Scarlett is my July Creation. That isn't cheating, by the way-- I didn't count being pregnant all those months as my monthly creations, but giving birth? TOTALLY COUNTS.
Scarlett's birth story isn't necessarily graphic, but if you're ever uncomfortable about these things, skip (if you MUST). Because I don't try to be subtle, I don't try to abbreviate or euphemize.
I present to you...THE BIRTH STORY OF SCARLETT ESTELLE! I first started writing it July 26th, and finally finished today with a "third installment." Because I worked that way, there are just a couple things I repeat. Shouldn't matter, but they're separated into visible sections. In my rolly cursive, it takes ten and a half journal pages, and it's amazing to me to see Heavenly Father's love in all of it.Incredible photography by my sister Rae (I can hardly express my thanks-- it means so much to have these moments preserved for revisiting. I am so deeply grateful she was willing to do this for Scarlett's birth).
It takes time to process a "birth story." I've felt like I could pound out the medical half but that the emotional half is perhaps beyond words.
Friday, July 15th, began with very few, very irregular (and sometimes very mild) contractions. They didn't get my hopes up. I went around the house doing normal chores, talking with Ender and pretty much chilling. Finally the evening seemed slow enough that I figured I might as well try to start some labor! It would be nice to have Michael home from his last shift at Radio Shack. Since nipple stimulation had worked a bit before, I got out the breast pump and settled myself with some no-bake cookies and the "Nanny 911" show. I pumped for about 2 hours, and the contractions started really grabbing my attention-- I'd sit up and say "Oh..." and breathe carefully to divert my attention from the pain.
I thought of the contractions as waves or surges. A great, swelling feeling, which I could depend on to recede. I focused on the recession of each and didn't allow myself to think anything negative (non "pain" or "can't" words).
So as the pump-induced contractions seemed to pick up and burn through my lower back, I decided pumping wasn't fun anymore (since Michael wasn't with me and would still be at work a while). I figured I had done my part, so to speak, and labor would simply come or not.
The contractions slowed considerably. Michael came home, and we folded laundry while we watched Mystery Science Theater 3000 (after putting Ender to bed). Once in a while the contractions were very strong...and finally, we could tell they were not going to go away!
Once we realized that, there was a great buzz of excitement in our home! We happily bustled around, checking the overnight bag and grinning at each other. It was only at that point that Michael started timing the contractions. They'd become much stronger and more frequent. I sat at the harp and played through my favorite songs; it was funny to me-- my contractions either made me play faster or very clumsily! Once or twice I stopped playing.
It seemed like I had no true concept of time! I'd mention that I thought the contractions had slowed down, and Michael would laugh and say "It's only been [two] minutes since your last one!"
We were giddy with excitement! I couldn't stop smiling! We called the midwife, and she said we should head over to the hospital! Michael and I looked at each other... it's happening!
As soon as Michael's grandma came over to be with Ender (asleep, of course, at that point), we left. And it seemed as if the contractions stopped. I kept glancing at Michael, biting my lip and raising my eyebrows. He reminded me that it still hadn't been long. But for the 20-minute drive, I only had one strong contraction and perhaps two super mild ones. Somehow I still felt sure.
We arrived at the hospital about 2am.
I forgot to mention something. It's important, too. Michael gave me a priesthood blessing before we left. We were assured that I would have the strength to give birth naturally, unmedicated, as I hoped. My blessing called Scarlett and me eternal spirits, and I felt a deeper bond with her than ever before. I felt like her sister, her equal, and just as I felt honored to be her mother and teach her what I've learned, I felt honored that she would be teaching me as well.
I love the feeling of peace combined with excitement. The times I've felt that way are the best times of my life-- my very first time in the temple, all subsequent times, getting married, having babies, and performing a well-prepared harp piece.
Earlier in the day, my emotions had crashed. I had done so well keeping patient, but I suddenly felt a great wash of...what would you call it? I felt exhausted of Waiting. There's so much anticipation, and it had reached a peak. I started to cry. I wanted my baby here.
Knowing it would calm me, I washed my face and prayed. After sobbing my feelings to Heavenly Father, I felt the familiar comfort that it would be alright. I knew everything would happen "soon enough." Even if that meant more waiting, I was comforted. I dried my face and proceeded to do my makeup and curl my hair.
