QUAIL MUTTERINGS #34. The Circle of Life (March 2, 2015)

QUAIL MUTTERINGS #34.  The Circle of Life (March 2, 2015)

Oh, father and mother, sister and brother
If it feels nice, don’t think twice
Just shower the people you love with love…

I inserted the CD into my truck player and rocked out in excitement as I drove down to San Diego on Thursday morning to help out and “Be There” with my daughter. Jessie had called earlier saying that she was feeling “Different,” and her contractions felt stronger than the Braxton Hicks she’d been experiencing this week. Caught up in singing along with James Taylor I missed the turn and had to backtrack to her street.
I lay down on the bed beside her and held her hands. We practiced breathing together. After a walk with her auntie, who lives in the front house, she was following what she’d learned in the Bradley method classes. Opting for a home birth thrilled me. The same wonderful midwife who had delivered Jessie and her siblings was now going to assist her in the magical circle of life. I brought a salad for us to share for lunch. Sean came home after his morning shift, grabbed a snack and changed his clothes. Kali, my other daughter, arrived and shortly after Deborah, Sean’s mother, joined us.
Early labor progressed and we talked quietly between contractions – allowing silence for Jessie to focus inward when she needed to. Her dad came in for a while and rubbed her feet joining in the camaraderie that this phase permits. Other family members came and went enjoying the concentrated calmness surrounding us. Hours later we called the midwife.
The midwife’s colleague and her apprentice came first pulling a wheeled, medical suitcase. Things continued in a relaxed manner and Diane came later with her own medical bag. We all listened attentively as she monitored baby’s heart tones. She asked Jessie, “How are you feeling?”
“Alright, I guess,” Jessie said. I don’t have anything to compare it to.” We laughed. In the evening there was a smorgasbord in the front house that other family members had prepared. By then, there were three aunties, a cousin, Jessie’s dad and his other daughter and wife on the scene. We spelled each other so that we could grab sustenance for the long night to come. They partied way into the night with puzzles, movies and socializing. Two of them had just flown in from Northern California.
Meanwhile, in Jessie and Sean’s tiny abode, we helped Jessie out as best we could. During the first half of the night the midwives slept in the front house as Sean, Deborah, Kali and I lay down with Jessie, rubbed her legs, fetched her water and Gatorade, helped her to and from the bathroom, or held pressure on the heating pad against her back. By midnight, she only wanted Sean lying in front of her holding her hands and breathing with her.
“Don’t leave me,” she kept saying.
“Don’t worry. I won’t, Honeybuns,” he’d say.
“Relax your legs. Limp legs now,” I’d whisper. “Relax your jaw. Put your feet down.”
Jessie wanted to spend more and more time upright, but it could cause her cervix to swell. I spread a blanket and pillows on the floor so she could spend some time on her hands and knees. This worked for a while.
Sometime during the wee hours Diane came back and took Jessie’s focus away from Sean allowing him to fall asleep beside her. Contractions slowed down, but remained formidable. Dozing in chairs, or on the little floor space in the one room dwelling, each of us snatched minutes of shut-eye time. Power naps. Diane worked her wonders with my daughter, coaching Jessie through the intensifying storm within her. It became clear to Diane that Jessie needed to lie down more, as this brought on harder contractions and more progress could be made. Time was marching on and Jessie was getting tired.
When morning came one of the aunties stuck her head in the door, “There’s coffee.”
I have to say, we all perked up with that offer. As I brought back two cups for Sean and me, Jessie said, “No coffee.”
I darted back out the door gulping mine down and leaving the cups outside. The smell was too much for her. She’d already thrown-up once. Poor Sean never did get his cup of coffee. Or any breakfast. She held him tight. Diane said that our core group was good to have on board. Any more made for too many people without jobs to do. And the space was so small. The others would not be coming in now as this labor became longer and slightly worrisome. More concentrated efforts needed to be made without distractions. Each one of us women in the room with Jessie and Sean had gone through natural childbirth ourselves and were knowledgeable about it. We made a good team.
It was getting close to mid-day when Jessie was finally ready to push. In order to make a long story short, I’ll be brief here. With a harrowingly tight cord behind baby’s neck, meconium staining, and a rare velamentous insertion of the umbilical cord that the doctors and ultrasounds had missed, we were touch and go for a while. Thirty hours after the initial labor pains little Seamus cried his way into the world. He had to be suctioned out and prodded to get the junk out of his lungs. Afterward, we were so grateful that this all took place at home. If Jessie had been in the hospital there most likely would have been a caesarian section and neonatal intervention along with a longer stay away from home. Thankfully, we had avoided all that. Everything worked out all right in the end.
Jessie and Sean became the proud parents of Baby Seamus (eight pounds, eleven ounces). I became a granny, for the second time, of another beautiful, loveable grandson. Ian has a brand new cousin and Kali became an auntie. Generations go on and the circle of life comes around. So –
Father and mother, sister and brother
If it feels nice, don’t think twice
Just shower the people you love with love…

Chi Varnado is a contributing writer for The San Diego Reader. Her memoir, A CANYON TRILOGY: Life Before, During and After the Cedar Fire and her children’s book, The Tale of Broken Tail are available on www.amazon.com. Chi directs the Ramona Dance Centre. Her collection of essays, Quail Mutterings, can be found on www.chivarnado.com.