birth from the baby’s point of view
vicki elson 2008
Sleep, awake, drifting
silence, darkness, warm simplicity
Gradually you become aware of:
Now you’re feeling crowded.
You find the place where your head feels best
You try to stretch out
You react to movements and sounds with movements of your own
You notice slight changes in the light: red, black
You hear the watery sounds of digestion
You feel the rhythms of breathing, walking, making love
You have weight,
and when your universe tilts, you try to get more comfortable.
You swallow. You blink. You pee.
Your limbs are folded.
You feel your legs and arms against your belly
Your hands find your face.
You recognize voices
Your mom, she talks and sings all the time
Other voices vibrate deeper, softer
other voices higher and faster
Sometimes you feel really squished for a long minute
Sometimes you sleep, soft, soft, soft
Sometimes you feel hyped up
Sometimes things bother you and you get mad and punch
Sometimes you just wish you could find a comfier position
And then you sleep, soft, soft, soft
Now something new is happening.
Waves of pleasure, hormone hugs,
A chemical conversation.
Now the hugs are a bit much.
Now the hugs are more frequent, and they’re annoying.
Now they take all of your attention.
You try to stretch.
you have a sense that it will be all right.
Your universe loves you.
But your universe is squeezing too much.
It’s getting kind of scary.
This goes on for so long
that you can’t remember what came before.
Oh! Squeeze, fight, wiggle, punch, worry.
It stops. You sleep.
Oh! Pressed into a little ball, you feel so little.
It stops. You search for a new position. You find one.
Oh! There is nothing but this alarming wish to escape.
It stops. Exhausted, you conk out.
Oh! Now, a headache.
You are vaguely aware of sliding forward
But your head is too squashy to think about it.
A pause, but the headache stays.
You want to sleep.
Oh, again, there is no escaping this!
Pressure, everywhere, your head hurts.
There is noise, your mom is roaring
You try to move through this tight tunnel.
Like a swimmer pushing off the side of a pool,
You kick both legs out straight.
Oh! Your head moves forward and you are so startled
That you don’t appreciate that it’s the first time in months
That you’ve been able to straighten your legs.
Oh, Here’s something new.
The headache is subsiding,
And you feel something you will later learn to call cold air
On the top of your head.
Oh! An astonishing shove,
A peculiar movement
Your chin comes up off your chest
Your neck has never done this before
Your whole head is released but cold and airy
Your water world has been left behind
You feel something around your neck
You feel fingers, so different from soft wet walls
You hear sounds so much louder than ever before
Whoa, as in stop stop stop!
Your senses are overwhelmed,
And yet, you’re curious
So you open your eyes and you see
Something neither red nor black
Whoa, as in wow, that’s amazing.
Oh! All squeezy again!
Your shoulders hurt and then they feel okay
Now the water world is gone altogether
The cold and airy world is your home now
Sound! Light! Color! Skin!
A terrifying feeling of edgelessness and gravity.
And into the very center of it,
The searing of the first breath —
That was too crazy.
You wait as long as you can
Before the next breath
And you try to keep it small
But it pours into you.
This is really hard to get used to.
You’re glad you don’t have to master it all at once.
You’re still getting oxygen from your mom.
Oh! You hear the loudest sound ever!
You wonder if it’s coming from you.
It startles you and so you cry again.
You try an experiment.
You just breathe.
You’re worried about what might happen next.
All this has been so unpredictable, unpleasant, unfamiliar.
You are heavy. You flail against the new air.
But then something nice happens.
Your skin meets your mom’s skin.
It’s 98.6 and like a waterbed.
A soft soft blanket covers you.
Here’s another surprise, another nice one –
Your mom smells good.
You’ve never smelled anything before, and this is okay.
You calm down.
You are breathing, how new!
Your mom’s voice is familiar but clearer now.
She holds you kind of like when you were inside her.
She likes you and she’s glad you’re here.
Your hormones are having a nice conversation.
The other voices are soft and kind.
You let yourself rest.
Once you had no desires, no sleeping, no waking, no sound.
Then you were
Then you wanted only to stretch out.
Then you wanted only to escape.
Then you wanted only to make the suffering stop.
Then you wanted only to feel safe.
Now you want only to merge with your universe again.
Here you are, back in your mom’s embrace.
You let her love wash into your deepest self again.
You let curiosity rest a minute
Before you look around again