Posted in Birth Stories, Hippy-Dippy Stuff, Parenting, stephanie2morrow, Uncategorized

Why You Won’t Have a Natural Birth

I rarely rant. I almost never rave. If I seem taller than usual, it’s more likely from my new sparkly summer wedges than from standing on a soapbox. But … well … I want to say something that’s going to make some of you furious and others of you feel justified:

Natural childbirth is not possible in an unnatural world.

And we do live in an unnatural world — X-Men, Photoshop, reality tv, fast food, Donald Trump’s hair — and we believe what we see. (Except maybe for the hair.)

Why You Won't Have a Natural Birth

Our culture encourages those same “unreal” perceptions regarding childbirth. Movies and tv shows tell us labor will begin with intense pain and agony. We are shown images of women screaming and begging to be medicated. We are told to freak out when water breaks and rush to the hospital. We listen to the horror stories of our “friends.” We ignorantly put ourselves in the hands of people who are exceptionally well-trained to handle abnormalities and emergencies, hence all our births have become such abnormalities and emergencies.

And that’s just not reality.

We are NOT educating ourselves. We have lost our communal knowledge of the art of birthing and have chosen instead to simply trust the medical profession to decide what is best for us.

You can SAY all day long, “I want a natural birth,” but if you aren’t educating yourself, your chances of actually HAVING one are practically nonexistent. I mean, if you want to be a safe driver, but you don’t read the Driver’s Manual, or learn to operate a vehicle from someone who knows how, or even take a driver’s ed class, you MIGHT get in the car and know WHERE you want to go, but what are the chances of actually making it there safely? Probably about the same as having an uneducated natural birth.

Now, by “educating yourself,” I do NOT mean taking the little hospital class that tours you through Labor & Delivery, makes you watch the epidural video and discusses all the things that “could go wrong” and how the hospital will deal with them. NO. NO. An emphatic NO.

Read for yourself: Literature from both ends of the spectrum, from Twinkle Ding-Dong Yoga Birthing toShut Up and Put Your Feet in the Stirrups. Go ahead and take the Labor & Delivery tour at the hospital, then go to an independent childbirth class. Drink in A Baby Story on TLC, then chase it with The Business of Being Born on Netflix.

Why You Won't Have a Natural BirthRead up on epidurals and episiotomies; C-sections and vitamin K shots; vaccinations and circumcisions; fetal monitoring and forceps; meconium and mucous plugs; contractions and colostrum; dilation and doulas; VBAC and PRoM; breech babies and birth positions; posterior presentation, placentas, pitocin & postpartum depression, and for heaven’s sake, PARENTING.

What determines the outcome of your labor hinges sharply on choosing to educate yourself and surround yourself with the support you need.  And, as a doula, while I heavily advocate drug-free birthing, my job is to help you have the experience you want. Schedule a C-section, squat in a cornfield, whatever. It is, after all, YOUR body, YOUR baby, YOUR decision.

Just please, please, please make it an INFORMED one.

Posted in Family, Hippy-Dippy Stuff, Parenting

Visions of Sugar Plums…

I did not feed my children anything sugary until they were 2. I figured, why give it to them when they don’t even know what they’re missing? Besides, no candy for them meant more for me.  🙂

Anyway, for Kevin’s first Christmas (he was 11 months old), his sister (7) wanted to decorate our tree with a candy-cane motif. So we hung candy canes, candy cane treestrung homemade peppermint garland, wove in red & white striped ribbon, and adorned the very top with our traditional Santa hat. It was super cute!

Now, because we were “family bed” people, Kevin didn’t have a nursery.  For that matter, he didn’t even have a crib to confine him.  He was, what I call, a “wandering baby”.  You just never knew where he was going to be when you woke up.

One morning during the holiday season (pretty sure it was “7 Swans a Swimming” day), I woke to odd noises emanating from the living room. Remember that sound your great uncle made when he was trying to suck a piece of pork chop out from between his front teeth?  Yeah, same sound.

A quick investigation revealed those wet, slurpy noises to be my barely-steady-on-his-feet baby boy, standing as high on tiptoes as footie pajamas would allow.  His neck outstretched like a Serengeti giraffe as he nursed the end of a no-longer-decorative candy cane.

He had bitten off the plastic wrap, then sucked the peppermint to a dangerously sharp point. The slurps and groans grew increasingly louder as he neared the end of his height range in relation to the dwindling stick of candy.

He pivoted quickly when I asked, “Kevie…whatcha doing?”

