Tuesday, February 17, 2009
I know it has been a few months since I last posted. Frankly, I need some time to rest and process. The journey with Autumn was more than another birth. It was a time of great change for both of us. I have spent the last few months pondering what I was going to write about this birth,wondering how I could possibly put it all into words. Even today, as I sit here and begin typing I am still uncertain exactly how to express the appreciation I have in my heart for Autumn and her baby.
When Autumn wrote me last spring and told me she was pregnant, I just knew she should come here. I never had a doubt that it was the right thing to do. After speaking with her mom, I was even more certain that this was a journey that we must share. After all she is my "sisters" child. Who better to take care of her than I?
The first few weeks were quite a challenge. We had to find space for her in the house, integrate her into our routines, show her were everything is, and learn to accept that she was going to be here for a few months. Many tears were shed over missing friends and family and a few fights were had between her and the kids. One night she came into my room and asked me if she was a burden on our family. I had to answer honestly so I said, "of course you are a bit of a burden. You are a new person with needs for space and attention. You are in our space 24 hours a day. We have to have time to adjust and get to know you in a different way. But, we aren't going to give up on you, if you promise that you won't give up on us." It was then that we made a pact that we weren't going to give up. After tears and hugs, we went on knowing that there was no turning back.
As time grew closer to the day we would see the baby, we all became very excited. We started gathering our supplies and preparing the family for what was expected of them during the birth. Her mom, Renee, came up to help with the preparations and planned to stay through the birth. We had one false alarm....and then we waited and waited and waited. Three weeks past and still no sign of the baby. I spent a lot of time talking with Autumn about her fears and becoming a mother. We got down to the very core of her feelings, the fear, the excitement, the anger. And after it was all out she finally started laboring.
Autumn awakened with contractions early in the morning. When the children got up that morning they came up and told me that Autumn was in labor and I should come down and see her. I came downstairs to what appeared to be active labor. Her contractions were about 4 minutes apart at that time.
She labored all through the day and into the evening. We kept ourselves busy preparing the environment exactly how she envisioned it. We lit a fire in the fireplace, put on our tye dyed tshirts, we even had a mix of Janis Joplin, the grateful dead and Jimmy Hendrix playing in the back ground. We waited and watched and massaged her into the late hours of the night. Finally, we decided we should try to sleep. I knew her cervix was dilating and the baby was fine. I thought she needed some sleep...we all needed some sleep. I awoke every few hours to check on her. Sometimes she would be sleeping, sometimes she would be up moving and moaning. I would check heart tones and go back to bed. When I got up at 8am the next morning I went down to check on her. She had regressed a couple of centimeters while she was sleeping so I urged her to get up and moving around around. My son Josh (who is 15) decided he should stay home and help us in any way he could. All of the children were concerned about her. The girls worried that the baby wasn't going to be able to come out and the boys worried we didn't have enough hands to cook and clean and carry firewood. My husband Jesse called and text me every 30 minutes wondering how we all were. Finally, he came home with lunch and to lend energy. Around 2pm, I started to feel worried, myself.I checked her dilation and she was fully dilated at 11am, what was keeping her from feeling the urge to push? I wondered what I was doing wrong, why her labor was carrying on and on. I had imagined this going differently than it was. I leaned on Jesse and asked him to comfort me and pray for us. It felt so good to wrap my arms around his caring shoulders and sob. I wish he could be there for every birth to lend me strength. He said that he believed in me and that I was doing a great job. He reminded me that this was Autumn's journey and that the baby would come when she was ready. I knew it was the truth but, I also knew there was something that needed to be done. So, Renee and I left Autumn to labor for a moment while we went out to have a talk. I expressed my concern with allowing Autumn to labor another night and asked her how she felt. She knew too that this had carried on long enough and that it was time to really start encouraging Autumn to let her baby come out. Suddenly, a light bulb came on! She needed to get pissed off! I should have thought of it before! I knew her well enough to know that Autumn had to be really pissed off to get determined. Now that we had our plan, Renee went back in vowing that this baby would make an appearance very soon. I needed a break so I went in and started catching up on paper work. As, I sat in the living room I heard something that I had never heard at a birth before. Renee and Camille (the doula) were in the living room chanting "come on Autumn don't give up! feel your baby coming out! let your baby out Autumn! come on push your baby out!" Autumn would whine a little and say, "I can't I am too tired, I just want to rest." to that they would reply, "no more resting! or you can rest with your baby in your arms! Now push your baby out Autumn!"
I wasn't too sure about this method at first but, I began to notice a change in Autumn's attitude. It was almost like she transformed from a girl into a woman right in front of our eyes. She began taking charge of her body, telling us what she was feeling. She would place her fingers in her yoni and tell us where the baby was and how things were changing. She demanded that we place our hands on her back or told us bluntly how we could help her. She changed positions frequently and insisted she be upright when she pushed. I was so proud of her! She pushed and pushed until finally I could see the head. I reached down to feel and said to her, "Autumn here comes your baby! catch your baby Autumn!" She looked bewildered for a moment as her baby slid past my hands and into hers. She gently pulled the baby up to her chest as we all looked on in amazement that she was FINALLY here. The baby was calm and alert a perfect ten!
My whole family was in the dining room waiting reverently and prayerfully to hear the announcement. Camille opened the french doors and and happily waved the children in to come see the new baby. The mood was heavy, but ecstatic,all at the same time, as everyone filed in to see this new being. It was the first time that my family got to see me "be" a midwife,I was so happy to have shared this moment with them. Mostly, I am grateful to Autumn and Renee for allowing me to be their mother, sister, friend and midwife through this difficult and joyous journey. I will be forever in their debt! Welcome Nevaeh Renee (Jerry Gracia) Chaney! We love you beautiful baby!