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. This is part three, part one is here, part two is here.
Soon they woke me to tell me it was time to move. I couldn’t believe Nicole was really following through with going to her cabin – where she intended to birth. At what I knew to be 10 cm, she had to climb the steep step ladder to the cockpit and back down another one to her cabin and climb up to a bed elevated at least 3 ½ feet. But she did it. We made her as comfortable as possible as the sun was coming up. I plugged in my crockpot in their room with the hot towels for compress during pushing. I set up a phone and a clock and began to snap some pictures.
Just then we heard Marietta. Jack went and got her, gave her some milk and brought her up on deck. He told me to show her to Mommy so she would know she was okay. I sat her close to Nicole’s head. At first Nicole was really nervous at her presence. “Hello, Marietta! The baby’s coming.” Marietta leaned over and gave her mom a kiss. “She needs a new diaper, Guapo,” Nicole called out. Being an ever conscientious mother even in the very moment of becoming a mother all over again. Marietta got changed and went up on deck with me. Jack went down below where the action was taking place. He closed up the doors to the cabin, but Marietta and I could sit on the seat and see just over them down into the den where the miracle was taking place. I snapped pictures of the brightening sun, the beautiful pink orchid that was a present to Nicole for mother’s day, the scene down below, and Marietta looking like a tussle-haired angel.
Soon Jack handed a hairbrush up to me. I think it was handed to him by the now pushing Nicole. I brushed her hair back and clipped her bangs to the side with a little purple flower clip. The same kind I used to use on my chubby cheeked little girl what seems like yesterday. About this time as the mother was groaning with each push, we could hear the seagulls all around. And then over them I heard what I truly believe must have been dolphins. I had seen them so many times in this Harbor. It seemed like God’s creatures were showing up to welcome a new life.
As I poured Marietta some juice and got her some goldfish I heard first Babylady praying and then Jack say a beautiful prayer in Yiddish. I pulled out a couple of books that I had brought from my childrens’ collection for Marietta, but her favorite was a hand-puppet book given to my daughter to play for her little brother when he was born. I slipped the puppet on my hand and sang along with the book as I wiggled each character on each finger. “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Panda Bear knows where you are. Little Puppy jumps up high, Little Zebra trotting by…Little Cow goes ‘Moo Moo Moo’…Little Cat says ‘I love you.” I must have done this for her 15 times and it never got old.
At one point, Jack was telling Babylady an anecdote about ships always having New York on the Starboard side and Nicole cutely piped up, “Okay, you know what? Let’s talk about this baby!” I chuckled because she was indeed minutes away from pushing him out. We cheered for her from on the deck. Marietta clapped and I praised Nicole as she strongly pushed…pushed…pushed. Jack and Babylady got in position to catch. I told Jack to hand me his video camera. Right in the most intense moment, the phone rang. “Don’t answer it!” Nicole exclaimed. I could tell by the way they were standing I wasn’t going to be able to capture much, Jack and Babylady were blocking the view from the deck. I snapped pictures with my camera, but finally allowed it to take a back seat to the video camera – figuring that at least I would be able to capture audio.
I could see hair and a little more and more of his head between the two attendants at each push when I got a glimpse. Soon, Babylady announced that the head was out. She checked the time on the head delivery. Then we started to hear noises. Baby Jack was talking with just his little head out. Then the funniest thing. A little sneeze. Not terribly little, actually. A pretty big one. So much so that when he did I could see a glimpse of him during the spasm where I couldn’t before. “What are you doing?!” shouted Nicole, “Please stop it!” Jack and Babylady both stepped back and told her it wasn’t them, that the baby was sneezing! With a few more pushes the shoulders were out and Jack Benjamin fell gently into his father’s hands. They handed him gently up to a grateful Nicole. She cradled him and smiled and repositioned herself to her back.
Everyone was elated. Nicole spoke Spanish to Marietta – look at the baby!!! Marietta pointed and smiled. Jack Sr. had tears in his eyes. Little Jack’s eyes were wide open and looking all around intently at his mama. They allowed the cord clamping to be delayed and Babylady had them feel the life coming from mother to baby. Marietta and I climbed down to the cabin and up onto the bed with Mother and Baby. Jack got out the Captain’s log and recorded the event including longitude and latitude and those present and their titles. They stamped Jack Benjamin’s footprints onto the page. His sister signed as a witness.
I continued to take pictures of the now family of four’s first moments together: Marietta pretending to call everyone and tell about the baby, baby being weighed (8lbs, 1oz), Daddy putting on his first diaper and changing him into his first outfit. I got to hold the newest little life for a moment while Nicole was in the shower. Nicole, feeling much better after a shower, was all smiles. They smiled for their first pictures of the four of them and Jack, who was all coos and alert eyes up until now, finally drifted off to sleep.
With some parting instructions from the midwife and some parting gifts from the family including chocolate pie, we said our goodbyes and gave hugs. We disembarked the Kitty Hawk. Once again Babylady was way ahead of me as I snapped a few more pictures of the coolest setting I’ve seen birth take place so far. There beside the boat was a Mama and Daddy duck with their duckling. The sun shone through the thick clouds and onto a beautiful day. Not since the births of my own children have I been so overtly reminded of how great God is and how blessed we are to be a part of this miraculous life. I can say confidently that I am completely satisfied with my chosen profession. And I thank God for letting me be a witness to the miracles he continues to perform.