Verbal communication was not exactly his strong point, but the cuteness factor told me everything I needed to know.  He broke out in a 6-toothed grin, pointed at the candy stripes and enthusiastically implied, “Dearest mother, it’s not that I don’t appreciate your generous and abundant breastmilk, but woman…you’ve been holding out on me!”

Posted in Birth Stories, Hippy-Dippy Stuff

How low can you go?

FOREWARD

When my son talks about Ultimate Frisbee Tournaments, my brain hears:  “So this player ran down the field and dove and caught it and then he threw it and then another player ran down the field and dove and caught it and then we scored and then the same player ran down the field again and then yada yada…”

When my husband regales me with horse stuff, I TRY to listen, but I hear this:  “A horse ran to the field and I ran after it and made it run circles until it got tired and then I went to the barn to get the other horses and they ran to the field, so I ran after them and made them run circles until they got tired…lather, rinse, repeat.”

So when I share a birth story, I’m very aware that to some of you it sounds like:  “She had a contraction, so we walked and then she had more contractions and dilated to 4 and then she had more contractions, so we walked some more and then she dilated to 5, ad infinitum.”

But I’ve got a birth story to share, and I promise it won’t sound anything like that.

INTRODUCTION
Birth Mama was only worried about two things:

  • Transporting the 40 miles to the hospital in the dead of winter, and
  • Staying calm, relaxed and peaceful. (She had been very stressed and anxious the last time, and did NOT want a repeat.)

CHAPTER ONE
The Call came just after midnight. Contractions 10-12 minutes apart, she is ready for me. I threw on clothes and hit the road, stopping only to fill my empty gas tank. Six blocks from their house, her husband calls (NEVER a good sign), “Steph, we are at 4 minutes apart, we need you now.”

Seconds later, I let myself in the side door. Hubby starts loading things into my van. I find her laboring in bed, eyes closed, internally focused. I remind myself: she wants calm, relaxed, peaceful. I rub her gently across the back, listen to her moan, and discern that contractions are MUCH closer together and we are not going to have a long, slow labor at home.

Holding her hair back and doing my best Julie Andrews’ impersonation (who once said about herself, “Sometimes I’m so sweet, even I can’t stand it.”) I whisper, “You’re doing so great we need to go on and transfer.” Inside my head, Gilbert Gottfried is shrieking, OH MY GOODNESS, THIS IS TOO FREAKIN’ FAST!!!”

The next contraction finds us squatting in the driveway. Her mom asks, “Are we going to make it to the hospital??” Calmly I smile and hear Julie Andrews say, “Most certainly we are going to make it!” (Internally, Gilbert panics, “probably not until AFTER the baby comes out, but we’ll definitely make it!”)

Now the 40-minute drive…and though I could drive crazy fast and get us there in 30, there is a laboring woman on her knees in the place of my center console, so safety has to take precedence.

Through all of this, I am pretending to be cool as a cucumber. Driving 80 mph, talking over my shoulder in my best Mary Poppins voice, “You are doing such a great job! Practically perfect in every way. Take a deep breath through your nose and blow it slowly out your mouth. Goooooood.”

With every mile, contractions are growing more intense, and suddenly she responds to one of them with a screeching dolphin-call. I speak in a soft, low tone, and quite possibly with a British accent, “Remember what we talked about. Keep your throat relaxed. Bring your voice down low. Moan it out. Remember: LOW.

From the floor behind me I sense the beginning of the next contraction…her throat tightening, her shoulders rising, her voice starting to squeak with the pain…and the next moment I will forever remember as one of my Favorite Things (“Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, bright copper kettles and labor contractions…”) She brings her dolphin screech down to a deep Darth Vader growl, and for the next 45 seconds I hear, “low low low low low low low low low low low low…” as she literally chants the word “low” through the entire contraction!

Now I become a living GPS, with a slow, lilting voice.

julie andrews (2)“Only 10 more minutes and we’ll be there.”

“Three more contractions and we’ll be at the door.”

“Just a spoonful of sugar and the baby will be out.”

Maneuvering the parking lot like Speed Racer, swerving around parked cars and cigarette-smoking nurses, I zip to the front door, jump out and grab a wheelchair. After some chair-not-working-and-what-do-we-do-about-the-bags confusion, the four of us glide through the deserted hospital corridor, up the elevator and into Labor and Delivery.

It is 2:02 a.m.

