(ALI Alert: baby mentioned. Do not read if you are in a tender place.)
One week ago…
Sheri (my middle sister) and I are at a morning yoga class. She’s been living in Pennsylvania this year and it’s a real treat to spend time with just her, doing one of the things we really love to do.
Toward the end of the class we are on our backs, twisting our spines by windshield-wiping our knees first one way and then the other. Sheri is on my right and I am looking left with my arms outstretched. I feel her hand wrap into mine and I do not look over at her. It is a simple moment of sheer love, of pure presence, and I well up with love (as I tend to do).
We turn our knees to the other side and I turn my neck accordingly, now looking at her. She has remained facing me. We look into each other’s eyes and in that expansive moment our entire common childhood experiences fit. We smile at each other and a tear rolls down my temple, into my hair, toward my mat.
We go our separate ways for the rest of the day, each of us with a mile-long ToDo list.
We reconvene in the evening at a hotel in the opposite part of our city. Why? Because our third sister, 39-week-6-day pregnant Tami, is about to check into a hospital across the street, and she’s been staying at this hotel so the snowstorm we just had wouldn’t impede her birth plan.
By 10:30 pm, Sheri and I leave my kids in the care of my parents in the hotel and head over to the hospital to be with Tami and Gino. We joke around for several hours through her “surges,” as the hospital brochure calls them. Eventually, though, the surges become full-on contractions, about 3 minutes apart.
Sheri, having given birth to three boys via two pregnancies, serves as Tami’s doula for the next several hours. She is masterful at keeping Tami present — breathing with her through each contraction, keeping her in her body and in the moment — and encouraging her to rest in the brief intervals between contractions. I am amazed at both my sisters’ ability to keep going, wave after wave of contractions, Tami doing the laboring and Sheri keeping us focused. Sheri is doing her doula thing on one side of Tami and I am on the other performing energy work on her and sounding the breath with her — my ways of moving energy.
After about 90 minutes I find Sheri’s voice so soothing I retreat to the pullout chair, certain that I’m of no use anyway, having never given birth.
Tami makes it until 4:30 am before requesting an epidural. Sheri and I are asked to leave the room for the procedure, and welcome to come back shortly for the Main Event.
We step out at 4:40 am to a remote waiting room. We text updates to our mom and our husbands. We debrief our experience thus far with each other, we talk about how lucky we are because we are about to see a baby be born, we watch bad dead-of-the-night TV, we look at our watches.
At 5:05 Gino tells us we’ll be able to re-enter soon. Finally, at 5:15, he texts us to come on in. We stride down the long hall, eager for the high point of this long haul and to witness the minting of a brand new human being.
But we don’t see what we expect to see, which is Tami, less uncomfortable than before the eipdural, in the last stages of labor.
Instead we see a radiant Tami sitting up in her bed holding a bundle that looks suspiciously like a baby.
My I-want-to-be-born-NOW niece had crowned just as the anethesiologist was poised to insert his spinal catheter. He was rapidly replaced by the OB-on-call, who caught the baby at the head end of the bed because Tami had fallen over to the foot of it as the baby crowned.
So even though we missed the Main Event, we got to meet Eleana Grace when she was younger than a half-hour old. She looks ready to take on the world, doesn’t she?
Soon my Tessa and Tami’s Dominic, Eleana’s gentle big brother, arrived from the hotel with Grandma. It was pure joy to watch the two kids (and my mom, who cried. Guess we know where I get the upwelling thing) welcome their new sister/cousin/granddaughter to our clan. I wondered if Tessa and Dominic thought about all the happiness that their births brought us, as well.
What an abundance of perfect moments! Though I already posted for December’s Perfect Moment Monday, I did want to document and share these newly minted moments of exquisite perfection.
Happy happy joy joy, indeed. My cup runneth over, and I am grateful.
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