As if trying to see past the liquid that poured out as it emerged, the child was face up and looking right at me; eyes squinted, face wrinkled with the attempt to cry; bordering the life inside it’s mothers womb and the life we were about to introduce. There was something special about this life we bore on the 31st day of October, 2007, something that was different than the last child two years and four months before. Not that this new child is better than our first, or that it’s ten fingers and ten toes were easier to count, but there was just something different about having our child at home; something more intense, something less hectic and rushed, something amazing!
June 30, 2005 we brought into this world our first child, a daughter, Jazmyn Sierra. She was beautiful, tiny, and everything a father could ever want! Although things went fine, there are some things we would have liked to have been different; my wife would have liked to remember more of her drugged-up delivery, I would have liked to cut the cord, and we would have like it to be more private. There was something about the 10 people in the room that was uncomfortable; I’m sure they all had their purpose… they needed one nurse to hold towels, another to hold a bag, one to operate the machine that beeped, another to manage the one operating the beeping machine, and two doctors to evaluate the performance of the intern that about dropped our baby, twisted it’s head 360 degrees trying to figure out which way the head went, and getting blood all over from the cord that she forgot to let the husband cut (which we specified as something we wanted to do when they asked us “Do you want to cut the cord?”… Check the “YES” box please!).
One thing is for certain, though, we couldn’t love our daughter more! Despite the little things we could not change our daughter was perfect for us. After Jazmyn was born at 2:07 AM, the excitement wore off after a while, and then we (or I) slept. We spent three days in the hospital (of which my wife claims I slept for two) and we went home with our new baby.
I got the call around 8:30 in the morning, her water had broke and she felt this was it, how long it would be we didn’t know; I was faced with a difficult decision, stick it out for another hour and a half learning Arabic, or leave early and have to call work saying we were about to have a baby and that I will not be coming in for a couple days. So after immediately gathering my things I left for home. On the way home I stopped at the dollar general store to pick up some cheap entertainment for Jazmyn; some toy horses, couple toy whales, and two veggietales movies. Surely that would keep her busy for however long it was going to take. We wanted her to be there with us so we could all enjoy our family’s first moments with the new baby, but we needed her to stay entertained and busy so she wouldn’t hear her mothers pain and continue to ask, “what’s wrong mommy?”. I don’t know if she really knew what was going on or not, but she remained busy the whole time. The trick was to give her the new toys one at a time, as soon as she became bored with it or was starting to move on I would give her the next new toy. After I was down to just a horse, I cued the movies; saved the best for last. Veggietales could keep her entertained for hours, and having two new movies, she would sit there watching for as long as we let her.
When I got home things seemed to be normal. The feeling of this being the day was lurking in the air, but things weren’t as intense as I expected. I was delayed getting home because Dollar General didn’t open until 9:00, and the 25 minute drive got me there 15 minutes before 9:00… It took a few minuets to pick out the right toys for the job but I got them and got out as quick as I could. By the time it seemed to be taking I thought I was going to get home and have to throw the toys onto the floor and sprint down the hall then dive into the bedroom to make the catch of the day. Although that would have been a grand story, fortunately for my body no diving was involved (also lucky for the baby, because I had a bad track record for making the diving catch).
Things were relatively calm; my wife, Traci, was walking around the house making sure everything was prepared. We had towels (unattended), bag (for placenta, also unattended), and a lack of beeping machines, doctors, and other spectators; we were all alone. If it weren’t for the studying and researching we did before making the decision I would have felt a little more uneasy, but the materials we studied (books on home births and emergency child birth books, you know, the ones meant forhome births) made us a lot more comfortable and prepared for the event. We had an old sheet over a shower curtain on the bed as a place to birth, plain old dental floss to tie off the umbilical cord, a pair of sanitized scissors for ME to cut the cord with, and several other things we thought may be necessary.
As the day progressed into the early afternoon hours, my wife’s contractions progressed also. Shortly after that we had the baby.
Thanks for reading and I hope… What, you were expecting more? Well, I’d hate to disappoint you:
As I was saying, early in the afternoon her contractions were picking up in intensity and the intervals were closing to not much more than a couple minutes. She felt it was time to really get ready for the fun to begin. I was told before hand that anything she needed would be announced, there were to be no interruptions by me asking, ”is everything ok”?
She spent a lot of time in the shower because it helped her relax a lot more. It was really hard for me to listen to her in pain. Several times I really contemplated on asking if she needed anything; I waited in the hall by the bathroom door for any sign that told me to ask, no such sign came, so I chose to be silent. After she emerged from the bathroom, not asking for anything, just walking to the bedroom to see if the timing was right, I had a feeling I had made the right decision to be silent. I felt a sense of gratification in passing the test of silence she tried so hard to drill into my head.
Her trip to the bedroom was not the first she made. There were several times she took a break from the shower; a couple times she went to the bed, another to the chase (a recliner-like chair you could sit in with your legs fully extended, like it has a built-in ataman), and a couple trips to the kitchen. At one point between shower trips she asked me to make her some hot red raspberry leaf tea to help the contractions become more productive.
