On November 9, 2012, on the date of his "suggested arrival," my grandson decided it really was time.
The call came in at 2:19 a.m. As soon as I saw the caller ID, I knew that, not five miles from my house, my daughter was beginning labor and delivery.
A home delivery had been planned. For months we'd visited Kelli Johnson of A Mother's Nature Midwifery. After the last "office" visit I'd gone to with my daughter, Jessica and I decided Jess would call me as soon as she knew she was in labor. I'd get the house in order--if anything needed to be done--run to the grocery store for healthy snacks, etc. while Jessica napped, preserving her energy.
So, when I stared at the caller ID, and I couldn't figure out how to answer my own phone, I should have known this delivery, like all deliveries, would be different. Somehow. Sure enough, Tony stuttered, "Mom. You gotta come. She's in a lot of pain. A lot of pain."
"Have you called Kelli?" I asked.
Something was wrong. If Jessica were in the beginning stages of labor, why was she in so much pain already? I sprang into action, brushing my teeth, combing my hair, slipping into something warm but comfy. I told Jessica's father what was happening. He groggily said, "Okay. Call me."
I ran out the door. Darted back in to grab the camera. Back out. All the way to Jessica's, I prayed. "Lord, if you don't want this baby born at home ... if there is something wrong ... you tell us and we'll listen."
When I got to Jessica and Tony's, it was to discover that Jessica was way beyond the first stages of labor. Kelli arrived shortly after me, checked the little mother-to-be, and said, "Girl! You're nearly 7 cms! I need to call my team!"
The team arrived. I called my husband and told him to "come on." The time: 3:27. A birthing pool was filled with water from the bathroom sink and hot water I had boiled on the stove. I heard one of the doulas (birthing assistants) say, "She says she feels the urge to push."
You have got to be kidding me. I went into the bedroom to find my daughter in the birthing pool, draped over one end, clearly wiped out already. But, with each contraction, she rose, she breathed through it. She became stronger. Kelli and the doulas praised her, all the while recording notes in my daughter's "chart" and talking in labor and delivery "code."
I called my husband again. 4:17 a.m. Nearly two hours had passed since I'd received the initial call. "Are you coming?" I asked.
"Well, I guess, but I'm still in the bed," he answered.
"Well, if you want to see your grandson born, you'd better come on. She's already in the birthing pool. This is going fast."
Believe it not, I had to call him again at 5:41. Sure, he had been through this three times before, but he didn't know the strength yet of our daughter. "Are you coming???" I asked.
He said he was on his way. I'm still not sure about that.
The night waxed on. Our daughter persevered through the pain every biological mother since Eve has felt. She rarely cried out. She hardly moaned. She just did it. Tony and I changed places holding her hand periodically, while one of the doulas took the other hand. With each contraction Jessica pulled us toward her, with such amazing strength, I thought I might end up in the water myself.
And then it happened. The "crowning" moment. Kelli had finished making the skull cap she crochets for every newborn she brings into the world. She stood at one end of the birthing pool with the two doulas. Tony sat behind Jessica's head, encouraging her, praising her, telling her how wonderful she was doing. I stood beside her, video camera rolling (I don't know how I managed that), and her father stood in the doorway. Close enough to witness, but not so close as to "see."
At 7:50 a.m., my grandson left the warmth of his mother's womb for a brief swim in warm water (like one second). The doula pulled him up and over to his mother's outstretched arms. As heart laid upon heart, she cried, "We did it, baby. We did it."
My husband and I wrapped our arms around each other and cried. After two years of painful emotions, losing our beloved "J" to a system gone amuck with power, God smiled on us with this perfect life. All 8 pounds, 20 inches of him. Part of the pain went away. Not all of it, but enough to relieve this tattered heart.
Welcome to the world, Baby Boy!