when my oldest niece was born, i was in the delivery room with my sister. i held the video camera as little cherith hope came into the world. it was one of the most important days of my life. no matter how grown up she becomes, i'll always remember being there when she took her first little breath.
my next encounter with childbirth came when my bff, kellie, had a baby this year. i wasn't in the delivery room this time, but i stood just outside the door when little henley let out her first cry. even hearing the sounds of her parents welcoming her into the world was enough to break my heart. she'd only been in the world a few minutes when i got to take my first look at her; she was a beautiful, teeny-tiny human, and she held all of us in the palm of her hand.
i'm not the type to gush over babies. as a matter of fact, i've been mostly awkward around them most of my life. it's not that i don't like them, it's just that i've had little reason to be around children. i was the youngest in my family, so there were no little brothers or sisters to take care of, and my only sister and i have lived in different states since she became a mother so i only get to see her girls when we visit each other. until pretty recently, mike and i haven't had many close friends with children so i guess i've been living at the grown-up's table for a long, long time.
that time has officially come to an end. since henley's come into our lives, i've been allowed to babysit her pretty regularly and i'm learning to do all the things i've never done before. and just last week, another little person came into our world and made it even brighter.
our amazing friends, emily and chris, gave me the opportunity to be a part of their home birth. they had a midwife, a doula, a couple of assistants, and me.
i'm not sure how i got so lucky, but when the phone call came first thing early last wednesday morning, i was wishing i'd laid out a birth plan for myself. i ran around in circles for a few minutes not knowing what to bring and what to wear, and i was talking way too loud to myself while mike was trying to sleep. i somehow managed to throw on a joan jett t-shirt and some jeans (appropriate home birth attire) and drive the short distance down the road to their house. emily was lying on the bed, perfectly calm, and well into her labor. she'd been having contractions since about two o' clock that morning and had graciously waited until a little after eight to have chris call and tell me it was time.
i took turns with chris, holding emily's hand and breathing along with her through the contractions, trying to do anything to make it easier on her. she was amazing. there were few times during the entire day that she actually yelled or moaned; her labor was happening internally and the only sign at times was a grimace to show she was in intense pain. the contractions came closer and closer together and, in less than two hours from the time i got there, it was time for emily to move into the tub of water where her baby would be born.
i held the video camera and witnessed most of the delivery from behind the lens, now and then running for towels, or whatever the midwife or doula might need. for the most part, i stayed planted firmly out of the way until the midwife looked up at me and said, "holli, you'll probably want to get this." i hesitated, but only for a split second. i'd gotten over the fear of recording the intimacies of the delivery pretty quickly but the midwife was now telling me to get down next to her on the floor, directly where i'd be able to film the baby being born. i did as she told me to do, and before i knew it, i saw a tiny little head. i caught my breath and looked up at chris. he saw the look on my face and knew what i knew- the baby was coming. the top of her head was there, and in an instant, she was there. all of her. her tiny body being lifted from beneath the water, upside down, then up, up, turning, and onto emily's chest in one long eternity of a moment. blue and slippery, tiny and wrinkled, then curled up tightly in her mama's arms.
when i think back on the events of the day, it's a glowy, dream-like daze.. muted music, soft voices, words that sound like hums of encouragement, and intense love between chris and emily. it's one of my most important days and a memory that will never leave me.
della lucille, i'm so glad you're in the world.