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And baby makes 4

This is our family a little over two years ago the morning after Ivy was born.  Right away, when I look at this picture, I notice my swollen, red face, Deladis’s disheveled hair (Aunt Leah hadn’t had a baby yet, and they were up all night.), and my peacefully sleeping, round, new love.  Then, I notice John.  Loving Deladis whose just welcoming her new sister and unsure of what that means, he looks as tired as I do.  Puffy under his eyes, and messy hair.  He’s been up with me for almost two days. 

Our journey to Ivy’s birth began on April 26th at 5pm when my water broke ceremoniously as we waited for our dinner at Karma Cafe in Louisville, Kentucky.  It was like something out of the movies.  But, he was calm and unafraid, not embarrassed by a major life event beginning in such a public place.  He trusted my body and birth as much as I did and that meant the world to me.  He called our midwife to tell her what had happened, with nothing but confidence in his voice.  He had been with me for every prenatal appointment.  He had went with me through twelve weeks of Bradley childbirth classes and paid for them.  John had also paid for me to have a doula and a midwife out of pocket.  We can’t afford insurance for the two of us.  He had dedicated himself to me and this baby as he had during every other major moment in our lives since we were teenagers.

The journey finally came to an end at 2:12am on April 28th when our 11 pound baby girl greeted us with her cries and eagerness to nurse.  During this time, we had went to the grocery, ate our boxed food from the restaurant, waited through a sleepless night,  invited women into our home for sagely advice and help, visited the chiropractor, worked on our van that decided to break down on the way home, took many walks, stopped in the middle of busy downtown Louisville for me to get through contractions on the way to the hospital, took many trips to the bathroom, moaned and carried on, made some hard decisions, loved and enjoyed our friends, and ultimately brought forth our baby in safety and love.  I would have been so alone without John.  Never once did he question me through that process.  Never once.  In fact, at times when I thought it was no more, he assured me that there was lots more we could do. 

I think of those two days quite a bit.  How they would have been different without my husband – the daddy – by my side.  I’m forever grateful that I found him so early in my life.  We’ve grown up together and I think with that comes an understanding of one another that goes beyond adult relationship.  We know where we have been first hand.  He trusts me.  I trust him.  As I watch him with our girls – daddy’s girls, I am filled with joy.  Being a daddy’s girl myself, I know how crucial a daddy’s love can be in making everything right in the world.  I thank him for that.  We were married six years before the first was born, and he fell into the role without a blink.  John is a real good daddy.

Today is a rainy Monday in the mountains.  It’s been sweet though.  I just got word that the first baby born whose parents completed my childbirth class series was born!  The birth went wonderfully and mom and babe are doing great!  This makes me smile no matter how hard it rains.

Birth for me is the biggest miracle.  In everything pregnancy, labor, and birth is, you can’t deny that it is miraculous.  I don’t care if you are the most spiritual person in the world, or think spirituality is a crock, I believe everyone agrees that the act of birth is amazing.

It was about 40 minutes ago today, two years ago that my water broke in Karma Cafe on busy Bardstown Rd. in Louisville, Kentucky while I waited with John and Deladis for our dinner and my journey to my Ivy began.  She was born on the 28th at 2:12am chubby and red with a head full of black hair and fuzzy ear lobes.

I loved being pregnant.  I loved my large, hard, round belly.  I loved waiting for her and not knowing if she was a boy or girl.  I loved labor.  The ebbs and flows, as hard as some of the waves were to ride.  To hold her was real rest.  To nurse her was completion of a life cycle.  To be her mother is a gift.  Pregnancy and birth is a true gift.

It’s hard to believe that it has been four years since I was that confident, pregnant school teacher waiting for her miracle to be born.  I had all the faith in the world that everything would be right, and though the experience of my first birth left me physically and mentally scarred, things were just right.  The little miracle born that day has taught me so very much about myself and the world.  It pinches somewhere deep inside that these four years have passed so quickly.  I know the coming years will race by me with equal speed.  Before I know it, I will be looking into the face of a woman.  A woman that I raised from the very beginning.  Some things I will do and have done very right, and other things I will do and have done very wrong, but right or wrong isn’t the point of it all.  The point is always our motives.  I’m motivate by truth and love.  I love you Deladis.  Happy Birthday and God Bless you my little one.

10 months old

10 months old

15 months old

15 months old

18 months old

18 months old

Almost Three

Almost Three

Four

Four

Today is Ivy Pearl’s birthday.  Actually, 2:12am this morning was.  She is officially 1 year today.  I am officially no longer the mother of an infant.  I approach this day with celebration and trepidation.  I am so happy to have a healthy, rambunctious little girl who is full of fight and fun.  I am excited about her being a toddler.  Even more excited about not having a big birthday bash for her like we tried with Deladis for the last three years.  We are having a simple celebration with just the four of us.  I’m going to make peanut butter balls for an after dinner treat.  We had a chocolate cake that I made at mom’s for them to eat.  Ivy didn’t like cake.

At first she thought it looked like fun!

At first she thought it looked like fun!

I am apprehensive about my feelings surrounding her birth.  It was this time last year that my water broke with no labor.  Then, I went through every stage of labor, but didn’t dilate.  It was this time last year that I waited for nearly 2 days to birth triumphantly, and birthed through cesarean a second time.  I am not actively grieving anymore, but I am still full of fire about spreading the word on cesarean births.  I tried a separate blog for that, but it didn’t seem to be working.  I am planning to include a few posts in the next few weeks on the topic here.  I can say that I feel having homebirth as a viable legal option should be a mainstay in every state.  Homebirth midwives are birth heroes in my eyes, and the reason that Ivy’s birth was as good as it was.

