A Love Letter
by Anna Stewart
Listen, my child, I have a story to tell you. On the day you were born, my whole body smiled.
The morning of your birth day, I got up about 8 a.m., had a bowl of shredded wheat and orange juice for breakfast, and read the newspaper. My friend Sue called at 9:30. I told her I was tired of waiting for you to be born.
I hung up and tried to sit down on the couch again, but I was too uncomfortable. I was feeling cramping and pressure low in my pelvis. So I walked around the house, feeling restless. The cramping got more intense in just a matter of minutes. I called your dad at 9:50. “I think I’m in labor,” I told him, “but I’m not sure. I’m going to take a bath so why don’t you finish up whatever you’re doing and come home.” I sounded calm but then I started to cry. I felt strange—lightheaded, flushed. Dad was home in 10 minutes. He found me leaning against the shower wall, the hot water massaging my back.
Before Dad got home, I talked to you. I said, “OK Kyle, this is it. We’re going to birth you now. You tell me if there’s anything I need to know. We’ll do this together, gently, easily. I love you so much. I can’t wait to meet you and hold you in my arms.” I know you heard me. Do you remember?
My uterus was squeezing you down into the birth canal, hugging you tightly, pushing you down firmly and softly. My contractions were two minutes apart, each lasting about 30 seconds. Dad changed his clothes and called our birth assistant, Alice, between contractions. I wanted him close to me during them. I got out of the shower and walked around the house between contractions. It was hard work but I felt exhilarated, energized, excited.
Alice got to our house at about 11 a.m. and watched me through a few contractions. I was focusing on relaxing and keeping my voice low. Alice asked me if I was nauseous. I was. She said, “I think you’re in transition. We had better go to the hospital.” It hadn’t occurred to me that I would have to go anywhere. I was fully concentrating on our belly hugs.
Dad drove to the hospital in a hurry, arriving in six minutes. I was trying to hang on in the back seat as he changed lanes. I didn’t want to sit down. At the corner of Broadway and Arapahoe, I cried out, “I feel his head. I think he’s coming.” You were moving down the birth canal, gently and easily, just like we’d talked about. Dad was worried you’d be born in the car!
Dad stopped in the emergency entrance. I closed the car door and tried to walk to the maternity wing, but I only got about 20 feet before another contraction took over. I leaned on the pay phones in the lobby and moaned loudly. Heads popped out of doorways all down the hall. A nurse nudged me into a wheelchair and rushed me to the maternity ward.
When I was ready, the nurse checked my cervix. I was completely dilated. She wanted me to start pushing you out, but it wasn’t time yet. Dad put on the CD I had been listening to at home, Ocean Dreams. You and I had listened to it many times as we rested and prepared for this moment.
At one point when I was pushing hard, working with you, squeezing Dad’s hands, I noticed Dad was crying. “What is it?” I asked him. He could barely speak. I kissed him. “We’re about to have a baby. Our baby,” he whispered. That was the moment he fell in love with you. He hadn’t seen you yet but he knew he loved you as much as anyone can love someone.
Slowly, the top of your head emerged. Dad could see your black hair. My body stretched big enough so your head could pass through. You were born at 12:54 p.m. on Friday, October 7th. You started breathing right away and making little noises. Finally, I got to hold you in my arms. I was so happy… my whole body smiled. I whispered in your open, curving ear, “Welcome Kyle. Welcome to the world. Welcome to your family. We are so glad you’re here.”
A Mother’s Guidance: Practice surrendering by breathing and relaxing to music, especially in the last few weeks of pregnancy when the reality of impending birth is coursing through you. I took an independent/alternative birth class and read tons of books, especially other women’s birth stories. At that time, one of my favorite books was A Good Birth, A Safe Birth by Diane Korte and Roberta Scaer. I also like Penny Simkin’s book, The Birth Partner. Having a doula made a huge difference, both prenatally, because I could talk more about my feelings than I could with my OB, and during the birth. A doula reinforced the belief that birth is natural, and helped me stay centered and not get lost in the hospital environment. I also “daydreamed” a lot by meditating to the same ocean sound track that I used in my birth.
Additional Thoughts: Before your child is born, write out your vision for an ideal birth. Writing down your intentions will help your mind and body to manifest that. Then let go of that plan, so you are holding no expectations. If you can think of your contractions as belly hugs or bear hugs, you will perceive those sensations as something more pleasant.
Doulas are a wonderful addition to your birth team; they provide great emotional support, and so much more. There are two large organizations that certify doulas: Association of Labor Assistants & Childbirth Educators (www.alace.org) and Doulas of North America (www.dona.org). Interview at least three doulas, and choose the one that both you and your parenting partner feel most comfortable with.
Anna Stewart reads this story to her first-born on his birthday every year. They live in Colorado, along with her husband and two other children. She has published over 250 articles, essays, columns and reviews, and is currently marketing two books for publication. She can be reached through http://www.motherhands.com.