When you arise in the morning each day, consider the precious privilege of simply being alive.
I often write and reflect upon my experiences giving birth to each of my sons and the indescribable magnitude and impact it had and still has on me. It wasn’t until one recent evening, while having dinner on my birthday with my family, that I seriously considered the miraculous circumstance of my own.
I’d always known there were complications with my birth. I’d also always known that it had something to do with my umbilical cord not being attached to me. When my mother or father would share the story, I always smiled and considered it as a badge of honor in a way. I knew that my existence was against most odds and I found a sort of peace in knowing that. It helped me make sense of the acute appreciation and awareness I’ve always had for my life.
It was a humid and balmy Thursday morning in June when my Mother’s water broke. She and my Dad made their way to the hospital, enthusiastically anticipating the birth of their second child, gender unknown. As they were checking in and getting settled, they were completely unaware of how frightening the next several hours would be.
They were smiling and patient and thrilled. In those days, the husband wasn’t allowed in the delivery room. So, my soon to be father waited outside with the other nervous, expecting young men. As they were taking my mom away, she kept asking for her glasses because she wanted to be sure she could see me, clearly. What a day this would turn out to be.
My Mother was already dilated enough for the doctor to decide it was time to start pushing. Within moments of settling in, they began the arduous process of bringing a new life into this world. My Mom was being encouraged to push with all of her mighty might. She was determined to liberate this gentle being from the comfort of her womb out into the vast and unknown territory of life.
There was sweat, pain, suffering and many tears but fear was not at all present in that room. My mom believed it would be a quick and peaceful delivery. About thirty minutes in, my heart beat was fading and they immediately stopped labor and delayed my arrival by a few hours. Everyone suddenly got silent and a state of frenzy was set in motion. The doctor announced that I wasn’t getting enough oxygen and that I could possibly hemorrhage due to a tear. The discussion for a possible c-section began. My mom wasn’t attached to the idea of a vaginal delivery but she was definitely attached to me. She didn’t panic. She trusted and was willing to cooperate in every way, in order to keep me breathing, and to exit her body, alive.
As I reflect on the day of my birth and the significance of what happened, I find myself drawn to the notion of a root of origin. When I question certain things about myself and I wonder where these feelings or concepts originated from, I look further and deeper for answers. I decided to do some research about my birth and the complications involved so that I could understand it better and also perhaps, connect necessary dots from the beginning.
In my research, I found that a good place to start would be understanding the magical and sacred life form, the placenta. As I was reading, I discovered that this sheltering organ, resembles the tree of life. It is conceived at the moment of creation, to nourish and protect. It unites the mother and her baby in a profound way through pregnancy while maintaining their integrity as distinct beings. The umbilical cord, which connects the baby to the placenta, contains three fragile, yet essential, life-sustaining, vessels: two arteries which carry blood from the baby to the placenta and one vein, which carries blood back to the baby. The placenta connects to the mother through these blood vessels and it connects to the baby through the umbilical cord. This information makes things so clear for me and symbolizes so much.
The doctor monitored my mother for hours and made the decision to induce labor again. My heart beat was regulating and they were ready and determined to deliver a breathing, healthy baby.
It was identified that my mother had Vasa Previa which is an incredibly rare but severe complication of pregnancy. Vasa Previa is a condition in which fetal blood vessels cross or run near the internal opening of the uterus. These vessels are at risk of rupture when the supporting membranes rupture, as they are unsupported by the umbilical cord. This situation carried a high risk that I might die from a hemorrhage due to one of the blood vessels tearing during labor and delivery. Normally, a baby is connected by the belly button to the umbilical cord. This connection creates and sustains life from the point of conception to birth. It was discovered that I was connected by the vessels but not the actual cord. It is a fascinating thought to contemplate. This is what was causing the lack of oxygen and had me seconds away from a stillbirth.
I was still when I arrived but thankfully, there wasn’t a death. There was a peace and an understanding which still resonates within me to this day. This root of origin embraced and claimed me. It connected me to this life, this maternal being, this future, despite the fact that I was not connected to the element necessary for survival.
The tree of life and the lessons I continue to learn, originate from this root, which I am now gaining clarity on. The imagery is so fascinating to me. Upon arrival into this universe, one is usually cut from the umbilical cord, this sturdy, all-powerful element, connecting us to our only life-sustaining source, our mother. I truly understand for the first time, the concept of miraculous. I truly understand the fragility of my birth, my existence. I truly understand why I feel as deeply as I do. Why I am grateful for every single second and every single breath I get to take.
