Gentle Reader Alert: this post will include a few details about childbirth, and will use the word “vaginal” more than once. If this is startling or offensive to you, you may want to scoot over to a more lighthearted post, for example, one about too many gray shirts, such as this one.
There was a tiny shift in the weather the day my baby girl gave birth to her baby girl. It was a hot, sticky, and oppressive Friday on which we drove to the hospital. When I left the next day, the air was cool, crisp. Fresh. Everything had changed. The world felt different.
Because, gentle reader, the world was different. Forever altered by the addition of this new baby girl.
It wasn’t originally in the plans for me to tag along to the hospital (I’m not one of those mothers, much as my inclination is to be one) but a sudden emergency situation had arisen. I wasn’t even aware of it at first: I was out and about, picking wild plums and elderberries with Timothy (in my Happy Place, in other words). Bryan was home to receive the tense ‘phone call: Bethie’s amniotic sac had ruptured–just a tiny bit, but enough for her midwife to order her to drop everything and hightail it to the hospital. Her hubby was sick and off his feet: could I go along, she asked, in case they needed help?
My finicky cell phone–of course--was dead in my pocket (I’ve since replaced it!) and I didn’t receive the text from Bryan: COME HOME ASAP. So by the time Timothy and I did tool on back home, I had only a few minutes to prepare myself to spend (at the time I didn’t know how long, either) nearly two days, and one night, in the hospital room with my daughter and her hubby.
Bryan announced this development, his face grim, and I gasped like a beached fish for about ten seconds.
There is an undercurrent of constant anxiety already trying to overrun your heart when your child (or the wife of your child) is carrying a new baby. It’s just in your blood, as a parent, to wonder and worry. There is such sweet vulnerability there. The baby is unseen, a delightful mystery.
I started breathing again. I did. Okay, close your mouth, Beached Fish, I chided myself, you must be a Mama of Action, Comfort, and Wisdom. I really just wanted to close myself into my room and bawl for my sweet daughter. I didn’t know what Bethie was facing, exactly, but on the other hand I did. I have given birth six times. Such pain, joy, anxiety and (finally) relief fill those hours, but the pain dominates my memories. Even now. I wish that I could somehow, through a miracle of time-travel or magical mama abilities, take away pain and suffering and everything that isn’t perfect from her life. But perhaps that wouldn’t be the best for her.
Ha! Quick message for Malachi: you are always asking me what super-power I would choose . . . that’s it! To eradicate pain and suffering, with a touch of my finger. That, and (like I’ve said) I’d like to be able to fly. Fly very fast!
But back to my story.
As I was grabbing my purse, my ‘phone charger, a bottle of water, and hugging my family good-bye, Bethie and her little family were pulling up into the driveway to drop toddler Gideon off, pick me up, and drive to the hospital in the city.
Bethie climbed slowly out of their mini-van, heavy and exhausted. Of course nobody sleeps those last few weeks of pregnancy, just when you need the sleep the most. She coaxed sleepy Gideon out of his carseat, her face pale and teary. “Everything’s going to be fine,” I said, giving her a quick hug. “Don’t worry. You’re going to be fine!”
We pulled off the little switcheroo in minutes and drove quietly to the hospital.
It was mid-morning. At this point I figured I’d be home by bedtime, happy news of a new babe to share with all. There was plenty of time left in the day to birth a baby!
Because of a complete placenta previa with her first baby, Bethie had had a c-section two years ago. She is a born researcher and a figure-it-outer, and a sharp cookie at that, and her heart yearned for something that she didn’t get with that first birth: a normal, healthy vaginal delivery, with a short recovery period. I believe she has spent time every day since, studying this issue: how to increase the likelihood that she’d be able to have a normal birth this second time around. For a good many reasons, she absolutely did not want to have a second c-section. I was right there with her. This is what I wanted for her, too: her longing fulfilled.
It’s funny how the intense concerns of an ordinary day completely fade when a true emergency arises, isn’t it? The blessedly typical, ordinary day ought to have bigger honor in our lives, I think. “Just an ordinary day.” When we acknowledge one of these, we should want for nothing more. There really aren’t enough of them.
Bethie wasn’t in labor yet, but because of that tiny rupture in her baby’s amniotic sac, she would soon be induced at the hospital, and go through many many hours of hard labor that day, and throughout the night to follow. Induced births sometimes don’t go as expected. The induction drugs do their work, but can cause contractions that are much more painful, especially if the mama’s body is not quite ready to give birth yet. Sometimes the result is medical interventions, something that Bethie very strongly didn’t want this time around.
I’d never seen a baby born before, gentle reader. So far, everybody that I’ve told that little fact to has laughed. Out loud! In . . . my . . . face. Why the laughter? Perhaps because I’ve given birth to six babies, it may seem strange that I’ve never seen one born myself. (“I’ve seen six born,” my husband said, grinning. After he laughed.) But my own eyes–during my own babies’ births–were scrunched tightly closed, and at the other end from the emerging baby (dontcha know) anyway.
It was a long day and a half for my sweet daughter and her patient husband, but I marveled at the strength and patience it took for her to birth her daughter. We all were filled with hope. Because my sweet, people-pleasing, intelligent daughter had done her homework and wanted that VBAC so badly, she stood up calmly to pushy hospital staff (who clearly would have felt more relaxed had she simply asked for a second c-section), and with the crew of supportive and talented nurses and an excellent midwife, she did get her VBAC.
At one point between contractions, as she waited for the next urge to push, she lay back on the birthing bed and looked up at me, exhausted, pale, happy. “I’m doing it,” she said softly. “I’m going to get my VBAC.”
When I saw Eloise’s sweet face emerge, after an hour of hard pushing on Bethie’s part, and a day and a half of patient endurance in labor, I cried. Eloise’s papa was next to me, and he was crying, too. We cried together, our arms around each other. It was a moment of relief and such beauty. Childbirth is such a miracle! And I got to see it this once. I got to soak in it this time.
Thank you, God. Praise God from whom all blessings flow. A baby is such a blessing, straight from the largesse of a good and merciful Father.
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” –Ps 139: 13
Gosh. Oh boy. It just occurred to me that I should have faded into the woodwork at that point and let the little family spend the next hour or two to themselves. (Sorry, kids!) I was too overwhelmed with joy and gratitude to have much sense. #Ammafail
Yes, yes, I see it now that I should have been out in the waiting room, texting my immediate family that all was well. But I couldn’t move away, you know. It didn’t even occur to me.
I was relieved and wanted nothing but to drink it all in. And drinking in this kind of joy and beauty just doesn’t happen every day, ya know.
Welcome to the world, Eloise Fiefia’anha.
What a wondrous gift to us and to the world you are, tiny Warrior girl. (Eloise means “warrior,” and Fiefia’anha in the Tongan tongue means “the source of our joy.”).
We need beautiful warriors in this world who will stand, shoulders back, eyes opened wide, filled with optimism and determination to love and add beauty and order to the world. Who will be a positive and confident source of kindness and common sense.
You’ll make this world a better place, tiny Warrior girl. And we will celebrate your birthday just when the leaves begin to turn and the nights are beginning to get cooler, and our tired hearts are filling with dreams for fall projects and winter rest.
There was a shift in the weather the day that you were born, Eloise. Summer melted, still dripping with stickiness, into fall. And, smiling, we all embraced it. We were ready for the change, and we were ready for precious little you.
Thanks so much, gentle reader, for popping in to see what is going on in my tiny corner of the world. How about you? Do you have some good news to share?
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