Birth Knot: An Ode To Samuel

July 27th – your due date. It came. And went. So did another week. While we were eager to meet you and find out who you were, your dad and I knew that labor would begin at the right time, when you were ready to come out, so we were not worried. At two days past your due date, I went in for an appointment with Kavita, the wonderful midwife who delivered you. She understood that we wanted to wait patiently for you, and she respected that we didn’t yet want to talk about “getting you out.” I passed another (mostly) pleasant week with you inside, trying to ignore the increasingly impatient outside world, and focus inward as you had all the finishing touches put on you. 

At nine days past your due date, we went to see Kavita again. She performed a non-stress test on my belly to see how you were faring in there. They put two belts around my belly, one up high to measure movements or contractions, and the other one down low, where your head was, to listen to your heartbeat. The best part of the test was that your dad and I got to sit in the room for twenty minutes just listening to the fast and steady beating of your beautiful little heart. Your dad said it was the most wonderful thing he had ever heard. We had heard it before, lots of times, at various appointments, but this was the first time we just got to hear such a long period of it uninterrupted. Our own private symphony. It was amazing – when I felt you move inside of me, there was a corresponding increase in the rate of your heartbeat, just as it should be. It made you seem even more real and alive and responsive. You passed the test with flying colors, and you made our hearts soar.

After Kavita did the test, we decided that we needed to start talking about things we could do to perhaps encourage labor to begin. If you weren’t born by the following Monday, August 11th, which was 42 weeks and 1 day gestation, I was to be induced. Your dad and I had spent a lot of time and energy learning about natural childbirth, and we did not want to induce you out artificially. We wanted to welcome you naturally. I was already dilated to 3.5 centimeters and 90% effaced, so it was clear that my body was getting ready to bring you out on its own, given time. We just hoped it would come soon enough.

Kavita suggested stimulating my membranes, which means that she lifted the bag of waters off the cervix and kind of moved things around in there. This was supposed to jump-start my body’s natural production of prostaglandins, which is something that normally happens in labor. 

The procedure was not very comfortable, but it was neat for the fact that Kavita said she had felt your head and the bag of waters (the opening of my cervix was open enough to allow her to do this). Whoa! Someone touched you! I left feeling very contract-y and crampy and altogether kind of achy. 

Your dad and I went to Whole Foods to seek out some homeopathic remedies that were supposed to start up labor. The store didn’t carry them, and neither did the Trader Joe’s across the street, so we went home. We called up a woman who makes and sells herbal remedies from her home. She sells a Labor Tincture, and we could pick it up that night (Tuesday).Your dad went out for Chinese food and some ice cream, and picked up the tincture. We feasted on the noodles - my fortune cookie read, “A new challenge is near.”

“I wish you out of the woods
And into a picture with me
I wish you over the moon
Come out of the question
And be.”
-Nickel Creek, “Out of the Woods”

That night passed with no labor beginning. Wednesday morning I began taking the labor tincture (blech! Double blech!). It was comprised of blue and black cohosh, gingerroot and birthroot, distilled in brandy. I took it by putting a dropperful under my tongue every half hour. It burned and was really not a pleasant way to spend the day, taking that foul stuff every half-hour. By midday I was feeling so pressured, mostly externally, since I was feeling fine just waiting. But I felt like one giant abstract belly, as if no one could focus on anything else (which made it hard for me to do so). I felt like I was being pressed to “perform” somehow and bring you out, when it was something I had no control over. I burst into frantic tears, at the end of my rope and needing a good cry (maybe the brandy also helped bring it on!)… I called your dad and he came home from work to comfort me. 

like weaving
body and spirit
like threads across the loom
stretched to breaking
for release”
-Jan L. Richardson, Sacred Journeys

Thursday I called Kavita again. We were talking about trying castor oil (yuck!), which is also supposed to be a labor stimulant. We were going to try it Friday morning. Kavita suggested that I come in again that afternoon to get my membranes stimulated again, since I had felt increased contractions/cramps after she did it the last time. We dutifully trooped in at 4pm on Thursday afternoon. 

