Madeline got married to Colin today and nothing prepared me for the overwhelming emotion I would feel when this beautiful young woman came down the aisle accompanied by her parents. My first experience of Maddy was 26 years ago when her mother and I were both pregnant. Her mom came by my place to buy a sling and I palpated Madeline in her belly. When Madeline was born I was with her parents even though I was 7 months pregnant myself with Joanna.
The friendship between our families continued after the babies were born. The two little blonde-haired, blue-eyed girls were nursed and nurtured by one mother or the other. They took dancing classes together, went to preschool, had sleepovers, playdates and it all went by in a blur of busy-ness. Madeline’s parents moved to Nanaimo and the adults stayed friends but the children went through their teen years and drifted into other relationships.
A few years ago, I learned that Madeline (then 23) was heading to Japan with her boyfriend, Colin. Soon after they got there, I got the news that Madeline was pregnant and needing advice on how to manage her pregnancy in a foreign country. All I could think was “Come home”. They did. Even though they lived a ferry ride away from me, I promised her that, if she wanted a homebirth, I would be there for her. Her pregnancy was healthy and we had a beautiful Blessingway for her near her due date. She phoned me to tell me the birth was beginning just as I was finishing up a long, hard birth for someone else. It was right at Christmas time. I can remember saying to her at 10 that night “oh, it’s probably not the baby coming but call me early in the a.m. if you want me on the ferry.” Sure enough, the baby was coming by 4 a.m. that morning and off I went to the ferry. When Madeline greeted me at her door, she said “Auntie Gloria, my words for this birth are ‘gratitude’ and ‘surrender’.” How did this young woman get so smart! I was totally inspired by these affirmations of hers and, whenever she would reach a difficult ‘wall’ in her process, she would start to list off all her gratitudes and then she would chant “I surrender, I surrender. . . ” It was amazing to see her co-operating with her body as the baby moved through her. Her son Isaac was born in pure love and gentleness. He was born in water and caught by his dad, Colin, who is an amazing person in his own right.
Isaac will be two this Christmas. Today, he was a little doll during the wedding ceremony. Cheerfully eating a snack on his Grandpa’s lap while his parents said their vows and sealed their commitment to each other. Madeline was radiant all day and her wedding was a nourishing joy for all of us in her community. We need these celebrations and places of promise to balance the hard times and losses. It’s hard for me to believe that this gorgeous bride learned to crawl on my kitchen floor. I can remember her sitting in the high chair and saying “Hi, Jo-Jo” to my daughter, Joanna, in her little baby voice. I’m so proud of the beautiful woman she has become and the courage she demonstrated when she gave birth. She told me that growing up with talk of homebirth in her environment gave her the confidence to have her baby so smoothly.
It’s a wonder to me that the babies I knew are now having babies. Maybe Isaac’s partner will be giving birth in 20 years or so and I’ll be marvelling at yet another generation in my community growing up and inviting me to these celebrations.
Madeline, thanks for all the joy you’ve given me and I wish you a wonderful future with your love, Colin. Blessed be.