Birthday Letters: One
Today you are a year old and I can hardly believe how quickly the time has passed. Yesterday morning as we lay together in bed, you were laughing in your sleep again. I watched you dreaming while reflecting on my joyful, wondrous pregnancy and your powerful birth. I think it's important that we know our stories. I want to write it all down because I never want to forget it. It is your story, posted at the exact time of your birth.
I learned that no matter how many classes you take, no matter how many books you read, no matter how well you prepare - nothing can truly prepare you for the magnitude of birth, the power and beauty of which can drive you to your knees. We wrote a wonderful birth plan that we think you would approve of, but we learned that while having a plan is important, you need to be flexible incase the unexpected happens.
It was near midnight when I felt what I can only describe as a slipping or a clunk in my pelvis that woke me from a deep sleep which was followed by an intense contraction and pressure in my back. I remembered what I read about back labor so I rolled onto my hands and knees to create a "baby hammock" and told your daddy to call our doula and doctor. Our bags were already packed in the living room in anticipation of this moment. Daddy grabbed our bags and headed to the car. I quickly threw on a pair of yoga pants and my "anniversary t-shirt" with the photo of the tulips your daddy gave me on the 1 year anniversary of our first date. Once in the car I realized that I couldn't sit so I kneeled backwards on the front seat holding the headrest. Every time daddy stepped on the brake the contractions became more intense. I must have slept through early labor because I was already in the thick of it when we got to the birth center.
At the door of the birth center we were greeted with a wheel chair, but sitting was out of the question. I wanted to walk. My mind was cloudy having woken from sleep and because I was in the fog of labor. I could hear daddy directing me to the right place..."turn right", "now a left". I had to stop and get on my hands and knees on the floor during another contraction. Chris, our doula, was already there and led me to the birth tub. I removed my pants, but left my anniversary shirt on. The tub was warm and relaxing. The water floated you upward in my belly away from my spine. The massage jets on my feet helped take my mind off the contractions which felt almost electrical as if it were a great rumbling that I could feel coming towards me in the distance and then passed over me with such a force that there was no denying something miraculous was happening. It was as if every cell in my body was vibrating and announcing, "Satchel is coming"! We floated there together, over wave after wave of contractions, laboring in the tub until the sun came up. I gave myself permission to do what felt natural. I moaned and allowed myself to make what ever noise I needed to. I was mindful to relax my jaw and breathe. There were moments of self doubt where I didn't think I could withstand the intensity and asked for medication, but my doula and your daddy helped guide me back to my wish for a natural birth.
I was shocked that it was day time when I got out of the tub and walked to the birthing room. The labor became more intense outside of the tub and I wished we could have stayed in it. I stayed on my hands and knees, hugging a bed pillow. 12 hours had passed and it was time to push. I was both exhausted and excited. I couldn't wait to meet you, to see your face. The pushing was a relief and seemed to alleviate the contractions. I pushed for almost two hours when suddenly it didn't feel right. That is the only way I can describe it. Something inside me told me that we were not going to have the natural birth we had hoped for. I said to our doctor, "Something doesn't feel right, I think you need to go get him". I continued to push hoping that you would be able to get through my pelvis. I pushed until I was told to stop pushing and was given an epidural injection. This was the most difficult time...trying to stay still in the throes of intense contractions. I lost my focus and wailed, but our doula once again centered me and I was able to breathe through the contractions.
I was nervous about the surgery and had to tell the doctor a couple of times that I could feel something sharp so they adjusted the medication. Suddenly, I heard your voice...the sweetest little cry and I said, "that is the most beautiful sound I've ever heard". Your daddy brought you to me and I said, "Satchel...I love you...I love you". I heard one of the nurses say, "I think he knows his name" and another said, "he looks like he's smiling". Your daddy replied, "we have pictures of him smiling in utero". Then I either fainted or fell asleep from exhaustion. Your daddy held you the whole time and never left your side.
The next thing I remember was being wheeled into the recovery room. I heard a nurse say, "did you see Wendy's baby, he's so beautiful". I smiled.
Afterwards, when our wonderful doctor came to check me, I had some self doubt about the c-section, I told him that I felt I had given up. He said, "Wendy, I've never seen anyone push as hard as you...you were still pushing while we were trying to prep you". He told me that it was a good decision because your head was positioned crooked in my pelvis and that you were so stuck, he had to have a nurse push while he pulled.
You and I worked very hard together, Satchel. I think that my scoliosis may have thwarted our plans. What matters most, Satch, is that you arrived.....healthy, happy and beautiful!
We stayed together as a family in our own room. I couldn't believe you were finally here...so pink, tiny, soft, and perfect...so peaceful and wise looking. While you were sleeping in my arms, I whispered to you, "I wish you could tell me everything you know before you forget". Someone, I can't remember who, said to me, "he looks as though he as all the wisdom of the universe in his eyes". I couldn't wait to nurse you and when I took you to my breast, I was astonished by how strong you were, how quickly you latched on and went to work. I loved holding you and watching you sleep in my arms.
The next morning I was in extreme pain when I sat up and could barely swallow. I had leaked a lot of spinal fluid during the epidural and had to go back to the O.R. for a "blood patch" (a transfusion of my own blood into my spine). It seemed to do the trick.
The day we brought you home was very emotional. While Daddy went to load the car, I watched you sleep and started crying. A nurse named Cathy asked me if I was alright and I told her, "I'm overwhelmed by happiness".
The following morning, I was in pain again and I had to go back to the O.R. for a second blood patch. Your daddy made me laugh a lot throughout the whole ordeal. I think you have your daddy's sense of humor because the first time I felt you move inside my belly was when I when we were all sitting around laughing at Aunt Laura's house in Kansas City.
And that, dear Satchel, is the story of your birth! Carrying you within was wondrous. Birthing you was powerful and profound. I thank you for chosing me to be your doorway to the world and allowing me to mother you.
Happy Birthday, my love!
Photos from Satchel's Leap click here.