Monday, 7 February 2011

To My Beautiful Daughter, Born at Home

I'm recording my memories of your birth-for you,Lucy,and also for me. I don't ever want to forget the amazing,beautiful, and powerful experience of the day we met you. Even four months later as I write this, the sweet anticipation of your arrival seems like yesterday. And yet,I can hardly remember our life before you! Loving you is the purest have always been in my heart and now you're finally here with us! On June 13th,my day began early,with mild contractions that I hoped might mean that the time of your birth was near. I lay in bed and noticed them and what they felt like-tightening-not painful,but crampy. Then I got up to the bathroom and had a small bloody show. I felt a great combination of peace and excitement,just so ready to accept whatever the day brought. I had read every book and watched all the videos I could get my hands on about giving birth, because although you do have two older brothers,they were both born in the hospital(where I was induced and anesthetized)and you would be born at home. I remember telling Amber,our midwife,that I was hoping for a better birth experience for me and for my baby! Amber and I had talked many times during the pregnancy about what that meant to me,and so I felt prepared if this was in fact IT.
Wearing a secret smile,I got your brothers up and we got ready for the day. We had breakfast and I took them to vacation bible school at our church. I decided to go look for a baby book for you, and so I spent an hour or so browsing around the stationary store,because I had a growing feeling I might be needing that book soon. Each time a contraction came,I stopped and felt it move through me. They weren't painful,and I considered going grocery shopping,but decided to go home and rest until time to get your brothers. I enjoyed a relaxing morning,and returned to pick them up at noon. I felt very private now,and I remember parking and walking way around the long way to avoid socializing at pick up time!

Our afternoon was uneventful, except for Daddy calling to check on us every hour. He wanted to know what was going on and whether it would be your birthday or not! I could tell he was getting excited,too. Jake and Trevor sat on the couch and watched a movie and I decided to take a bath. The contractions,when I timed them,I noticed were coming regularly but didn't feel much stronger. So I rested in the tub,felt you moving and stretching,and I thought,"Lucy,if you're ready,I'm ready too."Maybe you heard me,because when I got out of the tub, I had the feeling they were closer together.
Trevor and I baked chocolate chip cookies,and then the boys ate dinner and bathed. It was a cozy evening at home, exactly what I'd hoped early labor would be like for us. Your Daddy was still in San Antonio;he had tickets to a show downtown. I told him to go ahead and I would call him if anything changed. I really wanted to keep everything normal and relaxed. I stayed in the kitchen and started making some banana bread-and Daddy called again to say he was on his way home;he'd left early and was glad he would be home soon. The contractions were 3-5 minutes apart now,and I got your brothers ready for bed. When Daddy got home we were all laying on our bed,and I was reading to Trevor. Daddy took the boys into their room, and they fell asleep right away. It was amazing how soon after having them tucked in the contractions really started to change. I told your Daddy I thought they were getting closer together. We sat together and talked. The contractions got more intense;within about 15 minutes I couldn't pay attention to anything during a contraction.
I told your Daddy I was ready to call Amber. It was about 10:30pm and I wanted her to know what was going on. She advised us to time some of the contractions and call her when they were consistently 60 seconds long and about 4 minutes apart(or if I felt I needed her sooner). Almost as soon as we hung up the phone,the contractions intensified and grew to 3-4 minutes apart! I walked around our home,stopping and concentrating and swaying as if I felt I needed to. I got into our hot tub to sit and listen to music,and right away got back out to walk; my body was telling me to be up and moving! I hadn't had any more bleeding,but I knew this was definitely labor. How exciting that the time to meet you was so close at hand!

