It's not always pretty, but it gets the job done.

It's not always pretty, but it gets the job done.

Need to tame a fly hair? Mom spit. Crumbs stuck to face from recent snack? Mom spit. Fix a squeaky door hinge or glue a toy piece back on with it. It's powerful stuff, that mom spit. It can even show how much you care.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Her Birth - RemembeRED

The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new. ~Rajneesh

The moment of my daughter’s birth I don’t remember. My soul aches for that moment. I’ve looked through the pictures my photography friend took for us during the labor and birth trying to spark a recollection of an emotion, as if I had some form of amnesia. I’ve done this hundreds of times, literally. And yet…nothing…

If I didn’t have those pictures I would not even have the still images of those first moments of her life and my new life as a mom.

Always a know-it-all, I researched religiously from the moment I found out I was pregnant about the best options for everything. This led to the decision to have my daughter at home, out of a hospital, and in an environment that was most comfortable, familiar, and, if I were to be honest with myself, most easily controlled.

I told others that we had made this decision because we were afraid of hospitals and few would challenge us on why. Chris and I would tell each other that we wanted to be in a relaxed environment, free to move around the way we wanted, interact the way we wanted, and to not have to battle nurses or doctors on the decisions we would make about our daughter’s birth.

It was ultimately our attempt to find control in a situation we really had no control over.

I still wouldn’t change the decision we made. When/if we have a second, I will birth at home again. I still feel it was the right decision even though the true motivations that I kept hidden might have been the wrong primary motivator for it.

At 38 weeks I was ready to meet my lovely child and behold her newborn face and gaze into her eyes. At 39 weeks I started to tap my foot. At 40 weeks I think I started to twitch a little every time the midwife told me the average first time mom goes 41 weeks. At 41.5 weeks I took a short 2 mile walk. In July. In Texas.

Two days later I began having contractions. They kept me up all night sweating and throwing up. My mother came over and held my head the entire night, letting Chris sleep so he could be rested for the long day he had ahead of him. At 8am the next morning the midwife told me I was 3 centimeters but clearly in active labor and that she expected to meet my baby that day.

I only know the order of the events of the night from the pictures. The only moments in my memory that are truly mine and not copies of the pictures were the moment my water broke and the moment I made the final push.

I was about 8 centimeters and had just gotten out of the tub they forced me to stay in for about 45 minutes.

Laying in the bed on my side with a pillow between my legs I heard a loud pop and started to feel a sudden release of pressure. I shouted out that my water broke and moved faster than I think I ever have in my life as I grabbed the pillow and threw it as far as possible to get it away from the flow of liquid. I think the people in the room laughed at my reaction. My memory fades in and out, as if I was sleeping and waking during a high fever. I recall the midwife saying the fluid was clear and that was good.

I remember being annoyed that it was a consideration that it wouldn’t be. Why would my daughter’s birth not go smoothly after all we had done to make sure we minimized any interventions, no drugs, relaxed environment? I had this under control…sort of…

After pushing for a while they would check the baby’s heartbeat between contractions until she got so low they had difficulty finding it. The midwife leaned into my face to get my attention and focus. And, in the clearest memory I have of the whole evening, she said “Krista, it is time to let J come into the world. You have to push her out now. She can no longer stay inside.” I heard the slight concern in her voice and the stern command of her words.

I let go. I told myself that no matter how much it hurt I was going to deliver this child and release her into this world.

That evening, with the setting sunlight streaming in through our bedroom window, my husband delivered a slimy, scrunched up, purple-y baby into my arms.

He was crying. I was…I don’t know.

And that’s what upsets me the most. I think I must have been tired. I think I was overwhelmed. I think I was expecting a flood of emotions, the flood that my husband was experience, to rush over me. I do not recall having this. If I did have these emotions, wouldn’t I have remembered?

Looking at it now, a little over a year later, I can see things differently. I’m sure in 2 years, in 5, in 10, and in 20 I will yet still see even more things. And forget some thing’s that I still currently hold on to.

I see that I didn’t let go before her birth. I thought I was being the ultimate example of letting go and letting nature take over by having the most natural birth experience I could, but I think I was wrong. The decision for a home birth was a lot about control.

I let myself get wrapped up in the anticipation. And, when things started to finally happen, I should have ignored it. I should have just rested and carried on. I was so tired when J was born, I was hindered in experiencing the moment with the amount of energy the rest of my family had.

Having a professional photographer, even as just a friend, there to document the moments is something I will always be thankful for.

Being able to have my daughter at home and for the birth to go as smoothly as it did is something I will always be thankful for.

Remembering the moment of the final push when I had to let go is something I will cherish forever.

And, now, I must let go of the expectations I had for my memory of her birth. I must let go of the disappointment. I must let go of the memories I don’t have and hold on to the one’s that made the experience special for me.

This week the writing prompt for RemembeRED asked to explore the worst memory.
What was it? How did it affect me? What would I have done differently, if anything?
They wanted me to imagine the act of writing it would free me from it.

I can't say this is my absolute worst memory, because it is blanketed in a truly amazing memory of the birth of my daughter.


  1. I am sorry that you are missing memories of that night. Adrenaline does strange things to our bodies. Thank you for sharing.

  2. I'm in total awe of your sweet daughter's birth and how you were so brave to first of all deliver at home and part of me thinks the reason we can't remember the moments in the most precious time of our lives is so that we will do it again. I have a different birth story from my son that left me feeling disappointment and you're right, without pictures, how would you be able to remember everything.. but the best part is you remember holding her for the first time and what she felt like against your body and how she smelled.. all those amazing things. So, the idea is ---- have another one....

  3. I was insanely exhausted as I gave birth to my first child. She was born in a hospital, with very few interventions.. I was in labor for 18 hours and had gotten about 4 hours of sleep the night before. I did not have the profound memory blacks that you do, but compared to my other births, hers is much more of a blur.

    Your story is beautiful and brave and honest. You have a beautiful family.

    I went on to have 3 homebirths. We should talk sometime :) @frelle on twitter

  4. Very well written, absolutely beautiful and so is that baby.

  5. How incredible. How powerful and moving. I'm sorry you have those moments of lost memory, but I think we all do. I think it's nature's way of protecting us from the pain a bit, and making sure we're OK in the present. Thank you for sharing your story!

  6. Mad props to you Girl! Never doubt doubt your strength!! It's very much something to be admired!

  7. oh love. you know what. you love that kid. you do. that's all that matters. and even better to have pictures to document the birth. i had the cutest little nurse who took my camera during my c-section - got a picture of him the moment he was born, the time on the clock, the surgeon's board, his weight on the scale. everything. so that Mr. Kiss could focus on me and hearing that kid cry. Whew, thanks for that memory!

  8. The good news? Your child doesn't remember it either. ;)

    I think there is so much going on around us and within us that we can lose focus; we do what we need to do to get the baby out. I'm glad you have those beautiful pictures.

    I've had two home births, btw ;)

  9. Babies births are so complicated. With Chessa I delivered vaginally but the epi (after an induced labor at 41 weeks) was so strong that I couldn't feel a thing. And when she was borned I think I was a little stunned that her birth was like that. (Not that I wished for pain, but I expected pain.) And with Cole, I was so freaked out going in for the c-section that I thought more about *my surgery* than his birth. Until the moment he was born, then I sobbed and had the reaction I would have expected to have the first time.
    I think you just have to hold onto the good parts and the pride you should feel in having a natural birth, safely at home. that's really such an amazing accomplishment.
    PS. HI! Always great to "meet" another Krista! :)


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