Wednesday, April 20, 2011

On the mountains and that timeless shore

{the story of Yohanan's birth}

The stars sang the night my contraction began. We had been waiting for weeks, though in reality it was only five days after his due date. He was overdue, but not the way this post is overdue. Now that he is turning one in less than two months, I better jot some things down before it all escapes me.

A few things will always remind me of that night: 1. Star Wars Episode II, 2. Triscuits with sharp cheddar cheese. The contractions started at around 7:30 p.m. I called my friend Jenni who months before had kindly promised to watch Emeth while we go to the hospital, we put Emeth to bed, and Hans and I sat back to "relax" with a movie.

The silly contractions stopped at around 10:30 p.m. I blame this on the horrendous plot of Episode II. To my great dismay, we went to sleep.

At around 8:30 the next morning, I was ecstatic that the contractions had returned! I felt pain! Yes! (Can you tell that I was done being pregnant?)

Everything was in place; every star was aligned. In fact, if you look very closely at the morning sky and squint a little, the stars spelled "Yohanan" -- the name we discovered just days before. Apparently, he didn't want to come out without a name.

Grace. "Hanan" means grace in Hebrew. And grace indeed overflowed that day.

We dropped Emeth off with Jenni at 10 a.m. and checked in at the hospital shortly after (we were about 10 minutes away). We used the same birth plan. Oddly enough, because both Emeth and Yohanan were born on Tuesdays in the same hospital, we had the exact same obstetrician/gynecologist, pediatrician, and many of the same nurses. Very surreal. Apparently, they kept the same schedule after two years.

I was already at 8cm dilated when the nurses checked me in. I know, I was very grateful. The labor had progressed throughout the night while I was sleeping.

Alas, labor pain is labor pain.

In those last hours, I was every woman.

I was Eve, lost in my longing to return to the Garden. I drank deeply the cup that was mine, the bitterness that was mine because I had disobeyed my Maker.

I was Mary, yearning for redemption and completion. The pain was cold and lonely. I wondered what were her thoughts, laboring in the stables that night.

Hans was so loving, as always. Giving me counter pressure. Reading the chart. Anticipating each contraction. Reading from every psalm that contained "Yohanan" -- "Yahweh, be gracious." Be gracious. Be gracious.

At 1:13 p.m., I heard Hans' voice, "he looks exactly like the one we have at home, honey." We greeted Yohanan Zi-Han at the shore of time and seasons. Unlike my awkward meeting with Emeth, this time I did cry. Seeing Yohanan's face was like a homecoming to me, though we were seeing him for the very first time.

He had two knots in his umbilical cord. Very rare, the doctor said, and potentially dangerous. But we had no idea. His placenta was "above average," according to the doctor. I asked to have a glimpse. Human anatomy is fascinating.

I often tease Hans about his nonathletic, physically-uncoordinated wife. He is one of the best athletes I know. My (short) list of strenuous exercises includes my labor, and mountain climbing. Mount Kinabalu and an entire rain forest was our backyard in Malaysia.

I loved mountain climbing. And I did it solely for the view from the top -- the bright stars, the sunsets, the sunrises. Recently, a video brought me back to the mountains. Watching the waves of clouds and the Milky Way was like a homecoming to me.

Perhaps returning to the Garden will be something like this -- when we arrive at that timeless shore. Perhaps our Father's face will look somewhat familiar, like a homecoming, though we will be beholding him for the very first time.

The Mountain from Terje Sorgjerd on Vimeo.

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