A BABY IS BORN
Dear MJ, This is your auntie Claire. As you grow, you will learn that you have tons of family, and many, many people who love you. It might be hard to keep track of all of us because we aren’t all family in the traditional sense, but sometimes the best family are the people you choose, not just the people you’re related to. I have known your mama since she was 12 years old and I was 13. She is the sister I never had. She and I have connected in ways that some friends never do. We grew close talking about life, spirituality, love, the world we live in and the people we want to be. I hope someday you have a best friend who you can be close to in that way; it is a beautiful thing. We hold eachother accountable and are there for eachother no matter what. When your mama met your daddy, I was very protective. I wanted to make sure she would be cared for the way she deserves, and that eventually the man she chose would be a good father to the children she has always wanted. Your mama and daddy quickly fell in love and began to dream about you. Mama and I have had many, many talks about the mother she hopes to be. She has worked so hard to become the woman she needs to be to help grow and nurture you. She knows that it is no small task to bring a little human being into this crazy world and raise them to be a strong, good person. But she wants to do it, and so does your daddy. You are wanted, MJ. You were dreamed of, planned for and imagined before you even existed. When your mama found out she was carrying you on May 5th, 2011 she came to my house to make sure it was really true. When the second test said “pregnant” your mama and I shared a big, long hug. MJ, I have never felt such an immediate sense of love. You were very tiny at that time, about the size of a pea. We found out you were due January 9th, 2012. Throughout the next nine months, mama took extra care to ensure that she was creating the best environment for you to thrive and grow. It wasn’t easy. Mama felt very sick at the beginning and end, but she was so tough. When she was feeling good, we took many bike rides and walks in the summer and fall. She made sure to stay active and healthy so she would be ready to take care of you. In the final weeks before you came, she was very swollen, her blood pressure was high and she was incredibly tired. We all made fun of her big hands and feet; it was quite a sight. On Friday, December 30th, 2011, your auntie Raechell and I took mama to the doctor for a check up. Mama’s midwife Deb was not working that day, so we saw Dr. Angelats. Her blood pressure was still high, and the doctor said we should go home and pack our bags because we had to go to the hospital for more monitoring. He wanted to be sure that you and mama were safe and healthy. We got to the hospital at 8:00pm and they started to check mama’s blood pressure every 15 minutes. She was feeling sick and seeing floaties in her eyes. They sent some tests and at about 11:00pm Dr. Angelats called and said that mama would have to stay in the hospital and take medicine to start her labor so she could get you out safely before she got sicker. Mama started crying because she wanted Deb to be there to bring you into the world, and she wanted to wait for you to come on your own time. She had also been planning to give birth to you in a tub of water, but this wouldn’t be possible now that the two of you had to be monitored closely. Also, your daddy was stuck at work because he plays music for people at night! promised mama I would stay with her so she wouldn’t be alone. A very nice nurse named Ali helped tuck mama into her new bed and get ready to start the process. At midnight, Ali gave mama the first medicine to induce labor. We ordered sandwiches, watched movies and painted our nails while the medicine started to work and mama began to feel contractions at about 1:00am. At 3:00am Ali was going to give mama another dose of medicine, but her contractions were coming more often and she didn’t need to take it. Her body took over and labor was progressing. Mama finally fell asleep and snored away as her body started to get ready to give birth to you. She had contractions through the night, and I didn’t sleep much because I had to make sure she stayed on her left side to keep her blood pressure down. Another very nice nurse, Jody, came and took over for Ali. She was so sweet and cheerful, and I knew you and mama were in good hands. Dr. Angelats came in at 10:00am and was pleased with the progress mama had made. She was dilated to 1.5 centimeters and he decided to break her water, the sac that you lived and grew in, in order to speed things up. This made mama start having more contractions, and they were a lot stronger. Every 2-3 minutes mama had a contraction that lasted about 30 seconds, then she would have another one right after that, and then a few more minutes to rest until it happened all over again. One day you may learn, this is very painful. MJ, your mama was so very strong. She only cried once; I held her hands while she looked into my eyes and I told her we would get through this. She nodded her head and I knew she could do it. She was determined to be strong for you. Jill May was there with us and she and I began to give mama back, hand and foot massages to help her through the pain. She didn’t make a lot of noise, she was very focused on breathing through the pain. Jill and I would give her instructions on how to breathe and different positions to be in, and she was a very good listener. At first she was sitting on a big exercise ball, and using different positions in bed to be comfortable. The nurses didn’t want mama to walk because her blood pressure was too high. After awhile, she couldn’t move much because it was too painful. Daddy got there in the morning, too, and he started to take pictures so one day you could see what happened the day you were born. At 12:45pm Dr. Angelats checked and said mama was dilated to 3cm and 80% effaced, which means her cervix was opening and thinning to get ready for you to pass through. Pretty amazing, huh? The next few hours were very, very difficult. The contractions were coming faster, lasting longer and hurting more. Your mama remained brave and centered as she prepared for your arrival. At about 2:00pm she started throwing up in between contractions. This was the worst part, because she couldn’t get a rest! She had been doing all of this hard work with no medicine because she wanted to be able to tell you that she did it all on her own. However, it is dangerous to get too exhausted during labor, and she still needed to be able to push you out when the time