Welcome to Eliza Constance, 7lbs 7oz

WELCOME to Eliza Constance.

My granddaughter. Seven pounds seven ounces. The seventh grandchild; a child of extraordinary beauty who was smiling within five hours of birth, and no, it wasn’t wind. It was knowledge. Raw intelligence. Maybe it was because she can see the funny side.

I don’t know what, exactly, she would see as funny. For me it’s the notion that God is infallible. I mean, I’m sure he’s a nice bloke, despite infesting the Egyptians with a plague of boils, which was a really rotten thing to do. But when it comes to reproductive systems he’s not… well… practical.

Have you seen the size of a baby? Have you seen how it arrives? Do you have any idea what they’d say to you if you invented, let us say, a Magnetic Island car ferry that required you to force the cars out through a space the size of a Lambretta?

You’d be laughed out of business. I guess that would have been God’s fate if it weren’t for his taste in vengeance and boils.

But I ask you… how can the human race, weighing approximately 7lb 7oz, be expected to arrive through a tunnel the size of… well… to be perfectly honest I’m not sure how big it is, exactly… I just know it’s too small!

It makes my eyes water thinking about it.

If that’s the only option then at least let’s make babies the same shape as spaghetti. Cooked spaghetti. That would make it easier on the mothers. So would a handy flap, with a zip.

Not that my daughter is complaining. She had a home birth (as did all my daughters). Just Lara, Dave, the midwife, and a big bath of water, joined after 10 hours, by Eliza. (Yes, not only a home birth, but a water birth, too). When she was born the midwife held her in the palm of her hand, face down; a small warm, blue Ñ yes, blue! Ñ wrinkled, silent handful of flesh.

And as she lay there, in the midwife’s hand, the placenta slowly gave up its task of keeping Eliza alive, and handed the job over to Eliza herself.

No smacked bottoms or dangling by our held feet, as was done to me and all my generation when we were born. Just the gradual, natural wonder of learning to breathe and the blue of her skin receding as first white, then pink, began to steal over her body, like a perfect sunrise.

No hospital smells, no hospital noises. She lay in her parents’ bed, with the smell of her parents around her. She slipped into our world as softly as a sigh; and dammit, I swear she smiled.

I hear only two percent of births in Australia are home births and I’m sure someone will write and tell me how irresponsible it is.

I don’t know how to respond to that… except that maybe God, if there is one, isn’t so silly after all. I don’t believe in miracles, but I do believe in wonders. I do believe in mystery and the extraordinary, unlikely, comical, awe-inspiring, magical incomprehensibility of birth.

I look at Eliza Constance, now six days old, and I know it wouldn’t have been the same if there’d been a handy flap, with a zip.