I was born and raised in San Diego, California. I spent my early twenties traveling some of Eastern Europe, where I was studying at the time, and also attended a music program while working part time making lattes, in Orange County, California. I met my best friend over coffee and songwriting, and we married fairly quickly. Because my husband is a musician and we both are free spirits by nature, we’ve traveled a bit together and bounced around the country a couple times over the last five years.
This story, however, is about my daughter. Her name is Fair, and she is now two years old. I thought it fitting to tell her story for my first blog post because the day of her birth is one of the happiest days we’ve had in life yet.
I wrote about our experience to her just a week after she arrived.
"I’m holding you in my arms, trying to keep you so warm today. It's in the low sixties. You just took your first nap on your tummy and I'm pretty sure you loved it (Jim Brickman helped a bit too). Ahh! Fair, you are so precious I want to cry! Your little stirrings, smiles, and laughs in your sleep make my heart melt. And you're only going to get more beautiful with time! I can't believe that you’re already a week and two days old! Last Monday I had no idea who you were, what you looked like, the sound of your little cry."
I anticipated Fair coming sooner. Maybe it was more hope than anything. I was anxious to meet her and ready to no longer be pregnant and uncomfortable. It was raining the morning I woke up and knew that she was on her way. It was four days past the date appointed for her to arrive. Silly "due dates". My midwife, Lindsey, had come to our home just days prior to make sure that my bag of waters was still intact (which it was), because I had been a bit leaky. She also gave me the reassuring news that my body was moving forward towards labor. Although not there yet, I was already four centimeters dilated and eighty percent effaced.
January twenty-third couldn't have come soon enough! But when it did, it was perfect. It was six am and the tightening I felt around my stomach was much different than the braxton hicks I had been feeling for a couple of weeks. I was certain. It was much stronger and achy. I had wanted to feel this for months and here I was, experiencing this early labor pressure for the first time. I could breathe and stand and move and it felt good. From the start they were exactly ten minutes apart and I felt able to handle them. I sent my husband, Landon, to work knowing that I had some time. And so I cleaned. I cleaned the entire house, mopped all the floors and did all the laundry. Maybe it was nesting? I think more than anything I was trying to distract myself through this early stage. In the midst of all the housework I would stop every ten minutes to breathe heavy and slow. By noon, my contractions were five minutes apart and I called Landon to come home from work. I loved the time that I had to labor alone and I felt that I was able to progress quickly without any watchful eyes. However, now I wanted nothing more than for Landon to be close, supporting me. I had moved to an exercise ball that my mom let us borrow and I circled and rolled my hips, knowing that movement would get Fair down and into the perfect position. I ate some toast and a banana and drank an electrolyte drink to keep my energy up.
By the time Landon was home, I felt like my body had moved into a deeper state of labor. I wasn't sure if I should sit, stand, walk, or cry. I felt anxious in-between each tightening and wasn't letting my body fully rest. Landon was such a help though! He began filling our birthing tub and would stop to hold me through each contraction. Around two-thirty pm, I stood with my arms around his neck, hanging my weight off his shoulders, and breathing through the pressure. I felt my waters release and gush a bit down my legs. I took a hot shower to clean up and help relax but without the cushion of a full amniotic sac, I felt my body’s tensing quickly become more powerful. I told Landon that I was ready for Lindsey to come. My mind was moving to another place; a foggy state. I remember accusing Landon of lying when he said that Lindsey and her assistant Courtney were on their way. Why would he not want them there?! He was trying so faithfully to convince me to relax and trust him. I was relieved when they did arrive, soon after three pm. I was in our bedroom and hadn't heard them come inside, but felt a calm presence when Lindsey put her hand on my shoulder and asked if I would like to get in to the birthing tub. Slipping out of my sweats and stepping into the warm water brought a slow to my anxiety. I immediately felt relief from the edginess that each contraction brought. I could focus and rest between the tightenings now.
