Push: The Story of Two Births


“Don’t push,” Martine said, “wait a minute,” then gently reached inside and unfurled his fisted hand.

“Stop pushing,” she said again, and uncoiled the cord from around his neck.

It was January.  The year had just turned.  The moon was full.

He slid out of me into a warm pool of water.

Uncoiled, unfurled.  He seemed to come out on his own.

While I pushed, I chanted “Om” and “Open.”

That was the easy birth.  The spiritual one.

Difficult child.  Passionate child.  Easy birth. Ben.


“Push,” Karen said.  But I didn’t want to push.  I wanted to sleep.  I wanted to go back to the way things were, before the other child began rooting inside me, before unemployment, Medicaid, food stamps, the apartment that wouldn’t sell, the fight in his mother’s backyard, the despair, the longing.

He was behind me, holding my body up.  Karen was on the other side.  “You can push,” she said, meaning “push, NOW.”  And then I knew.  And I found it somewhere, the beast that comes out when a woman gives birth.  But not a beast.  And not just a woman: me.  I found strength—but not strength, because I had none of that left.  Courage—but I didn’t feel courageous at all.  Love, maybe it was love.

There was no choice.  If I ever felt God, it was then.  It wasn’t about me anymore.

It was going to be the hardest thing I’d ever done.

And it was.

I pushed.

It was the autumn equinox, and I could feel the earth shifting into alignment.  I could feel the leaves lose their luster.  I could feel the sun split the sky into darkness and light.

And then he was here. Peter.  Who does not push.  Who melts into your arms.

Where does he keep the rage and fire that brought him into this world?

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