After our appointment, we didn’t feel like going home, so we went to Valley Fair mall and walked around doing some people-watching. We stopped in at the “As Seen On TV” store and avoided everything baby-related. We had a nice dinner at California Pizza Kitchen. First they seated us in a booth, because I thought that might be more comfortable, but I discovered that my belly would no longer fit! They moved us to another table with chairs that moved. After dinner, we headed on home, and enjoyed a rare night of awful-TV watching. We watched a show called “Extreme Makeover” where people get plastic surgery, fitness training, makeovers, new wardrobes, etc. It was so dumb. At around 11pm, we shuffled off to bed.

“On your way
on your way
child be on your way
to me here
you whom I made new
come here child come be
be beautiful feather”
- from an Aztec poem to ease birth

Around 2am, I woke up feeling kind of icky and increasingly achy. I went to the bathroom (since at this point of my pregnancy, I dutifully just went every time I woke up at night, since I knew I most likely needed to) and came back to bed. I didn’t feel like I was really “in labor” (or at least not like what I thought it would feel like) but as I lay there, it became pretty clear that I was feeling contractions. Your dad had awoken as soon as I did (he was a little bit on edge!) to ask what was going on, so he was up. We worked our way through those early morning hours, just relaxing and letting my uterus do its work and trying not to “interfere.” Once we decided to time the contractions, they were about 3-4 minutes apart, and 45 seconds long, on average.

Your dad fell back asleep, with my urging (since I knew he’d need his strength, and for me, I was fine on my own for these contractions). I alternately slept, focused on relaxing, and walked around the house a bit. I also wanted to save my strength. The phrase that kept running through my head was one that my midwife had said earlier; “Exhaustion is your biggest enemy in labor.” I ate a bowl of cereal, and around 6am paged Kavita. Dr. O’Neill called back (the OB in the office), and said I could come in anytime after the office opened for a check. I still wanted to talk to Kavita (and knew she was on-call), so I called back to the answering service and asked them to page specifically Kavita. She called and we chatted a bit, and I decided to stay home a while and told her I would keep her posted. She gave me her direct pager number so I could page her whenever we needed.

I called your grandparents (my Mom and Dad) to let them know what was going on as they got ready for their days. My dad answered and I asked him, “So, what are you doing today?” He answered that he had a job interview in Livermore (!), and asked what I had planned. I said, “Oh, I was thinking of having a baby today!” 

Dad repeated the news to my mom, and I told them I would keep them posted. I took a nice hot shower, and went back to bed.

Red raspberry leaf is an herb that helps to tone the muscles of the uterus. Women who have taken this leaf throughout pregnancy have strong uteruses and feel contractions less strongly. This herb was in my awesome prenatal vitamins, so I had been taking them for the whole pregnancy. Maybe this is why most of my contractions all day Friday were mostly bearable and not at all overwhelming. It didn’t feel like what I thought labor would be. It was muscle work but not pain.

So, for most of the day Friday this pattern continued. The contractions got stronger, but stayed about 3-4 minutes apart, and about 45 seconds long. We kept the bedroom dark and your dad was a great relaxation coach. I was even able to sleep between contractions – it was odd, because when I dozed it felt like hours, and when I would awake, it had only been about 3 minutes! My body knew what it was doing, I just tried to stay out of the way.

I did try to eat something somewhere around midday. Your dad made me some scrambled eggs. I ate them, went back to bed, and promptly threw up into a trash can by the bed. I think this happened both times I tried to eat something. Sometime in the early afternoon, the contractions stopped for at least an hour, maybe two, and I was able to sleep.

