I am writing to you, as your proud birth doula, to share your birth story as I saw it. I stood by your mom as she brought you into the world and helped her to make the right choices as it was happening. It was an honor getting to know your mom during her pregnancy. She was so prepared in so many ways, along with your dad. They practiced relaxation and preparation techniques with Hypnobabies, a series of recordings meant to soothe and center the mother-to-be. Your dad was so supportive and even listened and read these to her.
Your mom chose to birth with Lisa Johnson's practice at Mt. Sinai hospital in NYC. She was happy with them, although when it came down to the middle of the 41st week, they wanted to get your labor rolling with a medicated induction. When I talked to your mom on the phone about it that week, she didn't seem so excited about the idea. She didn't agree that she should be induced if you were healthy and she was healthy too. So she postponed it, and was given another evening that worked for the doctor that week. Again, she wasn't comfortable that they weren't giving her as many days as possible to keep you inside of her, growing and playing and enjoying your first home. It just didn't feel right to her, to have you out so soon, when she knew you would come on your own when you were ready.
It was a Wednesday and she was told she would need to go in that night for the induction, but she called the doctor and politely told them she wouldn't be after all. I remember speaking to your mother over the phone various times that day, reminding her to stay nourished, hydrated, calm, and to walk a lot. She had already felt like she was in early labor that day anyway.
By 2pm, her contractions were 15 minutes apart and it was manageable to be on her own, going around town. Actually when I talked to her, she seemed like it was nothing, and just noting them. At 4pm, she went into the doctor for an ultrasound to check on you, as that was the only way the doctors would let her go another day pregnant. All was well and she was so happy. By 5pm, contractions were 5-11 minutes apart. Your mom was home baking cookies to bring to the nurses by then. She was also drinking her iced Red Raspberry tea and walking around, and breaking during each contraction with her breath and focus. By 7:30pm, contractions were 7 minutes apart. By 9:30pm, they were 6 minutes apart. They hadn't quit reached a minute in length yet, so I wasn't sure if it was time for me to come support your mom yet. Besides numbers and such, she also just sounded really okay and I knew I was only a cab ride away. At 10pm, contractions were 5 minutes apart lasting a minute. I recommended at this point that your mom get in the bath to relax and get some relief from the intense sensations she was feeling. She finally ran the tub and it seemed by her reaction that she did feel lots of relief there. It did shorten the length of her contractions to 35-45 seconds, and they did space out a bit during that hour. I waited to hear how she was feeling.
It was a bit before midnight that we agreed that it would be time for me to come over. I heard from your mom that she was ready, and that is what I like to hear! I was so proud of her thus far. I had so much faith in her. I knew she needed the opposite energy than that of the hospital which was to control and to manage. So I was aware of that as I was supporting them throughout the day. I reminded her that labor is normal and to take it as it comes, to not be afraid, to not try to change it. I look back and am so happy for your mom for having the labor that she wanted at home.
I was getting my things together, talking to your mom and dad, and getting down to the street. It was the only night ever that it took me 10 minutes to get a taxi! By 12:45am your mom's water had broke, just moments before I stepped into the apartment. I came him, I heard her in the bathroom, and I told her we were ready to go. She asked if she could stay in there a little longer, but I just opened the door, helped her get up and told her we would be okay in the car ride. She took one look at me and said, 'Do you think I'm going to have my baby?' I basically answered, yes, that's what's happening! We got to the elevator with your dad and a car was waiting outside.
We got in the car, with the cookies, and we told the driver to go fast. He was pretty mellow though. He stopped at every red light but your mom told him that that wouldn't be necessary. She rolled down the window, she breathed in the way you do when you don't want to push, and she just kept saying out loud, 'I'm going to have my baby in the hospital'. It was fabulous. Your dad and I were impressed, in awe, and right there with you two. Who would have wanted to be anywhere else? So we pulled up, and your dad stayed by the car for a moment to pay and get our things, while I walked with your mom to the elevator going straight up to the L&D floor. We went right up to the desk and told them she was having a baby, now. There was no need for triage. She was ready to push you out. I'm glad they believed us. It might have been obvious by the way she was walking. And wanting to push.
Can you even imagine how it must have felt for her? She was in full-on active labor, and just staying so calm, focused on her breath, her power, her intention, the whole time! At home, she was exactly where she wanted to be, and how she wanted to be. Everything was smooth and happened just in time and with just enough faith and trust. At the hospital, he monitor was on for a half hour, the IV was placed just in case, and you were born into the world maybe 30-40 minutes after we arrived. Pushing was quick and smooth. Your mom asked at a certain moment, how she should do it, and I gently reminded her to do what she felt. She had done what she felt and intuited the whole time until then, so it seemed fitting that she continue.
Zoe, you were born at 1:53am on Thursday, March 31, 2011. You weighed 7.8 pounds. You were a perfect little newborn with a perfect birth. And you are so so lucky to have your mom and dad to hold you and raise you in this world. It was an honor to witness your mother that day giving birth to you, and to learn from one more woman, how babies are meant to be born. Thank you all.
All my love,
Giving birth and being a mother has changed my life in so many ways I don't even know where to begin. Going through labor and delivery showed me how much I am capable of and made me realize I can do anything! It was an incredibly empowering experience. Being a mother has been the best lesson in being in the moment. In those first few weeks and months when the days and nights blur and you are in survival mode, you simply cannot exist any way else. I was definitely pushed to my limits with my little guy and there have been (and still are) plenty of maddening, frustrating and scary moments, but the LOVE! Oh my gosh, it is like nothing I could have imagined. Amber
A few nights before going into labor I asked my husband, "If I run, will you chase me?" He knew what I meant and looked at me like I had 15 million heads and just calmly said, "Let's cross that bridge if we should get to it, how does that sound?" I was terrified and just kept over analyzing everything. A couple of days later and a lot of breathing, pushing and a bit of moaning, we were blessed with the birth of our daughter. They immediately put her in my arms and there we sat, skin to skin and she looked up to me as if to say, "I know who you are and I love you so much already." We attempted our first try at breast feeding and I just let the calm of the moment wash over me. There was this overwhelming feeling of love and a need to protect my little girl. It was at that moment that I looked to my husband and said quietly, "If I run, it's WITH her, NOT from her." My life hasn't been the same since. Being a momma is the best thing I've done with my life. Kristin
It's true what they say, that after you have children, you worry less about yourself. Instead of the promotion at work, you worry about whether your child will have nice friends. Instead of the your tan or your wrinkles, you worry about their booboos and their life lessons. So, I still worry a lot. But being a mother also means I get to be surprised by how funny, clever, and brave my kids are. And I can't think of anything more worthwhile than helping them when they're sick or sad, or when we help each other figure out how this crazy world works. Jackie
It has made the miracle of birth so real for me. As I hold my baby and nurse her, I sometimes cannot believe that she is the baby that grew inside my body - and here she is! Wow! Valerie
All of our experiences are life changing and form who we are. Birth and motherhood enable you to learn to endure pain, work hard, care for another life while making room in your heart and soul to love more, protect more, teach more and ultimately let go. You look back at your accomplishments, your children's accomplishments and you then experience feelings of pride, appreciation, and success. Life changing experiences... changing and forming lives. That is powerful. My mom, Gail
Erica is a Childbirth Doula in NYC. Her present focus is on the postpartum period.