Friday, March 26, 2010


Late on the evening of November 12, 2009, I went to sit on the toilet in my hospital room and laughed as the fluid poured out of me, splashing all over my legs, the floor, soaking my socks. I was soaking through towels faster than they could replace them, and I was slightly giddy as the baby's heartrate was strong and it looked like we were going to make it.

As I sat down, belly heavy and sticky on my thighs, I breathed in and I smelled it, the smell of amniotic fluid, damp and sweet. My water hadn't broken with Liam or Aoife, so this was it, the moment of olfactory memory, that suddenly tied the births together. I hadn't smelled it for six and a half years, but it was there, clear as day, the smell of birth that had first met me in the wee hours of the morning on that cool May night.

I can smell it now, in my head. Can you do that, try to picture a smell? It flashes through your mind so quickly you can hardly grab it, it's difficult to do. But I can still grasp this one, slightly, and it makes me feel very close to birth, and very lucky to have this tie between my first and last girl.

I smell the fluid, and the other smell which I can still remember so clearly, but will soon forget is that amazing, creamy smell of the newborn baby. Newborn, with the vernix still soaking in, that fresh, amazing smell of absolutely new life. It's akin to the smell of the fluid (not to state the obvious, given where the child has come from) but slightly its own as well. This was, of course, the smell of Charlotte, as she was only ever newly born. I visit her a little in my mind every time I give birth.

I remember these smells now, but wonder for how long I will be able to grasp them before they are lost. If I remember them every single day, can I forget them? I wish it could be bottled.


How will I ever stop having babies?

(but I will, now or someday, whichever comes first)

5 comments:

mommymichael said...

I still have Trillian's placenta in the freezer. About two weeks after the birth I had taken it out for my midwife to look at (for funzies) and the smell just hit me. I'm sure to anybody else it would have been nasty -- the smell of blood. To me, I loved the smell of it. It was just this "birthy" smell and just SO reminded me of all their births combined. That same smell.
Roan I remember smelled like sweet buttermilk. Little Willem was a bit stinky, and I don't know why. I bathed him that next day (Roan after a week). Trillian just had her own sweet little smell. Yet smelling the placenta brings me right back to when they were all born. I love it.
I hope the smell lasts in your head forever.

mama said...

beautiful.happy birthday little Aiofe!

kris said...

what a lovely sense-memory. i hope you do always remember.

and yes! happy four to sweet aoife!!

Charlotte's Mama said...

ooh..
I am happy to hear I might be able to reclaim the birth smell with the placenta; Fiona's is also in my freezer, waiting for spring.

Taking Heart said...

Oh I smell that smell every weekend. Sometimes I take it home with me on my blue scrubs. Sometimes I get cheesed with God's lotion (vernix) when we plop the babe up onto the mommy's chest. It never gets old... And when I snuggle the newly born babies in the nursery after their first bath... I always inhale the smell of their head... it has a sweet and bitter smell... but so familiar.

Happy Birth Day