Four years ago today (a birth story)

Four years ago today, I looked like this:

In Mommy's tummy-by Marcel/ All rights reserved Mama C and the Boys 2011

according to Marcel.

I love October for his birth at the beginning of the month, and the anniversary of learning that Sam’s first mama had chosen me to be Sam’s everyday Ma at the end of October. It is the time of the year that I often feel my best–in many connective tissue to the world ways. I always feel like writing poetry, baking, taking pictures, hiking, making things.

In my adoption advocacy work and in all the ways that I experience my adoptive parent identity– I struggle to give myself permission to honor the mythical joy that conceiving and birthing this child was for me. I tried to conceive via artificial insemination prior to adopting Sammy, for about a year and a half.  When I decided that I wanted to bring another child into the mix I didn’t know how I was going to go about it.  I considered adoption and ADI. Then God/the universe put the donor, Sammy, and me in a toy store at the same time and threw in a few musical instruments to make the meeting more fun. A little over a year later, and I am walking into a hospital about to give birth.

Four years ago today I arrived at the maternity ward to be monitored because my fluids were low. I had two phenomenal birth partner/coaches in the cots next to me as we waited our turn to be blasted with Pitocin and sent on the ride of a lifetime. The next morning I was induced. Some thirty-six hours later Marcel was cut out of me tightly wrapped with that blasted cord around his neck hollering to everyone to turn down the lights, and get him to his Mama. It was a dramatic entrance, as most of his have been to this day.

I still can feel his head against my cheek as they sewed me up, and my tears streaming down onto his little face. The aching I had to see him, and reassure him that I was there, and he was too.  Back in the room I can still hear the wail I let out from the terror I had experienced for the few moments when he had crowned and then they lost his heart rate on the monitor. They told me that I needed to relax, and breathe as deeply as possible to get him the oxygen he needed. I went into a trance of sorts, singing the  song “Summertime” over and over again while picturing him running towards me on a beach chasing something.  It was the song Sam and I had been singing  to him for the last nine months. I believed it would help him find his way to us in full thriving glory. It worked.

After my loud moment of self indulgent release the doctor placed him on me immediately. She would have no part of my wanting a moment to myself. He latched on in about five seconds flat. “Does he have to do that?” I asked. Clearly I thought I was entitled to a few minutes where someone was not kicking and pushing, or cutting into or sucking the life out of me.

I remember the doctor laughing, and saying “With that labor and delivery–you all deserve for this part to be easy.”  Well I don’t know about that, but I did lovelovelovelove nursing. It was something I grieved not being able to provide for Sammy. It was for me a remarkable gift to be able to provide with such ease. I nursed Marcel until he was two.

Because of all these things, and the fact that Marcel’s donor, Tree is powerfully present these days, I am going to re-post an excerpt of a poem I wrote in honor of Marcel’s coming into being and Tree and the stories our bodies weave together in the making of a child.

Ancestors Unfold (excerpt)

The ancestors knead into him
the traits he will keep;

He will have my long fingers
and graceful hands

And our square finger tips,
said the man.

All but one on each hand.

Then our square jaw,
acquiesces the man.

Chanting into him the stories
he won’t remember:

Of the giant mechanized birds flying
over the islands, bringing brides
and promises rising.
Of the grieving brother left
lying in the sand denying.

Voices louder like the oil around the sizzling plantains frying.

Ancestors assigning traits he will keep:

the muscle mass on his thighs
green-brown lace in his eyes.

The hair they concede will be a surprise.

Words-words will come easy
the storytellers gathered agree.
Humor enough for days, they make him
devious, short tempered
yet measured in ways.

Great grandfathers bickered
and aunties chimed in;
He’ll carry which songs?
Resemble whose kin?

A young man being determined-
a boy not yet wrapped
in the millions of years
of expectations that are

breathed in
beat in
kissed and
and wished in

from his dark ancestor’s
and his light ancestor’s


Oblivious the mother woman now
rolls over
stretches and yawns.

Only half noticing the crows
cautiously calling to her- dawn dawn



  1. So beautiful, this post brought me to tears. Birthing and nursing have been the greatest gifts and honors of my life, along with adopting my sweet boy. So your post brought me back to my happy place:). Happy Birthday to Marcel, to all of you…

  2. Wow. What a beautiful and loving post. Happy birthday to your little man. Enjoy this time of year, count your blessings, and keep writing beautiful stories. I needed this tonight. Thanks.

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