‘The Birth of Esmee’ by Sian Pilkington
Jeremy and I hardly lived together, at this time. I was 26. It had been a hard year of him working away and I was starting to get the feeling, after 3 years, that I wanted another baby. But we didn’t know when it would or could happen. So we didn’t plan.
It was never a conscious decision: let’s try to make a baby. But I learned that when our energies combine, there is a spark which ignites new life whether we plan it or not, and when he finally arrived home, those energies did in fact mix completely.
The day before we left for Canada, I awoke very early. It had all been such a whirlwind, the decision to emigrate, that my focus had been on the implications of leaving behind my family and starting afresh and celebrating our new adventure…my cycle was not on my mind. I had little clue when menstruation should happen.
But that morning, 10th November 2009, I pulled out an unopened pregnancy test from a long time before, and in the darkness of pre-dawn I went to the bathroom and sleepily took the test.
It was seconds.
Seconds, and it was there: ‘the line’.
In the living room, my husband slept on an air mattress next to our three year old, our possessions gone across the seas to our pastures new and I woke him sharply and with little grace.
‘Jeremy!!! I’m pregnant!’
He rubbed his eyes and took the news in. He smiled, faintly, but there was no momentous occasion of twirling round, hooting, crying or celebrating. It was like old news, sinking in. It has been the same with each child. It is just the next part of our life, unfolding.
I called my mum, who lived five minutes away, to share my excitement. There was an element of sadness; they had experienced just half a pregnancy with me before as I had found out that I was pregnant with Isabella at 20 weeks, and now they would not be around to see this pregnancy at all. But the excitement….still there. Still palpable.
We had less than 24 hours before we would be leaving for the airport for a brand new chapter.
That day went in a blur of last minute goodbyes and a doctors appointment that I somehow felt I needed to confirm what I knew. 6 weeks with Child, already.
My heart was so tumultuous with emotions.
I visited my Auntie Maria who I loved with all of my heart and told her my news. It was one of the occasions in my life that I will cherish with every dry bit of my being for the rest of my life.
When I left my home in the early hours of 11th November, my father came to kiss me goodbye and I sobbed like I have never sobbed before or since. I already felt like I could sense this child’s movement within me and yet I was so frightened by the idea of not having my own parents to watch me grow.
My heart broke into pieces that day; I didn’t know that my baby would bring me back together.
When we arrived in Canada, I was emotional and lost. I huddled in bed next to Isabella for what felt like 2 months, rubbing my swollen belly, baking Canadian desserts and treading through 45 minutes of snowy paths each day.
I was perturbed by the idea that a midwife does not automatically attend births; such an alien concept to an English girl. But, at around 14 weeks of pregnancy, after finding out what a dial was, interviewing an amazing example of one for a newspaper article and finding faith again, I serendipitously found a midwife and my confusion dissipated. Relief. My second baby would also be born into water, I would be surrounded by wise women again; I was comfortable.
I made friends who truly loved me, they cooked for me when Jeremy was gone, drove me to places as I had no license myself, doted on my belly and my curly haired preschooler and as spring rolled into summer I grew large and round and ripe. I became as firm and juicy as the whole, huge watermelons that I craved and devoured.
On June 30th, Jeremy arrived back home for he was working in another province and his mother had also arrived from England. I was 39 weeks pregnant, he was due to go out of province again in 3 days and I was ready to birth a baby with my husband present.
July 1st, I awoke early to ready myself for the Canada Day parade that we would be attending for the first time. We were to breakfast at my new friend Debbie’s house.
I knew, when I awoke, just as I had with my first baby, that today something would happen. I was seven days away from my official due date but my body buzzed with anticipation and knowing and sheer exhilaration.
When we arrived at Debbie’s house at 9am an intuitive friend of hers looked from my belly to the clock to my face and said ‘ 16 hours.’ I had no idea what this meant; until labour began? Until baby arrived? I did not know. But I knew the conviction in Her eyes and it made me giggle with excitement,
The day passed in a whirl of red and white flags, floats, celebration, subtle waves of contractions and further heightened awareness. I cuddled Isabella a lot and felt premature nostalgia for the days that I knew were coming to an end: the days of just three of us.
That afternoon, we ran errands and collected tinned salmon, salad and eggs so that I could have my favourite meal of English salmon salad. I let my midwife know that I was feeling changes and knowing that my first birth had lasted less than three hours, she was anxious to get me to the birth centre.
I didn’t want to go.
It was hot and relaxed and beautiful on the tiny deck of our condo and the sun warmed my back. Isabella was joyful.
I didn’t want to go.
But I did go. I ate my English salad, and then I complied at around 9pm, when I kissed Isabella goodbye. She was settled and serene and had no real clue that I was leaving her with her granny so that I could bring home her first sibling. I was so overcome with love and longing for this little girl, leaving her behind was somewhat the most challenging part of the process.
When we arrived at the birth centre it was a balmy, hot Canada Day evening with clear skies and the smell of barbecue food lingered in the air.
