some say love, it is a burning thing. that it makes a fiery ring. (another birth story)

Emily and Joey had their baby!
WELCOME to the world, Scout Maple Beatty.
my tiny new niece was born at 10:40 a.m. on Friday, February 7, 2014.
7 lb. 20 inches. 
looks a lot like her daddy. she seems to possess an inner grace and self-awareness already.

i had the honor of attending the birth. my job was to rub emily's feet or hands and to offer moral support. i had gotten the text at 1:10 a.m on February 6 that her water had broken. 
let me tell you a little secret about emily: she knows things. she foretells things. she is a soothsayer and a good witch. she told me several days beforehand: i hope i go into labor on thursday and have my baby on friday at sunrise. she was pretty darn close.

because her water broke so early, she had to go to the hospital by one in the afternoon on Thursday even though her labor wasn't yet in full swing. this may or may not have affected the length and progress of her labor, but in any case she and joey worked diligently all afternoon and evening to get her into more active labor. even after they were checked in, they walked, used essential oils provided by the doula, tried different positions, and did nipple stimulation. she was having good, intense contractions but not very regularly. i know from experience now how normal this is, and emily did a great job trying to focus and just allow those contractions to come wash over her.

we were in contact all day, but darin and i didn't even head over there until later in the evening. i couldn't stand the anticipation anymore. my mom came over to hang out with lucy and get her to bed; we packed up polly and headed over to the hospital. emily's mom was already there in the waiting room, and i left darin and polly with her and headed in to be with em.

she was doing beautifully, walking the halls, laughing and talking in between contractions, and so eager to get them coming on stronger and more regular. She noticed that they happened closer together whenever she went to the bathroom, so she labored in there a while with joey. finally, at about 8:30, her contractions finally started coming about four minutes apart. it was a sudden shift in pace that felt very positive, and right after that Dr. Nelson came back to check her dilation. We were all so pleased to find out she was at a five!

after that the work she and joey were doing got much more intense. sandy, the doula, and i each massaged her feet or hands as the contractions came on strong. emily was breathing through each one. she and joey would look at each other and breathe together. it was the most tender sight to behold: a man and a woman who love each other and are bringing a child into this world together, being brave, breathing together, steady and true, letting this powerful experience flow through them.

as the mother of a newborn myself, i was on-call for nursing sessions throughout the night. someone would text me that polly was hungry and i'd hurry out. the scene in the waiting room was kind of was the first night of the olympics, emily's mom was keeping everyone's spirits up, and our friend brittney had driven all the way up from oakland to meet the new babe. for a while they were jolly, placing bets on when baby would arrive. later they were just punchdrunk with exhaustion. 

we love you emily!

pops takes his turn with polly:

little polly getting in some tummy time:

is it really two in the morning?

the scene in the delivery room was getting pretty intense. i could not believe how beautiful emily looked as she moaned and breathed through her contractions. her face had a pure glow, her skin seemed extra radiant, she was like some ethereal fairy princess in great pain and gracefully dealing with it. i can hardly describe it but it struck me over and over again that night. for a long time she felt like she was going to faint, she got super light headed and dizzy. she was so exhausted. the wee hours of the morning marched on, full of the mounting sounds of her labor pains. she labored on and on and on, hour after hour of excruciating pain interspersed with long rests. she threw up all the water and the couple bites of food she'd had. we thought for sure she was in transition. in between contractions she was almost falling into an uneasy sleep. 

at 3:30 in the morning she said she wasn't sure she could go on like this. i remember asking her, do you think you could do another hour? i thought for sure her baby would be here within an hour. she hadn't been checked since 8:30 and i thought surely she was close to fully dilated by now. she didn't think she could go for another hour, but she did anyway.

finally, probably a little over an hour later, the nurse asked if emily would like her to check her dilation. she was aware of the possible discouragement an assigned number could bring, and even offered to simply state whether or not there was progress. emily had a few more contractions in the bathroom, standing up against joey. she was at the end of her rope. she got back on the bed to be checked.

needless to say, we were all pretty surprised and somewhat dismayed to find out she was only at a six. this was about eight hours after she'd been at a five, eight hours of such hard hard work. so at this point, emily asked about her options for pain relief. she needed some kind of reprieve. the nurse took her request very seriously, knowing emily had been aiming for a natural birth, but also knowing that she was truly exhausted and this would be a last resort, hopefully allowing her to rest and giving her the strength she needed for the final push. 

the epidural did just that. after all the prepwork it was administered a little after six a.m. darin and i took polly home to get a couple hours of much-needed sleep. i was in contact with joey about the process and what was going on over there. Dr. Nelson came back to check emily just after she got the epidural and she was at an 8-9. Much more encouraging! He was going off his shift at 8 a.m so he had her try a couple pushes. She wasn't ready so he turned over the reins to Dr. Cherry (who delivered our friend Becky's baby, another story, just two days before!) She advised Emily to rest a little while before pushing again.

At our house Lucy was waking up, my dad was there after sleeping a couple hours in our spare room, and my mom came back. It felt like a holiday. Someone was cooking eggs. I was nursing the baby and fielding phone calls and texts from friends waking up wanting to know if Joey and Emily had had their baby yet. It felt festive and I was very eager to get going, get my contacts back in and head back over there. Ten a.m. Next thing I knew, I had a text from Emily's mom that had come in twenty minutes before while I was on the phone. It said: Pushing! Come back now!

