It has been a few full and beautiful months getting to know our new little daughter. What a blessing that in His wisdom, God should choose to give us another baby girl. I’ll remember and celebrate what happened two months ago today by finally writing her birth story! Starling Eliot, what follows is the story of how you came into the world:
Early, early Sunday morning, June 16, I was awakened by the loudest cricket I’d ever heard. Sleep was impossible, so I walked to all the open windows trying to find the source of the chirping. To my surprise, I located the deafening sound in our dining room (which is used as more of a music room/library than actual place of eating). Somewhere behind a wall of books, the little guy was singing his song. And I was aggravated. Mostly because I was due to give birth any minute, planning on giving birth in this very room, and really not wanting to contract and labor to such a loud accompaniment. So the next morning I Googled ways to get rid of crickets. I happened to read that a cricket in the house is a sign of good things to come. Interesting! I then remembered that “Cricket” was the nickname Ryan and I had given this baby before Juniper changed it to “Broccoli.” Even more interesting! So I relaxed about the cricket, changed my attitude, and by that afternoon it had made its departure.
The following Friday Juniper (age two and a half) informed me that the baby would be born on Sunday. Sunday would be five days after my official due date. All weekend, she stuck to this prediction as well as her firm opinion that I would have a baby girl. All along it had been a boy to her, but now she’d changed her mind. Sweet, I thought. A girl on Sunday. Wouldn’t that be nice?
Sunday morning came and with it the super moon. On its elliptical orbit, the moon is closest to the earth once every fourteen months or so, thus making it bigger than most full moons: hence the term super moon. In fact, for our little town of Flint, the moon would be its fullest at exactly 7:33 a.m. Can you believe that at 7:30 Sunday morning of June 23, a week after I heard my little cricket-friend, contractions began in earnest. I know it sounds crazy, but the moon was literally pulling this baby out of me.
Now I had been contracting, “false labor” some call it, for a few weeks up to this point. They were slightly painful waves almost every other night, irregular and disappearing in the morning. The contractions I felt on the morning of June 23 were different only in that they were very mild and very regular, seven to ten minutes apart and not dissipating with rest or activity. Once Juniper was awake that morning, the first thing she said was “Mama, where is your baby?” I was thinking boy I hope it’s on its way.
The plan was for Ryan to go to his morning men’s bible study, do a bit of office work at the restaurant, then come home and get Juniper for church while I had a restful day at home. By the time his bible study was over, however, I had contacted him, asked him to skip work and church, and to come home now. The contractions were growing slightly more painful and we had work to do: prepare the house for this birth. At this point, it was around 9:30 a.m. I contacted my midwife Goldie to let her know that things were beginning to happen; I informed my friend and doula, Tamra, as well.
Ryan and I worked together while Juniper “read” books on her bed. We made the bed, cleaned the kitchen, spot cleaned the bathroom, set up the birth pool, started making a loaf of bread (the smell of baking bread is thought to ease pain during labor). Ryan suggested that I sit down with [one of] my favorite author[s], Bill Bryson. I read only a few paragraphs of Mother Tongue when I realized contractions were speeding up, becoming more intense, and I couldn’t concentrate on anything but them. During this time, both Goldie and her assistant Amy, as well as Tamra, were on their way to our home. We wanted my mom to be a part of this birth as well, but didn’t want her to be the first to arrive (for her own sake), so once the birth team was there around noon, Ryan called my mom.
We all sat in the living room and chatted though I had to “check out” every three to five minutes or so, focusing on the letter Y on the antique milk crate across the room while my uterus was working hard. Juniper wanted to climb on me with a book, but I just couldn’t; Tamra read to her instead, mixing up the words and making her giggle and giggle. I realized then that I was resisting contractions instead of leaning into them, so I went upstairs (where our bathroom is) to labor alone. While I was upstairs, my mom arrived. It was 1:30 p.m. She came up to be with me and I was never so happy to see her beautiful face. I told her “Mom, the birth team hasn’t had lunch yet and these contractions aren’t painful enough for me to be even close. I think you should tell them to go get lunch and come back later. Also, I want to get in the pool. Will you go make sure it’s hot-hot, please?” Or something along those lines, hopefully that polite. Of course, my midwife knew better than to leave me; they were preparing last-minute things while I was upstairs working through what I later learned was active labor.
In minutes Ryan was upstairs, helping me come down and get in the pool. All morning, Juniper had been excitedly asking me “Would you like to get in the birth pool? Would you like to get in the birth pool now?” and I could finally say “Yes!” Just like at Juniper’s birth, the water was warm and welcoming and in it I found relief. I smelled baking bread and lavender (the midwife had made an herbal bath for me and the baby for later that day). I was in my birth pool, in the comfort of my own home, surrounded by people I loved, having my baby, letting my body do the hard work, and I was happy. Juniper played in the water with a fish net and softly sang songs from “The Last Unicorn” and James Taylor’s “Carolina in My Mind.” The contractions became more intense, even closer together, and I needed Ryan in the pool with me to support my body and my mind. He was there in no time. This was around two o’clock.
Together Ryan and I sang the “birth song;” he imitated the low moaning I created to meet the waves, created from somewhere deep within. Juniper was singing it too, right along with us. Between contractions I joked with everyone, though I don’t remember my hilarious quips and that’s probably a good thing. A few minutes later I began to feel pressure and knew that the baby was making its decent. Ryan and I got louder. Juniper grew nervous because of our volume and my mom took her upstairs to play. They were only upstairs for ten minutes when Amy called them back down; the baby was crowning. At the very last moment I got out of my head, called upon Jesus and all His angels, and the baby’s head was out! Amazing and terrific and terrifying and wonderful and I thought my job was done. But no, I still had to wait for the next contraction to push out the rest of the baby. I can say that that part was very surprising.
The baby was given directly to me, I actually helped lift it out of the water. It didn’t reach very high on my chest because the cord (still connected) was short and fat. The baby was big, which is why its exit had felt so very surprising. It was coated with vernix, coughing and crying. I tried to rub my baby’s back through the thick sticky vernix and soon the baby’s color improved. It was around that time when we thought to check and see… a girl! Another girl! Which, crazy enough, was my dream-come-true. I had always dared to dream for two girls and our merciful God sent me another girl to complete my dream. We were so happy. She was born at 2:32 p.m. In all, active labor lasted 2 hours and 15 minutes; I pushed for 11 minutes.
About forty minutes later Goldie insisted I birth the placenta but my contractions had lessened to almost nothing and I was very unmotivated to cooperate, but what choice did I have? Once the placenta was out, baby girl and I could leave the pool. We sat together on the couch while Ryan showered. I nursed and cuddled our new daughter. Once Ryan was back on the scene, he, Juniper and Goldie cauterized the cord. Baby and I then had an herbal bath upstairs, followed by a remarkable infant exam (8 pounds! 10 ounces! 14.5 inch head! Oh my word!), then made our way back downstairs to relax on the couch. By this time, the team had everything cleaned up and the house put back together. How lovingly efficient. They stayed a little longer to bask in the new-baby glow and departed around 6 p.m. Then Juniper, sitting on the couch next to us, said: “Wait! We forgot something this day. We forgot to go to church!”
Two days later, when we finally settled on a name, our baby looked into my eyes and smiled for the very first time. She was to be one easy-going, happy, smiley and sweet-sweet little girl.
Starling Eliot Beuthin
2:32 p.m., 6-23-13
8 lbs, 10 oz
22 inches long
dimples & a head full of fuzzy hair
long fingers & perfect sweetness everywhere