The rest of the day passed quickly; it didn’t seem like hours and hours. The contractions picked up again. Labor was increasingly hard work, but not necessarily really painful. It was pain I could manage, not like a sharp, searing pain or a stabbing pain, which would not have been bearable. It was just muscles tightening, squeezing, squeezing, and then relaxing. It did seem to involve my whole body, and all my energy, but it was pain I could manage using the relaxation techniques we had learned in our Bradley classes. Taking hot showers helped.

Your dad got the clock off the wall in the nursery, and he would lay by me to time contractions. I would let him know when a contraction was beginning by grunting or making a noise. As they started to get more intense, I focused on keeping my mouth and throat loose as the contraction would build. I would make a low, exhaling moaning noise throughout the contraction until I felt it waning, and then he would know to stop timing. It also really helped me relax, even though I know I sounded a bit extraterrestrial or looney. I didn't care.

In late afternoon, your dad made me eat again, this time whole wheat toast with a light coating of peanut butter and honey, along with a glass of milk. I managed to keep it down. After I ate it, we went for a slow walk around the complex. We picked up the mail, and went back inside the house. Contractions were strong, but walkable during one. I didn’t necessarily feel an increasing intensity, like a textbook labor. I went back to lie down.

In early evening, my parents came over to bring your dad Boston Market for dinner. At this time, the contractions were actually taking a little break, and I didn’t feel them so much. I think the biggest struggle of this was psychologically – I didn’t want the contractions to stop, I wanted them to continue and speed up and get stronger so you would come! In the back of my mind I was afraid of labor stopping, after all that work. I tried to keep a really positive mindset, though, because I knew that was as important as anything (mind-body connection!). My mom, and then my dad both came in to see me and encourage me. It was nice to see them. We also called Michelle, our Bradley instructor around this time, just to ask her some questions we had about the progression of my labor. She was very helpful and reassuring that we were doing things right…

After they left, around 7pm or so, I started feeling just this icky and terrible back pain, but no recognizable contractions. Now I know, Samuel, that this was because you were starting to move further down and putting pressure on my lower back. At this point, though, because of this new type of pain, I started getting increasingly frustrated and doubting myself. I read the parts in the Bradley handbook about a puttering labor, and about how your body knows what is best. In retrospect, my labor was nice because it was a little slower, and I would relax and rest up in spurts between the hard work. But these back pains were no fun. They hurt. I tried moving around the house, doing pelvic rocks, getting in different positions. 

“You need not cry very loud; God is nearer to us than we think.”
-Brother Lawrence,

As emotionally it got harder, I walked around in the living room, talking out loud to God and the universe, telling how I was falling apart and didn’t know if I could handle these pains, and the frustration and ambiguity, and the whole situation. I found through acknowledging my struggle, I found a new reserve of strength and dedication that I could do this. Your dad was intuitively paying attention to me in this time, and he suggested that these pains might really be contractions (but they didn’t feel like them!). He suggested we try timing them. I was weepy and frustrated and did not want to, but we did, and sure enough, they were coming regularly (about 5 minutes apart, lasting 60 seconds or so). Since it helped when your dad rubbed and applied pressure to my back during these pains, we decided I’d lay down and he’d work on my back (this was the beginning of long hours of back rubbing!). I also have a buckwheat & lavender heating pillow that can be microwaved and retains this nice, warm heat. That was wonderful. 

The early night hours passed this way (already another night! I thought we'd be done by now). All day long we had been in contact with Kavita by phone (she was very cheery and patient and wonderful on the phone). Around 10pm, we had passed 3 hours of these very strong contractions (with back pain) that were 60-75 seconds long. We were a bit befuddled because in a textbook labor, the contractions are actually supposed to get closer together, in addition to lasting longer, but ours were spacing out. They were definitely stronger, though, and longer, so I felt good, like we were making progress. 

