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the miracle of childbirth from the other end of the bed…

April 1, 2009

A few months ago my friend Dez, away at law school in LA, shared with me her younger sister was pregnant. It was a bit complicated, as S. is very young, and single, but as things progressed Dez asked me if I would be around to help. She felt a bit ( maybe a lot) sad that she couldn’t be there for her sister, and over the course of a couple conversations, I offered to attend the birth as a support person for S. I had S. to the house a while back when she was going through 0a +different tough time, and she trusted me. Well, they accepted my offer to be there, even though her mom and other family would be around and I was so honored. I let work know that I would be gone some day when the time came and made the preparations.

If you cut me in half you would find the word mom, in rings all the way through. I just ‘mom’. I can’t even help it. Even when I wasn’t technically a mom, I mommed. I took in waifs and strays every day of the week, human or animal. Even though I had never observed a birth before, from the other end, I knew I could do it.

Yesterday morning I woke up to a text. S was in labor. She was trying to get some sleep but she was definitely in there for the long haul. It was very early and the hospital sent her home so I had some time. I showered and packed my stuff, and made the drive to about an hour outside of Columbus loaded for bear with pepsi and candy.

I was so happy to see S. I hadn’t seen her in more than a year and she was amazingly adorable, huge beach ball belly and skinny everything else. It was like we saw each other yesterday, even though it had been a year. Her parents are amazing, and grandparents. We went to lunch and came back, telling stories and watching bad TV as family life swirled around us. The dad happened to have a minor procedure scheduled for that day- baby was a bit early, so her mom was worried about him getting there and back, but it worked out fine. As the day went on, labor intensified.
Her grandparents brought her a ball, a large fitness ball that you do situps on and she began to sit and bounce on the ball. We took a couple walks, giggled, checked and rechecked the bags. Around 5 the contractions began in earnest, and we walked a bit more stopping dead when a contraction hit. At 6 she was getting pretty intense and I made the decision she should go. I drove her myself, and we got her settled. The family was waiting for Dad running very late from his appointment and to have dinner and they followed very soon thereafter.
When we got to the hospital she was dilated to 4. They took her blood with difficulty, and sent her labs so she could get anesthesia if she wanted. After about 2 1/2 hours, she wanted an epidural. The ball was a miracle, I wish I would have one with boy child. She just bounced and rocked- her contractions got so hard, and even at the hardest she barely moaned. She was in the zone. Finally we all got chased out and she got her epidural..Such a difference, before she was pale and and in pain- after the shot she was laughing and joking. It was lovely.
But slow, as first babies are wont to be. Many hours of chit chat and Seinfeld re runs.. Her boyfriend- not babydaddy- showed up and she was visibly happy to have him.
Later and later we got slap happy, I curled up on the floor to watch TV. and rest. About 2ish I got a weird feeling; I jumped up to talk to her and she whispered- “I feel weird, like I have to GO… do I?.. ”

‘No,’ I said ‘you don’t… cross your legs, I’m getting the nurse. I think you are close to being ready… ‘

The nurse moseyed in and sure enough, she was ready to push. Like magic the nurses and aides turned up the diim lights and the relaxed living room feel suddenly got very ‘hospital’. Instruments appeared, gloves went on. She still felt no pain, only pressure.

Suddenly this was very real, and happening very fast.

Doctors appeared. Nurses gloved up hands squirt lube all over. Her :ahem: pearly gates were illuminated in a spot light, like ballpark lights. In seconds the bed was reconfigured. The nurse gave her a..hand…literally… and some direction and she pushed.

SHe barely made a peep. She pushed like a pro- it was amazing the degree of self posession this chick had. Her mom and I held her legs for her and she pushed and pushed 1,2 3 4 …10 AND again and again. Gramma hovered close, boyfriend petted her head. I looked her in the eye- she looked in my eyes, so scared, looking for affirmation that it was really happening. It was

He crowned- the crowning of a baby is the most miraculous thing I have ever seen. Sorry to be graphic, but this is LIFE in all caps. Nothing is more real. There is the mother, her vulva, labia, vagina bulging and then this object emerges- it looks like a thing, not a baby..the back of the head. Suddenly, it’s halfway out and you can see the curve of the cheek, it’s face is to the floor, you can’t see the features only the curve of the cheek, with a final grunt she pushes again and it’s all the way out, the doctor turns the baby smoothly as it emerges and this object is suddenly a baby. A child, bloody and crying, followed by gushes and gushes of blood and yuk and nurses rush in with suction and life begins. But that moment, when the baby is just a thing emerging and then is suddenly alive and separate. That is seeing God/dess right there.

What an amazing experience, I will remember it forever and ever. What an amazing gift. No matter what I will always remember that child, and keep him in my prayers, always awed by his life.

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