We got the call while out in the woods. We’d stopped to catch the clifftop view looking west over the river, forest, and hills to where the clouds brushed the treetops on the horizon. Lynn’s cellphone rang and set us off in the direction of Ottawa just ahead of the Friday night freezing rainstorm.
We arrived just before the second midwife. While I made myself scarce, the team supported Hollee’s superhuman effort to bring baby Teegan out of hiding.
Just an hour later I got to see everyone in recovery. Mother and child, father and grandmother were all wide-eyed and a little post-traumatic. The glow of the awe-full miracle still held in the room. The midwives quietly and professionally busied themselves while gracing us with big smiling glances.
Next morning we brought fruit and chocolate and got to take turns holding the wonder as we retold the amazing story of her arrival. Holding this tiny bundle was a meeting of the physical and the metaphysical. Her deep red dusky rose complexion seemed both tender and incredibly resilient. Her sleeping wrinkled brown kept lifting in consternation. “What does she have to worry about?” I wondered. What dreamlike memories are running through her head?
Is she wondering great mystical thoughts? Trying to measure the distance she’s come from god’s imagination into a dark wet womb? She grows at a mind-boggling rate only to be pushed violently into this bright cold place where she’s poked and handled and the subject of such happy discussion.
Is her mind a blank scroll? Or is the sum of the universe’s mysteries slowly slipping from her grasp as she wakes to the challenges of consciousness? She’s transformed from being one with the whole-of-it-all to being just one little humbled human baby.
Previously, she had been an aquatic creature. She’d received all she needed via the umbilical cord connecting her tiny rapidly growing body with the sac of amniotic fluid that was her home, her universe.
From this place of true security - a place that we grown-ups can only achieve now in immortal moments of spiritual bliss – she enters the unpredictable world of mortals. She’s suffered the shock of being squeezed like toothpaste from her warm underwater home into this Midway House of Horrors. At every turn intensely new sights and sounds challenge her to absorb and adjust. Fingers poke and lift and spin her around at dizzying speeds. So much to deal with in so short a time.
It was the miracle of her breathing that struck me most. Watching her tiny nostrils flare and relax as they naturally drew in what she’d need from now on. Her environment was now air. She was a fish out of water, a nymph turned amphibian, a mermaid now on shore. What an incredible, unbelievable transformation!
Starting as a microscopic single circle - an egg first formed when her own mother grew inside grandma’s womb – already she embodied the whole of potent creation. Waiting just a generation to meet its future - among the zillion sperm that swam and poked their way up in the desperate search - it took only one dark spark to make it all begin.
Didn’t the universe begin in some such way? In the airless void before there was a before, a gazillion glints in God's eye searched for a beginning and by random chance found purchase in the cell we now call home. We wonder - with first awareness of our own fingers - at how the universe could still be expanding at such a rate without realizing we’re just in the first trimester of time.
And baby Teegan takes another breath. The air sets off sets off a series of reactions as her blood begins to be fed by oxygen. Her heart tastes the blood fed by breath. As mother and father fall in love with Teegan's presence - so her own heart finds it needs air like love - like it never knew before. She becomes one of us and what we were – has now grown bigger to take her in.
As the birth-cycle swim ends and the walk with lungs begins - with a cough and a sneeze and a cry to mark the passage - we celebrate the miracle. Not just a beginning. But also the end of what was before the beginning.
Within every measure of time - from nanosecond to aeon - the same circle spins. And yet with every single cycle the surprise comes as a discovery - that the only baby - the only universe - that ever mattered is the one born now. The only breath that ever mattered is the one you take right now.