Monday, March 5, 2007

The Sister Bond

Even though we weren't raised in the same home and we live thousands of miles apart, my oldest sister and I have a very special connection. Thing 1 and Thing 2 were conceived within hours of her middle child being conceived. I remember calling to tell her that Hubby and I weren't as careful as we should have been. I was looking for reassurance that everything would be just fine. Instead I got, "You too?!" Two or three weeks later I called her to tell her my pregnancy test was positive. She refused to take a test claiming that I had jinxed her. Of course when she finally took one hers was positive too. Our boys were due at the same time but the twins decided to come a few weeks early so they are 3 weeks apart.
Fast forward 3 years. I started feeling early pregnancy symptoms and was very confused (because I had my tubes tied when Thing 1 and 2 were born). I couldn't understand why my boobs were so sore and why I felt so nauseous. When Sis and I spoke, I told her about how I had been feeling. She got very quiet and told me she would call me back. She called a few days later and told me that I had gotten her pregnant. Immediately my symptoms disappeared. At first I thought that it was a quirky coincidence but as the pregnancy continued I felt more and more connected to her and her new baby. I would joke with her and tell her that she was having my baby. I was as involved with this pregnancy as I could be considering we live a couple of time zones away from each other.
We decided that I would have to be there for the birth. We worried a little about getting me there in time, but I think we all new deep down that there was no way I would miss it. I left Hubby and the Things in good hands (my mother in law's with my mom as backup) and flew across the country.
The timing was perfect. I got there a few days before my niece was born. The first day I was there I did Sis' belly cast. The second night we just hung out but when she went to bed I gave her and her man orders to get busy so we could get things moving. She seemed to have the look I see many moms get when they are close to going into labor. The next morning we went to her OB visit. She was 4cm and had some show (I'm sure the action the night before helped). Even though she wasn't contracting much, it was easy to see that she was in early labor. As we were leaving the office, her OB and midwife gave us instructions on what to do if she had the baby in the car. I loved hearing care providers talk about birth as something normal and not something to freak out about. We stopped at Trader Joe's on the way home to pick up snacks and stuff. That night we watched movies while I massaged her feet and belly with lavender oil. She woke me up around 3am and told me contractions were about 4-5 minutes apart. We left for the hospital about a half an hour later. When we got there Sis threw up as soon as she got in her room. She was checked and was 6 cm. We turned on her Hypnobirthing cd. For the next few hours we listened to the cd over and over. Sis seemed completely relaxed except for the occasional request for counter pressure on her back. Her man and I took turns holding her hand and pressing on her back. After a while we turned the cd off (I can't remember why we did). Sis got up and moved around a bit. It was amazing to watch her be so in tuned with her body and move exactly how her body and baby needed. Within moments Sis felt the urge to push. When they checked her she was complete but baby was still high. Sis pushed for a while but since Baby was posterior she wasn't moving down very quickly. The OB suggested getting Sis to lay on her belly to help baby turn (did I mention how much I loved this OB?) . Baby got into a good position pretty quickly and Sis had an even stronger urge to push. We were using a squat bar and while she was pushing she seemed to be afraid of the feeling. With each push she would jump from a squatting position to a standing position. I know I shouldn't laugh at any birthing mom, let alone my sister but, it was pretty funny to see her standing on the bed, holding on to the squat bar for dear life. Every time she would stop herself from pushing she would beg each of us to help her, to do something. She seemed to need to be reminded that none of us could do the work for her. At one point I asked her what she wanted us to do? She replied Take her out!". I asked her if she wanted a c-section (not because I thought she needed or would get one but to show her that she had to help herself). No one else seemed to know where I was going with this question because I heard at least two horrified "No!"s coming from her man and either the OB or the nurse. Sis was starting to lose her focus and I decided that she needed me to get firm with her. I told her to "Get down here and start pushing". That's when she hit me!
Ok, she didn't really hit me, she just slapped at my hand and her man's hand and told us to stop it. It worked though, she got back into a squat, bore down and pushed. For some reason none of us were looking at her during this push. I had been reaching for a washcloth (I don't know what the OB, her man, and the nurse were doing) when I turned back around, half of my niece's head was out. We all yelled for her to wait. The OB didn't even have her gloves on! Of course there was no waiting and one push later, her head was out. She leaned back onto the bed and pushed her the rest of the way out.
My beautiful niece was born at 8:37am. She was 6 lbs 14 oz and 19 inches long.
The OB waited patiently for Sis to birth the placenta. While she waited we chatted about her twins and how more than 20% moms in her practice have unmedicated births.
Baby Girl breastfed right away and was skin to skin with her mommy for the first hour of her life. Then she had bonding time with her Daddy. When I finally got to hold her I looked at her and immediately felt a connection I can't really explain. It was like I already knew her, like she had been a part of me too.
I stayed with this wonderful new family for a few more days and then came back home to my own. It was so wonderful to be able to be a part of this birth. I didn't think it was possible but, this experience made my connection to my sister even stronger.

1 comment:

Leigh said...

This story is so beautiful! Thank you for sharing. You and your sister are connected indeed, by the profound and powerful journey of birth.
I am so glad you are in women's lives, healing them with your presence.