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Happy Birthday, Grayson.

Happy Birthday, Grayson.


My nephew was born on Christmas Day.  We make jokes about it that people don’t understand or find funny, but the experience I had that day and night forever changed me as a brother, as an uncle, and as a human being.  Technically I wasn’t Jennifer’s “birth doula” because she asked me to leave at that moment, and I respect that, but I was her labor doula—and being with her and her husband Kyle through that experience was, and is, the most amazing thing I’ve experienced in my life.  Below is the post I wrote for Melanie Notkin over at  It’s almost written in stream of consciousness, so work with me….BUT  I thought I’d share it here.  Happy First Birthday, Grayson.  I’m honored to be your uncle and I cannot wait to see what a little man you become.


“Setting:  Minneapolis.  Christmas Eve.


My sister had been having contractions for weeks.  Painful prodromal labor and a baby facing the wrong way was not how my sister, Jennifer, wanted to spend the holidays.  That afternoon her contractions started to be more regular, eventually happening on a schedule every 4-5 minutes.  Normally, if you’re going through early labor at home you can handle this.  Once contractions last one minute, and happen every 3 minutes for an hour, you MIGHT want to head into the hospital (this is referred to as 3-1-1).  Jen’s contractions were too painful, and !spoiler alert! she had lost her mucus plug.  We decided to head to the Birth Center, which was 30 miles away in Wisconsin, just to be safe.


Hospital at 11.  Crazy contractions.  Different positions to relieve pain.  No sleep.  Lots of walking.  Bathtub time.  Even though Jennifer was already aiming on having a vaginal birth after cesarean section for her twins last year, we discussed her options while she labored in the tub. C-sections means at least 6 weeks of recovery, possibility of horrible side effects, and there are VERY active twin toddlers at home.  More importantly, Jennifer WANTED to deliver this boy.  More hallway walking.  Too much back pain.  After discussing things, she received an epidural at 4 am at 3 centimeters.  8 am still at 3.  Artificial Rupture of Membrane (AROM).  Trying for a successful VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean).  Anything but pitocin to induce because using that doubles the risk of uterine rupture in  VBAC, not to mention its side effects.  Water breaking led to increased cervical pressure.  Dilated to 4 by noon.  I need lunch, and it’s Christmas and NOTHING is open.  Dammit.  Off I go to Denny’s.  Text message from brother in-law.  She went from 4 to 9 in an hour.  Back to hospital.  After 25 minutes of pushing, Grayson was born.


I’ve never witnessed anything like a woman in labor.  No video, no class could have prepared me for the actual experience.  Don’t get me wrong, class is INVALUABLE and I highly recommend everyone take a childbirth class while pregnant.  But to see my sister laboring and in so much pain, along with the emotional stress and exhilaration of the experience, was beyond anything I could have anticipated.


I think it’s the closest we will come to being in the presence of God—whatever that means for you.  There are no filters, no barriers.  Only feeling.  It’s the last primitive thing we have as a society.  To see my sister going through the same process millions of women have gone through for eons, and somehow being connected to them through that process, was incredibly spiritual and humbling.  I was in the presence of something much larger than me.


I wasn’t expecting THAT.


I heard his first cry.  It took my breath away.  Clearly, I sent out a Tweet.  My mind was spinning. After chatting with my mom and one of my sisters, the first person I called was Jennifer Link, a DEAR friend and fellow baby planner in NYC.  I broke down on the phone with her.  It’s a completely overwhelming experience.  Childbirth.  Wow.  I remember my sister’s face after delivery.  It was a mix of exhaustion, peace, and pride.

“That was the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.”


I couldn’t agree more.”


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14 Responses to “Happy Birthday, Grayson.”

  • Tammie Hamed says:

    It is so sweet to hear this through your eyes! As a mommy of five and soon to be six, I can tell you that the whole experience doesn’t ever get less incredible or amazing:) How awesome to be able to be a part of it! I can only hope to one day be a part of such a powerful time that isn’t my own;).

  • Heather Edwards says:

    THIS is beautiful. As a mom, a woman and someone who has had two natural-no drug-labor and deliveries, you summed it up perfectly. Your sister was very lucky to have you by her side. Awesome piece of writing!!

  • Kim kopecky says:

    I am sobbing. What an amazing person/brother/uncle you are!

  • Sarah says:

    Happy (early) birthday to Grayson! Thank you for sharing this story. Birth is an amazing experience every time and I love that you helped support your sister through hers.

  • Wow what an amazing story and to share that special time with everyone means so much to your readers!

    Happy birthday to the little guy! and happy holidays :D

  • Samantha F. says:

    Every birth story makes me tear up because every one is so beautiful! Glad you got to be there for your nephew’s birth! Happy early birthday to him!

  • ShawnaMommy says:

    Happy 1st Birthday Grayson! Wow one year already. I remember this picture! Amazing post

  • Meghan says:

    My experience with the birth process was with my sister when she delivered her first child, it is absolutely amazing. Thanks for sharing!

  • Courtney Lee says:

    I just had a home birth and I couldn’t agree more. It’s an amazing experience and I feel somehow stronger as a person and a woman for having given birth. It’s incredible and I’m so glad you had such an amazing experience too!

  • Kate says:

    What a beautiful story! Happy Birthday, Grayson.

  • Erika Castro says:

    Happy Birthday Grayson! :) My husband is a Christmas baby too and it’s really fun. Birth is the most amazing experience…the pain, the euphoria…you feel like you can conquer anything after giving birth to another human being.

  • Heidi M says:

    Happy Birthday little man! I hope that you continue to enjoy this special day that you share with our Lord, and that you have a blessed life!

  • samyra says:

    my sis is a christmas eve baby and it was such a exciting and unique experience.

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