We all rushed madly in a flurry of activity to get both babies in the car and get back over there. I had Darin drop me off in front and ran up to the Birth Center with my camera in tow. The elevator ride felt like an eternity! 

As I entered the delivery room, it was like a different place. I immediately felt that everyone's spirits were uplifted since earlier. No more exhaustion, no more excruciating pain. Just a bright, brave woman pushing perfectly as her baby's head began to emerge. She had easily figured out the technique of pushing, and she never lost feeling in her legs, plus she was still able to feel the contractions just enough to use their energy. Her pushing was smooth and powerful. My hands were shaking as I snapped photos and took some video footage.  The nurse and the doctor had good, encouraging, triumphant energy. One big push, two, and on the third push after my arrival...out came this enormous purple baby head! Not a fast pop out like my Polly's head, but a slow, steady emergence. The doctor turned her head around toward us. It was so otherworldly, the beautiful, still, pure sight of that face coming from within to without. I will never forget it. Emily was elated! The room filled with the sweetest celebratory energy, and moments later they swooped baby Scout's body up out of Emily's body and onto her mama's chest. Emily could not stop smiling, loving her baby, cooing at her. I could not stop crying. Scout never even cried. She just stared up at her adoring parents and calmly figured it all out.

It had been such a night! So full of emotion and energy and power and exhaustion and despair and love and triumph. Birth takes us through the whole gamut of human emotion, from the dark night of the soul to the rapture of creation. I was on a high, and teary eyed for days.
We stuck around for a while, taking turns letting the new parents bond and then going in to peek at that amazing new face. In the waiting room I had my own little miracles waiting for me. Darin had to leave at noon to walk downtown and get to work. It was a couple hours later when I finally packed up my babes, kissed the new family good-bye and hit the winding road through the rain to get Lucy down for a nap.

in the waiting room, telling Lucy all about her tiny new cousin:

I will never forget driving down Cedar Ravine in the rain, with my two girls falling to sleep in the backseat, music playing that had also been on Emily's birthing playlist, the scenes and emotions of the night rolling through my head, my heart overflowing. Tears flowing down my face. Picturing Scout's perfect, wonderful little face and the way Joey and Emily, two of my very favorite people on this earth, are reflected there. The way they took her into their arms so naturally, so full of light and laughter and love, like it was always meant to be, which of course it was. It felt like this little baby and this great great love brought the rain, washing over the earth with this huge regenerative power. The cedar trees were shaggy with their dark green boughs heavy with water, pine needles blowing across the winding road, the fields and squirrels and hawks, the bridges and barns, everything lifting up their weary heads for a drink of this good clean life. 

And me, right here, blown open, my little grateful heart raggedy with it all.
Thank you, Joey and Emily and Scout, for letting me be a part of it, and for being the amazing people that you are.


Milla said…
You are such a good writer m'dear. How lucky you guys all are to have each other as sisters and doulas and good witches.
Jessica said…
Another beautiful birth story! My older sister just had her second little boy on Sunday...her birth story was very similar to Emily's. I wished and wished I could have been there with her! They are lucky to have you all so close by!
the beauty of your soul 'simply' radiates
dolly anna said…
first of all, i'm loving how bright-eyed baby polly is. what a wonderful world she lives in. :)

you truly are the family record keeper! this is a beautiful tale. labor is labor. ay yi yi.

em's journey is so familiar, and that's what i love about birth tales.
little scout was probably sunny-side up for a while, which would mean LONG and extra painful contractions which just turn the baby rather than open the cervix.
i too remember laboring for hours and hours, thinking that i'd hear good news when i finally consented to a cervical check. ugh, the bitter disappointment when they said otherwise. how does one go on? there is no where else to go, i suppose.
and then, when you think you can go no longer, there's that little person you've been dying to see!

i admire your openness to life, to let all life and emotion flow freely through you.

a lovely story, your perspective sweetens it that much more. congrats to the new parents and welcome, beloved scout!
Teeny said…
Oh Heather, I could read this for hours. shivers and goosebumps and little tears. This story was one of love, and you dear friend deserve it all. Please pass on a kiss for Em from me. xo I want to remember your last two paragraphs forever.
Rachel Weaver said…
I love getting to read about your amazing sisterhood. It makes me anxious for my own sisters to have babies. Heaven knows I love being a mama, but I really look forward to getting to be an aunt too. Hope you and al the beautiful women and babies in your life are doing well. You guys sure have lots of joy.
Kimberly said…
So awesome!!! So wonderful to see if from the other side. Love to everyone :)
Kendra said…
Amazing, beautiful birth story. Thank you for sharing it. I'm all teary eyed, remembering the two births I've attended. 10 years ago I held my sister's feet and watched my nephew's head turn from a curious patch of skin to a human being entering this world. 5 years ago, I squatted cradling my sister's body as her birth coach, huffing, moaning and breathing with her as she labored and pushed my second nephew into the arms of our big loving family. Birth is so incredible: life and death, darkness, danger, mystery and the shock of a new person who you've known but can now see, hold, love in a completely new way. Thanks for sharing all you do on this blog. <3
Tera said…
I love reading birth stories. You infuse them with so much emotion I tear up when I read them. Each so different and special. Congratulations to Joey and Kelly and welcome, Baby Scout!
Lauren Knight said…
Oh, tears in my eyes! What a beautiful birth story!

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