I am also sad that I will never have the chance at VBAC again.  It’s not that I want to parent another child, nor is it that I don’t.  I simply don’t believe it is right for me, right now.  I will never know how it feels to birth fully – birth true.  I’ve come to terms with that, but it doesn’t take away the desire to know the feeling.

I look at Ivy today and am happy for her and me.  We came through a year’s journey that was full and fulfilling.  I look at Ivy today and I am glad we are back in our holler, together as a family.  My girls make home a very unlonely place.  I look at Ivy today and I see her potential.  Full of spunk, spark – life.  I wonder what she will be.  I wonder who I will be when I look into a woman’s eyes and see my baby Ivy in there.  Happy Birthday Ivy Pearl.

Ivy Pearl: born 11 pounds – 22 inches (The journey began at 5pm on April 26th and ended at 2:12am April 28th.)

Birthday

Birthday

Ivy Pearl: Birthday + 1 – 19 pounds and 30 inches

ivy-b-day

I’ve been working on a collection of ten short stories themed around birth and early infancy in the Kentucky mountains. All the characters are healing, coping, dealing, grieving, rejoicing, and pondering the situations surrounding the birth of a child. Fiction writing is my passion, and ultimately what I hope will become the permanent gig for the rest of my life. I am nearly finished with the collection and am in the process of submitting the individual stories to literary magazines that I enjoy reading.

What I didn’t consider when I started this collection was the outcome it would have on my emotional health. I know many people look to writing as therapy. Healing through getting it all written out. Writing a letter and burning it and all that jazz. I never did really. I looked to it as more of an escape. Except upon the near completion of this collection, I realized that writing it has brought me to a point of acceptance. Accepting the experiences of my own births.

Ro was born at 38 weeks. I had had a wonderfully healthy pregnancy. I gained only 35 pounds. I exercised throughout the entire pregnancy and worked as a teacher. I had written a birth plan for a natural vaginal birth believing that having chosen a practice of all women that that was very likely for me. I had never been in a hospital as a patient. At 38 weeks and after 7 ultrasounds the doctors convinced me, through scare tactics, that attempting a vaginal birth would endanger the health of my baby in tremendous ways. They told me she was upwards of 10 pounds and my pelvis would not accommodate her. I begged for another option, but they gave me a list of bad outcomes. I, crying reluctantly, signed the waiver and had a c-section without experiencing labor. My baby was 8 lbs. 13 oz. We both experienced health problems after the surgery and stayed in the hospital 5 days.


I began grieving this birth immediately. I felt Ro and I had been betrayed by not even being offered the chance to try. I felt as if we had been reduced to a number and an obstacle in the way of the OB’s chance to go home early. I got angry. I was happy to have my baby, but I felt sorry that she was jerked from me before she was ready.

Even though it was never my intention to have more than one child, I started wanting another. I rationalized about how it would be good for Ro to have a sibling (I still believe it is), but the real reason was I wanted another chance. I struggled with getting pregnant again, but I found myself with child in August 2007. I chose to VBAC and to do that at home with an awesome direct entry midwife. I did everything she told me to do. I immersed myself in the world of VBAC and natural childbirth. I learned the anatomy and physiology. I prayed. I took Bradley classes, got chiropractic care, and hired a wonderful doula. At 41 weeks 6 days (April 26th) my water broke in a flood in a restaurant before the onset of labor. My baby was posterior with a cocked head. Her cord was wrapped around her arm several times. After finally laboring intensely for many hours, transitioning, but not dilating, I was transferred to the hospital where eventually I had to agree to another c-section (April 28th) due to health concerns. Plo was 11 pounds. I am so thankful for the experience of natural labor, my midwife and doula who gave me the best possible care I could have received, a healthy baby, being respected and treated like somebody, and for being given a chance. But, I always wondered why the circumstances didn’t line up for the kind achievement I had so longed for.

I could not imagine having another baby at this point. I know if I ever found myself pregnant again, I would chose VBAC and homebirth. I was left a bit jaded, and envious of those who had been able to do what they were created to do – birth without assistance.

When I started my collection, I wanted to visit birth in the mountains throughout history and the present because that is all I could think about. I chose to write about the most triumphant situations, the most devastating, and everything in between. I explored the feelings of both men and women living with their choices, and the outcomes of births that effected them directly. I stayed with them through tears of joy and immense pain. Not running out the door with jealousy, hurt, or anger. I wrote it as real as I could get. As in your face truth of birth. All of the stories, no matter the result, were worthy of words.

Now, that I am coming out on the other side, I am realizing that my births are stories worth sharing as well. That my experience is part of a larger collective of women who have experienced it all. That the experiences were what they were and there is nothing I can do to change it, and that the only way to live with it is to embrace it. Not to say “oh, well”, but to live with the test, the history, the experience that is the reality of birth.

I have found myself in many ways healed. Healed of the constant dwelling. Embracing a new found appreciation for pregnancy, birthing, and the amazing capabilities of a woman’s body. I have found myself more present in the moment. Not revisiting my births, but trying to grow in mothering my beautiful girls. I’m thankful that God put me here with the desire to write, and heal through the process of it.

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About Me

An Appalachian woman born and raised, mothering two little girls in a place that is non-existent to AT&T or UPS. Happily working toward a sustainable lifestyle and writing on the demand of a loud muse.

December 2021
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