Writing this part 2 months later, I don't remember everything that happened before the contractions really started. I think I washed the dishes, checked email, and went about my normal daily doings. But my house was moderately clean when we left, which helped me feel even more ready for the hospital.
When a nurse checked me, I was dilated to 5, I think. That was exciting, and things were picking up (the contractions, I mean). It was exponentially harder to lie in a bed during the contractions, but I grabbed hold of my sanity before it ever seemed at risk of panicking. I breathed the contractions in, out and away. I imagined the waves receding the moment they surged.
Michael and I grinned at each other the whole time. Michael tuned into my body and knew what its signals meant. He watched the clock and watched me. I felt his happiness, pride and concern. I felt his presence the entire time, whether he was touching me or not.
We were sitting on the floor. I sat cross-legged with Michael behind me. As the contractions built, he pressed my hips while I breathed and rocked. It felt beautiful, and my midwife praised us. She said I was built for childbirth and made it look easy.
I moved pretty frequently. The floor worked well for a good part of the time, and it helped to stand with Michael or Rae wrapping their arms around me, pressing my hips or shoving down on my lower back.
I'm not sure what time it was when I decided I'd like my water broken. It was a simple choice. I thought on it long enough to gear up for the faster pace it would bring on, and I knew I could handle it. I was ready for the next step.
I stood with Michael behind me. I pressed his hands on my hips. I rested my head back on his chest, against his chin. He didn't have to talk or whisper much. We danced; I rocked my hips in a circle, breathing and softly moaning, and he held me, rocking with me. It was timeless. Beautiful.
At some moment, I needed music. I needed its wordlesspower to lift my mind into a higher plane of peace and endurance. I needed more than breathing. As the music filled my mind, I fell into my mother's arms and let her rock me while my body crouched and flooded with an inner weight aching to be released. I felt so much love from Michael, his presence the most constant support. I felt so much love, it was everywhere, even inside me.
My body felt heavy with pressure. I gripped my mother's shoulders and knew she understood the world we were wrapped in together. As the Danse Profane by Debussy climbed to climax, so did the tug of birth. Gravity hugged me in a wash of pain--though I called it desire. I felt like my body was reaching for Scarlett, furiously strong in its coaxing. I breathed her name, wanting her.
We moved--everyone around me--closer to the bed, and I crouched deeper. As my moans picked up, they got higher in pitch, and I felt like I was singing. My midwife (and everyone else for that matter) coached me into lower moans, even moaning with me. But I decided I didn't want things to happen that way. My moans were too distracting if I had to change the way they wanted to come out. Everyone helped me onto the bed. Scarlett was close, I knew it.
Again, I felt surrounded by love, by strong and supportive spirits. But my mind went to a secluded place. In a jungley garden of green, I was Eve. Giving birth to the first baby of the world. I roared like I had seen the leopard do. I bent and pushed with my entire body. I roared through the searing burn of things spreading. I was Eve because I was mother. I was letting my body take over, feeling the deepest reality of Nature and Life.
I roared and roared. My body burned, raging in heroic strength. "Push," they told me, "one more time." And could it be I wasn't done? She wasn't here? That last push had been everything my body could do! But I pushed again, again, willing it to be bigger. Roaring. In sudden delight, everyone exclaimed "We see her hair!" And everything halted. I opened my eyes.
"She has hair?!" I asked.
And with new ferocity, I mentally opened my body, and I roared Scarlett into the world.
* * * 5:07am * * *
The world changed that instant. Holding my wet little girl, I basked in the mother-euphoria. My legs were warm with blood, and I learned later that it was more blood than anyone had seen with a birth. I heard the midwife's calm concern about getting the placenta to deliver, but beyond obeying her murmured requests to push, I ignored her and gazed into Scarlett's eyes, the darkest blue.Neither of us had words; we shared with our souls, feeling the after-peace of what we had just been through. Michael and I smiled at each other, love in our eyes. I cried quietly.
I felt so good. Even hungry. I even enjoyed the fact that my throat was sore from roaring (I did not exaggerate). Perhaps tired, but sleep was almost impossible the next 24 hours at the hospital. I was just so pumped full of natural birth adrenaline.
Michael slept (sharing my hospital bed), and Scarlett slept, curled on my chest. And I lay there with a smile on my face, so in love.