It’s so strange to try to articulate what happens when a baby is born, to give language to that experience of a person being here having just moments earlier not been here.
Because, in some ways, that exact bundle of cells was “here” ten minutes earlier, just inside my body. If a walnut is in a jar and we take it out, we don’t say “the walnut’s here now!” “When the the baby arrives” sounds so odd to me: arrives from where?
On the other hand, the moment of birth is huge. It’s not a walnut emerging from a jar, and not just because it’s a whole lot harder to get a human head out of a vagina. It’s an organism changing dramatically from part-of-my-body to part-of-our-society. It’s the difference between potential and fruition. It’s a moment of individuation, of naming.
It’s “meeting your baby,” but that’s not quite right, either: this is not a stranger coming to my door.
Midwives sometimes talk about bringing the baby earthside or welcoming the baby earthside. I’ve felt drawn to this term since I heard it, but but but–the fetus was very much already on Earth, inside me! It took a conversation with our midwife during my second pregnancy to clarify the word’s attraction for me, even though the term “earthside” was never spoken.
We were doing a prenatal visit, late in my pregnancy: the one where you go through the if-the-baby-is-born-before-the-midwife-arrives procedure. She talked about how ‘sometimes it takes a little while for the baby fully to come into its body,’ to operate as/in a separate body rather than as part of my body, to sort of animate. To occupy its own body on this earth.
To come, if you will, fully earthside.
I like it.