“Going To The Hospital” -- this was the beast that we struggled with all day long, more than any other question. We didn’t want to go too early, because I would much rather labor at home in my nice bed. But conversely, I had been at this for hours and had no idea how much progress I had made in reaching the goal of a nice, open cervix. I was beginning to think, with night falling, that maybe this might be a good time to think about going. We were so unsure, I was so doubtful. I just didn’t know what I wanted to do. I repeated the statement several times that it made me want a home birth, where I wouldn’t have to worry about picking up and going anywhere!

I called my mom, and I also spoke to Kavita. Your dad and I agreed with them, that it sounded like time to go – not necessarily because of the intensity and length of the contractions, but more because I realized that I could not fully relax until I was at the hospital, my final destination, my wonderful midwife there. I can be so darn stubborn. My mom pointed this out, that if we went now then we could just wholly focus on the task at hand and not worry anymore about going anywhere. Kavita sensed the doubt in me on the phone and encouraged us to consider going now as well, because she thought maybe I needed the reassurance of progress. I felt more than anything at this time a psychological frustration and a need to go.

So we got our things together and I got ready to go. We were both so back-and-forth as to whether this was the right time, but we resolutely set out for the car  since my mom was already on the way to meet us, and now was as good of a time as later to go. 

The car ride there was not fun, since the contractions were still coming strong (although the change in routine caused them to space out erratically). We had to stop at the (closed) Rotten Robbie gas station on Monterey Road to weather a contraction. I also had a few on the freeway. I was so glad that this baby was coming in the dead of the night, at a time with no traffic on the roads.

My biggest concern with transporting the labor work to the hospital setting was that I knew the change in environment often caused the rush of adrenaline in laboring women. Adrenaline is the nemesis of oxytocin, which causes contractions in a natural labor. So I focused as much as possible on keeping my eyes closed, keeping calm, keeping relaxed.

When we arrived at O’Connor Hospital, my mom was standing by the emergency entrance (we had to go in this way since it was after hours and the main entrance was locked). We parked by her car and gathered our things. Slowly, I made my way in. I got seated in a wheelchair (which was nice) and closed my eyes tight, focusing all my energy internally, on relaxing. I did not open my eyes at all in the E.R. (and actually have no idea what it looked like or who helped us there!). Once we got up to the third floor (Labor & Delivery), I had to open my eyes and do a brief paperwork/insurance card exchange with the front desk. I was asked to give a urine sample and shuffled off alone (and very slowly) to do this. In retrospect I should have had your dad come along. I could only give a small sample. My back was hurting, so I got on my hands and knees on the bathroom floor and did some pelvic rocks. They took me to the triage room that we had seen on our maternity tour. I eagerly climbed in bed, covered my eyes, and focused all my energies towards the inside, trying to regain the inner focus and calm and drive that I had had at home. 

The nurse was a nice and gentle Filipino woman with a pleasant voice, and she asked if we had a birth plan, which we did, and we gave her a copy. She clearly read it and shared it with our other nurses because in retrospect it was followed completely. For example, I did not want to be hydrated by I.V. and because it was on the birth plan, no one even asked me if I wanted one, or why I didn’t want one. Same goes for drugs, and other interventions. We were respected and mostly left to ourselves.

The nurse hooked my belly up to a fetal monitor (same as the non-stress test earlier) for 20 minutes. I curled up, with my eyes covered, and sucked my thumb to restart a good labor pattern (there is a pressure point on the roof of your mouth that stimulates labor, even though – yeah, you feel a little weird). I tried not to listen to all the conversation from the other beds and the other nurses. I had several good, strong contractions while I was on the monitor and once they found your heartbeat, Samuel, the test passed well and everything looked fine. 

The nurse examined me internally and found I was at 4cm, so I was officially admitted. I think I was probably more than 4cm at home, but the stress of the trip (and deciding to make the trip!) made me regress a little bit. 

