Monday, June 23, 2008

23: A True Name and A Story of a Birth

Photo courtesy of Richard's Cell Phone :)

Christian Steven Nelson arrived yesterday evening at seven pm. He was seven pounds, one ounce; nineteen and one half inches. Sixteen hours of labor; forty five minutes of pushing.

Her first contraction came at three in the morning, and I was called in at seven. When I arrived at their house, I bounded up the stairs, ready to hug her like a puppy, ready to jump all over my friend who was having a baby.

She was leaning over the bathroom counter in the dark, and when I turned the corner, she looked up at me with circles under her eyes, exhausted and pained. She couldn't speak, just breathed in and leaned over her exercise ball again. Her husband and I alternated--calling a useless nurse help line, holding her as she panted and moaned through contractions, loading up the car with suitcase and whatnot--and her pain grew as we drove the twenty minutes to the hospital. We stopped three times in the hallway on her way up, her body pressed into mine, fists of shirt in her hands as she sobbed and braced herself, her body adjusting to these rapid changes.

She was five centimeters when she arrived, proud at having been able to hold out so long. Her threshold for pain has always been high, as has her stubbornness. There was no walking into her delivery room; she was wheeled along in a bed, eased into the new bed, her hands clenched down on my own and her husband's. It was a long wait at five centimeters, and after a prolonged wait for an epidural (they had an emergency, eight centimeter, breech c-section come in), they finally broke her bag of waters, which hurried her along a bit. She had to wait about three or four hours for that epidural, and during that time, all shame vanished, her hospital gowns hunched over as she born down against the pain, eventually trying out the deep jet bathtub, her manicured toes pushing against the tile as each contraction passed. The epidural changed her from this strained, agonized mama-to-be to someone a bit more serene; I watched as the epidural went in, and I'm not so sure I could be brave enough for that sort of insertion. (I'm not so sure I'd be brave enough to make it through a natural childbirth either.)

And then, all of a sudden, it was time. All those hours of waiting, of her goofily grinning through the medication, of my watching the contraction monitor raise and fall, of the word pressure being the only one to describe her numbed contractions, it was time.

The doctor arrived, the atmosphere shift, the grandfather-to-be was shuffled out of the room. And I held her foot as she braced herself, the nurse holding the other, and I watched as my best friend gave birth to her first child: It was phenomenal. I have never been witness to this sort of event, though I imagine even those who can tick off their presence at various births, it does not diminish in magic. I watched him crown, his gray head slick with squiggles of hair, and the head coming, coming, the plates creating a fold in his head, and there were maybe six big pushes, six moments where Kelly's face turned brilliant red, her face blowing up like a bullfrogs, Richard's face still with amazement as he held his wife's hand. One last push and Christian sprung out, a gush of amniotic fluid, his body a gray-blue, his cry a relief, and I depressed my shutter, set on motion, over and over, my glasses fogging over with tears. I turned to embrace Bonnie, Kelly's mother, and we were helpless to this moment, this something that will remain etched into the folds of my memory. There he was, and Kelly was cooing and crying at once, her voice wavering, her hands grasping for her child, her shock clear.

This is her son: ten fingers, ten toes. The sweetest face, little mewling noises like a kitten. An oversized blue hat, all coltish limbs. He is quiet and still, just as so many newborns are, rooting around when not sleeping, wanting any bit to suckle. He slept in the room with us last night; Richard went home, beaten from one of the longest days of his life.

I have pictures, so many, to share, but no cord to upload them. I'm on the wireless hospital network, and I had to get this down, these fleeting memories, because so many more will be made and push bits of this one out. As I type, Kelly is on the bed, digging through tissue papered gifts, her husband's Converse slung up on the bed, her mother holding this new life, her father leaning against the window. It's a new family now, a growing family.

Oh, and Ryan and I have been asked to be the godparents. :)

Welcome, welcome, welcome, little Christian. I'm already smitten.



Love Squalor said...

such beautiful words. it brought tears to my eyes remembering how it all happens. life. congratulations!

the flour loft said...

hi Molly,
wow what a post!
i have recently discovered your blog and felt i had to comment and say congratulations to your friends and welcome to Christian.
...your account has also taken me right back to my labours with my girls... child birth really is the most incredible thing and i was very fortunate to have natural births, so your descriptions especially the bullfrog face made me smile and remember. i also remember those tiny newborn mewling noises. x
amazing for you to have experienced this with your friend. my best friend is now waiting for the arrival of a new tiny soul at any time.
warm wishes
ginny x


Anonymous said...

: ) Your writing, as ever, is fabulous. Congrats to Kelly and her family!


Anonymous said...

how very very lovely! And what a super welcome to an obviously much-loved and much-anticipated baby! :)

Julia said...

oh my. i have goosebumps. many many congratulations to you all. this child will be loved. yes he will.

michelle said...

you made me cry molly!

you have absolutely NO IDEA who excited I am to see you guys a few hours - to meet this little baby boy!

nicole said...

this is sweet! much love.

Stacey said...

oh my god molly, so beautiful. i know your best friend will forever be grateful for you being there and so perfectly documenting the experience. what a lucky family they are to have family like you. (oh and when it is your turn, that epidural won't be so daunting, you will hardly even notice it.)

Claudia said...

Wow, you are such a good writer. It was wonderful to read your text :)

Amy Jo said...

Congrats to Kelly and her husband. She was blessed to have you there for her. Enjoy every moment you can steal away with the little man. I'm learning that they change so, so quickly. It has only been four months since little Ossley was born and he is already determined to sit up and to get his first tooth! My husband keeps reminding me to pass on the clothes that no longer fit Ossley, but I can bear to let them go yet . . .

EWH said...

YAAAAAY! All things happen when one is on vacation. I've been catching up on your blog (10 posts in the 5 days I've been away, lady!) and this is wonderful. Tell her to bring that darn baby to book club!!!!

flossy-p said...

I'm dabbing away tears as I try to type this. This post is sooo beautiful, and It's so rare to hear this story told from the other end, not through the pained straining at the opposite end of the bed. This is the closest account I've heard so far I think. And like Stacey, I was thinking how treasured this post will be to Kelly and all of you once time, and every new achievement Christian reaches, will shade the details of this day in your memories. So so special.

Congratulations! I'm so glad to hear the news and know that it all went so well.

Lots of love to you all. xxxx.

p.s. we are godparents too, it's unreal, we love it!

Equipoise said...

Flossy-p sent me over here and I'm so glad she did. This is an absolutely beautiful post. I'm about to give birth myself and it was beyond amazing to read your experience in witnessing birth and wonderful to have someone express the beauty in it.

KeLL said...

I read this for the first time in a year. I bawled. I'm crying now. I had forgotten how beautiful you told Christian's story, our story. Thank you.