Casimir’s Birth

Dear Casimir, my first-born, my son, 

What follows is the story of your birth.

You were due on December 3rd, 2015.  But due dates mean nothing to babies.  The date came and went and you weren’t here.  Your father and I were very excited and anxious to meet you.  We chose not to find out who would be joining our family until your birthday, one of the best decisions we ever made.  People couldn’t understand why we didn’t want to know if you were a boy or a girl before you were born.  How would we plan?  How could we stand not knowing when there were ultrasounds available to find out?  Honestly, we chose not to find out because we did not care.  We knew we would be happy and that you would be loved no matter what, girl or boy made no difference to us.  There are so few real surprises in life and we wanted this surprise very much!

We went to our weekly visit with Patrice and the other midwives the Tuesday before you were born.  Everything was fine, your heartbeat was strong, my blood pressure was normal, you were still very active.  We stopped at the store on the way home and took our chances with an old wives’ tale – that eating pineapple could help start labor.  We drove home to Muskegon and settled in for the night.  I ate my pineapple leaning over the kitchen counter to spare your father the smell.  We went to bed about 9pm and amazingly, my water broke!  I called Patrice to let her know and our wait began.  If things didn’t progress within two or three days, I would probably have to go to the hospital.

Tuesday night passed without incident and I kept waiting Wednesday, too.  It felt like carrying around a bomb with a lit fuse, only, I didn’t know how long the fuse was!  It was only a matter of time until it blew!  There were no signs of any infection but I was getting anxious and impatient.  I wanted to have you at home like we planned, but was ready to go to the hospital if needed.  Since we didn’t find out who you were beforehand, we had two names ready:  Casimir Lucius and Allesandra Renée.  We were ready to find out who would be joining our family.  Wednesday night we sat down to watch a movie but went to bed without finishing it, still waiting for you to make an appearance.

I woke up promptly at 6am.  I got up to go to the bathroom and I felt a dull ache, very low in my abdomen.  I lay back down with Dad but didn’t wake him.  I looked around our bedroom – the bassinet was ready, rocking chair, diapers, wipes, clothes, birth supplies were all laid out.  Our freezer was full of food I had prepped and a bottle of apple juice stood unopened, waiting for labor day.  Could this really be it?  Could labor finally be starting?  I think part of me knew it was time.  Around 8am we got up and out of bed.  I told Dad what was happening.  I texted with Dorothy later.  She was going to come and check on us and planned to bring her children with her.  I warned her that she’d better find a babysitter – you were on your way!

We started timing to see how far apart the contractions were and things were definitely progressing.  One never knows how long labor will last, but I hoped it would be over soon.  How silly of me!  Dorothy arrived at 11:40 and was there for a couple of hours before Rachel arrived and then Patrice.  Labor dragged on for a LONG time and it was very intense.  It is difficult to describe.  It was very painful, but not in the way I had expected.  Looking back on it now, it was truly amazing to learn what my body could do.  I know I begged to go to the hospital a few times, but I am sure that thought must cross every woman’s mind at least once, especially during the first labor.  The worst part I suppose was not knowing how long it would go on.  And my labor with you went on a long time – 20 hours!

Finally, I began to feel like pushing.  I pushed for a long time, over five hours.  With every contraction I was hoping for the relief of your head emerging.  I was exhausted.  My body was trying so hard to get you out but you would not come.  Dorothy, Rachel, and Patrice were trying everything they could to help me get you out, but it was to no avail.  I pushed lying on the bed for quite a while, but I was spent.  I was ready to give up.  They were checking your heart rate throughout the labor to make sure you were doing alright.  At this point, when they checked, your heart rate had decreased quite a bit and they had difficulty finding it.  I wasn’t paying much attention at this point, but your father told me afterwards that he knew they were worried.  They were being discreet, so as not to alarm us, but he could tell.  They were debating what to do to help me deliver. When your heart rate dropped again, Patrice got my attention and looked at me in a way I will never forget.  She looked me dead in the eyes and said, “We need to get this baby out now.”  There was no fear in her eyes or her voice, but calm determination.  She was commanding me and I listened.

I struggled to get upright and everyone moved quickly to accommodate the new location standing at the side of the bed.  I waited for the next contraction and pushed as hard as I could even though I was exhausted.  Using the power of gravity and sheer will, it finally happened!  Your head was out.  With the next contraction and push, you were out, delivered into Patrice’s hands.  But something was wrong.  You were not breathing on your own.  

How can I describe to you what it was like?  How can I put into words how I was feeling when I looked down at you before my feet, saw how blue and limp you were, and thought that you were dead?  Words cannot truly express the shock and agony of those first few minutes of your life.  I was weeping, shaking, and wailing about you being dead. Your father had to leave the room he was so shaken.  Dorothy looked me in the eyes and told me firmly that you were alive, that I should lay my hands on you, call your name and speak to you.  I put my hands on your blue tinted skin and called you by your name – Casimir Philip.  We had decided to change your middle name to honor Dziadzia.  I begged you to live, to breathe, so that you could come to family Christmas.

Never once did Dorothy, Patrice, or Rachel hesitate.  They knew exactly what to do.  Patrice told me afterwards that they had not had to resuscitate a baby in a long time and that Rachel had never done it before, yours being only the tenth birth she had attended with them.  But they were all amazing.  Their training was perfect.  And it worked!  Shortly before the EMTs arrived you began to breathe on your own and you began to pink up.  Miraculously, you had kept your heartbeat the whole time so everything important had been getting the oxygen it needed.  You opened your eyes and made your first sounds and we were so happy.  Once again, words cannot describe that kind of joy, how full of love we were.  Perhaps one day if you have children of your own you may begin to understand this kind of love.

I was absolutely exhausted, body and soul, after you were born.  Never had I experienced such trauma in my life prior to your birth.  I wanted very much to take a shower.  Patrice stayed with me in the bathroom to make sure I didn’t faint.  It felt so so good to be clean again.  Afterwards we snuggled into bed and Patrice brought us taco casserole to eat.  It was ambrosia after such hard work and hardly eating.  Rachel left about 2:30am and Dorothy left at 5:30.  Patrice slept on our couch to be there in case we needed anything and left at about 9:00am.  Daddy began calling everyone to let them know you had arrived.

Every muscle in my entire body was sore from the effort of birth.  Oma came and stayed with you a couple of nights so I could sleep, but after the trauma,  it was difficult for me to sleep even though I needed it so badly.  Emotionally, I was a basket case.  I was a mess for a long time after you were born.  If you choose to marry and have children, you will see your wife go through it.  The hormones fluctuating, the physical recovery, the sleep deprivation, learning to breastfeed, adjusting to the idea of being someone’s mother – it was a crazy time!

It was the most difficult time in my life, but I would do it all over again because it would mean that I have you.  I would not trade you for the world, even on the days and nights when you really test my endurance.  Your laugh, your smile, your tender hugs and sweet kisses; your precious little voice asking questions and calling me “Momma.”  The feeling of holding you in my arms, knowing that I made you and birthed you.  These things make it all worth it. You were the first step to completing the family Daddy and I had started when we married.  I love you so much, Casimir.  You will always be my precious baby boy, my C-Monster!