On Saturday, January15th I had the feeling. It was close. The next morning I was supposed to be with the Oneota Valley Youth Choir, a choir I co-direct with my mom and sister, when they sang at two churches. I called my mom and told her I thought she had better arrange for a backup accompanist in case I couldn't be there. Then I called my sister, who was planning to attend Luke’s birth as my doula. She agreed to come up that night, just in case. After that, I went back to folding laundry, timing contractions and trying to relax. Now it was time to wait.
My two previous births had been C-sections. Gwenyth, because she was breech with the cord wrapped twice around her neck. Colin, because the hospital I delivered at did not allow VBACs (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean). This time I was planning a VBAC in La Crosse, and while I was nervous, I was also very excited to have a natural birth for the first time.
After a restless night with little sleep, I got up and finished packing my bags. I took a shower and figured we would head up to La Crosse around noon. At 10:15 am my water broke and reality hit! This baby was on the way!
My labor progressed and everything went just as planned. I had beautiful music playing in the room, the lights dimmed, and my two coaches (Matt and Karin) with me. I labored for several hours with my eyes closed, holding the birthing beads. The beads, passed down for many years, each represent a baby born in my community. It was a reminder of the women who had given birth before me. Besides a small fainting spell due to low blood pressure, which resulted in the need for fluids to get my energy back up, there were no other unexpected moments. I have my doctor to thank for giving support, but also letting my "team" work with me, uninterrupted, for much of the time.
I’m not going to pretend that the whole labor was flowers and music. It wasn’t. The clearest description of my birth process was that it was intense, but exhilarating. I would love to give birth again, but as you know, Luke made 3, and that was the plan from the beginning.
We were listening to Chopin as Luke was born, and it was glorious! Being able to catch my baby and pull him to my chest was an indescribable feeling after having 2 babies surgically born. Both of those times my babies were shown to me and then taken way for several hours (Gwen), or even several days (Colin). I was in love from the moment I laid eyes on him. My Luke. The baby I had planned for, dreamed about, felt growing inside for the past 9 months. He was here. Our family was complete. There was a brief moment as I looked at him for the first time – his eyes? his ears? Karin said “look at how long his tongue is.” Those thoughts were so fleeting I wasn't even really aware I had even thought them until the next morning. In the moments after Luke's birth I saw what I wanted to see – the baby I had imagined during the past 9 months.
I held him for the first hour. He was quiet and alert – looking at me with the most beautiful eyes. We just stared at each other and both fell in love over and over again. I was on a high!
The birth, my baby – everything was exactly as I had planned. We marveled at how Luke latched on to nurse so quickly. We smiled and laughed about how I had asked for a C-section right before I started to push. We took pictures with the quilt I had finished only a few days before. We watched as the nurse gave Luke a quick bath before giving him back to me to take up to our room for the night.
It had been perfect.
The birth had been amazing, and I had been able to share those moments with my husband, my sister and my beautiful baby Luke. I had finally been able to give birth - a rite of passage into womanhood. It was a day I will never forget.
Welcome to the world Luke Michael! January 16th, 2011 Born at 11:39 pm