Things became a bit of blur from them on. I closed my eyes and kept them shut only to open them a handful of times. I saw Courtney setting up equipment, an oxygen tank I think. I heard our pots on the stove bubbling water, and thought they must be for the tub. I saw Lindsey writing or looking through some papers. The lights were mostly off, with the exception of the kitchen and because our heater was broken, our stove was on and propped open a bit to warm the room. I kept peeking up at the clock. I moved inward when I would feel a contraction coming. It crept up slow and dull and would wrap around my abdomen, holding at its peak of intensity and then roll off, releasing my body to rest before another. I held Landon’s arms so tightly, trying to remain open and relaxed below the water, but having to put the pressure somewhere. His poor bruised arms. I remember in a deep state of vulnerability, I cried out, "please God!" Im not sure if it was verbal or if I said it internally. I thought maybe God would lesson the work; that He would ease some of the discomfort that I felt. I had forgotten that this pain had so much purpose! I would let out a long teeth clenched scream, only to be brought back down to a low moan by Lindsey and Courtney. I felt so safe with three people whom I trusted, supporting me and breathing with me through each hard moment. Reminding me to let go. To give in. To relax. This pain I felt was my own body, working perfectly and beautifully, just as it was created to do so.
Somewhere around six pm, Lindsey suggested that if I felt the urge, I could push. And of course, as most first time moms do, I began to push with all my might through every contraction, bearing down as hard as my body would let me. Even though I continued to ask how much longer it would take, I felt strong. I was inching Fair closer to this world with each self directed push and I liked the feeling of putting pressure into each contraction. Landon sat behind me and encouraged me. Each time Courtney checked Fair's heart beat, I felt stronger. I heard her precious body working and it gave me the strength to keep going. I tried changing positions, which made my contractions couple and leave me without a break, so I moved back to sitting up against Landon and holding my legs back a bit.
There was a moment, in that long hour that I felt discouraged. Lindsey asked if I wanted to touch Fair’s head, which horrified me at first. When I finally reached down, I felt her sweet scalp and soft hair ready to crown. We were so close! With a couple more pushes, her head was born. Her head, covered in bright blonde hair! Her eyes were open, and she stared up at us from under the water. It was Fair and she was beautiful. I don't remember feeling anything but shock mostly. This was my child's face! And I was so tired. With the next contractions I pushed with all my might, but her little shoulders wouldn't budge. After a minute or so, I stood. Landon held me up from under my arms and Fair's little head was out of water and in-between my shaky legs. I remember asking Lindsey to help me catch because I didn't want to drop her. My body was exhausted. With the next urge, I squatted and bore down. Lindsey pushed with my body, against my stomach, and Fair plopped right out. Her slippery frame slid into mine and Lindsey’s hands and we brought her up to my chest. She was fat. And amazing. She seemed a bit purply, which I now know is normal. She didn’t cry. Her big blue eyes were wide open. She gazed at Landon and I and scanned the room. She let out some little cries when she coughed up some fluid but besides that, she was calm and sweet. It was six after seven pm. We only sat in the water for a minute or two before Courtney and Lindsey helped us up and into our room.
We laid in bed for what seemed like an eternity with Fairs naked, plump body snuggled to my bare chest. I’m not sure that my eyes left her or her smiling dada. What precious moments! I think about an hour had passed before Lindsey came back to check on us. Fair started nursing on her own so perfectly. My body began to contract again and I delivered her massive placenta which brought such relief. Courtney sutured a small tear and I handed Fair off to Landon for the first time. He held her so gently with her cord still attached and placenta close by while I cleaned up and dressed in cozy clothes. Fair's cord remained unclamped until she received the rest of her blood that still ran through it, and when she did, Landon cut it. She was weighed and measured by such sweet loving hands. Our first initial comments of her being fat were right! She weighed eight pounds, eight ounces, and was twenty-one inches long.
Our home was so peaceful. No crying or fear. Fair’s transition from womb to world was just as we had imagined it would be. Although intense, it was safe and calm. Labor and birth was the hardest work I have ever done in my life, but I would do it over and over again for my sweet Fair! When sleepless nights and feverish days come, when I'm exhausted and at my breaking point, I will remember her birth. I will remember that when I was weak, God gave me the strength to keep going. I will remember that I can trust my instincts. I feel so proud. I feel empowered. I am so very thankful for my Fair and this experience that we shared as a family because of her.
"Fair, my sweet little one week and two day old girl,
you have already changed me."