I walked to my room (the exact same labor room that we had seen in the tour!), and again immediately focused on getting into bed and turning inward. There was some initial fetal monitoring that I found to be a real inconvenience. Other than that, the lights were turned off/dim and the door closed. I got settled into my room around 12:30am (August 9th). Other than trips to the bathroom (increasingly UNcomfortable!), I was in bed with my big body pillow, relaxing. 

Now at this point the contractions were strong and definitely harder work than they had been before. During a contraction I NEEDED consistent, firm, and steady pressure on my lower back. This helped “counteract” the pain of the contraction and was very necessary. Your dad and now my mom were both champions in this. By the end of the labor, they could hardly push anymore (sore hands, sore arms!), but they did and I am so grateful. Also, my buckwheat heating pillow helped as well, especially when combined with the pressure. 

Three hours flew by. All the attention in the room (mine, your dad’s and my mom’s) was intently focused on relaxation and weathering these contractions. Your dad continued to be the excellent coach that he had been all along. My mom was wonderful as well. She offered good feedback to me, and gentle reassurance. She thought it was a great idea how I did my low moaning sound through each contraction. We had learned this in our Bradley classes. It was important to keep the tone low – a higher pitched moan would turn into a panicked squeal and this was not good for relaxation. My mom also helped with timing the contractions so your dad could focus on me. 

From about 2am onward, every time I would get up to go to the bathroom, I would get the shivers really really bad. I would collapse back in bed and it would take a few minutes for the cold feeling to go away. I was also wearing thick socks because that helped (the floors in the room were a cold linoleum). Around 3:30, things started getting rough, culminating with a trip to the bathroom that ended in me lying on my side in bed, dry-heaving my guts out. In retrospect, this was The Transition That Didn’t Feel Like Transition. My mom suggested that we ask Blanca, my nurse, to come in and check me to see how far dilated I was, and she walked down the hall to the nurses’ station to get her. Blanca came in and checked me internally and as she did, her eyes widened; “Oh my gosh…Oh my gosh! You are completely dilated!” Inside I wasn’t surprised because I knew how hard I had been working. Of course, Kavita had to be called right away -- I really didn’t want to start pushing without her.

At this point, I was oddly blessed with about an hour where I laid very, very still on my side and waited for Kavita to arrive without any urges to push. I was so determined not to start pushing until she got there (did I mention I'm stubborn?). I didn’t feel any urge to push, so I rested. Emotionally, at this time, I felt a little panicked, and made statements to my mom and your dad that evidenced this. I felt a little stranded on this plateau, overlooking what was to come, because NOW I had to DO something! First stage labor had just been about relaxing. On the horizon was this big task called PUSHING and I was uncertain that I could do it. Also, I think I was a little scared by the fact that at the end of this second stage, Samuel would be here! (We didn’t know your sweet self at the time, and it is a big scary change to face!). I stood on the edge of this precipice of parenthood, daunted by that next leap. I knew my life was changing. I lay there in the stillness and waited.

My mom reassured me that I could do it, and that I would do it. She told me again that in all three of her labors with us, she felt the same way when she reached the end of first stage. My dad had to reassure her that she could do it. In the same way, her encouragement helped me a lot (but didn’t take away the apprehension). 

I think I might have slept a little because the next thing I knew, Kavita was there. She came in and “set up shop.” Her presence was very calming to me. She suggested I tried going to the bathroom. I tried but when I got to the toilet I couldn’t because I was in too much pain and sitting like that hurt. I was bleeding a lot due to all the changes inside. My water bag was still intact though. I barely made it back to the bed and lay on my side. Since I did NOT want to move, Kavita suggested we try pushing on my side first. With her coaching (since I don’t really remember feeling a pushing urge or a contraction), I began pushing. 

It took a while for me to really get the hang of these intense pushes (bearing down with all your might!), although Kavita said that they were mostly productive from the beginning. She did give me a little coaching in terms of holding my breath during the push in order to work better. I had been blowing out – a holdover from my relaxation during first stage that I didn’t realize I was doing. Kavita also placed her fingers in the opening to show me where to push – to visualize pushing her fingers out. This helped as well. 