We called Amber back,and she arrived at our home around midnight. She performed the only exam that I had during labor(at my request) and said I was 4 cm dilated. I think she could tell that I expected to be a little bit farther along, and she reassured me that I was progressing fine,the labor was picking up and would,she thought,go quickly now. She suggested getting in the shower and sitting on the birth ball with hot water spraying on my back. Amber also reminded me to give this new position a few contractions to see if it worked for me, not to give up on it until I'd tried through a few. This was excellent advice. I found that it did take a few contractions to get into the rhythm with new position. So, I sat in my shower like this for a while(I had now started to lose track of time,I just"was")and concentrated on opening,breathing all the way down through my body with each contraction. I was making a low noise that came out with each one as it built up and peaked;doing that calmed me and centered me in each contraction. After a while I was ready to get out of the shower. Salli, Amber's apprentice and awesome doula,had arrived. I was walking around the room and the hallway,and I remember laughing with Salli that"I can't believe I wanted labor to start,I must have been out of my mind!" She asked what I wanted to do now and I laughed,"Take a nap!" I think she looked at me like I was nuts! My friend Betsy had compared labor to a roller coaster ride-once it gets going,you can't change your mind,you just have to ride it out because there's no getting out until it's over. The contractions now were rushing through me with a powerful force,and it took all of my concentration to ride each one. But how different this was from my boys' hospital births. My house was quite and softly lit;my own sanctuary. Amber and Salli had entered respectfully,even the tone of their voices was quiet. I was in my own space and I could greet each sensation calmly. It really made all the difference having women there alongside me, and not feeling like anyone was doing anything TO me.

Salli offered to rub my back,and although I didn't think my back was really hurting, I agreed if she thought it would help. Her hands brought immediate relief! It was amazing;I sat on the giant birthing ball next to my bed and leaned my forehead on the mattress. In preparation for labor, I had massage oil ready along with the birth kit,towels,and soft little receiving blankets. The scent of that lavender oil will always take me back to those hours of active labor when my midwives rubbed my back tirelessly!

Amber, Salli, and now Kari offered words of encouragement and affirmation in hushed tones as I released my body with low moaning sounds. I felt connected through their hands on me. When I labored with Jake and Trevor I remember feeling alone and consumed with pain, overpowered by the contractions,like they were mowing me over with their sheer force. This was actually the opposite experience. I felt the quiet presence of women who had given birth before as much as I felt their hands on me. And so the labor continued, but time seemed to be suspended. I imagined you pressing down, preparing to meet us! Then Amber said we could head for the water because your birth would be soon. We started slowly walking out to the kitchen, and then to the deck. Your daddy was asking if I was sure about going to the tub outside, but I KNEW. I slipped into the wonderful warm water, and right away the next contraction felt very different. Looking back, that must have been transition because it is the only time I felt a kind of panicked loss of focus; it was scary and I guess I said something; Amber had been setting up supplies and she looked at me and said, "O.K., do what you feel like doing with the next contraction." When it came, I realized I was pushing! In the water, the pushing was intense pressure, with a force that moved through me. My body just took over with awesome power and wisdom. It still amazes me! The first part of labor required so much mental energy, and now I was pushing and it felt so different, so undeniably physical! It wasn't sharp or fiery pain as I had imagined. I experienced a pressure I just HAD to push to relieve myself from. Your daddy was in the water sitting behind me and in just a few pushes your head was out. I remember Kari unwrapping your cord and so I didn't push while she did this, and I was confident because I knew I was in the best of hands with Amber, Salli, and Kari. At 4:05am, you were born!
I pulled you through the water to my chest. You looked around and as I started to talk to you, your dark eyes looked at me. You weren't crying but I knew you were O.K. Amber suggested blowing in your mouth to stimulate you some more and so I made some little sounds but I don't think you had anything to cry about. You were warm and no bright lights were shining in your eyes. Only gentle hands checked you out as you rested on me next to the heartbeat you had known for 9 months. And so you entered this world, so calm, peaceful, and sweet Lucy! I remember asking, "Are you really a girl?", as I lifted you up to see for myself...yes, a daughter and a sister had been born!
Your grandma arrived and woke up your brothers! I was so focused on what I was doing, we had forgotten to get them up! Trevor jumped right in the water with us. Both Jake and Trevor instantly adored you! And then, I was getting out of the tub and maybe the BEST part came next...I got to climb into my own bed with you and Daddy. Our midwives took care of us and brought me toast and juice. They weighed and measured you and assessed you right there on our bed. Your dark eyes were taking everything in, and you were just the most delicious bundle in your tiny diaper. I remember I didn't want to get you dressed for a while, we were in the covers and cozy next to each other as you nursed, and we just stared and stared at you. A new soul, our daughter...we loved you completely, right from the start.

"My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth." Psalm 121:2

Oh Amy, thank you so much for sharing this birth story with me. I will never forget the peacefulness of that night/early morn. Your sweet baby was so calm and so at peace and that is such a beautiful gift from the Lord.
You 2 girls will always be in my heart! Amber

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful story Amy! Such a blessing. Thanks so much for posting this.