“We’re here to birth a baby,” my Julie Andrews voice tells the desk nurse.  And even though we are pre-registered, the nurse asks for insurance cards and social security numbers and due date and Groupon Coupons, and a request for laboring mama to get on the scales.

Clearly, they are not understanding, so Gilbert makes an appearance outside of my brain, “Ladies! THIRD baby here! Doesn’t matter what she weighs as she will weigh 14 pounds less in a very few minutes! We need a room STAT!”  (I try to speak their language, you know). 

Finally sensing the urgency, one of them calls, “Room 4!” and in we go. Birthing mama stands up out of the wheelchair and grabs the bed as I instinctively take my place behind her. A splash hits my shins and runs into my shoes. “My water broke! My water just broke!” Why, yes, yes it did.

She lays down as we get her lower half undressed, feet still dangling off the bed. Dr. M. commands, “Let’s get you all the way up in the bed.” Before hubby and I can even get the head of the bed raised, one nurse is trying to get her shirt off, because apparently it’s critical that she wear pale blue cotton to push out a human. Another nurse is trying to velcro straps around her belly.  Seriously?

I politely ask them to “get real”, just as she is hit with one MASSIVE contraction – her feet and head on the bed, the rest of her body imitating the St. Louis arch. gilbertShe looks wide-eyed at me and declares,“I’m on my back! I’m on my back! I don’t want to be on my back!”  I understand completely, and assure her as SOON as this contraction is over, we’ll get into a better position. Before I finish my sentence, Dr. M. announces, “We’re crowning and…yes……..THERE she is!”

And Gilbert Gottfried screams, “WHAT THE…???”

Posted in Hippy-Dippy Stuff, Just Funny

See the Ball, Be the Ball

Dryer balls.

They are, unquestionably, at the pinnacle of “The List of Things I Will Not Miss When My Girls Move Out”.  

If you aren’t familiar with them, they are the “green” alternative to Fabric Softener sheets. My daughter loves them.  I, not so much.

snuggle (2)Wool tennis-like balls used in place of dryer sheets to fluff, minimize static, and speed up drying the laundry. And while they are somewhat less creepy than the Snuggle Bear, they are the epitome of All Things Annoying.

schweddy ballsAdmittedly, outside of Alec Baldwin’s recipe for the Schweddy ones, I’m not really a big fan of balls in general, be it bowling balls, footballs, matzo balls, melon balls, Lucille Ball, ball bearings, ball bags, or Magic 8 balls.

But I especially despise The Dryer Balls.  Bouncing around in your dryer, they create the noise equivalent of a team of construction workers reroofing your house.

Plus, they don’t REALLY do anything about static. Not an issue in the summertime when the house is essentially a sauna, but in the crisp winter air, when I cross my ankles, my leg hair is in danger of spontaneously combusting, so static control is kind of a deal.

dryer ballsHowever, the real pain-in-the-you-know-what about
The Dryer Balls is that they are never where they are supposed to be. Oh SURE, six of them are residing in the dryer when I start the load, but when I go to remove the clothes, I’m lucky to find even one still in the drum.

Dryer Ball 2  makes itself known as it rolls from the pile of clothes in my arms, causing me to trip and do a Chevy Chase pratfall over the coffee table.

I discover Dryer Ball 3 in-between the double layers of a canvas bag. The bag has to be unzipped, inverted and given a fetchgood Heimlich maneuver to unlodge the ball.  I quickly, but unsuccessfully, drop to all fours in an effort to catch said ball, then speed-crawl across the floor like a puppy playing fetch.

Wedged in the sleeve of a dress shirt is Dryer Ball 4.  I fish it out by squeezing from the cuff upward, but it pops out and rolls under the bed.  And not just under the edge, but all the way to the top middle so I have to lie on the floor with a yardstick to retrieve it, only the toddler broke the yardstick trying to pole vault the ottoman, so now it’s not long enough to reach, causing me go on a scavenger hunt through the house for something – anything – long enough, and I know the broom would work only the cowboy absconded with it to sweep out the horse trailer and never returned it, and so there I am on my belly, clamping a shish-kabob skewer with the salad tongs, trying to rescue the fourth stupid wool ball like a First Responder trying to save Baby Jessica trapped in the well.

I finally give up looking for the last two, though the following morning as I make the bed, I find Number Five in the pocket corner of the fitted sheet that wasn’t even in the same load of laundry.

The Last Dryer Ball comes and goes mysteriously.  Nobody really knows where it’s been or how it finds its way back into the dryer. Sometimes though, after a load of underwear has finished, the lint filter is dislodged.  I think it’s possible that Number 6 just might be smuggling freedom-seeking socks through an Underground Railroad.