The doctor made a diagram to show my mother and father what actually happened and what I was and wasn’t connected to. It showed the tiny, fragile vessels that were feeding and sustaining my growth. My life. I was literally hanging on by these microscopic threads. These tiny vessels could have ruptured at any time, but they didn’t. My parents said that the only rupturing that took place in that moment was immense love and gratitude. My mother held onto this diagram all these years as a reminder. A reminder that my soul was determined to come through her body, on that 15th day in June, and my existence, as this person I am today, was meant to exist in this lifetime. I was meant to be a fighter, against all odds. I had a purpose and it was going to be fulfilled and nothing could or would stop me.
I can’t help but philosophize about the umbilical cord symbolizing a tree trunk and the vessels symbolizing branches on a tree. It is now clear to me why I’ve been so deeply drawn and connected to trees over my lifetime.
The tree is our instinctive nature. It holds all of our evolution and evolvement of our soul’s lifetimes. The trunk is our system, the vital avenue for flow within our bodies.
All of this life is supported by a vast, underground root system which supports and irrigates the parts we can see. The branches are different paths we choose to take and the many lessons we learn along the way. The leaves represent the passing, momentary connections, the intimate relationships and the once in a lifetimes. Some stay, some fly away, some fall. Some hold on longer than others.
The tree emerged from a humble seed which was nourished by a vast conspiracy of elements. This seed was once untarnished, simple and free. It holds all of our gifts of creativity, awareness and intuition lying dormant within us. It holds the key to our hearts.
The seed roots itself into the earth, just as a fetus is rooted to her mother. They both use the nutrients of the collective universe to feed off of. Some of the elements we ingest and others we repel. The tree simulates our growth process. It encompasses the evolvement of our journey through our psychological, emotional and spiritual aspects.
No trees are ever alike just as each human being is a distinctive, unique, extraordinary individual. There is always imperfection within our structures. The tree, just as our soul, holds all. The flaws, the strengths, the weaknesses, the breath. We each are separate, yet connected as one. The rings and circles and coils are the DNA and the spirals of this precious life. This connected, massive, always moving and always growing, circuit.
This metaphor has always helped me process the meaning and purpose of the people in my life. It helps me understand, like the leaves of a tree, that they are all significant. Some leaves and some people touch us deeply and fly away with the breeze. Others somehow remain, despite conditions and circumstances against them. They may be holding on longer than they should or letting go too soon. They may hold on when you think they won’t and prove that LOVE really does exist.
I believe there is one who holds your key. One who may not stay but will decidedly cross your path in this lifetime. There is a moment of impact when the universe aligns and brings two spirits together. There is no warning or explanation. There is just silence and a knowing you can’t describe. One smile can burn in your soul forever. One touch, one kiss, one second in time can change everything. The magnitude of this chance encounter will inspire you to search within yourself and beyond what is familiar. It will inspire you to walk through the pain and the stories we replay telling ourselves we don’t deserve it or we’re not good enough. We will yearn for tenderness, warmth, deep connection, Union and Love as we experienced in that moment, until we meet again.
On Birthdays, for me, it isn’t about the gifts or the singing or the cake. There is a gift I treasure each and every year more than any other. It is not tangible. It is a gift I get to enjoy by myself or surrounded by the ones I truly love. It is the gift of a moment. That moment, when I consciously acknowledge the past year and the beginning of a new one. That moment when I close my eyes, and my life up until that point, flashes before me. I feel still. Quiet. Grateful. Alive.
I don’t rush to appease the excited impatience surrounding me. I know we will soon delight in satiating our hunger for sweetness. I know that you are looking at me and pondering your own existence and your own wishes, in that moment. I know that you also feel alive, connected and hopeful.
For one brief second, I believe that this wish I am about to secretly declare, will be honored and fulfilled because this is the day of my birth. This is the reminder that terrifying conditions nearly obstructed my delivery into this world. The reminder that each and every passing moment and breath is a new chance. A chance to be even more conscious. More connected. More thankful. More aware.
This human embodiment possessed with hearty lungs is capable of blowing out these candles. This robust, yet incredibly tender, beating heart is able and knowing. Please just hear my wish and in that, you will know and understand me. My wish is for something so much bigger than I’ve ever been able to express. In truth, love and vulnerability, these wishes will reveal themselves over time.
As I take my first steps into this year ahead, I shall let you carry me. I will let go and give into your wishes and all you envision. I will trust you completely. The sunshine on my face. The gentle caress of the clouds on my skin. The strength you possess as you lift me beyond what I believe to be possible. You will guide me on this path and I will breathlessly align myself with You.
As the residue from the smoke of the candles slowly dissipates before me, I realize my place in this life. I shall take this moment to reconnect with my purpose and to set forth into the next year, whole-heartedly, humbly, gently, and boldly.