**Just a warning… this post might be long and sentimental – so if that isn’t for you, just don’t read it and come back another day for my wallpapering post. **
If you would have asked me 9 months ago, drowning in the struggle of infertility, if I would be watching my niece be born – I would have just laughed. But, about 7 months ago, in passing, I mentioned to my sister-in-law (Naomi) that I had always wondered what it would be like to see a baby be born and was trying to come to grips that I might not ever experience it for myself – she said that I could be in there when she had her baby. I thought that would be the end of it, but just a few days ago I found myself sitting in the dimly lit delivery room waiting for Lilly to be born.
For the whole month of June I was on tenterhooks whenever the phone rang. I made sure I had my mobile phone with me and charged up at all times and would go to sleep at night thinking…. “Is this the night??” I have to admit as the time of Naomi’s due date drew closer and closer I started to doubt my decision to be in the room. I didn’t know if experiencing this in my situation would make things better or worse. But we planned throughout her pregnancy I would be there as a helper (if needed) but mostly a spectator – and comic relief if needed. Weeks before the birth the reality of what I would be witnessing hit me at full force and I knew I couldn’t miss it – no matter what my situation. I would get the rare experience of seeing the birth but instead of being the one in pain, or the spouse, I could watch, feel, and soak up the experience in a way that most people cant.
Friday night (July 1st) I got a call in the morning saying that Naomi was getting contractions 30 minutes apart and I should plan on it it happening today. Naomi was nearly 5 days overdue and was ready to have the baby. But, the day came and went and I didn’t get any other phone calls, so I figured that like a few other times during the week, that the contractions had died down and I would just need to wait.
At 10:00 that night I got another call – her contractions were getting closer and although I didn’t need to worry right at that moment – she thought it would be soon. I tried to go to sleep, knowing that I would soon be getting the call to pick her and Mark up – but couldn’t sleep (could you!?!?). Around 12:30 AM I got a phone call saying it was time to go to the hospital. The contractions still weren’t regular but they were coming more often and Naomi would just feel better knowing how far she was.
I was instructed (by Naomi) that Naomi didn’t want any fussing about so I tried to remain as calm as possible and drive safely to the hospital (about 40 minutes away). We would be having a joke and a laugh and then she’d have a contraction and conversation would stop, she’d casually say “There was another one.” Calm as anything. This wasn’t like the movies – she wasn’t screaming or writing in pain. She was calm and collected. We even stopped at the shop to top up her mobile phone.
We got to the hospital and everyone was surprisingly calm (I am sure me and Mark were the most nervous of everyone). We went into the HOT delivery room and waited and waited. After every contraction Naomi would say, “Wow that was strong,” and then continue on the conversation. Finally the midwife came in and monitored Naomi for a few minutes and said, “You have three choices: I can check you to see where you are, You can labour for a few hours here and then I’ll check you, or because your contractions aren’t regular, you can go home for a few hours.” Naomi said she would rather be checked and Mark and I went to the hallway while she was checked – hoping that we wouldn’t have to make the drive home and risk not making it back. By now it was about 3:00. I could tell the contractions were getting worse but still Naomi didn’t complain – just got on with it. We walked back into the room and Naomi said she was a 7 (?!?!?) and we weren’t going anywhere – thank goodness she had the midwife check!
From there it was a bit of a whirlwind. Naomi hadn’t had any pain relief at all (NONE) and was getting understandably uncomfortable. She didn’t want an epidural but decided she wanted something, so the midwife sauntered in and out of the room preparing an injection for pain relief. At this point it was about 3:25. The midwife gave Naomi the injection and Naomi said (through gritted teeth), “When will it start working?!?!?!?” The midwife casually replied, “10-15 minutes”. Then things got intense. Naomi was in a lot of pain (but, I might add – not screaming or anything – she even apologized in-between contractions to Mark for being so whiney!). She was bent over in pain by the side of the bed and kept saying, “I am finding it really hard not to push.” So the midwife reluctantly walked over and checked, “I can see the head!” she exclaimed – putting a bit more pep in her step she barely had time to get everything in position before Naomi let out two screams and Lilly was here – caught by the midwife and passed up to her mummy. Naomi pushed for 3 minutes and suddenly there were 5 people in the room. Simply amazing.
Because I was on the sidelines I could appreciate that moment. The moment when the veil parted and a spirit entered this world – that room. I could have all the words in the world and never be able to describe that feeling. This tiny baby’s spirit was face to face those that inhabit heaven and now she was here. The feeling of the room instantly changed, the veil was very, very thin and that was a feeling that I never expected to have – but it overwhelmed me and still does whenever I think about it.
Once Naomi and Lilly were safely laying on the bed, the midwife asked Mark to cut the cord and he said no so I got to do it – without hesitation. Then we all just sat there – looking at this perfect, beautiful baby. Naomi was a superstar going through all of that without pain meds. I have never admired anyone as much as I did Naomi in that moment. It gave me an understanding that I would have never had about mothers and the sacrifice they make.
Then Naomi passed her miracle to me. I got to hold Lilly and just couldn’t stop looking at her – in awe of her perfection.
I then passed her back to her mummy and Mark and I made phone calls to family. I had been up for HOURS and HOURS but wasn’t tired at all.
The sun started to rise as we just sat and chatted (Naomi was a bit out of it at this point because those pain meds she asked for had started working). Talking about all the things we now found funny that we couldn’t laugh at during the labour like, Naomi apologizing, my trying to undo her bra (we both couldn’t figure out how to unclasp the nursing bit), and a lot of other things that Naomi probably wouldn’t thank me for writing. Naomi got up to have a shower and I just held that baby.
Not only was I a witness to an amazing miracle – in those quite moments of holding this baby some of the parts of my heart that infertility had broken – they were healed. Everyone told me that I would find healing, somehow somewhere, through this trial of infertility – and I have found it, although not complete healing (I don’t think I will ever mend all the pieces of my broken heart) but some healing. Every time I hold her and soak in her spirit – in a way that I never have before – I feel that healing again. And suddenly the miracle in my infertility isn’t my own baby – but the tender mercies and selflessness of a brother and sister-in-law – who let me take part in the most amazing experience in my life. Words could never explain what they have given me by letting me be a part of their experience..
The past week and half have been filled with joy for me and Chris (and I’ll admit, a twinge of sadness at my loss – I am human). We’ve gotten to spend so much time with not only Lilly, (who Chris keeps offering to buy off Naomi and Mark) but with Madie and Georgia. I think I speak for me and Chris when I say that our relationship with our nieces make our infertility not hurt so much. What a blessing.
Here are some pictures from the day and this past week or so (Did I mention that Naomi was home within 12 hours of giving birth?!? ):