A Pearl is Born

I usually don’t know what to say about Pearl’s birth. But today for her first birthday, I will try.

When her brother was born, the labor was longer and more difficult in many ways but there were pauses and space to breath. Not so with Pearl.

I had barely realized I was in active labor when I felt her head diving into the birth canal with so much pressure, I thought she would fly right out and leave me in pieces.

My midwife walked in the front door thinking she would check on me and probably settle in to wait awhile. Instead, she heard the noises I was making and sprinted up the stairs.

“I’m not ready” I said.

“It’s almost time to push,” she told me.

Bryan slurped his milkshake and I shot him a dirty look.

Some random songs were playing on Pandora. The birth tub wasn’t full and the water was lukewarm.

It didn’t matter, I couldn’t get off the bed anyways.

My body started pushing, with or without me.

I reached down and up and felt a fuzzy head.

The next few minutes were a blur. As I continued to push, my midwife saw some things that concerned her. We transported to the hospital for what we now know were precautionary reasons. I’ve thanked her over and over for being on the safe side.

I puffed little breaths as I held her in on the way to the hospital. My midwife put pillows under me that she brought from my house. She listened to my belly, smiled, and said, “your baby is happy.”

When we got there, to the hospital, the doors flung open and we were rushed into the room where Pearl was born. Fifteen minutes later.

She was peaceful and sweet and looked up at me like she wondered what all the fuss was about.

Her birth was as beautiful as I expected, but for completely different reasons than I planned.

Having children, bringing them out of their warm dark places, raising them in a world we scarcely understand; it’s all a mystery. There are so many unknowns, and so many moments every day where the only appropriate response is surrender.

Sometimes I am slow to surrender, preferring to drop little bits of control along the path while I still carry the armload of trying to figure it all out.

But when Pearl was born, there was nothing to do but let her out in the way she needed to come out, in the place we needed to be, in the moment that was her birth time.

I did the best I could, and that was enough.

Happy Birthday Sweet Girl!

Me in labor:


Pearl Luciana:


Pearl and I on her first birthday:


10 thoughts on “A Pearl is Born

  1. What a darling! And a terrifying experience – don’t you love the instruction “don’t push yet”? I mean, as if you have any say in the matter! When they’re coming, they’re coming.

  2. I love and relate so much to “Sometimes I am slow to surrender, preferring to drop little bits of control along the path while I still carry the armload of trying to figure it all out.”

  3. you & pearl are just so damn beautiful- love these photos and this essay. my little luca is just a few weeks younger than pearl and she has a three year old brother. I relate to so much of what you write & am glad someone like you is able to articulate it in such a simple, truthful way. also, I have a complete friend-crush on you and wish we could hang out (ha! perhaps you get this a lot ;))…

  4. My babe’s birth had some similarities to Pearl’s! I, too, was expecting an all-day ordeal, but she came out 3.5 hours after the first contraction. We flew to the hospital in the middle of the night with me yelling, “BABY! STAY IN!”, got the last open room in the maternity ward, and my doula and midwife barely had time to show up before she was born (40 minutes after we’d arrived). It was harrowing. We named her after gospel singer Mahalia Jackson, and so far her little lungs have lived up to her namesake.

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