utmost importance, not my birthing plan. I was becoming a mother. You taught me the precious lesson that every mother needs to know—the practice of surrender. I had to let go of the “perfect” birth to make space for your birth, which was the true birth. Once I had learned this invaluable lesson, you entered my life.
I had told the midwife that I wanted to catch you when you were born. However, at the time of your birth, it was not a passive act. It was active and primal. I claimed you. You were mine. I placed you, slippery and precious, on my naked skin and embraced you. You slowly crept your way to my breast to receive your hard-earned nourishment. Thank you for entering my life and choosing me to be your mommy.
I love you, Yakir Daniel.
Your ima (mommy)
A Mother’s Guidance: I recall so eagerly anticipating the birth of my first child, and I was told more “horror” stories than “beauty” stories; yet I was determined to create my own story, my own memory. Our home birth was the most empowering experience I have ever had. Since his birth two years ago, I have given birth to his sister, Ma’ayan Neomi, in a home water birth. Suggested reading to support a natural birth: Birthing from Within by Pam England and Rob Horowitz, and Mothering magazine.
Yael Solomon, her husband Amichai, and their two children live in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania. Yael is originally an American, but moved to Israel eight years ago, where she met and married her husband. They returned to the States for a few years but plan to move back to Israel in the future. Professionally, Yael is a psychologist and has worked in Israel as a crisis-intervention and trauma counselor. She was part of a team that responded to terrorist attacks, treated the victims and their families, and helped the communities heal. Here in America, Yael is a full-time mom. She works in her son’s Montessori school, teaching Hebrew.