came. At about 3:00pm we decided it was time for mom to get an IV because she was getting dehydrated and she wanted to try some medicine to help her stop throwing up and treat the pain. She was so swollen that it was hard for the nurses to find a vein and she had to get poked two times! She didn’t even flinch! The medicine didn’t work and mama was absolutely miserable. After every contraction she was wretching; she had to sit up in bed with a bucket, then clean up, lay down for a contraction and do it all over again. This was taking a lot of energy and we were worried because mama needed to save all of her strength to be able to push you out when it was time. At 3:45 mama finally decided to get an epidural to help reduce the pain and vomiting in order to get some rest for the very hard part that was yet to come. Mama said she wanted me in the room because I am a nurse and I wouldn’t get scared about the big needle like daddy would. I actually knew Dr. Murray, the lady who came to give mama the epidural, so I was sure she was in good hands yet again. They had to put a really big needle in mama’s back for the medicine while she sat completely still. She remained very brave. Right when this was done, Deb, mama’s midwife, walked in! We were all so excited to see her. Dr. Angelats checked and said that mama was dilated to 6cm and 90% effaced. Mama was starting to feel better, so we got her teeth brushed, braided her hair and lotioned up her legs and feet so she could relax. Deb kicked everyone out of the room so she could have some time with mama and be sure she was prepared to bring you safely into the world. She checked to make sure you were in the right position in mama’s tummy and did some maneuvering to get you and mama ready. Mama finally got a nap and woke up at about 5:30. Deb said she was dilated to 9cm and it wouldn’t be much longer until she was ready. We made a “push-it mix” full of songs that would motivate mama to push you out! At 6:00pm Deb walked in, checked again and said mama was at 10cm. “Are you ready to have this baby?” she asked. Everyone was so excited. Deb, mama and daddy had been together through this whole journey, and it meant so much to everyone that she would be there to ensure your safe arrival. Deb had a pep talk with mama to get her to focus before starting to push. Pushing is very challenging, and mama had to be mentally prepared for all the hard work she was about to do. Mama placed all of her trust in Deb, and promised that she would listen closely and follow her instructions. Daddy, Grandma Kathy, Grandma Judith and I stayed in the room while Raechell, Jill, Mama Missy, Grandpa Marcus and Sammy sat patiently in the waiting room. At 6:15pm mama started to push. At first, it was very hard to understand what muscles to use to get you out! Mama was trying so hard but you weren’t moving very much. We would get a quick peek of the top of your head, then you would slide back in like a little turtle. Deb played a joke on mama and said, “Oh my gosh she has blonde hair just like me!” and mama said, “Really?!?!” We all got a good laugh out of that. Deb wanted to help mama understand how to push effectively, so she handed mom a towel, got on the bed and started to play tug of war with her. Daddy was worried about Deb flying backwards if mama let go of the towel so he had me stand behind her just in case. Jody was holding one of mama’s legs and daddy was holding the other. This technique really helped mama get the hang of it and she started to get you closer and closer to coming out. It took so much energy, love and focus to get you there. MJ, your mama was an absolute champion. I have never seen her so determined. She had to breathe through an oxygen mask because it was very exhausting, but she kept pulling the mask off between pushes to tell us how much she wanted to meet you. Someone brought in a mirror so mama could see what was happening and know how close she was to pushing you out! I accidentally stepped in front of the mirror once and mama was not a happy camper. But you know what, she never yelled at anyone, never screamed in pain, never complained. Some women get really mean during labor, make a lot of noise and have a really terrible time. Your mama was quiet and loving. She had to grunt a few times to help muster the strength to push, but all of her strength came from within. Ali the nurse got there at 7:00pm, so she was in the room to help as well. On the one hour mark, mama had your head all the way out. All of a sudden daddy started to look sick and began to wobble on his feet. Jody said, “Uh oh, Dad’s going down!” and Deb yelled, “Slim sit on the ground!” I grabbed mama’s leg and mama was so worried about daddy that she lost focus and stopped pushing for a moment. At this point Deb announced that your shoulder was stuck and your umbilical cord was wrapped around your neck. She began trying to position you so she could get you out quickly. She got mama to start pushing again and with her pushing and Deb pulling, you made your grand entrance at 7:18pm, December 31, 2011 after 63 minutes of pushing. Your head was blue and your body was white, so we all held our breath for a scary few seconds until you finally let out a loud cry as they laid you on mama’s chest. Then we all started crying. It was a beautiful moment. Grandma Kathy and Grandma Judy were fanning daddy and we were pouring water and juice in his mouth, but he looked very relieved once he realized you were okay. Mama quickly told the nurses to make sure you were really a girl, which they confirmed. After spending a few minutes with her, they brought you to the warmer to be weighed and measured. I had the closest guess! You were 7lbs10oz, 20in, and I guessed 7lbs11oz, 20in. Everyone in the room began to pass you around and marvel at the miracle you are. Mama was working on delivering the placenta, the sac that supplied you nutrients and blood while you were in her tummy. She had to stand on the bed like a sumo wrestler to get it out, that was almost as hard as pushing you out! Pretty soon you were back in mama’s arms, starting to breastfeed like a pro. She was phenomenal MJ; your mother is an incredibly strong woman and you will learn so much from her. She and your daddy are committed to being the best parents they can be, and you are so blessed to be theirs. They are just as blessed by your arrival, and the look in their eyes revealed their understanding. As you nursed, mama relaxed and held you close, overwhelmed by the events of the last19 hours. Daddy was right there, too, and finally you were all a family.
I love you, and I will always be here for you.
Your Auntie Bear