The sailboat birth of Jack Benjamin: Part 1

We were so touched when our doula shared with us a written account on her perspective of our son’s birth. With her permission, we are posting her story here in three parts. The first comes today on the one month birthday of our little guy.

Our doula Jennifer with Marietta, me, baby Jack, and midwife Nicole.

Monday night at 9:45 I was all set to study my flashcards that I had been working on for my exam.  It was the end of quarter 1 of my midwifery school.  Instead, my phone rings and it says: BABYLADY.  I knew at this time of night that could only mean one thing:  Someone’s in labor.

Nicole Lavallee has been my preceptor for a year down in Charleston, SC.  This was my sixth birth that I was on call for with her.  We’ve become good friends, her family and mine, over the past three years.  We call her Babylady.  And for the purpose of this birth story I will continue to do so because the birthing mother was also named Nicole.

Sure enough, she had called to say that Nicole’s water had broken. Things were moving sort of slow, but I should probably head on down.  I feel bad now thinking back on how irritable I was leaving the house.  In preparing for my exams, I let the children trash the house and I had to wade through a pile of clutter to get out the door.  I took for granted the blessing that I was in store for.  But I braided my hair, grabbed my bags, kissed the babies and hit the road.

Babylady called as I was passing Orangeburg and said things were still slow and that I should just come out to Folly where she was and try to get some sleep.  I made good time, arrived at the house, put my bags down, crawled in bed with BB, Babylady’s daughter and my daughter’s best friend.  I answered an email to a potential client and closed my eyes.  And 15 seconds later the phone rang upstairs.  We grabbed our stuff and headed out, talking and laughing and catching up, driving over the beautiful night waters and reaching the peninsula.  We grabbed bags, bins, baskets, and crockpots carrying our usual birth necessities and walked onto the docks.  The water looked exactly like the shiniest glass.

I had come two and a half weeks prior and met the Midences.  I’m fairly certain – barring anything I may have experienced as a child and don’t remember – that it was my first time on a sailboat.  Nicole had strong contractions then, when Baby Jack would have been the same gestation age her first daughter was when she was born.  Marietta, their beautiful 18-month-old, was born at 36 weeks, 5 days and that was exactly when Nicole had false labor with this one.  So I drove down, found out things had stopped, and did homework and hung out with Babylady’s family.

We then drove to the marina and I boarded the Kitty Hawk for the first time.  Nicole was relaxed and heating leftover Chinese.  She told me of her pregnancy with Marietta, her meeting Jack, their time in Honduras, her hobby as a runner, and her experience as an RN.  Marietta and I took to each other as buds right away.  Nicole said they speak only Spanish to her, trusting that in time she will learn English well enough in the States.  I can’t put into words the cuteness of that cherub.

Jack, the captain and father, is from Honduras.  Nicole affectionately called him “Guapo.”  He said his father was a cowboy and that he wanted to be one as well when he was a little boy.  But his father insisted he go to school.  He became an engineer, traveled the world, became a mariner and now makes his living fixing other people’s boats.  I commented that I wanted to live on a boat.  He said it’s not something you can be lazy with.  If you think of something you need to do, you have to do it right away or the difference could be life and death.  I asked about the stress of having a toddler on board.  Having one of my own, I didn’t understand then how someone could deal with the stress of constantly feeling like they were trying to end their own lives and jump overboard in their adventurous climbing stages.  He said it’s what Marietta’s used to.  They keep an eye on her at all times and when they can’t she’s tethered.  Tethered? I thought. Then looking around, I realized that most sailboats don’t have netting around the entire perimeter.  This particular sailboat is family-friendly and baby-safe.

Babylady called a meeting of the birth team.  Nicole wished to birth in her cabin, and Marietta would need a buddy at all times that she was awake.  I was happy to be that buddy.  We talked about the strategy of transporting to the hospital in the case of an emergency.  We said our goodbyes at sunset.  Babylady and I drove from there and went the route that we would take to the ER’s front door in case of a transport.  The dock would be a bit of a walk in an emergency situation, but we were closer to the hospital by car than we’ve ever been.  We talked of how we do this and have it planned out perfectly so that fate would have it that we wouldn’t need to use it.  Our last two births together both had emergency situations, one transport, one resuscitation.  So as an apprentice, my feet have been wet as to the births that don’t go so picturesque.

Thank God this time was different.

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About Oh, the Places We've Been!

In 2008 I married Jack, the love of my life and the only man that could ever keep up with me. Instead of the nice little French Colonial with a white picket fence, we opted to make our home on the 46-foot catamaran "Let it Be". Since living on a sailboat we've had two kids and sailed thousands of miles along the coast of Central America, the United States, the Bahamas and currently Baja California. Our family of four is always ready for the next adventure and we’re never quite sure where it will take us next. Oh, the places we still have yet to go!
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3 Responses to The sailboat birth of Jack Benjamin: Part 1

  1. MB says:

    She is a wonderful writer! This is story will be great to have and pass along to many generations! I must say, I know how the birth happened but I am anxiously awaiting the second part!

  2. MB says:

    Oops, disregard the “is” after this! I was doing too much at once and didn’t proof it!

  3. Pingback: The sailboat birth of Jack Benjamin: Part 2 | Oh, the Places We've Been!

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