Loves Labor Learned…and birthed


Our daughter went to second grade yesterday. It really does just seem like yesterday that I held her scrunchy little newborn self in my arms and couldn’t imagine that time would exist outside that moment. While time escaped us, the memories are strong for me. Giving birth is an incredibly intimate, powerful moment in my life. I am not delusional. At the time, I hoped that it was the worst pain in the world and no one would ever, ever have to experience any worse pain. That was my hope for the world.
From the start, I knew she was stubborn. She was late. She had resisted her due date and showed no sign of succumbing to my desperate efforts to begin labor. At the time I lived in Connecticut. I spent time out on the beach jumping into the waves to try to inspire her to come out and meet me. I walked 5 miles every day to my favorite coffee shop for what to this day I consider to be the world’s greatest toffee cookie. People began to anticipate my walk. As they would emerge from their seaside homes to garden or get their mail, they would wave to me and ask about how I planned to get “that baby” to come out so they could meet her! As September 11th (2005) grew closer, the intonations became more pitying. I heard more often than I ever would have thought “will they induce you so that you do not have a September 11th baby?” The general consensus was that if she were born on 9-11 she would never be able to have a proper birthday. I would reply politely that in the days after September 11th, the country showed more kindness to its neighbors than any other national moment in my lifetime. If she wanted to come on September 11th, so be it! Besides, they couldn’t tell this, but we had real problems to worry about. I was 22, just out of my undergraduate studies, far from family and oh, yes, we were on our own. If only the neighbors knew! A scandal hiding right in that little town!
I went into labor the morning of September 10th. Luckily, my mother had driven half way across the country to be with me. I didn’t have to say a word to her. She could tell from the look on my face that I understood what real contractions were. All those times I had imagined contractions, I was so mistaken. This was real. My midwife told me to spend some time in the water to help with the pain. She would see me at the hospital in a couple hours. A couple hours? That seemed insane to me? What if the baby came out in the surf? What a terrible mother I would be! Worse than I already was. I had so much guilt. But, again, my mom was there. The water was magnificent. Stubbornly, I had refused to take a Lamaze course. I had been an athlete my whole life. I knew how to focus and I knew how to breathe. I was very lucky that I hadn’t underestimated my own abilities. In soccer, we would visualize success, breathe our way through our execution and overcome our body’s tendency to say “enough.” This was my birthing plan. Drug free.
A few hours later we were in the hospital. On the table beside me I set up my ipod with speakers and a fresh copy of Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince on audio. It had only come out a few weeks later. An avid fan, I knew that listening to it could help me stay focused on a healthy delivery. The nurses were very gracious about it. My body seemed to take over. It listened to the baby and found the strength to do what was needed. I have heard so many horror stories about what an ordeal giving birth is. For me it was the epitome of the feminist experience. I was raised to be fiercely independent and confident. My mother knew what she was doing. She taught me how to honor my bodies needs and relentleless pursue my passion. I had never wanted children. I was going to get my PhD by 25 and join the Foreign Service. Yet, there I was in the midst of hard labor thinking that there is no way more powerful for a woman to feel her strength than to give birth. I was stunned at the realization. I didn’t recognize myself. In the end, my daughter was born at 9lbs 6oz. The nurses were stunned we had been able to deliver naturally. I remember one of them who I had bonded with said “it’s a moose!” She was in my arms before I knew it. All my guilt, my fear of being a sad statistic, was washed away in this experience. The French say “Joie de vivre” – the joys in life, an exaltation of spirit. The joys in life. I was holding the truth in life. Everything has been more than ok for her and I. This ride has been amazing. We are thrilled to say that this year my little girl became “our” little girl and is learning a father’s love.


  1. Enjoyed your post and learning something new about you! What a beautiful daughter you have, so blessed to know you all!


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