|My little Lost Boy|
Read Part 1 of our birth story. Even more words in Part 2...you've been warned.
It was time to push and only half of the birth team was there. You were coming so fast, love, that Mama & Papa weren't sure Jamie, Fawn's apprentice midwife, was going to make it in time. There wasn't a lot to be done about that though...you were coming with or without her.
Fawn asked Mama to move from her position on the bed on all fours to lay on her left side and try pushing like that. Mama moved into position and when the first contraction came she bore down and felt you starting to come down. Papa was right there, holding Mama's hand, in her ear encouraging her and vocalizing his belief in her ability to do this. You and Mama and Papa worked together in this position for about 10-15 minutes, before Mama decided it was no longer comfortable. So she moved to a sitting/half-reclining position and this was how you were ultimately born.
At some point during the pushing, Jamie arrived. Everyone was relieved and so happy she had made it; Mama and Papa wanted their team there!
Mama's water had still not broken at that point and (thankfully) Fawn never even suggested breaking it. Clearly, that didn't need to happen because labor was progressing so quickly. The midwives and Papa could see the bag of waters bulging out every time Mama pushed, which was a trip, according to Papa. Fawn and Jamie knew that when it did break it was going to make quite a mess, so they were prepared with PLENTY of chux pads. About halfway through pushing (which lasted a total of 1 hr 15 min...in large part because the bag of waters was acting as an airbag for you and your big head), Mama felt (and heard) a giant POP! and yelped as the water gushed. Fawn, Jamie, and Papa all jumped back. Everyone laughed (in the middle of pushing, can you believe it?!) and knew that things would pick up at this point. Mama later described the water breaking as a Super Soaker spraying out from...well, down there (again, apologies for the embarrassment, but it's part of the story).
Mama continued to work hard to get your big 14" head out. About 7 minutes before you were born, Fawn listened to your heart-tones and found that they had dropped quite a bit and were not coming back up. Mama had to get you out right away. So for 7 straight minutes she pushed with all her might to bring you into the world. There was a moment where she felt she couldn't possibly keep pushing (not because of the pain, but the stamina it required to push for 7 min straight) but your Papa was right there, with absolute faith in her ability to do it and he wouldn't let her give her up. Fawn and Jamie were also so encouraging and worked to help Mama get you out.
At 8:02 AM, you emerged and Mama and Papa heard your sweet, plaintive cry for the first time. Fawn brought you up to Mama's chest and Mama was just in awe of you, sweet boy. She laughed and cried and Papa also cried. Mama and Papa spent the next 20 minutes in a cocoon of wonder while they got to know you and fell in love with you. You were perfect. Beautiful. Unbearably sweet. And HERE. You had finally arrived. Mama and Papa had waited for you for so long and they could hardly believe that you were actually in their arms.
Twenty minutes later, Mama delivered the placenta and Papa cut the umbilical cord, which was quite long. They were in a haze of love and peace. Everything was quiet and Fawn and Jamie just went about their business and mostly left you with your Mama and Papa to get to know one another in peace. The Ford family of three were given their space to process and be together. It was beautiful and exactly what your Mama and Papa had longed for when bringing you into their world. They are so grateful to have been given that gift, one they do not take for granted.
After about an hour, Fawn and Jamie came back in to weigh you and measure you and take all your other vitals. You were a hefty 8 lbs 12 oz, according to their fish scale (ha! Later that day we had you weighed on a real scale by a lactation consultant who said you were 8 lbs 8 oz. That is your "official" birth weight, but there will always be a bit of a debate on that. ;) and 21 1/4 inches long, with an APGAR score of 9. Just so perfect. This was about the time we finally decided on your name, Milo Andrew.
The midwives then stitched Mama up (she had some very light tearing, from that big ole head of yours) while you and Papa spent some time bonding skin-to-skin. It was still so quiet and peaceful. When that was finished, they gave Mama some tips to get started nursing, but you were not terribly interested. You just wanted to sleep. You were so tired from your journey. (You and Mama continued to struggle with nursing for the next week and a half, even with the help of Fawn and the lactation consultant and the pediatrician, but this is a story for another time.)
