Eric, Suzanne & Talia B.

“Thanks to Talia, Suzanne, Mikelann, Pam, Linda, and all the family and friends that made this such a memorable experience.” –Eric

The Birth of Talia Emerson B. – March 23, 2010
It all started on a pretty random Monday night. Since Talia’s due date was April 5th, we really had not anticipated any action for at least another week or two.

Our ordinary Monday night saga was being spent deliberating over the choice between three different documentaries. Around 10:30pm, after “Tyson” was finally ending (it was way too long), Suzanne suddenly woke up on the couch saying she was experiencing some serious cramping. The next thing I knew, it was 2:30 in the morning and Suzanne came in to wake me, saying, “I’m having regular contractions.” “What?” I managed in my half-asleep grogginess. This was definitely unusual, as nothing had prompted Suzanne to wake me at any really odd hours during her entire pregnancy – kind wife that she is! I stumbled out to the living room and there on our coffee table, scribbled on an unopened piece of junk mail, were a series of times written every 5-7 minutes for the past two hours: 12:41, 12:47, 12:53, and so on. I went from feeling quite positive that this was a false labor alarm to thinking quite positively that this was IT.

Suzanne called Mikelann who urged her to try to get some rest. This is one of the ultimate contradictions of the labor experience. At the very moment that you feel so much adrenaline that you could probably lift a 1967 VW beetle off your foot if necessary, you are told to rest as much as possible – simply because you never know if it could be 3 hours, 30 hours, or 60 hours that you have to maintain your energy. It was now 5:30am and we were meeting the Mikelann at the birth center at 7am for the diagnosis. I realized I had nothing packed – not even a T-shirt.

We drove through a few inches of fresh snow (fresh tracks since no one else was out driving yet) as the first rays of sun came up. We arrived at the Birth Center a few minutes early and Mikelann appeared after a few moments of idling in the parking lot. By this time, Suzanne’s contractions were quite strong and she had been very uncomfortable during the drive over. Before Mikelann arrived, the thought flickered in my brain that we might have to deliver this baby right here and now in the parking lot. Luckily, or unluckily, depending on whom you ask, Talia held off for another 15 hours.

Once inside the birth center, we made ourselves at home. Realizing this was going to be a marathon and not a sprint, we set about making breakfast and deciding on yet another movie. Settling on an old favorite, “Fifty First Dates,” we watched while Suzanne tried to relax, between contractions, on the couch and on the birth ball. She even managed to get a little breakfast down. A couple hours later Suzanne migrated from the couch to the tub. At this point the contractions were lasting longer and she could no longer talk, move, or do anything but breathe through them.

Interestingly enough, the body’s endorphins are activated by intense “work.” As Suzanne progressed through the many different phases, she was getting farther and farther away from her physical pain and more mentally focused; what they call the ‘labor trance’ thanks to the endorphins. Once it was clear that she was really engaged, it was just a question of stamina and letting natural processes take charge.

Throughout the labor, Mikelann, assisted by Pam, were amazingly focused in their approach. They practically radiated confidence. They had a knack for guiding Suzanne in an almost unconscious way. Their communication was so clear that it also helped me know how to participate in a concrete way. After 12 hours of the intense stuff, I realized I had only stepped out of the room only once for a turkey sandwich and a cup of coffee. Time inside the room was completely relative – hours would pass and nothing would seem to be happening and then, suddenly, major steps would be accomplished. Finally, around 5pm another labor nurse, Linda, with a great sense of humor and fresh energy, arrived for the ‘home stretch.’ Though we still had 5 hours to go, her arrival seemed to be the moment we had all been waiting for to go into the final phase.

You would probably like to know more about what Suzanne was thinking during all of this and I’d be lying if I could honestly tell you. She was coherent enough, with classic lines like, “This is burly!” and she even cracked several smiles. And at times, she expressed a little uncertainty on the surface but underneath she was a warrior, determined, focused, fierce, and unyielding. There was a primal quality to her actions as if she had spent a lot of time rehearsing for this very moment – I would guess that would be evolution – literally all of human experience on her side. Natural birth is not necessarily for everyone; it takes the right combination of health, talent, heart, and strength to walk this path. Every situation is different. A lot like life: no guarantees.

Finally, Talia had traveled about a foot, farther than she had ever traveled and she was knocking on the door to arrive. During the entire twelve hours of monitoring, her heartbeat had been constant, unwavering, strong, unbreakable. After every Doppler reading, the midwives would nod and say, “I love this baby.” After hearing the Doppler for the hundredth time sounding strong and powerful even I could tell from the sound that Talia was indeed strong. So, when she finally, emerged, in a wonderful flash, and landed on her mother’s chest, it was really like we had been with her all along. Your perspective changes having seen someone else come into the world. you are actually a truly different person for having seen it.

“Witnessing and participating in birth is a life-altering experience, not just in the sense that it changes the course of your life but it also changes the way you see it – what is valuable in it – that is the true magic of birth.”

Written by Eric B.