It’s There in the Newborn Cry, Michigan Part Five

Hannah didn’t give birth the night Megan sent me home with the necklace, and we’re glad she didn’t. She and Jesse were in the process of purchasing a house and we were determined to get her into it before Elyse made her appearance.

Hannah and Jesse closed on their home, a lovely little place tucked into a wooded nook of Battle Creek, Thursday evening, September 21st. The week prior was a flurry of packing and paperwork and temperatures soaring into the nineties. Jesse and I had to have trudged ten miles between the moving truck and our vehicles with their belongings. We had us some adventures, too! Besides having the dog get loose and Evangeline continually underfoot, we had an item of furniture shed its parts one by one as we hoisted it along, and then we nearly packed me into the back of the box truck! Thankfully, I was able to wedge myself through the tiny window at the back of the box and scramble into the cab. I came through a little scuffed, but the look on Jesse’s face when I popped out the driver’s side door made it worth all the trouble.

All the while, just about anything Hannah tried to do gave her contractions. She was frustrated to be unable to do very much, but as we caught a glimpse of the finish line mere yards ahead, we each were inspired to redouble our efforts to keep her pregnant a little longer.

So, Jesse and I worked like a pair of pack mules while Hannah sat.

We arrived at the closing Thursday afternoon with most everything the Simmons family owned stuffed into the vehicles and ready to shift into the new house, with a priority placed on getting the bedroom set up and the birth gear arranged.

The closing was a hoot! With Hannah’s birth obviously imminent, the mortgage broker, loan officer, and Todd Bradfield, the realtor, fairly broke into a sweat any time she made a noise or shifted in her seat.

It was wonderful, though, the way Todd and the mortgage broker had worked through the weeks previous to get Hannah moved in time, and our gratitude and growing sense of excitement went a long way to keep us energized as we dashed madly onward.

We drove straight to the house from the closing and, while Jesse and Paul and Matt Donahue, Megan’s brother, unloaded the truck, I tackled the house, scrubbing it from top to bottom.

Toward bedtime we were pleased to note we’d accomplished the first phase of our goal. The house was sparkling, Hannah and Jesse’s bed was in place and made, and everything we needed for the birth was standing at the ready in various corners of the bedroom.

Hannah said, “Maybe tonight will be the night!”

Jesse and I groaned, begged her please no, and collapsed.

Friday we rose early and worked feverishly till too late, moving furniture and boxes from the garage into the house while Hannah unpacked and arranged and rearranged her nest.

Hannah said again, “Maybe tonight!” and, again, Jesse and I, hardly able to move, groaned and staggered off to our beds.

On Saturday, Hannah’s friend and apprentice, Jenni Jones, and a handful of other loved ones came by to help and by evening we’d come to a satisfactory stopping point.

I looked around, smiled, nodded, and said, “Okay, I think you can have your baby anytime now.”

“Oh?” Hannah straightened in her seat. “Then will you stretch me?”

I almost said no. I’m a firm believer that babies come when they’re ready and no sooner. But then I considered how hard Hannah had worked to keep her baby inside, and thought maybe it would be appropriate to give her body permission to go into labor if it really wanted to.

I donned a glove and gave her cervix a thorough stretching and went to bed, hoping for a full night’s sleep.

Two hours later Hannah woke me with a text that read, “It seems to be working!”

Though I was tired and stiff and sore, I rubbed the sleep from my eyes and climbed the stairs from the basement, and my joy mounted with each of my steps, rinsing away the strain and stress that filled the days behind us.

As did Megan, Hannah intends to tell the story of Elyse’s birth herself and I have no desire to steal her thunder. I’ll just say that Elyse’s birth was very much the same as Evangeline’s – and almost eerily so. It took a similar length of time and just felt very much the same. Elyse emerged looking nearly identical to Evangeline – looking like Evangeline and moving like Evangeline and making all the same little noises and expressions as Evangeline.

But she was different, too.

She was Elyse.

At the moment of Elyse’s birth – the moment she spiraled free of her mother’s body and into the light with the breaking of the day – her slender arms spread to her fingertips as if she were reaching for her new life  – the thought of all that preceded her mixed with all that lies ahead of her and swept through me like a warm, bubbly wave.

And the words of a Matt Redman song came to mind.

“It’s there in the newborn cry…
There in the light of every sunrise…

There on a wedding day…

There in the weeping by the graveside…
It’s there in the darkest night of the soul…

There in the sweetest songs of victory…
There in the sorrow and the dancing…

It’s there in every breath we breathe…

Your Great Grace…”

The sun broke the horizon and Elyse spiraled into its light…

“Your Great Grace…”

Her father drew her forth and her mother drew her to her heaving chest…

She was enveloped within the cries of her mother and her father and her sister and her grandmothers…

“Your Grace finds me…”

She let out a little cry of her own…

Through wedding days and gravesides…

Through sorrows and dark nights of the soul…

Through the hush of numberless whispered prayers…

With songs of victory and dancing…

Wee Elyse emerged from eternity…

“So, I’m breathing in Your Grace, I’m breathing out Your Grace….”

And she relaxed into the warm body of her mother and began to breathe.

Your Grace Finds Me.

Kim Woodard Osterholzer, Colorado Springs Homebirth Midwife

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