Wednesday, June 15, 2011


All those cliches about how fast time flies, insert them now.

It's been two years since Charlotte entered our lives, two years full of her strong personality, sweet smile and steady presence in our family. Over the past few days, we have been preparing for her celebration and remembering just what we were doing two years ago.

Our first two births read like some poetry of what birth could be. Peaceful and natural and safe in our home, easy and free of complication. I expected more of the same third time around.

But this birth, this was a long one. Starts and stops, sleepless nights, water breaking and every trick in the book to try to bring forth this baby. Miles of walking, endlessly walking, through the woods, through our neighborhood, through all hours of the day and night. Homeopathy and acupuncture and everything our midwife and doula and I could conjure up to move in the right direction. But I was stuck. She was staying put.

There is this picture, early morning on the third day of labor, that pulls me back into that place.

When I look at this, I remember the deep feeling of exhaustion. I remember that I felt afraid, and of what, I am not sure. When a whole night of working at this birthing thing the best way I knew how had only provided one more centimeter of change, I just about broke. I called my then-pregnant sister in tears, crying so hard I could barely speak. I thought for certain she would think something devastating had happened. But she understood.

I paced in circles in the yard, wondering why I was so stubbornly clinging to this idea of a homebirth, wearing myself down when I knew a quick trip to the hospital and some pitocin would end this show in short time. I should say I was surrounded by support and love in every way imaginable, but if you know birth, you know there is a point at which those things beyond you can't quite be reached.

Too long with no sleep. Too long with open waters. Too long with no change. We threw in the towel. As everything was packed up around me, I sank into the tub (that one option I had held onto, keeping it in my pocket for when I thought I would need it most). Unused birth supplies headed back out to the cars, toothbrushes and baby clothes tossed in a bag. Something shifted.

The midwife came back into the room saying it was time to go. But it all felt so different, much bigger than me. She didn't want to check again, didn't want me to be discouraged, but when she did, her words were like a gift: get back in that tub and have your baby.

The exhaustion was replaced by energy and excitement, the fear melted away and there was strength in its place. It was harder than anything I had done before, but soon there was this, born into our hands on a sunny Sunday afternoon...

And each of those points along the way, the doubts and the fears, the fatigue and the worry, all of it was suddenly perfect. It all brought us to that moment.

The retrospective is always easier, following along to see where the path has veered, but ultimately brought you to where you are meant to be. As I move farther along this mothering path, I see -- I hope -- that it must be the same. There are mistakes and misgivings, fear mixed with delight, anger and sadness, days both dark and red-letter. But when you piece it all together and turn to look back, nothing seems out of place or purpose.

At least that's what I'm holding out for. And since these babes keep growing so quickly, I'm sure it won't be long now before I'll be looking back to see if I'm right.


Anonymous said...

What a beautiful telling of your daughter's birth story. Thank you for sharing. Happy birth day to you both.

Anita Vaughan said...

Thank you for sharing this! It's an incredible journey we're on and your thoughtful words always seem to sum it up perfectly.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY - to both of you!!

Natasha said...

Oh my, I stummbled here to your space, I read your words and fought back tears for such a beautiful and touching tribute. Thank you, for sharing such beauty.

Anonymous said...

here's another reader brought to tears by your words. you are so open and truthful in your writing here and it is a pleasure to be a part of these snippets of your family. thank you for sharing indeed.

Amanda Greco Holmes said...

Thank you all for your kind words. I'm happy to share, especially knowing how kindly these things are being received.

Lindsay said...

Such a beautiful story! Labour and birth is such a wild and unpredictable journey. And look at your gorgeous two-year-old! :)