April 2nd is a special day for me. With Spring here and it's meaning of new life and Easter two days away, I felt it was a fitting time to tell the story of Caleb, my son. Caleb is my 4th (and last) child. He was born 6 months ago today on October 2nd. His labor and delivery was, by far, the most intense of all my children. He was also my largest child weighing in at a whopping 10 pounds 5 ounces. As as a labor nurse, I was somewhat arrogant about my ability to have an unmedicated delivery since I had done it with my previous children and I am constantly telling other women "you can do this, don't give up". This time was different. I was humbled beyond belief.
I remember my "laboring day" like it was yesterday. I was in my favorite labor room, 5104. It was a sunny October day and I could see the leaves just starting to turn. My view was far and wide since I was way up high on the 5th floor of the hospital. It helped me so much to be able to look out the window during my contractions and concentrate on the turning leaves or the beautiful clouds. When my contractions became more intense, I was beginning to doubt myself. This labor was not going as I had planned (when does it ever). I was assuming after having three previous children that Caleb would come flying out, I would eat lunch and have a nap. Not so.
It was during this time of complete doubt that I looked out the window, trying to find something to focus on. What I saw was spectacular, ironic and strange all at the same time. There, hovering outside my 5th floor hospital window, were two beautiful monarch butterflies. They fluttered around each other right at my eye level. My labor pain subsided, if only for a few seconds, as I was trying to understand what I was seeing. Was this a sign of encouragement from my winged friends? Were they the beloved souls of my departed family members offering me love and support? This is exactly what the people in Central Mexico believe. During El Dia de Los Muertos, as the monarchs arrive, they are regarded as the souls of departed ancestors returning to earth for their annual visit. I have always loved this belief of monarchs being the liberated souls of our loved ones. Was one of them my Grandma Miriam? She was so dear to me, my second mother. She read to my sister and I before naps, played her paino so we could tapdance, and regularly took us to the park. Was one of the butterflies my Grandpa Marvin? His beautiful singing voice was such a comfort to all of his grandchildren. Were they both there to encourage me, just as I have done with so many women in that very same room? It made me wonder.
The monarchs did not just visit me once. Hours after their first visit, they came back to the very same spot outside my 5th floor window. To this day, I believe these two monarchs did not arrive by accident. I was comforted by them. When I told my husband about them, I wept. I wept for JOY. Something had happened that was beyond my earthly understanding. They were my little winged doulas, my silent supporters, and they gave me strength.
Caleb was born at 9:00 in the evening, and I never did get that epidural I was begging for. My labor nurse and my midwife stuck to my birth plan, and I was so glad. I will never forget that day. I will never forget those two beautiful butterflies. I am forever changed, and my love for monarchs is even more profound.
It was after Caleb's birth that I decided what I was going to do for my 2015 tagging season, which is so fitting to announce during this season of renewel and ressurection. This idea comes from deep within my heart and I hope that it will bring comfort to someone as much as the monarchs comforted me in my time of need.
The project is called Monarchs In Memory. It is for anyone who would like to celebrate the life of a friend or family member, young or old, who has passed on. This is a way to honor and remember them. Each monarch we tag will be named after the person you choose. A web page will be made in their honor including a picture, if provided, and a celebration of life article written by you. Next to their picture will be their tagged monarch butterfly, tag number, date of release and location of release. All that we ask in return is, if your dedication is posted, a donation be made to Monarch Watch in any amount you choose. This will be on the honor system.
So the next time you see a monarch butterfly in your midst, blow it a kiss and wave a little hello because someone you love may be saying, "You can do it, don't give up, I love you."
Blessings to all of you.