Posted in Hippy-Dippy Stuff, Quirks and Other Weirdness

Call me Sybil

I just took a Myers-Briggs personality test because I’d already had dinner and I needed an excuse to not do the dishes. One of the questions was:

  • “Regardless of what other people say, deep down do you feel that you are kind of weird?”

Kind of??

I haven’t always felt this way.  Once upon a time I was a completely normal, self-conscious, easily-embarrassed, “just wanna fit in” kind of girl who spent two hours every morning trying to make her hair look like Farrah Fawcett.(#bighairfail)  But then I gave up my hot rollers and moved to new places and lost people I loved and read Upton Sinclair and developed personality quirks…and embraced my weirdness.

ENFJwordleMyers-Briggs classifies me as an ENFJ (Extraversion, iNtuition, Feeling, Judgment). ENFJs only comprise 3% of the population, so there aren’t that many of us. However, ENFJs are statistically the most likely of the 16 personality types to have a Facebook account, so we do make our presence known. Ha.

A few of my test highlights:

  • It is more important to be: tactful. (Tact over truth. This does NOT mean my pants are on fire.  It means the Feeler in me is more concerned about making you feel all warm and welcome than telling you the “truth” about how your haircut makes you look like your dog.)
  • In everyday life: it is rare to meet someone who seems to be on the same “wavelength” as me. (Yep. Show of hands: how many of you are wanna-be hippies who wear sandals in the snow or birth your babies on the bedroom floor or dream of living in a Tiny House? That’s what I thought.)
  • I think rules and regulations are: necessary for other people.  (True. I fully admit my rebellion. Rules are for toddlers and beginning drivers and people who are incapable of governing themselves. I’m good on at least of those.)  
  • 4c67673e980a15c9a1193ee2a95b700cI am at my best when: my surroundings are clean and uncluttered.  (I know what Einstein said about messy desks, but my inner minimalist NEEDS things neat and orderly and at nice right angles lest she feel completely out of control.)
  • I take pride in being: dependable. (You can count on me, the people-pleaser. Ask me to go back into the burning building to rescue your favorite Kate Spades, and I will risk my life and leg hair to make you happy.  I’m accommodating, generous, helpful…to the detriment of my own well-being.   )

Anyway, I’m weird.  I’ve known it for a long time. My children remind me often.  Even my mom has been known to ask, “When did you get like this??”

I’ve decided it’s because a Feeler, a Hippie, an Anarchist, a Minimalist, and a People-Pleaser all live in my middle-aged body.  It’s crowded in there. And sometimes confusing (like when my mother felt STRONGLY that I should wear a skirt to my Granddaddy’s funeral so Granny would not have a cow.  Now, the Feeler in me did not want to cause Mom further anguish, and the Hippie relished the idea of a flowy skirt, but the Anarchist did not want to adhere to societal conformity, and the Minimalist agreed because she already had a perfectly good pair of black pants in the closet, but the People-Pleaser acquiesced and bought a $40 black skirt that was never worn again.)

So it’s crowded and confusing living in my body. The Anarchist has some very radical opinions about mainstream behaviors you will likely never know because the Pleaser doesn’t want to isolate you, and the Hippie has grandiose “DIY” ideas that stress out the poor Minimalist, and with all that inner conflict, the Feeler just keeps eating mashed potatoes trying to make it all better.

Posted in Hippy-Dippy Stuff, Quirks and Other Weirdness

Mini Me (or “I Want to Be a Tiny Home Owner”)

Dear HGTV,

You make me lust over Tiny Houses. You dedicate no fewer than five shows to these treehouses and miniscule apartments and itty-bitty cabins in the forest, and you make this suburban hippie wanna-be drool over the idea of reducing my carbon, albeit wedge-heeled footprint.

tiny-house-in-the-trees-01And I want one. Like 250-square-feet of luxurious TINY. Seriously, I do. Minimalist Me gets lost in the idea of simplicity. (“Minimalist Me” is not to be confused with “Minimal Me” who got lost in Lane Bryant years ago.)  

ANYWAY… HAVING less makes me feel less…stressed, less distracted, less greedy, less overwhelmed.

The idea of utilizing every square inch makes me giddy. No empty space under the bed for dust bunnies or lost socks.  No wasted 28-foot-long hallway to vacuum.  eclectic-kitchenNo room for superfluous baskets collecting laundry we don’t really even need for another 3 weeks.  No spacious countertops serving as gathering places for dirty dishes and receipts and junk mail and “to do” lists that never get “to done”.

