I just found this piece today. I wrote it several years back. I can’t help but want to share the night Elizabeth was born since her birthday was just a little over a week back. Here it is:
Today I have been thinking about Liz’s birth back in 1986. How I had gone to the midwife on the morning of the 15th and declared, “I just need to have this baby,” even though my due date was two weeks away. I don’t know if it was the “I can’t stand being pregnant another second” tone in my voice or if the midwife knew something I didn’t – like worn-out pregnant women close to term can snap at any moment – but whatever the case, she looked at me and said matter-of-factly, “Fine. Go home and drink ½ cup of castor oil with some orange juice, give yourself two Fleet enemas and call me when you’re in labor.”
I remember back-pedaling immediately. “You mean today? I’m not even to my due date yet.” But she just nodded, and the next thing I knew Ray and I were driving to the grocery store for those lovely supplies.
The midwife was right on target. She arrived at our house at 1 am, complete with a helper and an oxygen tank since I’d had a slight complication with my first home birth. I was already in decent labor and it looked as if our baby might come in the middle of the night.
My childhood friend Patricia Butler was there as well. She had driven up from Austin for the birth and she and Ray were dressed in the same green hospital scrubs that they had donned for the birth of Sarah. Patricia had already gone to the store and bought food. She had decided to make a quiche to celebrate the birth.
All was proceeding well for the first part of the labor. Sarah, at 3 ½, went to sleep early in the evening, but woke up once the midwives arrived. She sat next to me on the bed and held my hand during my contractions. Her eyes were calm and bright and she patted me after each contraction was over. “Good, Mama. You’re did a good job.” She was the calmest person in the room, save for the midwives who were efficient and kind. In contrast, Ray and Patricia were bubbling with excitement, dashing in and out of the room, getting warm towels for me and making sure that everyone was taken care of. I got exceedingly annoyed with Ray when he asked, “Does anybody need coffee?” while I was in the middle of a hard contraction. I remember snapping at him, “Stop being a host. I need you now.”
About four in the morning, one of the midwives told me I could push. I remember feeling skeptical. I didn’t have any urge to push yet. Still, she announced that I was 100% effaced and that it was now time to push that baby out.
I did as I was told, though now I wonder why I didn’t question that call. No urge should have given me some pause. But dutiful as I can sometimes be, I did what she said and pushed hard. What happened for the next 20 – 30 minutes was the result of me not listening to my body and acting on my own good sense. The fact was I wasn’t 100% effaced after all, and my premature pushing caused swelling on one edge of my cervix. That might not have been a big deal on any ordinary day, but when you are pushing a head through an opening that is swollen on one whole side, well, it is extremely painful. Pain is not usually part of the pushing process so I wasn’t quite ready for that. Still, I had little Sarah there holding one hand and Ray, calmed down considerably, holding the other. Finally, I pushed past the swelling and little Liz’s head emerged. I have never been so happy in my life.
The rest of the birth was easy. A few more pushes and out popped my sweet 6 pound 10 ounce baby girl with a full head of black hair, round tummy, and skinny little legs. At that point, I was happy to have Patricia disappear in the kitchen to bake up the quiche and for Ray to serve up a round of coffee to all.
Meanwhile, Sarah crawled up next to her baby sister and fell asleep. Her job as chief labor coach was done and she was ready to snuggle with her new sibling.
This was early morning – 6:30 – so we waited a bit of time to call the grandparents to come and take a look at our baby. They were there by 8 am, holding their new grandchild. We had a steady stream of friends and family all day to see our newest addition to the family. Liz gurgled and cooed and settled right in.
Elizabeth Beaty will be 27 tomorrow and already has a Master’s degree in Anthropology, an accounting certificate, and is now in her last year of accelerated law school. If all goes as planned, she will graduate in May and, hopefully, pass the bar exam in July. She has always been eager to go just a little faster. Maybe that was what happened the night of her birth. Maybe the midwife sensed the eagerness with which Liz would embrace life and was in a hurry to let her get started.
Whatever the case, I adore my darling Elizabeth. With her big smile, exuberant approach to life, and devilish sense of humor, she is pure fun. How lucky we are to have our sweet Liz. What a gift she is to us all.