ten things + 1 about Willa’s birth

July 21, 2010 at 3:51 am (Family, WJ) ()

In absence of the time* and mental distance to finish an organized birth story yet, here instead is a list of

{ten memories/thoughts from the night of Willa’s birth that bring me great joy right now}

All day sleeper

– Holding Mark’s hands with every contraction.  I needed an anchor, and he was it.  He later remarked he was glad I wanted that, as it was something he could do without having to say something that he worried might be “wrong”.  I know some women complain later about what their husbands said.  I can’t think of a single thing said by my loved ones that could remotely have been construed as “wrong” or annoying to me.

– Discussing between contractions why the date of her birthday ended up just right.  Every day in early July I knew someone with a birthday that I thought she might share.  Around 6pm every day I’d think “I guess she’s not sharing so-and-so’s birthday”.  As much as I wanted to go into labor every day, especially that Tuesday, I wasn’t in love with the 13th for a birthday.  I’m not really superstitious, but the 14th is so much better.  It’s the birthday of two of Greta’s special PEPS friends, one whose lovely, homebirth-supportive mama Jessica was photographing the birth.  And easy to remember, as my own birthday is the 14th in a different month.  As we neared midnight, I wanted it to end SOON.  The thought that it was better for it to take sixty more minutes carried me though the 11 o’clock hour.  That transition hour seemed LONG.  Like hours and hours.  I could see the clock above my head.  I’d look after what seemed like an hour and it would be five minutes.  After midnight, I was oblivious to the time.

– This probably comes from the crazy mental state of labor.  When my water finally broke during pushing, speckles of vernix floated to the top of the birth tub.  Against the soft light of the room they appeared to magically sparkle.  What a change from all my other births in which the water broke with meconium, and thus worry, about the baby(ies).

– Knowing (later) that my sister Alison read my birth plan and followed it by lighting candles around the room.  Now, it’s true I didn’t really see them at the time.  The diameter of a birthing mother’s circle of sight is so incredibly small, especially if she isn’t given a reason (intervening people or circumstances) to widen it.  I did notice the smell of them unconsciously.  I was incredibly touched that she honored my wishes.  I know she felt a little like she wasn’t sure how to help.  But I was so happy she was there.

– When the baby who would soon be named Willa came out, someone put a towel over her right away.  As soon as I saw her, I thought “Greta” and just knew she was a girl.  Someone mentioned we should check the sex.  I wasn’t yet ready to move a muscle and quickly refused. You know when you fall and land hard and you’re not quite ready to move and see if all is intact?  Both Alison and Mark thought I was refusing because I didn’t want to know.  I already knew!  They both said they were going crazy not knowing.  I’m not sure really how long it was, maybe only one minute, maybe five, before I peeked and confirmed for everybody what I knew.  A second daughter, evening out and completing our wonderful family.

– The people there (Mark, midwife and two students, doula, sister Alison, photographer Jessica) have uniformly described me as strong and/or powerful.  While I might brush off these descriptions by asking, “You mean screaming at the top of my lungs and uncontrollably swearing?”, I’m going to choose to remember the powerful feelings as strength in getting through it, rather than that it felt out of control at times.  In light of the fact I was pushing out an almost ten pound baby and all.  I watched the couple videos Mark took of me pushing.  They’re pretty dark, but it was the sound I wanted anyway.  I’m loud, but maybe not as loud as I thought I was.  The pushing stage of Auden and Parker’s birth felt quite similar.  Auden and Parker’s was harder in that I had to do it twice, but pushing out a baby 2 1/2 pounds bigger took more work than each of them individually.  I had the idea previous to Willa’s birth that hers would be different, at home, with only one baby, having done it before.  Really though, I’d probably get to the same labor space no matter how many babies I pushed out.  It’s a little hard to let go of the wish for a quiet calm birth, but I can see now that’s it’s not my way.  I may be laid back about a lot of things, but I don’t think anybody would describe me as very peaceful.  More like opinionated and strong-willed, down-to-earth.  And that’s what showed in my births.