I felt like my pushes got much more productive once I started having a real strong internal desire to push. This internal drive helped me push harder and longer (actually, I felt like I HAD to push harder and longer, until the feeling passed). My pushes started developing a “bottoming out” quality – I pushed down as far as I could and then my body just kept going out further and further to the bottom and bulging beyond (as best I can describe it). Kavita could feel you moving down, Samuel, with each push, and she reassured me of this. I was SO intently focused inside, more so than I have ever been in my life about anything. 

We tried the side-lying position for awhile, with your dad holding my top leg up and back. I knew I wanted to eventually squat, so Blanca and Kavita got the squat bar ready and installed over the bed. After awhile, Kavita suggested that I turn on my back and put my feet against the squat bar (or maybe I suggested it because my top leg was getting tired in the side-lying position, and I knew that the side-lying doesn’t cause the strongest contractions/pushes in general because gravity is not helping you). We raised the back of the bed up so I was in a nice C-curl position and I pushed this way for awhile. As you moved further down, and birth became imminent, at some point I decided to try the squat. 

The squat worked very well, and I felt very comfortable doing it (as I had been practicing squatting throughout my whole pregnancy), but it was a lot of work, taking a lot of strength. Each pushing contraction was lasting through four, sometimes five deep breaths. All throughout, pain relief never crossed my mind – I never even thought about asking for drugs. Yes, it was really hard work bringing you out. But I never reached a point where I felt like, “That’s enough! I can’t do it anymore!” I always felt okay with what was happening, like running a marathon, or lifting a really heavy weight – all my attention was focused on just DOING it. 

As I squatted with each pushing contraction (and reclined in between), your entrance into this world drew near. My bag of waters was still not broken! Kavita told me that if I reached down I could feel the top of your head emerging with the bag of waters over it! Hesitantly, I reached down and it was like a thousand angels singing as I touched you for the first time. I felt the stretchy membrane, the water, and your firm little head bulging out. It seemed then and it still seems now to be the most incongruous thing to feel a head in that region, but at the same time, the most amazing thing ever in existence. 

“Suddenly the coming is upon us, and time dissolves. There is only the present in its gleaming, stark clarity. No past, no future, there is only now – this time which is strangely timeless in its intensity. . . The promised one bursts forth, new life sings out, the primal rush of blood and water carries the miracle into our arms.”
-Wendy M. Wright, from The Vigil

Once they could see the bag of waters, they could also see that there was meconium in the water, meaning that you pooped a little bit. Often this is okay, but with meconium in the water there is a risk that you would inhale it as you came out. Aspirated meconium can lead to infections, so a special pediatric nurse was called to greet you. You were coming. 

A few more strong pushes in the squat position and I felt you crowning (yee-ouch!) and then with a “blip!” your head slipped out and my water broke! Your father was beside himself, crying and laughing. I remember him telling me that he could see your ear (“I can see a little ear!”) and your hair (“He has hair!”). All the medical people rushed in and suctioned your little mouth and nose while your body was still inside me. The cord was gently looped around your neck, so Kavita quickly and kindly unlooped it.

“The opening in and out,
Body yielding body:
the breaking through which the new
comes, perching
above its shadow . . .
bud opening to flower
opening to fruit opening
to the sweet marrow of the seed . . .”
- Wendell Berry, from “The Broken Ground”

I have always been a little freaked out by the stage in birth when the head is out and the body is in, so I knew you needed to finish being born. However, I could not squat any longer and remember panickedly asking if I could sit back for a second. Kavita said okay, but reluctantly (we all knew you needed to be all born!). I sat back on the edge of the upper half of the bed for just a few seconds, gathered my strength, and began to pull myself back up into a squat. 

