Thursday, September 10, 2009
Our daughter Sophia was born on August 12. I can't believe she's finally here! It's been about a month and I am more in love with her with each passing day. The miracle of a child always takes my breath away. To understand the intricate details of just how God made this particular aspect of life is far beyond my reach. I still can't get over the fact that I grew a baby - a human being - inside my body and then birthed her...and she will grow into an adult and maybe one day birth her own babies. How amazing is the Lord!
And speaking of amazing, can I just say how amazing Phia's birth actually was?! I had been praying incessantly that it would go well, that I would be able to let go of my fears and just do what I knew my body was designed to do. I asked others to pray for me as well. I just didn't want a birth as emotionally difficult as my last or as scary as my very first. I wanted the whole thing to be completely different. And it was - down to the time of day I went into labor, the length, and most importantly, my mental state as I went through the process. I even went to see a chiropractor in the last few months of my pregnancy. I wanted the best chances possible of not only having a shorter birth but an easier one as well.
At one point, I also realized I need to change my strategy for my labor process. I remember a conversation I had with my sister, Kate, just a few weeks before I gave birth to Sophia. I was talking to her about how hard Isabella's birth had been for me, which she remembered because she was there. And while we were talking, a very important idea dawned on me. One of the main analogies I had been focusing on for my previous births, especially Bella's, was how labor contractions are like waves. I focused so intensely on that and wanted that to be my saving grace to carry me through the process - the beautiful picture in my head of a giant sea, the waves lifting me up, peaking and then bringing me down. But the idea that turned a light on inside my head while speaking with my sister was that I am afraid of drowning...why would I parallel waves with contractions and use that to help me stay focused through my labor? My fear of drowning is so tremendous that once those really tough waves (a.k.a. intense contractions) started crashing over me, I was instantly afraid, and grew more and more afraid with each one. That is where I had gone wrong and I knew that if I was going to be able to do this next labor with any sense of peace, I had to throw that comparison out of my head and find a new one - fast!
Aidan's and Isabella's births had started out with light contractions early in the day, lasting through until evening when they'd finally start picking up. By late night, I was too anxious to go to sleep as my contractions got stronger and I would end up just sitting up following them and calling my midwife sometime in the middle of very very early morning (like 2 or 3-ish). With Angel's birth I headed to the birthing center a little bit later than that and then labored the entire next day, into evening and overnight as well, only to end up with a c-section. Sophia's was definitely different. After a pretty decent night of sleep, I woke up shortly after 4 AM to contractions that were middle-grade in intensity. For the next hour and a half I wasn't in too much pain but they were coming pretty close together and were picking up in intensity. Around 6, I got out of bed and decided to go for a walk. I felt an amazing peace within me as I realized that this was most definitely the day my baby would be born. I walked for a half hour on my own in the quiet of early morning, praying and breathing and taking in every moment that passed, knowing I would never get it back again. When I came back from my walk, I drank some water and ate a granola bar. My daughter Angelina woke up and asked me if she could go on a walk with me so we went back out for another trip around the neighborhood. But we only got past about 5 or 6 houses on my road before I decided we had to turn back and wake up Joe.
After that, everything went kind of fast. I woke him up and told him I was in labor and that the contractions were coming faster and stronger. We called the midwife and my sister and mom. My mom headed up from Maryland to pick up the kids and my sister, Kate, (who is a doula in training) and my other sister, Chris, headed up as well to be with me throughout my labor. My midwife got to my house a little after 10 and checking my cervix, she informed me that I was already 6 cm's. This was great news to me as I am usually only 2 or 3 when she shows up, I'm already emotionally stressed and it's usually the middle of the night with even the sun a long way from the horizon.
The day wore on and as my labor grew more intense, I focused less and less on all the things which held me back before, and felt my inner strength stretching itself around me, the quiet of its nature smoothing itself into the rhythm of my contractions. I prayed silently, asking God to bring me peace and sustain my strength as I made my way through the process. I listened to my sisters and my husband, my midwife and her assistant - their calm and gentle voices encouraging me, moving me along, pushing me to reach my goal. At 2:59 PM, after only 9 minutes of pushing, Sophia Paige was born! I felt so relieved and so peaceful and amazed. I couldn't believe how easy her birth was compared to the last one. The day had just melted away so fast, lost somewhere in the rhythms of baby dancing and walking, in leaning on my sisters and surrendering to my husband's arms for support, and in crying and laughing and praying and hurting. All of it had been so intense yet so easy at the same time.
And then there is 'Phia - a beautiful little miracle who made that journey with me. A tiny baby who not only changed my life just by being born but she changed my life in the way she was born. And no matter how much "mommy brain" I have, no matter how many years pass or the distance between us at any given moment, I will always remember the birth of my fourth child in much detail and with great pride.