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Sunday, April 20, 2014

labor and delivery - a love story

I saw my niece come into the world. 
I witnessed her birth. 
I was in the room when it all happened. 
What an amazing experience. 


It was the most amazing night! I hung out with my sister, laughed a lot, and ended up being there when my niece cried for the first time. Wow.


When my sister called me up a few months before she was due with her second baby and requested that I be present at the birth of my niece... I was speechless, so honored. It was such a gift, I knew, even before it was given to me. 

The chance to experience birth... what better thing is there in this world?

I have had two planned C-sections. I went into early labor, but I had no idea what it was really like. This was something I felt cheated out of, honestly. I got over it when I had my own two beautiful babies delivered by Cesarean, realizing I was lucky. But when my sister asked me to be there and help document what she would go through giving birth, I instantly felt like, "Here's my chance to go through it, too." (of course only slightly... I know I don't really know what labor is like, fellow birthers!).  

So for weeks before she was due, my sister, Amanda, was sent to the hospital several times with false labor, strong contractions. I packed a bag a month in advance, ready to go at a moment's notice. Worried the whole time that I'd miss it - being a full-time working mom of two myself, and 5 hours away from my sister! I checked my phone non-stop those weeks before. I made sure my camera was fully charged and ready to go. I bought extra deodorant to keep in my bag just in case. 

I wanted to be ready. I didn't want to miss this for anything in the world.  



My wish came true. My niece waited until they planned to induce my sister. It was the end of a week, like I'd hoped for, because it made it easier for me to miss a day of work heading into the weekend. My kids were set with their dad, I picked up my other younger sister and we headed to New York. I was in a panic, thinking we'd miss it... despite knowing it could be days before she was born. 

We got to the hospital around 8:45 p.m. My sister was walking the hospital floor. My first thought upon seeing her was, "I can't believe she has a person in that belly who is going to be in her arms in a few hours..." I could not stop picturing what was to come, yet not having a clue what was about to occur.  


 We spent the next few hours walking. Walking and walking, in circles, then turning back the other way just to mix things up. We laughed. She stood in pain, I felt helpless... like I wanted to do something. This is my baby sister... couldn't I do something? It was a difficult feeling. Now I slightly know how the fathers feel... like they want to take away the pain, but know they cannot... it's such a strange feeling. 

My sister seemed so calm, so in control, so knowledgeable. Like she knew what she was doing. I had no idea. This was all new to me.


We ate Chinese food, rubbed my sister's back in the shower, got her water, rubbed her shoulders, told her she was doing great, laughed and laughed some more. We took pictures and talked about everything under the sun like it was a normal day where we were walking along the beach back home in Maine. We talked about wanting some chocolate and Italian cookies. We hung out like we haven't done in years, just the two of us for a while, like we used to as sisters living under the same roof. It was a fun night, honestly... in between contractions, of course! 


I learned a lot. Like what a contraction looks like (see above!). 



My brother-in-law and I are forever bonded more now because of this night together. He was amazing, so supportive and in tune with what my sister needed. I adore that. 



Something happened this birth-evening. Something I wasn't prepared for. I knew my sister and I were close before this experience. Now, after watching her go through labor for hours, walking that hospital wing with her over and over well past my bed time... I realized she is the strongest person I've ever known. I'm serious. I cannot believe what her tiny body went through to bring such a (big) little baby into the world. 

My sister never complained, didn't scream or yell at any of us. She didn't act impatient or snappy. She laughed. She silently went through most of her contractions, then moved on and went about her laboring business like this was just some steep hill on the long walk she was taking, a task she just had to get through. 

I am beyond words impressed with what she did that night. I can't even express how incredible it was for me to watch the human body do this incredible thing. 

Those of you who have been through labor know how hard it is physically, but those of us watching on the outside looking in know another perspective, one I could never have imagined. 

I forever will see those who have gone through child birth in a different light after witnessing this. I have great respect and admiration for moms now, more than I did already before.  

After walking for hours, my sister was given meds and told to lay down to rest. So at about 1 a.m. I went downstairs in the hospital to lay down. My mom returned. We laughed walking around the hospital trying to find a bench to get some shuteye on. My brother in law texted us about 45 minutes later to get back up there, she was pushing. We ran! We were crazy, I barely could see, I was so exhausted.

We returned to the room and stood behind the curtain, peeking in but not right next to them. She was pushing, yelling. My mom was crying. It was hard for her to watch her baby in pain. And then within moments, we heard, "There's the head... she has tons of hair... it's OK, Amanda, you can do this... she's almost here... one more big push... when you're ready...." I was crying. I was trying to keep it together for my mom, who was a nervous wreck... but I couldn't keep it in. 

It was one of the most surreal, magical, emotional and spiritual moments I've ever gone through. Watching my niece enter the world as my sister physically worked to get her here... it's extraordinary even just thinking back on it. It brings me to tears even now. 


I couldn't speak when I went to congratulate my sister and see my niece for the first time. I was a wreck of emotions... all happy and sappy and sweet. My baby sister gave birth to a baby girl, right in front of me... like I was there to witness the entire thing. 

In these moments, my sister was moved to this high pedestal in my eyes. She was like a super power, my hero, a queen. I'm serious, something changed between us. Forever, for me. I see her so differently now. To say we are closer now is an understatement. 

I feel so lucky, grateful and honored to have been a part of this birth experience. Next to getting married and giving birth to my own babies, this was the highlight of my life. I know this all sounds so cliche... but really, it meant the world to me to be a part of this life changing moment.  


My sister and I are obsessed with Kelle Hampton's blog and book. She had beautiful pictures taken of her daughter's birth. My sister told me that's what she wanted me to take. Such pressure, those pictures are incredible! I tried my best... it was slightly hard being the sappy sister/aunt and the photographer, I have to admit... but I did my best!



Just before heading to see my sister and then on my drive home I heard Elton John's "Your Song." It's forever etched in my mind as the soundtrack to the birth of my sweet niece Ada June. 

I found this version of it by Ellie Goulding and it's so fitting. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9AFMVMl9qE

"And you can tell everybody this is your song. It may be quite simple but now that it's done, I hope you don't mind, I hope you don't mind that I put down in words how wonderful life is now you're in the world..."




To see a little person's brand new entrance into the world is to glimpse a bit of heaven on earth. 



 Holding my niece for the first time, within an hour of her birth... wow. Amazing. Bliss!



A sappy, tired auntie!


I will never forget that night. I am in awe of what a woman's body goes through to carry to term and then deliver a beautiful baby into the world. I know that we mommas who go through surgery to deliver our babies, we are also amazing in our own unique ways. I would never take that away from we Cesarean moms. There is just something to be said for using one's body to send a baby into the world. 

I am awestruck. I adore my sister. 



I love this beautiful baby girl!  I cannot wait until she's older so I can tell her how I was there the day she entered the world. It's something special we'll always have between us. Just like her mom and me.





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