At this point, Samuel, it became clear to me that you also were very ready to finish being born as my entire belly shot up into a teepee shape as your little feet were pushing from the inside to get you out! This was one of the most amazing things I have ever seen! You were as eager to meet us as we were to meet you!

I pulled myself upright, and with a colossal push, I felt your body slip out and suddenly you were here! You were wet and slippery and warm and so solid and here! It was 5:44am, a new day was dawning in the grey light outside. They set you on my belly and I reached out to hold you. You were so warm and limp, as I saw your sweet little face for the first time. I was amazed that you were actually in my arms. The first thing I said to you was - “Where did you come from, little one?” There was a person, a little perfect person. I made someone. 

As I lifted you up further onto my belly, your dad rolled you over and looked to see that you were, in fact, a little boy, which he joyously announced. You were in my arms, and you were perfect.

“Isn’t every birth attended by angels?
Doesn’t every child arrive directly from heaven wrapped in the light of God?”
- Mike Mason, The Mystery of Children

Immediately after your birth, your Grandpa (my dad) called Grandma on her cell phone. She brought the phone close to me and I got to tell my dad, “It’s a boy!” You had a large and enthusiastic cheering section waiting for you out in the waiting room, including Grandpa Tim, your Aunt Kristy, Uncle Brian, Grandma Sue and Grandpa Steve, your Great-Grampy, and your daddy’s cousin Elisa. They were so happy to hear the news of your birth!

Your dad had to cut the cord very quickly, as the nurses wanted to take you over to the warming bed in our room so they could suction you more. You weighed in at a strong 9lbs. 15oz., and were over 22 inches long. Your daddy was by your side the whole time as they measured you, marveling over your toes (“There are ten of them!”), your chest (“He has such a broad chest!”), and everything else about you. You were howling. 

The rest of the room was dark, but there were some bright lights over your little bed so that they could see clearly how to suction your nose and mouth. You didn’t like those bright lights, since all you’d ever known inside of me were shadows and soft glows. My mom, seeing that you didn’t like the light in your eyes, shielded them with her hand, and immediately you turned your head toward your daddy to see where that familiar voice was coming from. Every day for months and months before you were born, your daddy would put his head next to my tummy and talk to you, and now you could not only hear his voice, you could see his face too! 

You and your daddy got to know each other while I delivered the placenta (which supported you for all those months!) and got stitched up. I had no episiotomy, but I did have a small perineal tear when you came out (which was okay). All during these long minutes while you were apart from me for the first time, your Daddy kept on telling me over and over again, “He’s wonderful! He is beautiful! He is so perfect!” He was so excited and emotional that he almost passed out himself, crying as he watched you and marveled over every little inch of you, each curve and dimple and fuzzy divot. 

After too long of a wait, you were back on my chest, near my heart. As the nurse laid you on me, your fussing stopped. I got to really look into your sweet little face for the very first time, and although it was the first time, it felt as if you were finally home in my arms, like I had known you since before time began. You listened to the sound of my heartbeat, heard my voice, and turned your sweet face and squinty eyes to me with a contented air of recognition. You would just gaze at me with those swollen little newborn eyes (yet, so clear!) as if to say, “So THAT’S whose voice I have been hearing!” You relaxed entirely as you settled into my arms. I put you to my breast and you began to suck immediately. You were beautiful and perfect. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. 

We are so grateful for the gift of your birth. It was hard work but it was absolutely beautiful and transcendent. I think often about the way it felt in the moment that you came out of me and into this world and I am so glad that I did it without drugs because it is a feeling that I can’t forget. I never want to forget. I feel empowered by your birth. You came into the world so alert and aware, you could nurse and look us in the eye. We fell so instantly even deeper in love with you. To quote Mike Mason again, I feel as though your birth allowed us all to “stand in the doorway of heaven, poke our own heads through, and be drenched in celestial radiance.” A quiet hospital hallway, 5:44am. The fabric tears, and the world changes in a stunning, quiet miracle.

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