Friday, February 17, 2012


My best friend Sarah has been commissioned to do a sculpture of St Vincent. I cried when I saw how the work was progressing. I hope somewhere in heaven, St Vincent is looking after my babies. I think this little one looks so much like one my own. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

All things borne in love: The birth of Garrett Daniel

There are so many ways I could tell this story. It is a story of death and life; loss and redemption; fear and hope. Mostly, though it is a story of love.

I have given birth three times. The second time however, I did not labor to bring forth life. Instead, my daughter Ruby was born perfect, tiny and still. The loss was devastating. I had so much guilt about the complaints I had made about pregnancy; the doubts I had voiced about having a second child; the assumptions I had made that it would all inevitably end with a live baby. Once she was gone, I knew for certain that I wanted another child and to feel those magical kicks, to give birth and nurse again. The idea of facing another loss was terrifying, but I had to believe that there was hope of redemption out there.

The month after Ruby’s due date, my husband and I made a hasty decision to try again before we lost our courage. When we conceived, I placed the tiny stick with the two red lines next to Ruby’s urn and asked her to look after her sibling and send me strength. I did my best to accept the discomforts of pregnancy this time, to be grateful for this gift that I thought might never come again. So many mornings, I looked in the mirror at my growing belly and wondered at the fragile miracle of it all.

On Thursday, April 28th, I was 38 weeks and 5 days pregnant. I had been feeling like the birth was imminent for a few days. The signs were subtle, so I told myself that I was just being overly hopeful. That night however, I got a backache and started having contractions. I timed them over dinner and was surprised to find that they were coming at 3 minutes apart already. Convinced that I couldn't possibly really be in labor, I put my 3.5 year old to bed and tried to distract myself on the computer. My contractions were getting so strong though that I couldn’t stay seated during them. I called my midwife and asked in embarrassment how I would know if I was really in labor. She said when I had to change activity during a contraction. Then she listened to me talk through a contraction and said that she expected to hear from me again around midnight but would come earlier if I wanted her to.

I decided to call my best friend to come over and see how things went. I paced around for a while after she came and when my husband got out of work at 11PM, we inflated the birth tub. Then, unexpectedly, I decided to try and get some sleep. Even more shockingly, I was actually able to. I woke up around 3 AM and started timing my contractions again and discovered they had spaced out to 6 minutes apart. Disappointed, I texted my midwife and tried to sleep some more. I was feeling restless though and had started pacing again when I was suddenly I was overcome with two thoughts: “I want in the water” and “I want my midwife.” I woke my husband, had a moment of anxiety (“Tell me I can do this again.”) and then told him to call my midwife.

The contractions were getting uncomfortable now and the tub was only a foot or so full when I couldn’t bear it anymore, stripped naked and got in. The water helped some but was not the miracle pain reliever that I thought it was going to be. I struggled to relax and it got harder and harder as I approached transition. By the time my midwife arrived close to 5 AM, I was really desperate for her presence. Fear was starting to overcome me and she encouraged me by telling me what a great job I was doing and reminding me that I needed to breathe slowly and deeply so my baby would continue to get good oxygen flow. I tried to channel all of my emotions toward the baby – telling him how much I loved him, how I couldn't wait to see him. Still, I fought back the dread of each coming contraction and cried a lot.

Around 6:30, Reed woke up and was delighted to see all the action in the house. I was laboring down at this point and barely holding it together. Feeling my body begin to involuntarily begin to push was scarily intense. I begged for help and encouragement with each contraction. When I said I couldn’t do it anymore, I was reminded that I could and was. When the baby started to crown, I went into a complete panic. Then something took over inside of me. I became determined to get the labor over with and the baby out. With the next contraction, I starting pushing with everything I had. None of this easy, breathing out the baby stuff. It was one massive, screaming push and his head popped out. As I waited for the next contraction to push out his shoulders, I actually felt his little head turn one way and then the other like he was looking around. (Seriously, the weirdest sensation ever.)

The rest of him came out with the next contraction, and the midwife caught him and put him on my chest. I looked down at this tiny, slimy baby covered with vernix and tons of downy hair and burst into tears of joy and relief. He let out a beautiful bleating little cry. I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe it was over. He was here and alive. I kissed my husband and my son who reached over my shoulder and patted his brother lovingly on the head. Then my midwife had me reach down and feel the cord pulsing. Actually feeling the life pass between us left me speechless with amazement.

I was grateful to have delivered at home with my wonderful midwife. Getting out of the tub, washing up and then being tucked immediately into my own bed was wonderful. I was glad to have experienced birth free of needles, monitors or cervical checks for ‘progress’. It was just this uninterrupted, intense, hard and amazing ordeal. I was surprised afterwards how difficult the birth felt and how scared I had been – but then so much of bringing another child into this world had been a headlong charge against fear and doubt. Love carried me from beginning to end – my husband’s love, the love of my best friend and my midwife, the love of my children, the strong assurance of the love of my Creator. Later that evening, I happened to be near Ruby’s urn and caught sight of the faded positive pregnancy test sitting next to it. My heart full of love and tears, I thanked her for being there with me through it all and for watching over her brother’s safe arrival. Her story is no longer just one of loss but rather a story of redemption.

God has blessed us with:

Garrett Daniel B

Born April 29th, 2011 at 7:28AM
6lbs, 8oz and 18.5 inches