Kassondra's Birth

     I had planned for months to give birth to you on the evening of the 21st of June, the first day of summer. It was a Thursday and would work out perfectly for your father to take off work Friday and Monday to help out with your siblings and get to know you. I had given birth to Marcus, Karissa and Kaity between 39-40wks within 48hrs of the new moon and the 21st also fit that perfectly. It was your birthday and I picked it for you before I even accepted that I would actually have you. You see, all through your pregnancy I was afraid. I reveled in it; feeling you move and grow and listening to your heart thumping away, but I was scared. A part of me simply could not get excited until I saw you alive. I didn't feel like anything was wrong with you, but I was too well acquainted with death and loss to just put them out of my mind. Make no mistake, baby, I enjoyed your pregnancy immensely. I would have happily carried you inside me forever as I honestly never wanted it to end. You, however, were ready to meet your family and, after three years of trying, the rest of the family was desperately ready to meet the person that I had come to know so well. 

     I had planned for everything to be finished and ready for you just in time for your birth day on Thursday. I'd put off the belly cast, the last of the freezer meals and my maternity pictures until the weekend before and planned to go to the chiropractor that Wednesday to help us both to be in an optimal state for birth.  It was that weekend that I had my freak out. One thing you should know about pregnancy is that it almost never ends until the mother breaks. It may be a huge meltdown (or several) or it may just be a crack. I cracked. I had no desire for the pregnancy to end, but I started to panic for reasons I couldn't explain. I decided that Thursday was the most awful day to labor because it was the day your grandmother came home. I wanted to be alone with just your siblings and having another adult downstairs was not an option. This sent me into minor hysterics about your never coming out (but I didn't want you to ?) and me being pregnant forever (which I wanted anyway ?). I tried to tell myself that Wednesday was a fine day to have you, but I never believed me. In the end I relinquished control as much as my personality would allow and decided to finish up and get ready for you to come whenever you pleased. 

     I woke up Wednesday morning with no signs of labor. I was a little surprised, but pleased. I had waddled into the kitchen to wash my hands and make breakfast when I realized I was having cramps. This early in the day that was definitely new and some part of me knew that it was starting, but I denied it and went about the morning normally.

     Before we left for the chiro I had to clear one last thing. I didn't want you to come out and I knew you had to. I sat on the couch and I tapped on that feeling of not wanting the pregnancy to end and realized that I was afraid to really be your mommy. I knew I was your mom and that you were my baby, but to fear your death so greatly made me terrified of your birth. If you came out you were real and not just this idea that I loved. And, if you were real and you died I could not take it. What if there were something wrong? What if you lived, but you were not okay. I realized I needed to be your mommy anyway. It took me until that day to see it, but I was your mommy and you were my baby whether you lived or died, whether you were okay or not and I accepted it. I told you "I'm ready to be your mommy. I'm not done carrying you, and I don't think I ever will be, but I'm ready to do what I have to do and I'm ready to see you and I love you whoever you are." 

     We headed off to the chiro and the cramps didn't stop. They were actually coming very regularly from what I could tell (I never time contractions as it is a complete waste of time) and were somewhat uncomfortable and not easy to hide. Dad picked up on it of course and we talked in a somewhat detached way about the "cramps" and how they were nothing to take note of. I got my adjustment and the chiropractor asked if I thought I'd have the baby soon. I laughed inside knowing that labor was starting and this man had no idea. I just told him, "Yes." 

     I sent your dad off to work as normal with a promise to call him if labor started and a reminder not to expect anything as the cramps could fizzle out any time. They didn't. I sat in my bed in the playroom (I spent nearly all of the last two months in that room where I had birthed your sister) letting your brother and sisters watch shows on netflix while I talked to you, did some simple yoga postures and thought about birth. Nothing remarkable happened all day. I remember at noon the cramps changed and I realized there were peaks of intensity and I was unable to take a nap, but there was no bloody show or mucous plug and the cramping never intensified or became more frequent. It just was. 

     Your dad came home at 6pm as usual. I believe I had him make dinner and we all ate beans and weenies. At 7pm I left the playroom to check on everyone and see what sort of state the house was in. Everyone had eaten, the dishes were done, the kitchen was clean and that was all I needed. The first contraction hit me and I grabbed the kitchen island and sank into the wave, moaning with the intensity. This was it. For real. I hightailed it back to the playroom, my nest, and waited for the next contraction. They didn't seem any closer than they had been all day, but they were definitely real now. These were not cramps. I got on my knees on the bed with my head and chest on pillows and looked out the window where I saw the rainbow just days before. It had been in the same direction that I'd seen the rainbow when I was laboring with Katharine. I could also look down and see the butterfly bushes I'd planted in memory of a dear friend's baby that was stillborn. So many reminders of what I did not want and what I'd been through. It so greatly added to my desire for you, for you to live and be in our lives. 

     I did some simple yoga between the waves and at some point I took a shower (it was horrible as I apparently detest water in labor). I had a minor breakdown when I thought that my heart was beating funny and that I was going to die. I had some more fears and projected issues to work out, but I did what I needed to and cleared it from my mind. Once I'd returned to my spot by the window I had a sudden epiphany that I did not want to be in labor at all. I also decided that listening to Bon Jovi was exactly what I needed and it would make everything okay. I got my playlist going on the computer and proceeded to listen to the same four songs over and over. Three were Bon Jovi songs and the other was "Fortunate" by Maxwell. It is the song that was playing the moment that you were born and it ended up being far more poignant than I realized at the time. 