Oh, HGTV, you make it look like a tiny fairy tale. Organized, appealing, immaculate, idyllic.

But before I consider the plunge from excess to existential, I have a few questions:

  1. Where is the best place in a tiny house to install the 80-gallon hot water heater for my jacuzzi tub? And will there be ample storage space for bath salts and essential oils??  (I mean, they aren’t called ESSENTIAL for nothing.)
  2. If I attach a single speaker to an oscillating fan in the center of the dwelling, will it suffice as surround sound in such a small space?
  3. _DSC8105_HDRShould Forest Whitaker and Jared Leto decide to break in during the middle of the night, is the apartment-sized refrigerator capable of doubling as a tiny Panic Room?
  4. When one of our spawn stays for an overnight visit in our tiny house, can we have automatic airbags installed in the floor to serve as additional mattress space? Will this violate fire code?
  5. I understand a retractable wall desk unfolds in front of the compost toilet so the tiny bathroom can also function as my tiny office, but is it possible for another space to double as a tiny workout room? On second thought, nix that. I’ll just post pictures of the exercise equipment so I can continue using it all exactly like I do now.
  6. Where do I go when my significant other eats a not-so-tiny serving of baked beans? Normally, when the flatulent aftershocks hit, I can escape to the far end of the house.  But if the far end of the house is only 7 ½ feet away, am I going to start thinking, “I’ve made a tiny mistake!”?
  7. tiny-house-sanoma-county-2And my last question is, when I light a candle for ambiance, or to mask the effects of the aforementioned baked beans, how long can we survive in the enclosed tiny space before the candle flame reduces the oxygen level to a deadly 19.5%?

Sincerely,
Potential Future HGTV Tiny Home Owner
(That’s “tiny home” owner.  Pretty sure “Tiny Homeowner” is on TLC.)   

Posted in Birth Stories, Hippy-Dippy Stuff, Parenting

One of many hats…

Last-minute maintenance before I go to bed: load dishwasher, brush teeth, wash face… it’s nearing 11:00 when my cell rings. I know who it is even before I look.  Oh, WHY didn’t I take a nap this afternoon?  Unable to keep from smiling, I answer the phone, “Are we ready to have a baby?”

The mom-to-be on the other end questions her feelings… Contractions? Gas pains? Wishful thinking? “Are they consistent?” I ask.  She thinks.. maybe 15 minutes apart, but she’s just not sure.  I ask if she wants to “rest” or “rock and roll”. She thinks resting sounds nice. (It sounds nice to me too, but it is not my decision.) I advise her to drink a glass of water and try to sleep – I will come whenever she wants me.

b4315eed478cf41c_bellyI am a doula. A birth doula, to be more specific. I support women during childbirth. Over the years it has become a job, a hobby, a ministry, a passion.

I sleep off and on for a couple of hours, anticipating the next call. This time from her husband – a sure sign she is ready for me. I dress quickly (forgoing my usual hour-long routine), grab my emergency birth bag, and drive the 27 miles in the middle of the night, meeting only a few other headlights. The roads are quiet at 1:15. I turn left onto a dark street where all the houses are resting except the one expecting me. Porch light is on, door unlocked, waiting for me to let myself in. I change shoes, wash my hands, and slip into the bedroom at the top of the stairs where she is laboring with soft moans and gentle swaying.  “How we doing?” I whisper after her contraction. She looks at me with eyes that say, “This is not what I was expecting. Is it supposed to hurt like this?”

Dad-to-be informs me she woke nearly an hour ago to steady contractions, about 8 minutes apart. She has now moved to 7 minutes and no longer wants to communicate when a contraction rushes over her. They sit together on the bed and with each wave of tightness, he holds her hand and rubs her arm. Her feet are cold, so I put socks on her, and remind her to breathe deeply through her nose and blow slowly out her mouth. I bring her a glass of water and rummage through the bathroom drawer for some much-wanted chapstick.

