When my sister-in-law and my brother asked me to be present for the labor and delivery of their son, I was over-joyed, and my answer was an immediate YES! I had months to prepare for my 7 hour journey to San Francisco when the time came, and I received the call that my sister-in-law was in labor. The preparation included weaning my daughter, who by the time of the birth would be 2 years and 7 months. I felt that she would be ready for that in the ensuing months. The other part of preparation included what leaving my kids overnight for the first time EVER would entail. In all of Ava’s 5 ½ years of life, I had not yet left her overnight! And honestly, the birth seemed like the perfect first time to do it, attending a birth was like a dream! And so in the months leading up to baby Isa’s birth, I weaned Amelie, I talked to Ava about what 3 nights without me would look like, and coordinated the babysitting schedule with both my mother-in-law and my mom. My sister-in-law ended up having to schedule an induction because she had gone the allotted number of days passed her due date that the hospital allowed. So when that day arrived, I left in the wee hours of the morning, kissed my kids good-bye and was on my way!
I knew that my kids were in good hands, so I fully relaxed and eased into my drive up north. I played all the music I loved, I chatted on the phone with friends I hadn’t spoken to in a while, I cried thinking about my own births and Mitch's absence, and I breathed in each hour of that beautiful drive. I felt free and empowered in a way I hadn’t experienced in a very long time.
I arrived at the hospital in plenty of time. I breathed with my sister-in-law, I massaged her feet with lavender oil, and I danced with her and my brother to Drake and their other favorites. I filled the Jacuzzi tub in their private hospital room as the labor became more intense, and encouraged my brother to get in the tub with my sister-in-law to offer support and grounding through the pain. After many hours, pain, and pressure from the Dr, my sister-in-law chose to move the labor along with modern medicinal help; an epidural and Pitocin. She worried she was letting me down by deviating away from her birthing plan, but I reassured her how strong I thought she was, and that in the end, only she knew what was best for her and her baby. It was her journey, it was her story, and I was just happy to be witness to the miracle of it all. I crashed out at my sister-in-law’s parents house in the wee hours of the night while the epidural and Pitocin sped up labor and allowed her to sleep.
I received the call from my brother in early hours of the morning that mama was 8 cm dialated and that it was getting close to delivery. I rushed back to the hospital and in the next few hours, baby was born. In the hour my sister-in-law pushed, my brother bent one of her legs and pushed and I held the other as she breathed into each push and bore down deep. I watched my nephew make his way out of the birthing canal. It was the most miraculous sight I had ever seen. My sister-in-law had never looked so beautiful to me. I cried with her as we all gazed upon him for the first time.
I stayed another two nights to help with the baby, to offer support to my brother and my sister-in-law, and knew my kids were in good hands. I think in was great for my kids to realize how cared and supported they are by others, and to realize that when I go away, I come back. All three of us got to experience a new kind of freedom, and appreciation for one another.
I will be forever grateful that I was present for the birth of my nephew! I was invited into one of the most intimate and precious moments of life, and I was able to be there as support and encouragement for my sister-in-law and my brother. I was able to witness their birth story, and see their sweet baby take his first breaths. Life is truly a miracle.
Is there any part of your birthing story that needs forgiving or compassion?
Does your story need to be told in order to honor your experience and your baby’s entrance into the world?