When she finally felt the time had come, I prepared the last veggietales movie for Jazmyn and we both went into the bedroom. It felt like the pressure was on for me to make the final catch, like on the last inning if a pop fly was hit right at me and I had to catch the ball to make the game. My heart was pumping faster in a moment of anticipation to finally find out the gender of our new baby, and to see what delivering our baby at home was really going to be like.
My wife was on her hands and knees with her face in a pillow on the bed. She had on a robe and I sat behind her with a towel, waiting to figure out what I was to do next. Her contractions had really picked up, somehow so did her colorful vocabulary. I think back and wonder how fast I would have flown off the bed had I told her to watch her mouth… I wasn’t that brave, and it certainly wasn’t a time to be joking around with her.
As the contractions continued she felt it was time to push. I’m sure there was some communication as to what she was going to do, but I don’t remember the particulars of what she said, so we’ll just say she said “I’m going to push now”. I looked around one last time to make sure I had everything, like it was really going to matter if I said “hold on honey, I forgot to grab the … towels”.
As the labor intensified she began pushing with the contractions. I began encouraging her but my timing was never on queue. Me telling her to push when she wasn’t having contractions wasn’t going well; maybe next time I’ll just concentrate more on catching.
The image of our new baby’s face as it looked up at me will never leave my mind. I was the first person to ever see this child in this world. I was the first person to touch it with my hands. The sight of its face animated immediately sent chills up my spine and gave me a sense of awe and relief! This tiny baby was trying to say hello to the first person who was there to introduce themselves, I am so proud to say that the first person this child experienced in its new life was “daddy”. I could see the life flourishing in the tiny face as mother began pushing again. As the head began accelerating towards my waiting hands the shoulders quickly followed. The skin was a bluish color and at first I began to worry, the reason why escapes me; maybe it’s because no matter how much you read or see in pictures, nothing captures the sense of realism than actually being there and seeing it in person.
After only seconds of holding this baby in my hands, half emerged, Traci finished off with the last push and the baby was out; it was time to announced the presence of our brand new daughter, Londyn Destiny; born at 2:07 PM, 7lbs and 19 inches long.
Seconds seemed like minutes from the time the head emerged to the time I heard her little voice cry out for the first time. The liquid that followed postponed her cry, but when we heard it, it was one of the most beautiful things I had ever heard. I handed her off to her mother who gently sucked out with her mouth what may have been in her air passages and began trying to nurse.
When we knew things were under control, it was time to introduce our two girls. I went into the living room and said “hey Jazmyn, come meet your new sister”. Jazmyn jumped up and followed me into the bedroom where her baby sister was crying. Jazmyn climbed up onto the side of the bed, looked at her crying sister for a few seconds and then jumped down and ran out of the room. Traci and I both wondered what was going through her head; does she know what’s going on? Does she even care about what just happened or where this baby came from? Only seconds after Jazmyn ran out, she ran back in and climbed up onto the side of the bed again and extended her hand out to her sister, in her hand was a nipple from a bottle. She knew why Londyn was crying and she wanted to help, so she did her very best to prepare a bottle for her to eat. It was such an amazing feeling; our two girls seemed to have an immediate bond!
The cord was blue, full of oxygen, blood and nutrients the baby would need in its first minutes of life. We gave it plenty of time for the blood to circulate into her body and wean her off the oxygen supply from the cord. The time went very quickly! We spent some time trying to get her to nurse effectively and getting her wrapped up good. After 45 minutes we tied off the cord and cut it; finally, I was able to do what I had always wanted.
Between the two of us we took turns holding her when she was still attached to the cord. It was exiting be able to hold her even if I had to sit uncomfortable and close to her mother, but when we had her separated from the cord, it was finally time for her to be all mine; I was able to hold her on my own without her being connected to her mother. It was such an awesome feeling being able to hold her so soon after she was born. There was no one there telling us when we could hold her and when we could not. We did not feel rushed to bath her and were not pressured to pump her full of drugs and other things that God obviously didn’t see a need for when he designed us. We were able to bond with our new baby in the first moments of her life!
The remaining umbilical cord and the placenta were yet to be delivered, so as I held Londyn, Traci went to take care of the rest. She was so full of energy and totally collected after delivering her baby, I was amazed that even after the labor and the pain, she practically acted like nothing had even happened.
It took some time for her to take care of the placenta, but when she did she made sure to examine it and make sure everything was in tact and complete, and that nothing was left inside. The placenta was whole; smooth on one side and rough on the other. After examining it myself I dug a hole in the back yard and buried it.
There was something different about my experience that I didn’t have with our first child. It’s not that Londyn is more special to us than Jazmyn, because I could not love one more than the other no matter what the circumstances, but the experience brought with it a sense of wholeness that I had never felt before. It’s a wholeness that I hope to feel again someday, and a feeling I look forward to experiencing once again when God gives us our next gift of happiness.