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 SavvyAuntie.com. 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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