note: this is the story told in my words and from my perspective as their birthkeeper. There are no photos because I was not wearing the photographer’s hat. But the details are forever in my heart memory.
It was Lissa and Doug’s third baby. They’d had a wild pregnancy so far and were characterized by such peace. When they reached out to me they were pretty near the end of their pregnancy but on account of their agreement that daddy doesn’t attend the births, they decided a female birth companion might be a nice addition to their freebirth plans. She told me that her dates might be as much as a month off and that this might mean I missed the birth, due to travel plans my husband had during those later dates. She figured she’d just go it alone if needed.
It wasn’t until the end of September, mere HOURS before my husband was scheduled to jump on a plane across the country, rendering me without childcare, that her contractions began and I was summoned to make the hour-long drive down to their barn-turned-home.
Upon my arrival, they were laboring quietly outside in the dark on their rural lot and sent me to rest indoors near their sleeping children. When the children woke and were not to be consoled by me, I switched places with their daddy, stationed nearby Lissa as she growled and clawed at the grass, singing Amazing Grace, low, through each contraction while cicadas provided backup vocals. Once she looked up at me and simply said, “It feels good to have you here.” Ahhhh, good.
There wasn’t much for me to do other than to hold that space and bask in the unfolding miracle, covering her with a comforter when she laid down to rest between contractions. It wasn’t long before she started involuntarily pushing and the cloud cleared, revealing a sky full of bright stars.
Lissa was momentarily grabbed by fear, those predictable “I can’t do this” feelings. She asked me to come near, so I did. She leaned into me and I put my arms around her, speaking quiet truths into her ear about how capable she was, how safe and held by God, and that it was going to be ok and that she would meet her baby soon.
Sure enough, she gathered her courage and sunk into the work her body was already doing with or without her, and in the darkness I heard a “splash” and a gurgling cry, then saw in the dim startlight, Lissa’s hands bringing her newborn up to her chest in that chilly night air. She wept and smiled the widest of smiles. So did I.
Her bleeding, visible in the light of my cell phone light, concerned me so I asked her to tell her body to stop bleeding. She did. It did.
I got her and the baby situated on a comforter we’d laid out on the grass wrapped them in another warm blanket, and went in to fetch the daddy, who whispered with a smile in his voice as soon as I opened the door, “I heard,” then wriggled out from between their sleeping children and went out to meet his new son.
After throwing pebbles at their next-door neighbor/brother’s house to announce the birth, he helped Lissa indoors where we got her cozy on a plump armchair. The baby soon established a successful latch, Lissa was offered juice, and we waited for the placenta. It took some mental work and some squatting and such, but it finally emerged — intact and healthy — just 4 minutes before I needed to begin my drive home so that my husband could make his way to the airport in the early morning light.
The next day Lissa sent me this text:
“I’m sitting here all dreamy about last night. I feel so blessed that I got to have such a wild and totally normal birth. Your energy was exactly what I needed – being held by you and then reaching down to catch my own baby was just… I have no words.”
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