Today was Mabel’s due date.
And today I want to share her birth story with you all, tell you about her birth day, because it was a beautiful day for us. Truly beyond words, easier almost to write music to or to choreograph a dance to. This writer relies on the limiting English language to describe a magical and supernatural day. The language fails me, but I try.
It was a dichotomy of soul changing events. Let me take you back to January 8th, 2010…
I had spent the previous two days in somewhat of an angry coma state. The anger from having to wait, having to sleep two nights with my baby still in my belly but her heartbeat gone. A coma because of what had been given, and then taken from me.
I was planning a homebirth with Mabel, just like my last two babies, but when I knew I’d have to endure this birth knowing Mabel was already gone, I thought I had to have her in the hospital instead. I thought I didn’t want her birth to be anything like I had planned it to be, had things turned out differently. But the previous two days kept me angry enough with red tape and insurance issues that I had enough time to feel God pressing on my heart that I could — and should — still try for a homebirth.
Those days of waiting not only helped me come to the absolute right decision for her birth, but they also created this vacuum that was, in turn, filled with crippling, mind numbing
I was terrified. I knew what normal healthy births were like, but I had no idea what to expect this time. Even when my sweet friend Beth told me about her experience birthing her 19 week twins after they had been lost, the terror gripped me hard.
I literally felt as though I’d never get through it. I tried to act normal, tried to hold a conversation, but I couldn’t.
I was stuck with this deep need to let my baby be born and pass on and no longer be inside me, but I was too frightened to do it.
What would she look like? Beth and my midwife tried to prepare me — we had no idea why she had died and we didn’t know what we’d see.
What would it feel like? My midwife said I’d only need to dilate about half way, and being a person very in tune with my body, I couldn’t wrap my head around what I was about to experience.
The unknown, the grief, the details — I couldn’t believe so many women had done this before me. How could it be? My brain simply could not process it.
Around 11am the medicine to induce labor was administered and my husband and I tried to settle in for a while. While I wanted a homebirth, I didn’t actually want to have her at *my* home. I didn’t want to be around anyone, especially my other children. I wanted a quiet and peaceful setting where I could completely focus on what was about to happen.
We found ourselves at the home of my midwife’s assistant — a wonderful woman I had never met. Just down the road from our own house, this house was the absolute perfect respite and perfectly peaceful place I had deeply desired for this event. A huge suite looking out onto the marshy river, which later revealed white twinkling lights on the cyprus trees. God had taken us to a stranger’s home, and she opened her doors and arms and let us just be. We felt so loved.
Over the next few hours I noticed the contractions begin and wondered again, how would I get through this? Our host fixed us homemade chicken pot pie and cappuccinos, we listened to worship music and I read the book of Genesis. I moved to the book of Romans and we filled out paperwork from the funeral home. Most of the time it was just my husband and I, alone in my laboring with only God’s amazing peace circling us like this supernatural bubble.
No sadness creeped in.
The fear faded to nothing.
I later found out about all the prayer that had been laid over us during those exact hours. Through texts, emails, twitter and more — we were protected from the day being dark. We were given the most amazing gift.
I laid down, and when the contractions slowed I rose up and paced the room. I did this over and over. Just like you would a regular labor. I know it might sound crazy, but I just couldn’t believe how *regular* everything was. I got a backrub, I prayed, I breathed.
Mabel’s labor was progressing but it was so peaceful. My first child that gave me no back labor, quietly I thanked her for that.
I was checking email only to read encouragement and prayer from Ann. Her words — straight from Jesus — got me through as I neared time to push.
Suddenly I felt a pop.
At first I wasn’t even sure what it was, because every other baby of mine had never given me the “pop”. Their water broke as they broke free of me, all in one motion.
But Mabel was different. Lady-like, even.
We called upstairs for my midwife.
“It’s time Arianne. You’ll be pushing soon. Just listen to your body.”
Five minutes later Mabel Love Segerman was born quickly at 7:45pm.
You could have heard a pin drop.
I was scared to look at her at first, her birth had suddenly happened so fast I wasn’t ready. I needed a moment to realize what had just taken place.
My midwife took her and told me she was perfect and beautiful.
Immediately I had to hold her. Not because of the reassurance from my midwife, but because she was my baby and every cell in my body yearned to hold her. I had to feel her tiny perfectness for myself.
She was so lovely, looked like my niece, and seemed to sleep perfectly in my arms.
The power in the room was incredible. I don’t know if I can even describe it. But I will tell you this.
We felt her there with us.
I talked to her as I held her, and I felt in my soul that she was listening. It was an oddly beautiful moment, because in some level of my heart I didn’t feel like I was talking to a baby. I was talking to her eternal soul. I knew that she knew me. I knew that she knew I loved her, that her daddy loved her and that her brothers loved her. I didn’t even need to say it.
I told her I missed her so very much. That we’d always miss her. The weight of the moment didn’t seem so heavy when I felt her there.
But it was still so quiet.
My husband held her next, and he would have her for hours after that. He walked her around singing to her just like he’d always done with our other babies to get them to sleep.
But she was already sleeping.
Time stood still as we held our daughter and said goodbye to her body but not to her soul. We could feel the moment nearing when it would be time to say goodbye. Hours had passed, and a part of me wished I could stay with her there in that house forever. But reality sunk in as I had to be transfered to the hospital (thanks to that stubborn placenta). I knew in some part of me, saying goodbye before I was ready was God’s protection.
But before we let go of her tiny body we prayed for her. For ourselves. For our family. We said goodbye for now and cried as we knew the magic of that moment was a one time thing. We have no idea the logistics of when a soul passes on, but we felt so honored to have hers there with us for that short time.
This is why we miss her. Because we met her, talked to her, held her and knew her.
Those moments, her face, they go through my head all the time. The images return easily, not to torture me or make me sad, but to remind me of this beautiful incredible day that I had with one sweet angel baby.