     I tried to listen to your heartbeat once with my fetoscope. I don't remember if I heard you or not. I believe I checked the placenta as well. It had been incredibly low as long as I had been able to hear it and being an emergency c-section for complete previa myself it definitely messed with my head to know that your placenta was, at best, right beside my cervix. You had never made me feel that it was a problem for you though and if there is anything I trust it is my connection to my babies and my body. It was okay and I knew it. 

     At some point I was overwhelmed with a desire to listen to a song that had played on the radio repeatedly during Kaity's labor. It's called "Whatever You're Doing" by Sanctus Real. It's a Christian song, but even as a Christian it never had a religious meaning to me; it was about birth as far as I was concerned. I added it to my playlist between contractions (they had obviously gotten closer together because this was a challenge) and I bawled as I listened to the words: 

"It's time for healing time to move on

It's time to fix what's been broken too long
Time make right what has been wrong
It's time to find my way to where I belong
There's a wave that's crashing over me
All I can do is surrender
Whatever you're doing inside of me
It feels like chaos somehow there's peace
It's hard to surrender to what I can't see
but I'm giving in to something heavenly"

     I sobbed. I cried for your brother and sisters that I had birthed after they were already gone. I cried with joy that I was laboring with a live baby inside me again. I cried with fear that you were not going to be okay. I cried with hope that I would soon have a healthy baby in my arms. 

"Time to face up

Clean this old house
Time to breathe in and let everything out
That I've wanted to say for so many years
Time to to release all my held back tears
Whatever you're doing inside of me
It feels like chaos but I believe
You're up to something bigger than me
Larger than life something heavenly"

     Gradually the music faded into the background. I noticed it was quiet in the house. Your brother and sisters had stopped coming in to see if my funny noises had produced a baby yet and dad was hanging out with me silently. I started to get really whiny. I was complaining that "it hurts" and I didn't "want to do it anymore" and "could we just play cards and drink margaritas please?" because labor wasn't how I wanted to spend my evening. I don't remember anything your dad said because I honestly didn't care; I was in another place and as much as he was in the room he was not with me.  

     Around 10pm I was completely and entirely done. I told your dad this repeatedly, but he failed to make it all stop like I wanted him to and just told me it was soon. What that meant I didn't know, but it sure didn't mean that the next contraction wasn't coming so I just assumed he didn't understand what I was saying. I made sure to tell him a lot more and with profanities added for emphasis. Needless to say labor continued.

     At 11pm I realized what was happening. You were waiting for your birthday. It was only the 20th and I had declared all along that you would be born on the 21st. Oh good! I can make it stop! "I can be wrong, Brian. I can have the baby Wednesday. It doesn't have to be the 21st. I'm okay with being wrong!" I squeaked out between contractions that were coming nearly on top of each other. I believe this was one of the times that he just looked at me sympathetically. If anyone on earth knows that I am never wrong it is your dad. 

     Sometime in the next hour dad got the video camera set up and ready to go. I realized it was a good idea and I had already set up the sheets underneath me in preparation for the birth. Around 11:50 something changed. It was like a switch got flipped in my brain and I was thinking again. I'm done. It wasn't an, "I can't do this anymore!", done; it was, "It's over." I had him turn the light on and I got on the floor and reached in to feel my cervix. All I felt was amniotic sac in every direction. I stopped here and had your dad feel it and I described to him the texture difference and how it has a certain rough, stickiness to it so he would know what it was. My mind was entirely sharp. It was exactly like the feeling right before Kaity was born just a few feet away from where we were.

     I tried some different positions during the next contractions to see if I started to get pushy. When nothing happened I decided to try some test pushes. After a couple of pushes from me, I felt you move down and my body start to take over. 

Okay, baby, now I'll wait for you. 

No, push now. 
But I don't want to tear.
Push hard! 

     My rational mind was arguing with my instincts, it did not take me long to decide who to listen to. I pushed with all of my might. Your head started to emerge and your sac burst all over. The water was full of fresh meconium, not a big deal. 


     I pushed and you plopped out in entirety on the floor beneath me. 

     When I lifted you to me you had your eyes wide open looking at me and you were screaming. Oh my god, it's alive! I sat back and immediately felt your placenta plop into my birth canal. That isn't supposed to happen. I looked at you in utter shock. You were here, you were whole, you looked normal, you were crying, you were tiny. "It's cold, can you get him a blanket?" I said to dad, "Haha, him. I guess I should check....... It's a GIRL!" I had been convinced that you were a boy the entire time, even more so than I was with your sister. So convinced, in fact, that I didn't even bother with a middle name for a girl. I knew that I would name a girl Kassondra (Sondra after my amazing friend who made your entire life in our family possible) should I ever have another, but I put no more thought into it than that.

     Your dad woke up your brother, who was disappointed that you didn't have a penis, and brought your sleeping sisters into the room so we could all be together. Sometime about three minutes after your birth it hit me what had happened. You can see it on your birth video because I look at you and kiss you and I just start laughing. I've never cried when I've given birth. I always thought that I would because I'm a crier and your birth especially seemed like an event to bring that swell of emotion. Heck, I've cried several times through writing this story. But I had no tears. I just laughed. You were here and you were healthy and it was 12:15 and it was the 21st and I was right. And, I wasn't broken and my baby didn't die. And, the placenta was low and it wasn't a problem. And, you needed to get out fast and I got you out fast. And, there was meconium in the water and you were perfectly fine. And, you were a girl and I was wrong. And, I had a baby and you were mine and that was all that mattered and I just laughed and laughed. God, girl, you make me laugh so hard every day. 

     Thank you.