BIRTH DAY for Milo

Monet's Magpie

The Magpie by Claude Monet, 1869

Your birth, I remember it well,
Born on the cusp of spring,
The essence of it stamped on my memory:
Unexpected April heat, my heavy, restless body pushing through thick air
Walking the loop—up the hill, down by the graveyard, alongside the woods,
Anticipation mounting with each contraction,
Rattling my teeth with nervous energy.

And all around, a building storm,
Earth barely containing the rising tide of sap,
A river of new life surging along branch tips, swelling the buds.

Third child and well attended, I had the rhythm of things down,
The cyclical understanding that roots into the fabric.
An understanding of the flow of things,
The current that would drive me along.
The midwife could see that and left me to labor in peace.

Peace in pain, a strange eye of the storm,
When you push the walls away from you,
Allowing the breath to come; release.

The walls of the room dissolved,
The energy of the womb focused
On that postcard-sized snow-settled landscape,
The magpie seated on the farmyard gate,
Illuminated by soft winter sunlight,
Patiently waiting for spring.

And when I stepped out into the world again
Carrying you, my new born, in a soft swaddling of blankets,
The pear trees were wreathed in white blossom.


25 thoughts on “BIRTH DAY for Milo

    1. Melissa Shaw-Smith Post author

      It’s taken eight years for that one to percolate through me, but really happy that it resonated with you. All the best, Melissa

  1. Murtagh's Meadow

    Beautiful poem Melissa. Love that last line and how it draws the whole poem together, particularly as our pear tree is covered in blossom as I write.

    1. Melissa Shaw-Smith Post author

      Many thanks, Karina. Wanted to get a shot of the ornamental Bradford Pears in our neighborhood, but the very cool temperatures have kept them at bay. Milo’s birthday is a good way to compare one year to another. Cheers, Melissa

    1. Melissa Shaw-Smith Post author

      Curt, I’m very flattered. Not an easy thing to write about–just had to go with my gut and hope I didn’t gross folks out.

    1. Melissa Shaw-Smith Post author

      Thank you dear Aquileana. Birth and rebirth is always a fascinating subject & this is my personal take on it.

    1. Melissa Shaw-Smith Post author

      Thank you so much for your kind words. The hope is always there that in writing about personal experiences I’ll strike a chord with others. It’s very gratifying to hear that I have succeeded.

    1. Melissa Shaw-Smith Post author

      Melissa, very kind words, thank you. Wish it could have been a home birth, but sadly, midwives in the US are finding it very difficult to get insurance for these. Luckily, the midwife kept the doctor at bay & we just got on with it.

    1. Melissa Shaw-Smith Post author

      Adele, isn’t it a lovely painting. It’s an early Monet and I believe hangs in the Musee D’Orsay in Paris. There’s something about the light and silence in it that I find very evocative and peaceful.

  2. Roger Baker-Utah

    Masterpiece. Takes my breath away.
    I have witnessed my children’s natural births and marveled at their mother’s focus and breathing and peace amidst pain. I, for my part, was terrified!

    1. Melissa Shaw-Smith Post author

      Happy to hear the poem resonated with you. Birth is an empowering, but never easy experience.

      1. Roger Baker-Utah

        I have been thinking about it more. Birth is a quintessentially and powerful experience on many overlapping planes, including physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. In these modern times, men can watch, but not experience. For all of history the experience has been accompanied with a deep magic and power than only woman can truly understand. Your poem brought this all (and more) into focus.

      2. Melissa Shaw-Smith Post author

        I was lucky enough to have my husband, a midwife, and a friend who is a doula all on my team. But at the end of the day it’s just you and the process–definitely a life altering experience.

    1. Melissa Shaw-Smith Post author

      Really glad you liked it. Sometimes it takes a while for these personal experiences to percolate through you enough to be able to write about them.


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