When the midwives were done with all of that, they cleaned up and packed up their supplies and left you and Mama and Papa alone together to continue to get to know each other, with the promise to return the next day to check in. And just like that the Fords were no longer two, but three.
Those last 7 minutes of pushing were experienced quite differently by Mr. Ford and I. Leading up to our due date, Fawn had encouraged me as we talked about what to do should we need to transport to the hospital, to just focus in on my body and my job, which was to continue to breathe and work through each contraction and to let her worry about everything else. So, when she said we needed to get Milo out now, I just went into that mode. I focused on what I needed to do which was push. I wasn't worried at all. I had absolute faith in my midwives and trusted them entirely to make the right call. And in return my whole support team had faith in me and my body to get the job done. The level of trust and belief in one another in that room in those moments was something unlike I've experienced very often. I knew we were all going to be just fine.
Mr. Ford told me a few days after Milo was born as we were continuing to process the birth experience together, that in those moments, he was scared. He trusted Fawn, but I think he had a better idea of the urgency that was behind her words when she said "We gotta get him out now". We have since decided, after processing together and also debriefing with Fawn at one of our follow-up appointments, that it was good for him to have that sense of urgency because it spurred him to give me the encouragement and final nudge I needed to bring our baby into the world.
And here's why this moment actually reinforces my belief in home birth, rather than scares me off of it: I think that had we been in a hospital, my water would have been broken for me even, though it was entirely unnecessary. More than that though, I really believe we would have ended up with a vacuum extraction or forceps intervention...or worse. None of these things were necessary and my midwife knew that. She knew that I, my body, and my determination was strong enough to get him out and she knew that we were not in a crisis situation. What was happening, though not necessarily normal, is not an uncommon occurrence in childbirth. She knew what she was doing and because of the relationship we had built throughout pregnancy, she knew I could do it. And she knew that Andrew would encourage me through it, so she and Jamie could focus and do what they are trained to do. To be frank, I felt safer and more confident being at home than I think I would have in a hospital.
I have lots more to say on midwifery care and home birth and why we chose it as the right thing for our family, but that warrants its own blog post (and I promise that will come soon). I will say though, that it is not for everyone, and that is more than okay. More than that though I recognize that the fact that we even had the option of a home birth is a result of a great amount of societal privilege. It's a disparity that I would love to see remedied...I would love to see more women and families even have the ability to choose a home birth. As Jamie said in one of our birth classes, I am an advocate for home birth, but more than that I'm an advocate for women being empowered to make the informed choice for themselves.
Ultimately, our birth experience was just what we had dreamed of and hoped for. We are acutely aware of the reality that this was not guaranteed to us and that not every family is afforded that same opportunity...Milo's birth stands in stark contrast to that truth in a very real and raw way. We do not take the gift of his birth for granted.
That moment in our bedroom, in the early morning quiet, when our two became three was a thin place where the veil of heaven was lifted and we glimpsed the holy. In that moment I physically FELT and knew in my bones and in the rawness of my body the core truth of my faith: resurrection. It is imprinted on my soul, my heart, and my story. I am forever changed. I'll be peeling back the layers of how my body embodied resurrection in a deeply human way for a long time to come.
In childbirth, I was given the gift of being fully present in my womanhood and I came out the other side more completely inhabiting this body and the beauty of my womanhood. In this way, I also more viscerally understand the incarnation of Christ in a human body and in the motherly nature of God. In childbirth God has affirmed my identity as a woman and that my personhood as a woman has something to teach the world about God's character and God's nature. I can only assume that Motherhood waits to teach me ever so much more about those truths and so many others. I am changed on a soul-DNA level.
Milo, you are loved and you are enough and you are loved you are loved you are loved. So deeply and truly loved. To the moon and back, to infinity and beyond.