bananagrams & potholes…a birth story

by Mary Jane

family with newborn baby

Piper Jane Strong • March 3rd, 2010 @9:56 p.m. • 6 lbs., 10 oz, 19.25 in.

It all started to become real at 3:33 a.m. on Wednesday, March 3. That’s the exact time that I sleepily picked up my iPhone to start timing my contractions – I could barely make out the numbers on the bright screen. They were sweet little contractions…nothing heavy or major…but they were happening about every 8 minutes. I remember waking Mark and saying, “I think today is the day.”

Mark didn’t go into work that day. So, we made a point to sleep a little bit longer and relish in each other a little bit more…it’s almost as if our bodies were preparing for what was to come. As the day went on, the contractions got a little bit longer and they naturally got closer and closer together.

The code was 411. That was the magic number. When the contractions were 4 minutes apart, for 1 minute, for 1 hour…that was our que to grab our bags and head to the birth center. So, to pass the time, Mark, my mom and I played Banana Grams. It’s funny because I don’t think I’d ever won a game until that day. I wonder if they were letting me win? It’s sort of like a solitary Scrabble game, but you play against each other. It’s just bananas! I’m not kidding. I don’t think Banana Grams will never be the same and I won’t ever play it without thinking of that most blessed day.

By 3:00 p.m., we were loading the car and off to Ventura. It turns out March 3rd was THE day. At this point everything was progressing quite quickly, my mom told me later she thought I was going to have Piper in the back seat. I didn’t think that – but I remember wanting to have a few words with our lovely CalTrans about all of the darn pot holes on the 101. Those could have been the end of me.

The birth center was the perfect place for Piper’s birth. The midwives were the greatest support and really allowed us to approach the birth in the best and most natural way. They had a tub for soaking, they encouraged me to eat and drink throughout the entire process and it was a very comfortable environment. But, come to think of it, I only ate 2 goldfish during the entire 7 hours. But, I was drinking Gatorade like it was going out of style.

Mark and my mom never left my side that day. While I knew that my strength and stamina was coming from a place far beyond the human view, I still needed them there…holding my hand, stroking my head and cooling my brow. I remember thinking at one point, “Can I seriously do this?” And it’s an all too familiar a question and I’ve asked it to myself many times. I asked myself this very question every mile for last 6 miles of the Santa Barbara Triathlon, and every mile for last 6 miles of the LA Marathon. But, you know what – the answer has always ended up being the same. And I may not come to this answer until the finish line – but the answer is always an abounding – YES!!

Painful, some may ask? Well, is the sky blue? Haha. No, really. It’s hard to explain (unless you’ve been there) but it really was beyond what I knew of pain. It was another dimension. It’s a place where pain was equalized by the highest sense of happiness, joy and excitement that I have never known. It’s a place of complete and utter surrender. Surrender. That was the key for me. It’s truly the perfect natural balance…God made it that way. I remember looking at Mark during one of the final pushes and I saw him look at me like he has never looked at me before. There was something in his eyes…it was a love that I had never actually SEEN before – I had felt it, but I’d never seen it so clear and so sweet and so right in front of my face.

And then I hear, “There’s the head – babies got blonde HAIR!” Once I heard that it was a few more pushes and there she was. She came out and they put her right on my belly, skin to skin. I remember her looking up at me and we locked eyes. Then she let out a joyous scream and I think I was too happy to cry. I almost couldn’t breathe. She was beautiful. She was there. And the moment was all ours – it wasn’t for anybody else in the whole world. I looked at Mark and somehow got out the words, “Well, what did we get?” He looked under the blanket and said, “Well, I don’t see anything, so it must be a GIRL!” We laughed, we cried, we embraced and praised God for such a perfect blessing!

We left the birth center about 3 hours after the birth. My mom drove, I rode shotgun and Piper and daddy got to know each other in the back seat. It was 2 in the morning. Rain was coming down as we headed back up the 101. My heart was full of gratitude and in just plain awe of God’s perfect plan and I even made a point not to curse the potholes.

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