My midwife introduced me into the coolness of the birth centre, I laid down my bags and she listened to the heartbeat of the baby within me, checked my cervix and told me details. ‘3-4 cms and a bulging bag of membranes’.
I was comfortable. I didn’t want to or feel like birthing this baby right now.
I wanted to walk.
I wanted to soak in this summer beauty.
So we did.
We walked around the parameters of the birth centre, faint flowery scent in warm air, and dusk just waiting to envelop us. Every now and then a stronger pulling sensation would wash over me but it was infrequent and nothing to make a fuss about.
When it was dark, we wandered back to the birth centre and I rocked my hips around on a birthing ball, now willing the waves to come. Somehow, I just didn’t feel ready. My baby was not ready.
I was here, in this place, away from home, too soon, I wanted to be at home, it was approaching midnight and I didn’t feel like labour was close.
Outside, fireworks lit the sky and crackled like confetti against navy blue silk.
And then, as midnight came, with an almighty sudden heave I felt it. And I remembered. I remembered what that moment of inward surrender felt like, that second where the baby within and my own body collided in agreement and the power of the birthing journey took inevitable, crazy, amazing, entire shape.
I sat for just a few quick and furious contractions , riding one surge after another, rocking my hips around and breathing with that long inhale and heavy exhale of pure work, before I needed the water.
Action, commotions around me as the light of the bathroom switched on and the tub was filled.
I don’t remember moving from the dim bedroom to the brighter bathroom but my memory takes me to the time of kneeling on all fours, my vision blurred and my body heavy, leaning on my elbows against the outer edge of the cool tub. Midwife to my left, assistant midwife in front of her muttering words of encouragement to me, Jeremy silent but present and protective, to my right.
So much of that time silent.
It felt like the first time I has ever done this, but simultaneously it felt like I had been here hundred of times before. Small snapshots of being almost asleep with my cheeks pressed to the cool surface of the tub, reveling in the rhythmic lull of labour, in bliss with the quiet of the breaks.
Snippets of sudden upheaval as my breath sucked in and the deep, lusty exhales of exertion.
Too bright in the bathroom,
I reclined back in the tub with my hair almost under the water, my legs and arms submerged, my huge, taut belly bouncing firm out of the water and the heavy, downward shifts towards my perineum. I felt the baby emerging, unaware of who was and was not around me. In that ethereal, surreal, dream-like land that women go to, to bring their baby Earthside.
It was too much, as I felt the baby’s head begin to move outward and I placed my hands against it and tried to push it back raising my hips out of the water.
‘keep your hips down, Sian’ I heard, somewhere, from someone, and so I did.
And the head kept coming, with a graceful, almost simple sweeping motion, and with a primal release of my voice, the baby came. Head, body, I felt every bit of this child slip over my tailbone, and out into the water, and into my arms.
I collected the bones and soft, plump skin and beautiful breathing mass of child and pulled her completely onto my chest and sank on my sitting bones, waist deep in water and sky high on the ecstatic relief of being done.
I knew immediately. I felt her genitalia. And I cried, the only time I have cried when a baby of mine has been born, because she was a GIRL and I was overjoyed.
Mother of two girls. How could I be so lucky?
It was just before 2am. Just shy of 17 hours since the stranger at the Canada day breakfast had predicted that we would see our baby in 16 hours.
I sat in the water and glanced over her body; she was short and so chubby. So broad chested. So many rolls. Such a mop of black hair. So different to her older sister. She sucked right away with her huge red pout clasped expertly around my breast and I basked in this perfection.
She was just 5ib 15oz and neither myself nor the midwives could believe that at first so they weighed her again. So chubby! But so small.
We named the baby who has been known simply as Booboo, Esmée Maria Pearl. Her name meant the world to me and suits her still; exotic and then family-orientated and then precious.
Maria knew about Esmée, she knew that her name continued on and on Esmée’s due date, 8th July, Maria passed away.
I feel like they are forever linked. I can’t describe how that makes me feel.
I love each of my children for everything that they bring to this world and Emmy brings magic and wise,honest eyes, a true loving heart, a simplicity. She knows what she likes and she knows what she does not. She doesn’t pretend. She is a cancer; she loves home, her creature comforts, her belongings. She wishes to live next door to her dad and I so we can share tea and cakes, when she is grown, for she truly can’t imagine it another way, though one day she will surely feel different.
She is theatrical. magnetic, she is infectious, she has a piece of my heart that nobody else will ever take.
She is one of four creations that her daddy and I have made and yet she is completely her own person, there is no clone of anything.
I am so grateful for this little girl who was born onto this earth with fireworks heralding her journey.
This is the story of Emmy. She is 6 today. ❤️
Sian has come to this Earth to work with women in all capacities; as the mother of 4 daughters her beautiful birth experiences propelled her to design her life work around sitting with woman. Birth Doula, Sacred Pregnancy instructor, a mother roaster who is trained in the postpartum arts of ceremony and bengkung belly binding, a practitioner of the healing arts, she believes that Creator aligned her with daughters so that she would take this path with the divine feminine.
Contact her on Facebook and follow her on Instagram @sacredpregnancyyyc
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