The evening I arrived in Michigan, Hannah took me aside into the bathroom.
She opened a drawer next to the sink and drew a lovely piece of jewelry into the light.
It glinted as it twisted on its chain.
It was a Birth Without Fear pendant.
She looked from it to me.
“Sarah Donahue gave this to me even before I got pregnant with Evangeline.”
Sarah is one of our clients, one of our friends, and, now, one of our family. She’s our Megan’s sister-in-law.
I met Sarah in the autumn of 2008. She and her husband, Matt, were living in North Carolina, but they were pregnant with their first child and planning to move home to Michigan to have their baby.
Sarah thought she’d like to have a homebirth. They were due Christmas Eve.
We had a wonderful talk, and she and Matt decided to hire me.
They made it home around ThanksGiving and gave birth to 9lb, 4oz Sophia on New Year’s Day.
Sarah and Matt went on to add Deklan and Tessa to their family between our meeting and the birth of Hannah’s Evangeline. Their youngest, Lucy, was born three short weeks after Evangeline and in the same house.
Evangeline attended Lucy’s birth strapped against my chest in her sling.
“When Sarah gave the pendant to me,” Hannah said, calling me back from my reverie, “she said a friend had given it to her back when she was carrying Sophie and feeling nervous about her birth. Sarah said to me that, though she couldn’t imagine I’d feel nervous when it was my time to give birth, she felt impressed to share the pendant with me anyhow.”
Hannah turned the beautiful piece of bronze over in her hand, touching the image of the woman’s ripe body and the tiny heart that represented her baby tenderly with her fingertips as she spoke. ”But, Mom, I really was nervous. How couldn’t I be? Midwife or no, I was still just a first-time mom with all the doubts and worries and fears every first-time mom has.”
She smiled. “I put this necklace on when I got pregnant for Evangeline and wore it almost every day until I had her. I’d think about Sarah and her three incredible births and the confidence that grew stronger inside her through each one. I’d think about all that and imagine I was wearing Sarah’s faith – wearing Sarah’s courage.”
Tears sparkled in her eyes. “I’d like to give it to Megan. Do you think that’d be okay?”
Tears sparkled in my eyes, too. I thought it would be more than okay.
That was Thursday, August 10th.
The next morning the two women embraced and sprinkled one another with fresh tears as Hannah explained the pendant and clasped it about Megan’s neck.
Ten evenings later, a Sunday evening two evenings before Megan would give birth, we discovered her unborn baby was a footling breech.
As both Megan and I have mentioned in the stories I posted here through the last couple weeks, we’d passed twenty-four hours digesting the news, then spent an afternoon together, just the three of us women.
We talked about so many things that night. We talked about our hopes the baby would turn over. We talked about our concern that he would not. We talked about the trials and sorrows of our histories and how, though the details of those heartbreaks rarely changed as we’d wanted them to, the Lord had proven Himself faithful as He walked through them with us, refining us as we went.
We talked about the peace that was rising steadily within each of us, even as chilly drafts of fear whistled in our ears.
And all the while that sweet charm sparkled in the groove of Megan’s slender throat.
And, as you know, little Brent wiggled his way backward from within his brave mother toward bedtime the next night, baptized in a wash of our sobs and exclamations.
Two weeks later, Hannah called to say she thought she might be starting her labor.
I was still at Paul and Megan’s – I’d stayed on after the birth – but I jumped up, passed wee Brent off to his mama, collected my things, and dashed from the apartment.
I was just backing the truck from its parking space when I received a text. I almost ignored it, feeling sure Hannah would call if she needed me, but I glanced at it after all before pulling from the lot.
It was a message from Megan. “Are you gone yet? Hold on a minute, if you’re still here!”
I looked up from my phone and the door to the apartment burst open.
Paul ran to my window.
“For Hannah,” he said, and he placed Birth Without Fear into the palm of my hand.
Kim Woodard Osterholzer, Colorado Springs Homebirth Midwife and Author
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