Sunday, September 9, 2007

The Miracle of Life

I had the privilege and honor of being a labor and delivery coach for my friend and her husband as they welcomed their first-born child, a healthy baby girl, into this world on Saturday, September 8th. This was the first birth I was present at, as a witness and not a participant, and I have to say that the miracle of birth and of life is an awesome one.

My friends called me on Saturday morning to report that labor was progressing and that they were going to the hospital. They picked me up and we went around eleven. I stayed with them, helping when I was asked and when I could by speaking to the nurse or just lending a comforting hand. Childbirth is a long process, especially for the first baby, but I stayed with them all day -- comforting my friend, making sure she had what she needed, that "dad" didn't faint from hunger or nervousness, trying to respect their privacy, and helping to maintain as much calm and balance in the room as I could.

It was after ten at night by the time the baby was ready to be born, and there is just something so terrific about this. To the inexperienced eye, when the head appears, you're not sure what to think. I found myself wondering what part of the head it was, and then in a few seconds, I saw the little face turned to the side, and knew. From that moment, everyone in the room was exclaiming at how beautiful the baby was, and as she was delivered by the midwife and the father there were more exclamations and tears of joy.

She had a soft, but lusty little cry, and she cried out quite angrily as her mouth was suctioned, her cord cut, and wiped dry and then handed up to mommy. I helped take pictures from this point on, and as the nurse weighed and measured her, took her foot prints, and administered her eye drops and vaccinations. All the while, she would cry out from time to time. I could tell from those first moments of life that this little one is going to have a feisty personality!

After mommy and baby were settled in and getting to know one another, I went home. I was very tired but more than that, was so very happy for them.

The next day, me and my whole family went to the hospital for a visit. We stayed for about ten minutes, but it was just enough time for the kids to get a peek at the new baby. My daughter thought she was so cute and tiny and the only thing my son could think was to ask me when would the baby be big enough to play with him.

The next morning I went back, this time to give new mom and dad a helping hand in checking out baby from the hospital and taking her home. I helped for a few more hours, getting mommy and baby settled in and then I left.

As I drove to my children's school to pick them up, I couldn't help but think how witnessing this tiny miracle brought back memories of when I first welcomed my tiny miracles into the world. I think when a person is in the presence of a birth that they wax nostalgic for a while, so when I got home, I pulled out some baby photos and looked at them with my daughter. (My son could care less about babies, they're not big enough to play with!)

My daughter was full of questions and I tried to provide the answers. She had a hard time believing that she too was once that tiny. Of course, she asked me if I wanted to have another baby. I just gave her a hug and said that no, I was perfectly happy with the two big babies that I have right now and didn't need any more. But she wined and begged, claiming that she wanted a little sister who she can share her room with. I reminded her of some of her friends that have little sisters and she changed her mind, remembering what it's like to have a play date with a "third wheel" hanging around. I assured her that I was perfectly content with visiting the new baby from time to time and that I was looking forward to the possibility that someday I might be a grandmother. And I know, now more than ever, that I'll really be looking forward to that day if and when it comes.

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