[Two sidenote kid stories: 1) Auden likes acquiring quarters, and we’ve been trying to stop swearing, so we’ve resorted to the ol’ quarter-for-catching-me-swear rule.  One day I explained some of the things I might do in labor, and he decided to give me an exemption on the quarters for labor.  Alison told him he missed out on about $40.  2) Parker REALLY wanted to watch those birth videos.  He tried multiple times during dinner with my brother-in-law before I took the camera away.  Mark found him immediately after dinner holed up alone with the camera, watching them.]

– How much I love the symbolism of Willa’s name, some unrealized when we picked it.  Willa Apple Merigold.  Greta called our baby Apple from the beginning.  It stuck amongst all our family and friends.  I know a couple people didn’t think we’d actually use it, but I love it.  Merigold is for my Grandma Betty, whose middle name was Merigold (her mother’s maiden name).  Time will tell if Willa will be even half as dainty and lady-like as she was.  With three older siblings to toughen her up, probably not.  Grandma Betty was known for her “Apple” pies, which I didn’t even think of until later.  She lived with us from my fourth grade year until she died just before my senior year of high school.  I wish I could’ve asked her about mothering twins, but she lived a long eighty-seven year life.  A couple years back, we had an apple seed sprout in the compost.  Mark planted it, and it’s now a few feet tall in a pot.  He didn’t tell me until the day of Apple’s birth that he intended to plant it over her placenta.  And in case you’re wondering, Willa is just plain because we like it.

38Corv'91'16
Grandma Betty with the rest of our family in 1991

– The individual reactions of each of Willa’s siblings.  Alison and Mark tried to wake all of them around 2am when we got settled in bed, but were only successful with Parker.  He looked and looked at her, and stared straight at the camera for Jessica.  Serious business.  He’s been interested in the medical aspect of my pregnancy all along and would’ve taken part in the perineum inspection if Alison would’ve let him.  Auden and Greta came in the next morning.  Auden got a big grin and claimed he knew there’d be a new baby that morning.  Greta was especially touching with the awed way she spoke and gently inspected Willa.  She never asked her name.  She knew it was Apple.  One of her first observations, with a forlorn look, was, “Mom Dad Auden Apple hair match.  No Greta.”  But your hair matches Parker’s, Greta.  Two boys, two girls, two brown-haired kids, two blonde kids.  Though Apple’s brown might not stay.  After a cuddle Greta ran to get two of her dresses, one for each of them.

– Feeling secure in the knowledge I picked the right birth team.  I knew my midwife believed I could do this and was there for help, and was keeping Willa and I safe with periodic monitoring.  Otherwise, she was hands off.  I had my doula there to encourage me and back Mark up as the main support.  With the two student midwives, it ended up that seven people surrounded me in the tub.  I asked for them to tell stories to avoid feeling like I was an animal in an aquarium.  I think it lightened the mood.  I smile at remembering when the midwife came in, the doula told her “She likes it when we talk.”

– I didn’t cry after Willa came out.  At the time I was just so relieved that the pain had stopped.  I remember saying something over and over.  “Thank God you’re out”, or something to that effect.  What did make me cry was looking at the placenta.  I won’t go so far as saying it was beautiful, but something about looking at what attached her to me, where she grew into a human being, it brought tears to my eyes.

– People keep asking me how long labor was.  I wasn’t sure how to time it, as there isn’t a specific point to hit “start” on a stop watch.  My other two labors started with water breaking and contractions within an hour, a whole lot more obvious.  The other question people ask is “Was it an easy labor?”  Huh?  It was short and wonderful and powerful and touching and the best I could’ve hoped for.  Easy?  No.  I did find the answer to the length question though.  I’d been texting back and forth with Jessica as contractions started up.  At 9:30pm I sent her a nicely worded and punctuated seven line text about the state of things.  At 9:49pm I sent her a text that said “Yes think come now”.  So I’m thinking labor started between 9:30 and 9:49pm.  Three hours of strong labor.

There is no perfect birth.  But a three hour home waterbirth supported by people of the mama’s choosing is pretty darn close.

*Ha!  This probably took at least as long as the chronological story that is most birth stories.  I have never claimed to be succinct, in blogging or otherwise.

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2 Comments

  1. Jessica said,

    What a great way to tell your story! Beautiful. I can’t wait to supplement with more photos. 🙂

  2. Janice said,

    Amazing woman you are! It’s a honor to know you.

    much love,

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