I gave birth to four of my five children under a September moon. Each year, we dedicate nearly a full month to celebrating the fruits of my labors. As the 2019 opening ceremonies of those events was nearing two Septembers ago, I was given a dream.
In the dream, I was very pregnant, due the next day, and in the throes of early labor. Birth was imminent, and I found myself in a cabin-like dwelling on the edge of a forest. It felt like a large birth community, a convent tucked away from the world where women went to birth when the time came.
As I stood inside the cabin alone, my attention drew towards my clothing, and the surprising lack thereof. I came to the realization that I was completely naked and exposed. Horrified, I grabbed the only clothing item available in the room, a small halter top, and quickly threw it on. I then found a white withered smock which I fashioned into a skirt, balancing the thin fabric on my out-jutted hips. These contraptions did nothing to cover my protruding belly, but I felt somewhat relieved.
In the next moment, history seemed to magically repeat itself, and I found that my top had somehow disappeared leaving my breasts and belly bare. I began frantically pulling at the fabric around my hips, hurriedly tucking both sides under each of my arms to fashion a makeshift dress. This proved an ongoing challenge, as the fabric seemed to so easily evaporate into thin air without warning. The worst part was imagining what others would think if they saw me so exposed in this way. I did not want their eyes on me or my laboring body.
Suddenly, my husband Kevin appeared in the room calm and natural as ever. I felt more at ease in that moment, and I asked him if he could bring me some water. He left the cabin to attend to my request, and I was alone once more.
I intrinsically knew it was a she, and that her name would be Billie or maybe Story. Billie because it represented confident authenticity (Billie Eilish anyone?), and Story was well, self explanatory. I let the names roll around in my mind as I always had when pregnant. Pondering on meaningful names had always been a pleasurable part of creating.
After some time, Kevin had not returned with water, and I became uneasy as my labor became noticeably more active. A ghost of a midwife seemed to attend me, but mostly I was very alone. The contractions continued to bring the form inside me downwards, and suddenly, I felt a large shift as the baby entered the birth canal. I instinctively felt for the baby, checking for her presentation. As I did so, the tips of my fingers landed gently on two small lips. She was coming out mouth first.
Somehow I knew that this was just the beginning, and that (according to my dream) more time would need to pass before she would arrive. I took leave from the birthing cottage and ventured out into the wooded area outside. Across the cottages was an open meadow where a group of women were gathered. I walked towards them, taking in their shapes and faces, realizing that some were expecting too. One woman, who I knew in real life and was currently pregnant, appeared in the group. My thoughts told me that she must be farther along then me, and yet she appeared so much smaller then I was.
Wouldn’t her belly need to be large like mine to be further along then I was? It didn’t make any sense. There was no order or system to this realization before me. Looking towards the other women, many looked to not be pregnant at all, but then truth was brought to my mind, they were all expecting too. They did not look like it, but inside of them, a process was happening, just the same.
Once I understood that they were all expecting, and in their own various places that could not be verified by outward appearance, I felt some sense of relief. We were all on the same journey. I grew excited at the prospect of sisterhood, and feeling my body tighten and surge beneath all its layers, I made an eager request. “Do any of you want to walk with me into the woods?” I asked. I knew it was the next appropriate step for me in my birth process, and that walking would assist in moving things along. With Kevin gone, and no one else readily available to tend to me, I desired desperately for some companionship.
Their voices quieted and eyes that seemed to not want to be the bearers of bad news landed on me. The woman I knew, who I assumed was further along then I was, answered softly. “No, we can’t.” ” We aren’t as far along as you”. There was confidence and compassion in her voice. I knew that what she was telling was true, and yet couldn’t shake the anxiety it brought me. It was hard to accept that this part was to be done alone, without any source of outside support. I looked towards the trees, a dense forest before me, and started walking.
This dream was gifted to me about two years in to my faith journey. It helped solidify that yes, I was on a path of growth and discovery, and yes I feared what others might think if they were to see the transformation that was happening inside me. It also validated that this journey was in ways a solo course, and work that only I could do for myself. Lonely in many ways, but also connecting me to so many others who were also growing and changing, even if there was no evidence on the outside. The ghost of the midwife I’d like to believe could be a form of Feminine Divinity watching nearby, but not inserting themselves into the process.
And this baby that I was giving life to, this Billie or Story was not just another child, it was me. I was giving birth to a new me, one that would arrive mouth first, signifying to me a need to work on using my voice. I longed for her to have confidence, sovereignty, and to be the author and final authority of her own story. This continues to be my hope and goal as I continue walking on my journey through the wilderness.