She’s been side-lying for the last hour, so I get her up to walk. The house is small, but open, allowing us to make uninterrupted circles. Hubby tries to catch a nap as she and I walk and talk, then stop and rock. When a contraction begins, she leans against a wall and I put pressure on her lower back with a distinctive move I learned from an Amish midwife. Other times, I put my arms black and white, hands supporting on birthing ballaround her back while she leans her head on my shoulder, and we do a little rocking dance. Back and forth. The waves strengthen and move closer. We rotate between walking the house, squatting on the birth ball, and standing in a hot shower. Time passes, marked only by the increasing daylight and the increase in the intensity of her moaning. Her deepening vocalizations are the marker I need to decide it is time to transfer. We load her bag, grab a pillow and move to the car, pausing for each contraction.

When we arrive at the hospital, dad helps settle her into the birthing room while I greet the nursing staff and go over her birth plan. By the time I get to the room, she is having a hard time opening her eyes. Dad is holding her hand and kissing her lightly on the forehead, but she is focusing on the pain and starting to become overwhelmed. A quick check shows she is only dilated to 5. She looks disappointed, hoping this would almost be over. I reassure her 5 centimeters is wonderful, she is working this labor like a pro, and I am proud of her. I really am.

She can’t seem to get comfortable in the hospital bed, so we stroll the halls, hubby and I taking turns in the rocking position. I encourage him to take the lead as often as he wants, completely if he wants. He is grateful for someone to help him know what to do, how to respond, how to help. It is hard for him to see her in pain. With every contraction now, one of us massages her lower back while the other whispers words of encouragement into her ear.

5502341_origBack in the room, we drop the lower half of the bed down to the floor and I get on my knees in front of her. She sits on the edge of the bed, her arms draped over my shoulders, her face glistening with sweat, long blonde hair in her eyes. I tuck the hair behind her ear and tell her what a trouper she is, but now it’s time to stop focusing on labor and start focusing on holding her baby.

With renewed determination, she moans uninhibitedly, less out of pain and more out of hard work.  Deep, guttural moans that seem to push the pain away from her body. In between, we breathe. Her husband lightly strokes her back and affirms how amazing she is. They are incredibly sweet. She is now in tune to the rhythm of her labor, staying on top of each contraction as she nears the final stage. Almost in an instant, her eyes grow wide and she starts to breathe fast, shallow breaths. Another check shows she is dilated to 8.5. I cannot contain my smile and she starts to cry. “You’re rocking this, and it is almost time to push.” But the reassurance is not enough to overcome the panic of transition.  Her moans turn to low cries of doubt (“I can’t do this anymore! I just want it to be over.”) I have difficulty stifling a giggle, as EVERY woman expresses this during transition. I tell her, not only CAN she do this, she IS doing this, and it. is. almost. over.

The hospital staff begins to descend upon the room, readying equipment and lights. We have been blessed this morning with a great nursing staff who respects the need for a peaceful environment. This is a real birth, the kind our bodies were made to do, not the kind you see in the media. Lights are dim, no one screaming or yelling, no drugs being administered, no one wielding a scalpel.

Mom asks to change positions, so we help her get into a squatting position, and then everything goes quiet. No contractions, no moaning…no pain. A mini-reprieve. Time to breathe. Time to rest. Time to wipe her face with a cool washcloth. The OB confirms that her cervix is ready if she wants to push. And with the next contraction she does. I talk her through HOW to push (yes, there is a “right way”) and her husband keeps eye contact with her. Thirty seconds of pushing, then a rest. Another push, another rest.  With each push, the baby inches downward until his crinkled little gray scalp is visible. Finally, the OB instructs her not to bear down. I remind her while the baby is crowning  (much like putting on a new turtleneck) she wants to ease the baby’s head out slowly. So we pant. Short quick blows in and out of our mouths as we stare at each other. Her attention now moves to her husband, and I find the camera and get ready for baby’s first photo. Once the head has emerged, she closes her eyes and bears down hard with a primal noise until she hears the midwife’s words,“There we go!” and opens her eyes just in time to see a tiny wet little body slip out and hear his new lungs quiver and cry. Her hands instinctively reach down to comfort him.

“It’s a boy!”

She leans back and he is brought to her now-squishy belly and covered with a warm blanket. She melts into tears and smiles and relief as her baby’s cries subside and he settles next to her heart. babyhands“I love you so much,” she whispers as she glances from her son to her husband and back again. There is silent chaos all around as the hospital staff does their job, but she is oblivious to it as she puts him to her breast, enamored with the perfection in her arms. After a few minutes, she starts to weep and laugh at the same time.

It is a mere 10 ½ hours since the first contractions began. Much shorter than the average first labor. No drugs. No interventions. No complications. Mom is exhausted, elated, empowered, in love.

A beautiful new family. A beautiful new day. Time for me to sleep.