Scarlett Harper – August 21st, 2012

in Auburn Birthing Center, Birth Stories, Water Births

Baby Girl, born in water at 9:27 AM, 7 lbs 4 oz

SONY DSCI must admit my nerves were shot leading up to the birth of my daughter this August. My wife Danisha and I planned to use the same midwife who had delivered our son Sully, but this time we elected to use the midwife’s newly constructed birthing center. Danisha felt our experience at the hospital for Sully’s birth in 2009, though natural, lacked the spirituality she had read from other accounts of natural birth. The service and patient care was excellent, but it was still a sterile hospital room. I fully disclose that prior to and after Sully’s birth, I was lacking much of an opinion on the matter. Like any other dad, I was sitting on the sidelines staring at the clock. I vividly remember the relief once it was all over and the self pity I gave myself for sitting in the dark all night, unaware of what was going on. (My wife attributed this to my inability to digest a single page of the numerous baby books she’d purchased.)

As for my nerves, months prior I had agreed with Danisha to catch baby Scarlett as she was birthed. I was hesitant at the time of this commitment, but how easy it is to make a promise when you have don’t have to be good on it for another 9 months. We arrived at the birthing center around 6 AM on August 21. Sully unpacked his belongings, changed into his swimsuit, and immediately jumped into the birthing tubSONY DSC with Danisha. I should back up and mention that we had decided it was important for our entire family to be a part of Scarlett’s birth, including Sully. We brought along our good friend Molly to help out with Sully during the labor and birth. Many of our friends’ and families’ reactions to this were somewhat negative, they all thought Sully would be horrified. Danisha and I knew Sully would feel left out if he wasn’t a part of it, and we felt confident in him behaving well enough to be there. He’s a complex little guy, serious and emotional.
Danisha’s labor progressed and I felt the knot in my stomach growing tighter. At one point I ran out to my car to get some fresh air and pop a couple antacids. I don’t know that anyone else in the room noticed how nervous I was. When I think back on these moments, I don’t know for sure what I was so nervous about. The fear of dropping her, squeezing her too hard, fainting, or poking her eyeball with my finger all could have contributed.

When the time came the midwife grabbed hold of my hands, shoved them down into the water, and in that instant I was touching baby head. As we guided her out and lifted her above the water to Danisha’s chest, I felt Scarlett jolt awake with her first breath of air. Both hands wrapped around her little chest, the energy of this tiny breath radiated up my arms and through my body. SONY DSCIt was at that moment she came alive, her spirit entering with that one breath.  I would not believe it if it hadn’t happened to me. She didn’t leave our arms for the first three hours of life (one of the upsides to home birth and birthing centers). The hospital wants to take the baby right way for diagnostics and testing as to avoid any potential liability, but studies have proven how important this initial skin to skin contact is for baby and her mother.
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She was perfect. Sully and I spent the rest of the afternoon cuddling Scarlett and having our first lunch together while Danisha rested. By late afternoon we were cleared to leave and head home with our new addition. Before departing, Sully triumphantly hoisted the It’s A Girl flag outside the birthing center.

 

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